Most Belgians want mandatory cycle helmets for children

Summary

A majority of people in Belgium would like to see a law that requires children younger than 14 to wear a helmet when cycling

70% risk reduction

About half of all residents in Flanders – and 60% of the entire country – are in favour of an obligation for children under 14 years old to wear cycle helmets. The Belgian Institute for Road Safety’s (BIVV) report showed that 40% of Flanders and half of Belgians would like to see cycle helmets become mandatory for everyone.

Every year, 700 cyclists younger than 14 are involved in traffic accidents. About 50 of them result in serious injuries or fatalities.  

The BIVV’s research in hospital A&E departments showed that more than one-third of all cyclists had head or brain injuries. Among children younger than 14, that figure was 53%. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head and brain injuries by 70%.

Cyclist union Fietsersbond is not, however, not in favour of a law requiring cyclists to wear helmets. “A helmet protects the cyclist in case of an accident, but a safe environment prevents accidents, so we need more investments in cycling infrastructure, like cycling paths and streets,” said the union in a statement.

Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts said that, while he is not in favour of requiring helmets, he will continue campaigns to promote them. He fears that an obligation, he said, would result in fewer people choosing to cycle.

Photo courtesy Arbus