Helmet Choice

Other organisations that recommend freedom of choice
  • European Cyclists’ Federation “we are against mandatory helmet laws and shock-horror helmet promotions”
  • Fietsersbond (Dutch Cyclists’ Union) “Promotion of the bicycle helmet is counter-
    productive from a health point of view”
  • British Cycling Embassy “Heavily promoting helmets, and especially making them compulsory with legislation suppresses cycling”
  • Spanish ConBici “…measures that seem designed to push cyclists off the streets. These new measures include: compulsory helmets…”
  • British CTC “…helmet laws have the evident potential to shorten hundreds, if not thousands more lives than they could ever hope to save”
  • California Bicycle Coalition “the Proposed Helmet Mandate, Would Have a Negative Impact on Safety”

Protected Bike Lanes

Forcing people to wear helmets reinforces the perception that cycling is dangerous. Sharing space with fast-moving traffic even more so. Making people feel safe while riding is the most important ingredient in making cycling attractive.  Australia’s roads are mostly very unfriendly for cycling, and most “bike lanes” are little more than paint, forcing cyclists to ride in the door-zone of parked cars. On busy roads, bikes need to be physically separated from cars on lanes that are at least wide enough for two cyclists abreast, to allow for overtaking, or conversation.

Building this network of protected lanes will take some time – but the sooner we get started, the sooner the benefits will start to arrive. As a first step, a connected grid of major routes needs to be planned, and built. Budgets need to be allocated at a State and Federal level (did you know that Infrastructure Australia, the National evaluation and funding body for major projects has never allocated a cent to bicycle infrastructure?).  Melbourne, Victoria for example has planned the “Principal Bike Network” which currently has zero government funding for implementation.

Safe Streets

Not all roads need bike lanes. Residential streets, shopping centres and around schools are places where we should all feel safe to walk and cycle without special infrastructure. The two essentials are lower speeds and less traffic.  Preventing rat-running traffic by careful re-planning of the road network is the most important task. Changing the layout of streets can also help lower speeds. All of our suburbs already have a “hierarchy of roads” which determines whether through traffic is expected or not. We need to make this hierarchy work in practice by eliminating through traffic (“rat running”).

Around schools we need to exclude traffic as much as possible. Ironically, danger from (other people’s) cars is one of the reasons why parents feel they must drive their children to ensure their safety – depriving them of exercise, independence and confidence in the process.

Shopping centres also need protection from through traffic as much as possible. Retailers commonly fear removal of parking will reduce custom. Evidence is that removing traffic and encouraging walking and cycling increases, not decreases, commerce. Frequently, local government faces opposition to improvements to bicycle infrastructure from local traders, but rarely is an evidence-based approach taken to analysing the likely outcome of less car parking. Examples: New York, Seattle, Portland, Fort Worth, Christchurch.

Helmets Worsen Concussions

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This is a guest post by Chris Gillham, who maintains http://www.cycle-helmets.com/, a rich repository of facts and statistics on Australia’s helmet law disaster. (more…)

Victoria: get an exemption from Bicycle Helmet Regulation

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Significant changes have been made to the process for obtaining a medical exemption from the requirement to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle in Victoria. These changes are welcomed…

Policing Mandatory Helmet Laws in NSW

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Legal academics Julia Quilter and Russell Hogg have published the results of recent research they have undertaken, in an article in the June 2021volume of the University of New South…

New Religion – Rotavitae

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It has come to our attention here at Freestyle Cyclists that a new religion has been formed which may be of interest. Their supernatural Being is called Rotavitae and they…