Helmets will be mandatory for young cyclists and scooter riders in Latvia

Despite many objections, the government on Tuesday, January 16, backed the Ministry of Transport's suggestion that helmets should also be mandatory in the future for young people riding a bike or electric scooter.

A helmet will have to be worn by cyclists under 16 (including) and electric scooter riders under 17 (including). 

Currently, helmets are mandatory for cyclists up to 12 years.

Transport Minister Kaspars Briškens acknowledged at a government meeting that discussions about the introduction of helmets had been difficult. The Minister called for Latvia not to be compared with cycling hubs such as the Netherlands or Denmark, where helmets are not mandatory because these countries have “excellent cycling infrastructure” that protects cyclists as the most vulnerable road users. However, in the future, by investing in appropriate bicycle infrastructure in Latvia, the mandatory requirement for helmets could be reviewed.

In setting this requirement, the Ministry relies on medical and police recommendations and injury statistics.

The association “City for People” has objected to such amendments. The association stated in its opinion that Latvia would therefore have one of the strictest requirements in the European Union, and it is not understandable why exactly these age thresholds have been chosen.

Furthermore, these amendments are proposed without discussion and serious analysis of the benefits and effects on children's health. The association cites research conducted abroad that shows that the requirement of mandatory helmet use discourages people from cycling.

“The health benefits of cycling are tens of times greater than the risks,” the association says. If children don't cycle, parents will take them by car, which will have a negative impact on the environment, “City for People” stresses.

Meanwhile, the Latvian Mobility Association, which represents major rental scooter operators, has objected to the initially planned requirement for all electric scooter drivers to wear a helmet. But it supports the suggestion that it is compulsory between the ages of 14 and 17, but after the age of 18, helmet use would be recommended, yet voluntary.

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