Reading paediatric nurse Angie Lee, founder of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, said she had learned from the recent lid-law for kids campaign and will continue to push for compulsion. But will government departments continue to fund an organisation that claimed it was a helmet promotion charity but which turned into a single-issue political lobby group?

BHIT boss says lid-law fight will continue

Angie Lee told her local newspaper she was philosophical about Eric Martlew’s failure to push through helmet compulsion for under 16s.

“We knew this would be difficult. It is very unusual for a private member’s bill to succeed unless it has the backing of the government."

What does she know? Has Eric Martlew told her the roads minister is against helmet compulsion? David Jamieson did not have to reveal his thoughts on helmets last week, but may do so on June 18th when, in theory, Martlew’s bill gets another chance to be read out.

In an interview with the Reading Evening Post, Lee said:

“We have succeeded in raising the awareness of members of Parliament and the public. In the process we got a great deal of support. We have been able put our case on television and in the newspapers which has all been positive.

“Our bill went forward with the backing of the Institute of Road Safety Officers, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Paediatricians and many other organisations and charities.

“We feel that it was a worthwhile exercise. We have learnt a great deal from it."

One of the key accusations organisations such as the CTC levelled against BHIT was gross misrepresentation of statistics. But Lee has no truck with such claims:

“We feel that we pursued our case in an entirely factual way and were completely above board. Some of our opponents in the cycling lobby were putting out propaganda on websites. We can at least say that all the information that we used was based on real evidence and genuine facts.”

Eric Martlew MP cared little for "genuine facts." During Friday’s debate in the House of Commons he accused the British bicycle trade of being more interested in sales than children’s safety. This is nonsensical – the bike trade would have sold loads of helmets if his Bill had passed – but he backed up this claim by saying one of the opponents of the Bill was Philip Darnton, MD of Raleigh.

In fact, Darnton is the unpaid president of the Bicycle Association and is a former MD of Raleigh, leaving the employ of that company in April 2003.

When Martlew was asked in the chamber why he thought every single bicycle organisation was opposed to his bill, he said British Cycling was in favour. Wrong.

Here’s British Cycling’s statement:

"British Cycling considers that hard shell helmets are a necessity in all events run under our technical regulations. British Cycling recommends the use of these helmets for leisure riding but recognises the right of each individual to chose whether or not to accept this recommendation."

Even cycle shop owners previously in favour of helmet compulsion were turned off by Martlew and BHIT’s tactics.

One owner said: "As a long time believer in making helmet-wearing compulsory, Martlew changed all that. Having strong opinions is all very well but if you can’t get your facts straight, slag off half the people in the very industry you need the support from, draught [the bill] in such a slipshod, poorly thought out way that will make it unworkable,and ignore the advice and opinions of those with much greater knowledge, the result is what Martlew has produced. This could have done far more damage to the way both cycling and the wearing of helmets is regarded then any lives it might have saved."

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