He said he could only imagine helmet use to remain voluntary if German cyclists started to ride more responsibly.
“If the helmet-wearing rate of nine percent does not significantly increase to well over 50 percent in the coming years, then you almost certainly have to introduce a helmet law,” Ramsauer said in an interview in Berlin.
Roughly 400 cyclists die from head injuries annually across the country, according to government statistics, and about half of those are due to serious head injuries that may have been prevented by helmets.
Many German politicians have already said they’re open to a helmet law for young children. The pro-business Free Democratic Party has said there should be an education campaign to encourage better traffic safety and more helmet use.
The question of how to get cyclists to wear helmets – and how necessary it is to encourage them to do so – has been a stormy issue in Germany for years.
But some experts, including the German Insurance Association, says there are better ways to improve safety, such as improving roads and other infrastructure for cyclists.
“A helmet protects against head injuries before anything else and a helmet mandate certainly wouldn’t hurt,” Siegfried Brockmann, who conducts research on accidents for the association, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “But a mandatory helmet law would have very little impact on the number of fatal accidents.”