Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

Cyclists Down Under Say Oz Should Rethink Strict Helmet Law

An e-bike rider. File Photo

The world's toughest helmet law isn't working, says Australia's largest bike advocacy organization.

Bicycle Network, a group representing 50,000 cyclists Down Under, is calling for the government to relax its strict helmet law for a five-year trial period. The group had been an early and enthusiastic supporter of the laws since they were introduced in every state in the early 1990s.

The announcement comes after the group did an academic review [PDF] that included a survey of thousands of Aussie cyclists and interviews with medical experts. A majority, just under 60 percent, of those surveyed believe Australia's helmet laws — requiring a helmet for all adult riders in all situations — should be changed.

Medical experts, meanwhile, were split. Most agreed that helmets doprevent injuries if there is a crash, but added that the mandatory helmet law may be reducing the rates of cycling, which is itself a negative ramification of the law.

And, bottom line, the law isn't saving lives.

"There has been no meaningful reduction in fatalities over the last 20 years," the organization wrote in its study.

The organization, however, stopped short of saying the law should be eliminated altogether. Because Australia hasn't enough progress in improving safety for cyclists on its streets, the group is recommending making helmets optional only for adults riding on trails or in bike lanes.

Meanwhile, Bicycle Network says Australia should apply the best practices from the field of risk management to help reduce cycling injuries and deaths. In that field, the first priority in a hazardous situation should be to eliminate the hazard (in this case that would be cars and trucks). Short of that, the wisdom from the field recommends, separating people from the hazard. Protective equipment for people -- like helmets — should be the last line of defense, not the first.  `

In the field of risk management, personal protective equipment, like bike helmets, are the last line of defense. Image via Bicycle Network
In the field of risk management, personal protective equipment, like bike helmets, are the last line of defense. Image via Bicycle Network
false

Bicycle Network notes that Australia's laws are "out of step" with the rest of the world. New Zealand is the only other country that imposes a total ban on bike riding without a helmet in all situations for adults and enforces it strictly.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Tuesday’s Headlines: Valley of Political Death Edition

Did you see the new poll showing congestion pricing is really unpopular? Ignore it! Good times are coming. Plus other news in today's headlines.

April 23, 2024

Open Streets Groups Warn of Extra Red Tape to Run Events

Two weeks notice for hopscotch or a yoga class?

April 23, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: A Federal Case over Parking Edition

We're flicking our bicycle bell over a big scoop last week that no one picked up on...yet. Plus other news.

April 22, 2024

Hochul, Legislators Reach Toll Evasion Crackdown Deal

Higher fines for covering a plate and for not paying tolls are part of the budget deal inked on Saturday.

April 22, 2024

Behind the Scenes: How Gov. Hochul Got ‘Sammy’s Law’ Over the Finish Line

Opponents didn't want to put their name on a no vote for the life-saving measure.

April 22, 2024
See all posts