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Helmet Bill is only one step towards bike safety

There have been too many cyclists killed on our roads, including two tragedies over the past week. Yet such incidents are preventable.

The coming Bill to make the wearing of helmets compulsory is under debate in the Assembly. However, while wearing helmets may seem a sensible measure, it should only be seen as part of a wider health and safety approach.

I am a cyclist and I believe wearing a helmet is an essential part of managing risk to cyclists, but a helmet generally will not save a cyclist from the effects of being crushed by a motor vehicle - we need to start by minimising the chances of a collision happening in the first place.

We require this approach to prevent accidents and stop death and serious injury to cyclists on our roads. In this regard, helmets should be seen as only one step in that process.

Otherwise, we are failing to tackle the problem at its source - that is, the cause of the accident in the first instance.

From that point of view the continued expansion of cycle lanes is essential. However, we need definitive action immediately to protect cyclists, including information and training as part of the risk-management process.

I would, therefore, implore our politicians to lose no time and engage interested groups in the development of an education campaign primarily aimed at motorists to reduce avoidable death and injury to cyclists.

This is an ideal opportunity to review accident-prevention procedures, using a risk-management approach. As part of this, we urgently require a media campaign on television, radio and in newspapers aimed primarily at motorists.

DR TONY MCGREAD

Consultant in occupational medicine

Belfast

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