Helmet laws: We'll pay this anonymous rider's fine. Here's why...

On March 22, the SMH columnist Michael O’Reilly, published a widely read article questioning the validity of helmet laws.

His article included an image of a rider recently pinged by police at Pyrmont Bridge (presumably) for riding without a helmet. He was riding a Chappelli fixed-gear bike.

Chappelli Cycles is a staunch advocate for bicycle safety in Australia. However, we believe this article raises interesting questions about the role of helmet laws in improving rider safety that merit wider debate in the community and government.

To gain wider publicity for this issue, we are offering to cover this bike rider’s fine…we just need your help in identifying who he is!!

If you know this rider, please contact us (tomandpablo@chappelli.com) or comment below. If you would like to see a rethink on helmet laws, feel free to post your comments as well.

helmet%20cyclist.jpg (photo Lee Besford, SMH)

Sam Davies
Chappelli Cycles
Marketing, Comms and Social Media

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I was surprised to see both front and rear brakes on a fixie.
That bike looked closer to the stock Internal hub bike ref: http://chappelli.com.au/products/classic-8-speed/

But back to the issue at hand. Nice gesture offering to wear his fine for a draconian, blatantly narrow minded, statistically and scientifically unfounded, Nett negative law that effects cannot be under estimated.
There is already a movement and website http://helmetfreedom.org/ but it is patently hard to get anyone in politics brave enough to touch the topic considering there is little nett votes for the level of effort to fight religious views. So I would like to hear what your next planned step is to create awareness / action on this topic.

I like the social media / marketing angle you have going there as well. I'll go out on a limb here and wish you the best.

Hi Peter, thanks for your support!

Regarding the bike, it's hard to tell from the photo, but we think it's our single-speed (can be converted to fixie) or else three-speed internal-hub.

Ha ha, thanks HelmetFree!

FYI, the 8-speed does not come with drop bars, due to the difficulties of fitting on the gear-changing mechanism.

It is an interesting and noble offer, with of course a bit of advertising for Chappelli thrown in for the money. Love it!


Looking at it more widely, if the annual total of helmet fines in NSW were trivial - say $5,000 (I don't know: this is a seriously wild arsed guess) - then it would be possible for bike vendors to offer to pay their Customer's fines: with the payoff of a much bigger market for their product.

Heehee. Anyone who says "you ain't worth it" is seriously misguided, MG! ;-)

I was about to make the same comment. So far the amount spent by Chappelli is $0 and they already have at least one potential customer enquiry as a result.

A generous offer - and good public relations.    I'm glad Michael O'Reilly's article has had some impact.  Anyone looking dispassionately at Australia's cycling scene would have to see there is something quite weird going on as a result of "fear mongering" largely dating (in my view) from our MHLs.  Its really encouraging to see that the bike industry has started to get it.  My modest hope is that before I die, 10% of all trips in Australia (not just Melbourne and Sydney CBD s and inner suburbs) will be on bikes.  This has never been achieved anywhere in the world where helmets are promoted or mandated.  Getting rid of MHLs will not bring this about by itself, but it is an essential first step.  Rather like learning to walk before you can run.

Thanks Sam, I'll remember Chappelli Cycles next time I'm looking for a bike.

Before he does all that he might want to confirm where he would stand in the eyes of the law re: inciting others to commit an offence.

Would there be a chance of being sued by a customer who suffers a head injury and claims "Chappelli made me do it" (ride helmet-free)?

About the same chance as someone suing the govt for suffering a head injury WITH a helmet on.

-Edit- speaking of which: overheard on radio today, an ad from NSW Govt saying you may fall while on a short ride to the shops and face dire consequences so wear a helmet - presumably to counter SMH article and/or anyone questioning logic, liberties or just simple statistics.

Next targets : the elderly, young children, served with any alcoholic beverage and the final frontier : any pedestrian. ie you are only safe in a car.

...for suffering a head injury WITH a helmet on...

You mean "diffuse axonal rotation"? FWIW, I asked a friend who is an experienced emergency medicine physician at RPA how many suspected cases of DAR injuries he'd seen in his extensive career, in helmet-wearing cycling accident patients. His answer: zero. One specialist I know, but he's been doing what he does for many, many years and treated many, many cycling accident patients over this time.

I would imagine the case for suing the government would be countered along the lines of "your injury could/would have been so much worse if we hadn't MADE you wear one" with a roll out of "expert evidence" for both sides of the argument.

No, I don't mean "diffuse axonal rotation", I mean any head injury suffered with a helmet I'm made to wear that didn't stop me from injuring my now 20% larger head during my short ride to the shops. 

ie:  in direct context to the preceding post from NA for a cyclist suffering a (any) head injury without a helmet.


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