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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 14:10 GMT
Bid to bring in cycle helmet law
David Coulthard
David Coulthard helped launch the campaign
A move by a Cumbrian MP to ban young cyclists from riding without a helmet, has been officially launched.

Motor racing star David Coulthard helped launch the campaign at the Houses of Parliament.

Carlisle MP Eric Martlew is sponsoring a Bill, which if made law, will require all cyclists aged under 16 to wear a protective helmet.

Olympic medallist cyclist Jason Queally is also backing the move.

The Bill is being introduced in the House of Commons in April.

Coulthard, who is patron of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, posed with a group of child cyclists at Westminster, having just flown in from Singapore after coming sixth in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

He said: "I encourage all children to wear a cycling helmet for their own safety.

"I personally wear a helmet because I am well aware of the risks and how vulnerable the head is.

'Seriously injured'

"Children are not aware of these risks and it's our responsibility to protect them."

Carlisle Labour MP Mr Martlew, who is sponsoring the Protective Headgear for Young Cyclists Bill, was also at the launch.

Statistics show child cyclists are nearly four times more at risk on the roads than adult cyclists.

Child cyclists account for only 6.6% of the total number of cyclists, but annual statistics for 2002 showed that of 133 cyclist deaths, 28 involved children.

Mr Martlew said: "These figures show that we need to act to increase safety for young cyclists."

He said he wanted to see the Bill reduce the number of children killed or seriously injured due to accidents when cycling without protective headgear.

A team from Imperial College London has found that the number of serious head injuries among cyclists of all ages fell as a result of increasing helmet use.

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