New report: other factors than helmet legislation led to declines in head injuries in NSW

A new research article published this week documents the rate of head injuries among cyclists from 1988 to 2008. It concludes that “It is likely that factors other than the mandatory helmet legislation reduced head injuries among cyclists.”


The article by Voukelatos and myself is to be published in the Journal of the Australian College of Road Safety, at


and a copy is available now at


There is a story about it in today’s Sydney Morning Herald at


To take this issue further, I would like to see the legislation repealed in one jurisdiction (say, for example, Newcastle or Wollongong) and the effects studied for a couple of years. It is highly likely that there’d be no adverse effects. This would be a realistic step forward, and would provide some much needed local evidence.


Bicycle NSW would have to support a proposal like this, but the new CEO believes that 80% of cyclists support helmet legislation. An informal and unscientific poll I conducted of a group of cyclists at dinner on Saturday polled 75% (6 out of 8) against helmet legislation. Does anyone know what percent of cyclists support or appose helmet legislation?

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Thanks for the artilce links. Perhaps you could include an online poll widget on this website? I think SydneyCyclist is a fairly diverse cycling community gathering from the many h-word discussions we've had in the past!
Just a quick note that the second link ( is broken as it appears to be a webmail (from bigpond) redirected link. Cut and paste works though. link
I would love to know where he gets the "80% of cyclists support helmet legislation" statistic. It just doesn't ring true at all.

I suspect they have contorted another statistic, such as:

a) 80% of cyclists wear helmets


b) 80% of cyclists support helmet use.

From this they make the deceptive inference that 80% of cyclists support the helmet laws, which is a different position entirely.

We know this is not the case. I am in both category a) and b) but am vehemently opposed to MHL's and I suspect of lot of other members here are too.
Probably did a poll at a dinner party.
With BennelongBicyclist and Harold Scruby...
My BNSW membership is due for renewal, I don't think I will bother. What is the point of having a representative body that doesn't represent your views?
Herzog should take a trip to Byron. He would find at least 80% of riders NOT wearing a helmet. On the Gold Coast, anywhere near the beach it's probably more 50/50. It's only the racers that always have helmets.

I'd certainly like to see an on-line poll on getting rid of MHL.

Helmets do have their place - magpie season is coming up again soon :-)
"Helmets do have their place - magpie season is coming up again soon :-)"

Don't be so sure!

I'd like to see further studies looking at this. :)

Anecdotally, I do not get swooped as I pass the only attacking magpie in my area but helmeted cyclists seem to be attacked without fail.
Thanks for the link Doc. Very interesting. I've tried the eyes before - didn't work at all. The cable ties did help prevent them the first couple of times until they got used to them and got my ears instead. I haven't tried the wig!!! My wife is from PNG with a thick Afro so maybe she can try it for me? I use a GoPro Helmet cam so maybe I'll do some experiments one day and record it.

However when it comes to the bare head - I don't believe it! As a 70s kid when no-one wore helmets, I remember very clearly being attacked every day until someone shot it or the season ended.

Perhaps maggies hate shining helmets?

Talking of riding to school in the 70's. We had probably 100 kids ride each day but I don't remember any kid getting brain damage in a bike crash. We hit our heads occassionally but too badly. I've probably hit my head just as many times on the surfboard but helmets are not compulsory there even though you could drown if knocked out.
Perhaps maggies hate shining helmets?"

You could be onto something there... could be the basis of a fun little amateur experiment.

"I've probably hit my head just as many times on the surfboard but helmets are not compulsory there even though you could drown if knocked out."

Yes, it is all about risk really and whether the level of risk to the population justifies a mandatory law to try and minimise it. When the risk is so small it is really hard to justify such legislation without considering it for other, more risky activities.
There is also a story at ABC news that doesn't include the comments from BNSW.
I think some letters to BNSW reminding them that they are to represent their members. New CEO, one would hope for a new responsive BNSW from members


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