Saturday, August 10, 2013

De Facto Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Wearing in Germany?

If you cycle in Germany you can choose whether you wear a helmet or not. There is no regulation about helmet wearing while cycling. It is recommended, but not mandatory. In fact less than 20% of German cyclists wear helmets. The minister responsible for road safety indicated in the past that he would prefer this to rise to more than 50%.
A provincial Court of Appeal in the northern province of Schleswig-Holstein recently laid a down a decision in June, that may well put pressure on cyclists to wear a cycle helmet. A cyclist was passing a row of parked cars when the driver of one vehicle opened the door causing the cyclist to fall which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. The cyclist had to spend two months in hospital and spent some time in rehabilitation. The car driver's insurance company refused to pay all of the costs of treatment and the case went to court. The judge ruled that the cyclist should pay 20% of the treatment cost. He argued that a cycle helmet would have added additional protection in this case and since helmets are cheap it is sensible to wear a helmet. This decision was very controversial and the ADFC (German Cycling Club) is supporting the cyclist concerned to take the case to the Federal Supreme Court. If this decision can be quoted as precedent then it could mean a de facto cycle helmet law mandating cyclists to wear helmets. When we know more we will report.

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