Letter Templates

Helmet Exemption for Bike Share

By January 2, 2011 July 11th, 2015 12 Comments


%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%


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?




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


  • maynard says:

    Personally I would always wear a helmet and encourage others
    to do so. Surely there are other ways to keep the program running. I have only
    been clipped a couple of times and only come off my bike with serious
    consequences a few times, had I not been wearing a helmet I would have lost
    half of my face. But each to their own. If people want to take the chance to
    turn part of their face into mince meat, go ahead.

    • Dave Kinkead says:

      Thanks for you comment Maynard.

      I too would continue to wear a helmet in some circumstances given the same freedom that the other 98% of the world has.  Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be other ways to keep the program running for the simple reason that bike schemes are designed to encourage spontaneous usage and helmet laws & spontaneous usage don’t mix.

      And you’re right – it should be each to their own.  Just as you take the chance of turning your head into mince meat every time you hop into a car without a helmet, so should cyclists. (And unless you are wearing a full-face motobike style helmet, a bike helmet wont protect your face!).

  • Ekbev says:

    This is so good!!!! Thanks you thank you….i am following this up

  • Kallemand8@gmail.com says:

    great concept, fully support the individuals rights to choose helmet vs helmet free. I still believe the law should still uphold that for under 18 it is compulsory to wear a helmet. Other than that, choice should be given back to the (adult) people. ….but…….i am having trouble printing the letters. any thoughts?

  • Mark Andrew says:

    In support of Dave Kinkhead. I wear a helmet when commuting on my bike at 20-30 kM/hour, and would continuue to do so if the law was  repealed. 

    Using City Cycle appeals to me, and like most other people, it would be an impulsive decision. But this is a totally different scenario from riding as a commuter ….meandering around the city at little more than walking speed.

    With regard to children on City Cycles. The kids would be a certain size and experience level  to be able to ride these adult size bikes. Again, parents must take responsibility about whether to allow their young ones to ride without a helmet. Their bikes (and helmets) will fit into a small sedan…..problem solved.

    I am fed up with this cry baby nanny State, where responsibility for ones actions is subsumed to blame shifting.

    The City Cycle project will rust on footpaths, seen as an expensive joke by the rate payers of Brisbane as they drive past.

    Mark Andrew

  • Roisin says:

    It’s odd to hear people say “I’d be dead if I wasn’t wearing a helmet….”. I’ve been riding in Sydney since 1994 and never worn a helmet. I’ve fallen about 5/year and sore elbows and hips are the extent of my injuries. Speed kills, even on a bike – you’re riding like a lunatic if your falls are hard enough to crack your head and you should wear a helmet.

    I ride like an old lady and I get bumps and scratches when I fall.  

  • Hannah says:

    I would just like to point out that Mike Rann is no longer the premier of SA. It is now Jay Weatherill. 

  • Karen says:

    The Premier of South Australia is now Premier Jay Weatherill. Can you please update this letter accordingly? 🙂 

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