Helmet laws more a headache than helpful

Helmet laws more a headache than helpful

By Nicholas Everard

In Australia, current helmet laws can result in cyclists being fined upward of $300 for riding their bikes without a helmet. Now bike riders from across the country are taking a stance, arguing the decision to wear a helmet should be a choice.

The Freestyle Cyclists’ Helmet Optional Ride initiative began last Saturday, with many major city roads being taken over by riders going helmet free in protest of the laws.

According to President of Freestyle Cyclists’ Alan Todd, the event is exclusive to Australia and New Zealand.

“These are rides to protest against the continues use of fines to enforce mandatory helmet laws on cyclists,” he said. “Supporters are organising ones in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and over in Wellington as well.”

“We think the fining of people who choose not to wear a helmet while they’re riding a bike has caused a significant decline and low level of cycling in this country, and it hasn’t delivered significant safety benefits on a population level.

Mr Todd believes it is time for the Australian Government to repeal the laws.

“Governments have, to date, refused to undergo any sort of intelligent review of the legislation, which we have now had for 27 years.”

The laws are also said to be discouraging people to ride bikes, therefore promoting poor lifestyle and environmental choices.

Mr Todd isn’t the only person with these views.

Social media discussion has ignited debate, with over 10000 people supporting the Freestyle Cyclists’ page.

However, industry experts are warning that helmets are vital to ensure rider safety.

Director of Rideability Cycle Education Rebecca Randazzo, supports the mandatory helmet wearing legislation.

“Wearing a helmet severely reduces the risk of injury by 70% and reduces facial injury by up to 65%,” she said.

Ms Randazzo likens the helmet laws to that of seat belts.

“My mind immediately goes back to when mandatory seat belt laws were put in place in Australia,” she said. “But I think  Australians would find it very difficult, these days, to get in a car and not put a seat belt on.”

According to Ms Randazzo, cycling education is key to enforcing helmet wearing and teaching the positive benefits of riding to young people.

Share bike businesses doomed to fail?

Hot off the success of product sharing businesses such as Uber, bike sharing is starting to be introduced into the market.

However Mr Todd warns that with current laws in place, no money can be made.

“There are two public bike sharing systems that have been stand out failures in terms of usage in Brisbane and Melbourne,” he said. “Wherever there are compulsorily helmets, they just don’t work!”

 

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earche04
earche04 68 posts

Erin joined the NRN team straight after graduating from a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University in 2016.

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