After years of advocating for mandatory helmets, BN have changed their position after man extensive 14 month review:

They are now recommending the helmet law be relaxed to allow helmet-free riding when off-road, suggesting a 5-year trial. This mirrors the current situation in the NT.

Interestingly, the NT has the highest rate of cycling, and has a cyclist injury rate no different to NSW or VIC.

This is a very positive step. The largest cycling group in Australia has finally decided to advocate for everyday cycling, as opposed to standing in its way.

All the usual anti-cycling safety nannies are of course out in force condemning them.

I am seriously thinking of joining BN, and making it clear to them that the reason is because of their changed stance. We should encourage them in what is sure to be a controversial move.

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While in general agreement with the idea of making wearing a helmet non-mandatory for adults, I think the BN statement leaves themselves open to challenge on a couple of fronts at least. One is that we know intersections are places where cyclists get hit by cars fairly frequently, so would cyclists be expected to walk their bikes across side streets. Or be condemned to riding around in circles to keep on the footpath? Anyway, needs clarification. The other is the statement that 80% of crashes are caused by cars. Not true, most crashes are just of the falling off variety, and quite a few of those would be on substandard footpaths I imagine. (We don’t know because most never get reported and even if they were the details wouldn’t be taken adequately). I know what BN is getting at of course but opponents will be quick to jump in.

Yes, it's a compromise position. But being inline with the NT, along with keeping helmets for some types of riding makes it politically more palatable. If this proposal were to come in, it is likely that helmet use would be generally much less rigorously policed, even for those on the roads. Certainly this is the case in the NT.

Bicycle Network's position paper can be found here. They make 3 recommendations -

Bicycle Network’s recommendations for Australia’s mandatory helmet laws
  1. Australia’s mandatory helmet laws should be relaxed with a five-year trial permitting people older than 17 to decide whether they wear a helmet when riding on footpaths and cycle paths.
  2. Riding a bicycle on the footpath should be made legal for all people in Victoria and New South Wales so that the five-year trial can be successful. This would bring Victoria and New South Wales in line with all other states and territories.
  3. More must be done to protect people who ride a bike on the road by reducing and eliminating a key hazard: motor vehicles.

Recommendation 3 is the one that really counts. Not holding my breath for government action.

I think they're breaking a rule of marketing there by calling for a 'reduction and elimination' of motor vehicles. Does that mean they want protected cycleways, or to just get rid of cars?

Very awkward English

What I was thinking. Need to be clearer or opponents will jump on it. What they could say  is “reducing the amount of motor traffic on local streets”,  Dutch style.

Enabling more parking for fewer cars.

seems it has broken the truce between the various bicycle groups

Boy are they copping the flak ; it's like no one in Australia can understand facts

I was listening to ABC Overnight radio during the week, and even at 1am the blow hards, whose most strenuous exercise sounded like it would have been to find the TV remote, were phoning in with their "knowledgeable" comments against this happening. The young woman who was hosting the show told of her experiences cycling in London without a helmet for 5 years and basically supported the proposal.

It seems like the change in the helmet laws will be a fight against the old adage of "when a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth".

well knock me down with a feather - the AGF come as out with a pointless attention seeking press release. Who exactly is distracting from the real issues here? Would be great if we could just get rid of MHL and start focusing on things that actually making cycling safer, like chilling out a little, realising how little it takes to be safe around cyclists, and realising its a person on the bike, not this other thing known as a cyclist.

Is that this statement? It just sounds like a load of corporate-speak with no real argument on MHL. How about they clearly state: Do they support helmet law reform or not?


The Amy Gillett Foundation’s sole focus is on actions and policy that help to achieve a safe cycling environment in Australia.
As we have repeatedly stated, while helmets do not make you safer, you are better off when wearing one in the event of a crash.
The current discussion about helmet laws is a distraction from the pursuit of important cyclist safety laws, policy and infrastructure designed to protect cyclists, such as a metre matters laws.
Our primary focus for Victoria remains on securing a metre matter laws, which 9 out of 10 Victorians support.
Victoria remains the only state in Australia yet to commit to minimum passing distance legislation.
For the rest of Australia, the Amy Gillett Foundation, together with Cycling Australia has these five (5) priorities for safe cycling:
  • increased education and enforcement of a metre matters laws
  • minimum ‘cyclist aware’ content in driver licensing training and testing
  • safer cycling infrastructure
  • safer speeds
  • cycling safety education.


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