Do As I Say, Not As I Do

By December 8, 2011 September 30th, 2015 4 Comments

This week an article was published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia entitled “The possible effect on frequency of cycling if mandatory bicycle helmet legislation was repealed in Sydney, Australia: a cross sectional survey”.

The results are interesting.

  • 1 in 5  said they would ride more if helmets were not compulsory. (Similar to the figure from the Cycling Promotion Fund Survey)
  • The desire for helmet choice was higher in the younger age group and among regular cyclists
  • Support for helmet laws increased as cycling use decreased, with support for the law being highest among those that have never ridden a bicycle!

The last point is interesting but it appears to be a common theme in the world of mandatory bicycle helmet legislation. Here it is in graphical form for the visual among us.

There is nothing quite like imposing laws that don’t affect you.

Many of the strongest supporters of such legislation ride infrequently, if at all. How is it that they’re able to impose their belief (that bicycle helmet laws can only be a good thing) when they not only do not have a grasp of the broader issues (cycling rates, health benefits of any cycling) but that they don’t even ride a bicycle? The answer is that in countries where all-aged enforced helmet laws have been introduced (Australia, New Zealand & UAE), people who ride bicycles are a minority. In countries where everyone cycles (for transport particularly), such laws would never get off the drawing board.

There are more examples of this phenomenon. Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, had been planning on introducing mandatory helmet laws for cyclists prior to the operation of the now famous ‘Boris Bikes’ (Barclay’s Bike Hire) who were named in honour of the fellow who unseated him before he could implement this, Boris Johnson. The Independent reports:

“Boris Johnson has unveiled his green transport policy – free cycling lessons. Not for all Londoners, but for Ken Livingstone, the man he is trying to oust as Mayor of London, who admits he can’t ride a bike.
Another interesting character is one Angela Lee of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust (or BHIT – a somewhat disturbing abbreviation…) who does not ride a bike (see picture below) yet ‘believes’ that cyclists should be forced to wear helmets…

Another non-cyclist that believes she knows what’s good for cyclists.

There is an awful lot of belief when it comes to mandatory helmets laws. It is a word we here at Helmet Freedom don’t like using very much. We like facts.
So, what can you do about it? a number of things:
  • Write to your state member and ask that the law be reviewed and amended to give at least adults the choice
  • Go to the GetUp! Suggestion Forum and Vote Up the suggestion.
  • Go to the Queensland Agenda page on the site and Vote for the suggestion (you can assign 7 votes per person to it). The top three will be put to the Queensland Premier.
  • Go to our Webshop and buy some stickers (or make your own) and spread the word.

Change will only come from public support as most politicians don’t ride bicycles and therefore fit into the column on the right of the graph…


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