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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Cycling tsar mocks 'martian' helmets
Steven Norris
Steven Norris suggested helmets were "for children"
The man appointed as the government's cycling tsar has angered safety campaigners by suggesting it is "potty" for adults to have to wear cycling helmets.

The chair of the National Cycling Strategy Board, Steven Norris, made his comments in York, where five times as many people cycle to work in the city compared with other parts of the UK.

But speaking to a BBC reporter Mr Norris suggested helmets were for children, he said he never wore one, and he had a right not to look like a "martian".

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) has described his comments as "sad" and "cavalier", and said he should be setting a "better example".


I am not going to treat myself as some kind of martian

Stephen Norris

The former Conservative transport minister said: "I never wear a helmet for the same reason I never wear lycra.

"I think the idea that you have got to dress up like a bloody spaceman in order to ride a bike is just completely potty.

"You should be looking at it [cycling] as something that normal, fat, middle-aged men like me do.

"If you are a young child you wear a helmet. My little four-year-old does. I don't.

'Cavalier' comments

"I am big enough and ugly enough to know what I am doing and I am not going to treat myself as some kind of martian in order to do something which I have got every right to do."

After the comments ROSPA spokesperson Rodger Vincent said: "To have someone who is supposed to have influence saying this is counter productive.

"If it is good enough for his child it is good enough for him. He is confusing children.

"It is sad, and we hope that in future he would set a good example to other cyclists rather than treating them in this cavalier fashion.

"We believe that people who ride bikes should wear helmets as they offer you protection against the more serious head injuries.

The government wants to increase bicycle use by building 10,000 miles of cycle paths over the next three years.

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16 Apr 02 | UK
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