Philip Darnton, the chair of the government-appointed National Cycling Strategy Board, was at today's second reading of Eric Martlew's helmet compulsion Bill in the House of Commons. He welcomed the Bill's demise and said cycling groups should now be "joined at the hip" with the Department for Transport to promote safe cycling. Helmets are about 'victims', he said, the debate should now move on to the causes of unsafe cycling.

Post-Martlew: Cycling Tsar wants wider debate on cycling safety

"This is now a terrific opportunity to switch the debate around and move forward more positively for cycling," Darnton told

"Mr Martlew’s helmet bill was opposed by all the cycling groups and organisations imaginable, and cycling has not been this united for many years. We have to take this united opposition and turn it into a positive campaign to increase safety for cyclists in the UK. That’s what will really lead to lives being saved. We’ve got to work at the causes of ‘accidents’ involving cyclists; helmets are about victims.

"There are many things that will genuinely improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, including cycle training, better infrastructure, speed controls [for motor traffic], and home zones.

"As one part of this campaign, yes, it’s sensible to talk about helmets. The use of helmets should be encouraged. But there’s no plastic-lid panacea."

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