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First a little about myself: I started my motoring career on a 32cc Cyclemaster and still retain an interest in them, owning a BSA Winged Wheel and two Cyclemasters. I've spent 26 years in the police force, the last eight being with the Traffic Dept. I trust you will regard this as suitable qualification!
"When is a cyclemotor not a cyclemotor?" Ignoring mopeds on this occasion (they are a completely different bucket of worms), a cyclemotor consists of a pedal cycle equipped with an auxiliary engine. If that engine is subsequently removed it reverts to being a pedal cycle, quite simple so far! In Floyd v Bush (1953) it was decided that if the engine is fitted and connected up it is a motor vehicle whether the engine is running or not. In Lawrence v Howlett (1952) the cylinder, piston and connecting rod had been removed from a cyclemotor and it was then held to be a pedal cycle, not a motor vehicle. It all revolves around to what degree the motor has been dismantled as to whether it reverts to being a pedal cycle or not.
"When do I need to wear a helmet?" Cyclemotors come within the definition of motor cycles and therefore the driver or rider is required to wear protective headgear. If you happen to be pushing your machine along the road no headgear is required. However, if you place a foot on the pedal and scoot it along then it has been held you are riding it and a helmet is required (Crank v Brooks - 1980). The Motor Cycle Crash Helmet (Religious Exemptions) Act 1976 dictated that any follower of the Sikh religion shall be exempt from wearing a helmet if he is wearing a turban. No other religious or ethnic groups with funny headgear are covered by this exemption. If you happen to be a Mongolian Bush Baptist and wear a cloth cap day and night - tough! As mentioned elsewhere, there is a great deal of legislation on what type of helmet can be sold, hopefully to kill off some of the older, sub-standard helmets. As far as I can see, there is nothing to stop you wearing an old helmet to look 'period'. However it is your brain and face you're putting at risk if you part company with your machine.
Cyclists and motor cyclists are very vulnerable to attacks from car and lorry drivers who "just didn't see them" and it's in your own interest to be as noticeable as possible by wearing bright colours, if only to protect the machine you've spent a lot of money, time and effort in restoring. Having been to many accidents involving motor cyclists and cyclists I can see the value of wearing the 'right gear' even if it does look a bit modern.
I trust I haven't gone on for too long and have answered the questions that were raised.
First published - December 1991
Note: Since this article was written, the UK law has changed. There is now legislation that says that the helmet you wear must bear a BS marking. However, this can be for any of the British Standards on motor cycle helmets, even the out-of-date ones. Legislation is still much stricter about what can be sold, rather than what can be worn.
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