Helmetless riders


Helmetless riders

Sick of fools yelling "where's your helmet"? Can't understand why a safe mode of transport like cycling has been singled out for mandatory helmet wearing? Want to ride with the breeze in your hair? This is your group.

Members: 138
Latest Activity: 1 hour ago

Discussion Forum

Fare Dodging Stockholm-Style

Started by Jason Brown. Last reply by YUGYUG Jul 17. 2 Replies

Help run TV ads in Queensland

Started by Neil Alexander. Last reply by PeterT May 15. 5 Replies

Repeal Day

Started by BikeSaint. Last reply by Common Old Garrwain Apr 1. 5 Replies

Comment Wall

Comment by Paul Martin on August 3, 2012 at 7:24am
Clarification via twitter. Good to see. I hope he takes the journalists to task (and gets some good media training).

"Just to confirm I haven't called for helmets to be made the law as reports suggest. I suggested it may be the way to go to give cyclists more protection legally if involved in an accident. I wasn't on me soap box CALLING, was asked what I thought."

Comment by Tom Nockolds on August 3, 2012 at 7:59am
Not a bad article, overall. One interesting statistic it raises is "One estimate of the effect suggests that for every doubling of cyclist numbers in a city, the risk to every individual cyclist drops by 34 per cent." it says from here http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/7/4/343.2.full

I'm intrigued by this one. If Australia's participation rate dropped by as much as 40%, what resulting increase in risk does this represent to an individual cyclist? The BMJ article self-describes as a "thought experiment", so how appropriate is it to point to this as more evidence to show the failure of the MHL experiment in Australia?

A question (or suite of questions, for the pedants) that nags at me is this: "How many deaths, injuries and lowered health outcomes have the Australian Helmet Laws caused? How much misery and suffering for the poor individuals affected? How much of a burden on the public purse?

We can't quantify the answer to this question, but can we articulate it without damaging the anti helmet law cause?
Comment by St Etienne on August 3, 2012 at 9:50am
The interesting outcome of this event has been the overwhelming public rejection of helmet laws in the UK as a credible safety policy. Extraordinary given that Wiggo's original comments would be seen as a mainstream in Australia and fully supported by our state cycling groups. Just goes to show how much of an international pariah we are on this issue. Embarrassing.
Comment by John G on August 3, 2012 at 10:09am

"We can't quantify the answer to this question, but can we articulate it without damaging the anti helmet law cause?"


I'd disagree with this.  We can use risk management techniques to provide specific estimates of the loss.  It has the advantage that you can bring data from a number of sources into the model, probably in some cases from the same authorities arguing for helmets.

What it remains is a modelled estimate.  You still won’t be able to point to a grave and say ‘that’s because of helmet laws’.  But is does provide a data driven model to say how many bad outcomes we would expect to avoid without helmet laws, and conversly what can be reasonably attributed to them over a period of time.  I’ll post some more details over the weekend.

Comment by Omar@Go! Alliance on August 3, 2012 at 10:43am
Out of step yes, but perhaps we are a pariah to some a model to others - just a matter of perspective, starting point and ones own considered view. No reason to belittle or alienate anyone?

Two questions that intrigue me is whether if/when MHL is repealed or suspended:
1. Does it apply to young children?
2. Will govt feel compelled to encourage voluntary helmet wearing (perhaps with graphic ads)? Even in Copenhagen such helmet campaigns have begun.

To effect change the majority or at least the government will need to feel comfortable that this change is a net positive to society or their fortunes. I would say on current form that we have a lot of work to do to make the public feel enough empathy to move this up the priority list.

Another approach is to build momentum and support by getting limited exemptions in urban areas, attached to speed changes and perhaps bicycle hire schemes. It could get the ball rolling. I call this a package of measures approach.

Of course, we could just try takng a shortcut and approach the Shooter's Party...
Comment by Robflyte on August 3, 2012 at 11:23am

up to 18 years old, helmets yes, children/teens that have not had much experience with bikes may benefit from having some protection, parents will feel better forcing them to have one on and blaming the law rather than themselves.

No helmets on shared paths, travelling at less than 30kph.  Road = helmet for now, OK.

Comment by Tom Nockolds on August 3, 2012 at 12:35pm


"Another approach is to build momentum and support by getting limited exemptions in urban areas, attached to speed changes and perhaps bicycle hire schemes."

Yes, I couldn't agree more.  Personally, I think this represents the best strategy for the anti-MHL lobby to use, and I think an exemption for public bicycle hire schemes would hold broad appeal without rousing the helmet law 'true believers" too much.

There are just so many good reasons for such an exemption:

  • These bikes are extremely safe - look at the extremely low incidence of accidents on similar schemes around the world.  Dublin is a good one to look at as it's the same size as the Melbourne Bike Share.
  • The Melbourne Bike Share is struggling under the manadatory helmet laws.  Freeing it from these shackles could hold the key to success in building patronage.  Again, comparison with Dublin helps.
  • The very nature of these schemes is that they're supposed to appeal to 'spur of the moment' decisions to take a bike - totally against the planning required to bring your own helmet or purchase a helmet.
  • The metropolitan location of these schemes means they're generally located where the best bicycle facilities are - greatest separation between cars and bikes, least incidence of bikes mixing with cars at higher speeds.

This list goes on.

But here's the catch - nothing will happen in this space unless the operators themselves start asking for an exemption to the helmet laws.

Here's an opportunity to give this feedback directly to the Melbourne Bike Share scheme. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PLBZCS3

Get yourselves on the survey; It doesn't take long to tell them what you think about the scheme and the role that helmet laws are playing in its success.



Comment by Robflyte on August 3, 2012 at 1:18pm

helmet exemption in Victoria.  Is it happy hour at the pub already?

Comment by Jim Moore on August 3, 2012 at 1:25pm

A repeal of MHL just for 18+ is not only ageist but will not assist in getting society to vote for proper cycling infrastructure just to serve an out-group as "cyclists" currently are in Australia. It is also not a sustainable model as people simply won't take up cycling at 18 just because they don't have to wear a helmet.

We need cycling infrastructure that is so safe that it is not perceived as dangerous for anybody and that will render as ridiculous any suggestion that anybody needs to wear a helmet when riding.

The Netherlands campaign in the 70s had the motto of "Stop of Child Murder" which everyone could identify and empathise with - a justifiable use of "won't someone think of the children".

All cycling advocacy has to be for *people*, not cyclists, or it won't achieve what is actually required to reach world best practice as per the Dutch.

If anybody hasn't already, I recommend reading David Hembrow's fantastic blog that covers just about everything about cycling infrastructure, helmets and advocacy.

Comment by Jim Moore on August 3, 2012 at 1:26pm

That should be "Stop the Child Murder".


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