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Relax Our Bicycle Helmet Laws Like the NT

By December 28, 2010 No Comments


%long_title% %first_name% %last_name%

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?




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

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