Letter Templates Archives – Freestyle Cyclists

Helmet Exemption for Bike Share

***YOUR NAME***
***ADDRESS LINE ONE***
***ADDRESS LINE TWO***
***CITY, STATE, POSTCODE***

%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%
%position%
%address_1%
%address_2%
%address_3%

%date%

Dear %short_title% %last_name%,

RE: Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Exemption for Bike Share Users

I am writing to you to request that riders of bike share bicycles be exempted from %state%’s all-age mandatory bicycle helmet requirement.

No public bike share scheme has been successfully implemented in a jurisdiction with an all-age mandatory bicycle helmet law.
The figures speak for themselves. Melbourne Bike Share has seen average usage rates of 300 trips per day. This appears impressive until it is compared to Dublin’s DublinBikes bike hire scheme (similar in almost all respects) – it has an average daily usage rate of  3,100 trips per day – with fewer bikes and no mandatory helmet requirement. In the 400 days it has been in operation they have seen 1.3 million trips taken and not one serious accident.

Brisbane’s larger CityCycle scheme has seen annual subscription numbers plateau at just over 2000 and a mere 225 trips per day are being taken as at November, 2010. While there are many small variables, only the mandatory helmet requirement in Australia can explain such enormous differences in usage rates.

A recent article in The Age highlighted this issue and a survey of 13,887 respondents voted 79% in favour of repealing the mandatory bicycle helmet law for bike share schemes.

An exemption under the law (Section 256 of the Traffic Act) currently exists for passengers of three- or four-wheeled bicycles but only if they are paying passengers. The rider, curiously, still must wear a bicycle helmet, which is at odds with the response from Government in that such bicycles are ‘more stable’ and hence the exemption for the passengers.

Public Bicycle Hire Schemes must not be allowed to fail. Their failure would be a blow to cycling promotion in this country and a tremendous waste of taxpayer money.

Given the existing commercial exemption for pedicab passengers, can you please explain to me why this exemption cannot also be extended to paying bike share users?

Sincerely,

***YOUR NAME***

References:

Australian Bike Hire Schemes Fail Because of Helmet Laws – http://www.cycle-helmets.com/bike-hire-schemes.html

Helmet Law Makes Nonsense of Bike Hire Scheme – http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/helmet-law-makes-nonsense-of-bike-hire-scheme-20100722-10my2.html

CityCycle: The First Months, November 2010 Issue, The Brisbane Institute – http://www.brisinst.org.au/here-and-now/november-2010-issue/2

On which criteria are helmet laws justified?

***YOUR NAME***
***ADDRESS LINE ONE***
***ADDRESS LINE TWO***
***CITY, STATE, POSTCODE***

%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%
%position%
%address_1%
%address_2%
%address_3%

%date%

Dear %short_title% %last_name%,

RE: Justification for Bicycle Helmet Legislation in %state%

I am writing to seek your response as to which criteria %state%’s all-age mandatory helmet laws are justified for cyclists but not other road users.

The rational behind mandatory cycling helmet laws in %state% appears to be that, all other things equal, wearing a helmet is better than not wearing one in the event of an accident.  Yet this same rationale applies to many other activities that are not subject to the same legislation and enforcement.

The vast majority of road fatalities in Australia involve head injuries.  Over three quarters of all motor vehicle injuries (1) and two thirds of pedestrian fatalities (2) involve head injuries.  Only 2% of these accidents involve a cyclist (3) and the remaining 98% are therefore not covered by mandatory helmet laws .

Helmets do not stop working simply because the wearer is not on a bike.  Wearing protective head-wear such as a bike helmet could reduce motoring head injuries by up to 40% and save hundreds of millions of dollars per year in health costs (1).  Similar benefits could also accrue from having pedestrians wear helmets.  Furthermore, the arguments against motoring and pedestrian helmet legislation, such as imposition on civil liberties and the disincentive to undertake activity, apply equally to cycling.  In terms of health & safety, cost imposition, social benefits and individual rights, there seems to be a much greater justification for motorists to face helmet laws than cyclists.

Yet the %state% government has singled out cycling for mandatory helmet legislation when the scientific evidence shows that much greater benefits would accrue from applying the law equally to all road users.  Could you please explain to me the criteria upon which you and the government continue to support mandatory helmet legislation for cycling but not for all road users.

Yours sincerely,

***YOUR NAME***

References:

1) McLean A., Fildes B., Kloeden C., Digges K., Anderson R., Moore V. & Simpson D. (1997) ‘Prevention of head injuries to car occupants: an investigation of interior padding options’, Federal Office of Road Safety – Report CR 160, Monash University Accident Research Centre.

2) Kloeden C., White K. & McLean A. (2000) ‘Characteristics of Fatal and Severe Pedestrian Accidents in South Australia’, A Report for the
Transport Technology Program of Transport SA
, University of Adelaide Road Accident Research Unit

3) http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/publications/2009/pdf/rsr_04.pdf

Relax Our Bicycle Helmet Laws Like the NT

***YOUR NAME***
***ADDRESS LINE ONE***
***ADDRESS LINE TWO***
***CITY, STATE, POSTCODE***

%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%
%position%
%address_1%
%address_2%
%address_3%

Dear %short_title% %last_name%,

RE: Bicycle Helmet Laws

I am writing to ask you to consider a relaxation of the all-age mandatory bicycle helmet laws, in line with amendments the Northern Territory enacted in the 1990s.

Mandatory bicycle helmet exemptions already exist in many Australian states. For example, in Queensland, New South Wales & Victoria there are two exemptions:

  • If a rider has a medical certificate stating that they cannot wear a bicycle helmet for a stated reason & duration, and
  • If one is a paying passenger on a three- or four-wheeled bicycle.

In the Northern Territory there is a further exemption, unique to the Territory:

  • If you are over 17 years of age and cycling on a separated cycleway or footpath the wearing of a bicycle helmet is optional.

The NT allows adults to decide if the wearing of a bicycle helmet will be of benefit to them based on their route and skill level. It is interesting to note that the Northern Territory has a bicycle mode share of 4.2% compared to our 1%, while 31% of their bicycle users are women, compared to less than 20% in our state. Their safety record shows they have paid no penalty at all for this amendment; just the opposite, the NT has a lower injury rate of cyclists per head of population.

Disappointingly, cycling in Australia is often seen as ‘dangerous’. Gone are the days when it was seen as a valid method of transport to the shops, to school or to work which is safer, healthier and more environmentally responsible than driving. The need for special equipment is a deterrent for many people. Police blitzes on helmet wearing also deter cycling and take police away from detecting dangerous driving and serious crime.

We are now seeing improvements in cycleway connectivity. Adults on bicycles could be treated as such and should be given the choice to wear a bicycle helmet, particularly on footpaths and cycleways.

Can you please explain to me why such an exemption is not being considered in %state% given the great safety record of the Northern Territory?

Sincerely,

***YOUR NAME***

References:

Cycling Infrastructure for Australian Cities, Background Paper, March 2009 – http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/files/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf

Cycling to Work on the Increase, Cycling Fact Sheet – http://www.cyclingpromotion.com.au/images/stories/downloads/Riding_to_Work_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Helmet Laws: Northern Territory – http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1114.html

General Health Benefits Outweigh The Risks

***YOUR NAME***
***ADDRESS LINE ONE***
***ADDRESS LINE TWO***
***CITY, STATE, POSTCODE***

%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%
%position%
%address_1%
%address_2%
%address_3%

%date%

Dear %short_title% %last_name%,

RE: Bicycle Helmet Laws & General Health

I am writing to you to consider a relaxation of the all-age mandatory bicycle helmet laws. It has unfairly branded bicycle riding as a dangerous activity when if fact it is very, very safe. No study has shown any evidence than the mandatory bicycle helmet legislation has reduced the risk or severity of injuries to bicyclists, yet there are some which suggest the opposite.

‘Diseases of Lifestyle’, particularly obesity, cardiovascular & cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression are costing Australian taxpayers $1.5 billion each year, most of which is easily prevented with regular moderate exercise. In addition to this annual financial burden, 16,000 lives are lost prematurely as a result of these diseases.

Currently in our cities 70% of car trips are less than 10km and 50% of car trips are less than 5km – distances that can be covered on a bicycle with minimal effort.

When the all-age mandatory helmet law was introduced, cycling numbers dropped by as much as 40% in many areas in Australia. The only group which did not show such a decline was the sport & recreational cycling groups – cycling trips which are not made in place of car journeys.

A recent study in the Netherlands showed that for people who switched from car to bicycle for most trips resulted in about 9 times more gains in life-years than the losses due to pollution & traffic accidents. This is in a country with a national bicycle mode share average of 29% of all trips; and no mandatory helmet legislation. A study published in the British Medical Journal in 1994 showed the benefits of cycling outweighed the risks by as much as 20 to 1.

Given the enormous health benefits of cycling and the non-existant health benefits of driving a car, can you please explain why you and the government continue to single out cycling amongst transport options as dangerous enough to require mandatory helmet usage?

Sincerely,

***YOUR NAME***

References:

An Australian Vision for Active Transport – www.alga.asn.au/policy/transport/ActiveTransport.pdf

Cycling Promotion Fund, 2010, “Active Transport Could Save 16000 Lives” – http://www.cyclingpromotion.com.au/content/view/495/9/

Johan de Hartog J, Boogaard H, Nijland H, Hoek G, 2010, “Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks?” Environ Health Perspect 118(8):doi:10.1289/ehp.0901747

Davis, A, National Health Service, 2010, “Value For Money: An economic assessment of investment in walking and cycling”

Skin Cancer is Riskier Than Cycling

***YOUR NAME***
***ADDRESS LINE ONE***
***ADDRESS LINE TWO***
***CITY, STATE, POSTCODE***

%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%
%position%
%address_1%
%address_2%
%address_3%

%date%

Dear %short_title% %last_name%,

RE: Bicycle Helmets & Skin Cancer Prevention

I am writing to you to consider relaxing the all-age mandatory bicycle helmet law in %state% to help reduce the risk of skin cancer among bicycle users.

Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, at nearly four times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK. In Australia 434,000 people are treated for non-melanoma skin cancers each year, of which 420 will die. For melanoma the figures are worse, with 10,300 treated and 1,430 dying each year. By comparison, in 2008 only 27 cyclists died in Australia.

Skin cancer costs our society in excess of $294 million per year – for treatment. This does not include the cost of the deaths to society. The Cancer Council of Australia recommends the ‘use of a hat to protect the face, neck & ears’, however bicycle helmet design, the standard and the law makes this impossible.

%state% law requires that cyclist wear a properly fitting helmet that complies with the AS/NZS 2063 Standard. However, Section 9(d) of the Australian Standard for Bicycle Helmets states:

  • “No attachments should be made to the helmet except those recommended by the helmet manufacturer.”

Section 5.3.3 of the Australian Standard for Bicycle Helmets states:

  • “The helmet should have no internal projections or irregularities likely to cause injury to the wearer in case of an accident.

Modifications which would reduce the bicycle rider’s sun exposure, for example wearing a baseball style cap under the helmet, would be a breach of this clause and therefor the law. Furthermore, even if a cap is worn under a bicycle helmet, their design is such that the hat will offer little protection to the ears & neck. Helmets, by their very nature, prevent the wearing of large brimmed hats.

Could you please inform me as to why you and the government support helmet laws that expose cyclists to risks nearly 50 times greater than cycling

Sincerely,

***YOUR NAME***

References:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Non-melanoma skin cancer: general practice consultations, hospitalisation and mortality. Canberra, 2008.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australasian Association of Cancer Registries, Australian cancer incidence and mortality workbooks. Canberra, 2008.

Staples M, Elwood M, Burton R, Williams J, Marks R, Giles G. Non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia: the 2002 national survey and trends since 1985. Medical Journal of Australia 2006;184 (1): 6-10.

Cancer Council Australia (www.cancer.org.au)

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