The French Senate will debate the compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets for adults
The Senate is due to debate tomorrow (January 13) on the advisability of making the wearing of bicycle helmets compulsory for adults in France, both for bicycles and for other personal means of transport such as electric scooters.
Cycling has grown in popularity in France since 2019 and during the pandemic, but helmets are only mandatory for children under 12.
Senator François Bonneau (Centrist Union).
The proposed new law would include a fine of € 135 for people who do not wear helmets.
In his proposal, the Senator specifies: “Only 31% of cyclists wore a helmet in 2020, according to [road safety group] the National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory …
“Cycling fatalities have increased by 21% since 2010, and the number of injuries on EDPM increased by 40% in one year: 62% were not wearing a helmet.
He added that the proportion of people who wear helmets on EDPMs (86%) is considerably higher than the relatively few who wear helmets (9%) on self-service bikes rented through an app.
The safety of cyclists “not to do with helmets”
However, the cycling associations do not support Mr. Bonneau’s suggestion, considering that the debate is a waste of time, since the idea of compulsory helmets is a “false good idea”.
Françoise Rossignol, president of the urban cycling group the Club des Villes et Territoires cyclables, said that helmets make relatively little difference to bicycle safety.
She told BFMTV: “The issue of safety is linked to the speed of vehicles and the visibility of cyclists who, if they are even more numerous, are better protected.
“It is certainly not [anything to do with] helmets, which are in fact a hindrance to practice [of cycling]. “
Senator Jacques Fernique, of the Green Party, agrees that wearing a helmet should not be a legislative issue. He said: “We don’t want this to become a legal thing. Imagine grabbing someone’s electric bike or scooter just because the rider isn’t wearing a helmet! “
From security to economic strength
But part of the debate over mandatory helmets isn’t just about safety.
Val-de-Marne MP Guillaume Gouffier-Cha believes the country needs to invest more to help create a stronger economic sector in bicycle manufacturing and the cycling sector in general.
He and Mrs Rossingol think that it is possible to do more to stimulate cycling in complete safety in France, and to allow the creation of a strong “Made in France” sector is a way to promote it, declared the deputy.
He is expected to submit a report on the proposal in the second half of January, with three scenarios suggested to Prime Minister Jean Castex. He said he would base his suggestions on the “Cycling Plan” launched by former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in 2018.
Mr. Gouffier-Cha said: “[Cycling] is much larger than an industrial sector, it includes infrastructures, services and different uses such as travel, sport and leisure. We need to move from a global budget to a per capita budget comparable to that of other European countries.
He suggests that France sets a budget of € 30 per capita [a strategy that is adopted in many other European countries], instead of the current 10 €, in order to encourage cycling.
He specifies: “This method of calculation stems from the fact that the bicycle is a means of transport in its own right, just like road infrastructure, which represents € 271 per inhabitant, or public transport, which reaches € 473.
“Bicycles currently represent only 1.3% of investment spending in transport,” he said.
On the other hand, the European average is 30 € per person. In the UK and Germany the budget is € 24 per person, while in much of Dutch-speaking Belgium it is € 45.
France has been involved in many debates over whether adults should be required to wear bicycle helmets.
In June 2019, the National Assembly voted against their obligation to make them mandatory, although some MPs believe they are essential for cycling safety.
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