Women cyclists in Ireland have been required to change helmets in an unprecedented move, with many citing the dangers of wearing them in traffic.
Key points:The move came as the first full week of the new year passed on Sunday after weeks of campaigningMens helmets have been compulsory since December and are made by one of the world’s biggest manufacturers, Giro helmets were compulsory for women from January to MarchMens helmet use is higher than in the United States, with only 2% of adults wearing themSource: The Irish Time/Alamy /Alamy Stock PhotoFile: Women cyclists ride along the pavement of the city centre in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday, January 2, 2019.
Mens bicycle helmet use in Ireland is up almost 10% from last year, according to figures from the Department of Transport and Communications (DTOC).
“The number of men wearing helmets has increased to more than 2% compared to 2.7% of women, the highest level in the EU,” said Transport Minister Simon Coveney, who said the government was “looking at the impact on cycling and cycling safety”.
“We are also working on a strategy to help protect people’s lives in our city centres,” he added.
“We have a lot more work to do, but this is good news.”
The number, which is higher in the UK, France and Germany, is the highest in Europe, according the DTOC.
It follows an announcement in February that the Department for Transport was launching an initiative to introduce new helmets in Dublin and other major cities, and to improve helmet usage in schools.
The announcement came after months of campaigning and support from local councils.
Last month, more than 200,000 people signed a petition calling for men to wear helmets.
The Department for Sport and Tourism said it was “extremely concerned” about the increase in helmet use and said it planned to work with local authorities to see if it could work out ways to reduce the risk of head injuries in urban areas.
But Transport Minister Covene warned that there was a “significant risk” for cyclists in urban centres, and said there was “a huge opportunity” for the city to take action.
“Our goal is to get helmets in as quickly as possible,” he said.
“It’s a big step, but it’s a step we can make and it’s not just a step that we need to take.
We have a huge opportunity to help reduce the risks of cycling in urban locations.”
A recent survey found that more than 40% of Dublin’s cyclists said they felt unsafe cycling, and some felt that they were “lucky” to be wearing helmets.
Last year, Grosvenor Road, in Dublin’s south, was the site of a major cyclist crash, with a cyclist killed in the incident.
The latest figures also showed that nearly 3,000 cyclists had their helmets taken off, and nearly 7,000 helmets had been returned to their owners.
The new helmet rules come as a record number of cyclists have been killed in accidents in Dublin.
More than 80 people have died in the city since February last year.