“There is clear evidence that wearing bicycle helmets does reduce the rate of head injuries. There’s also evidence that it can reduce the number of people who cycle,” he said for the ABC News.
Rattenbury believes that potential health risks are worth the benefits this move could bring to Canberra and its citizens.
“We will engage an expert to look at options for low-speed areas... We’ll sit down and have that research done for us over the next couple of years and weigh up the relative benefits. If we have more people out there cycling it actually makes people safer, because cycling is more visible, there’s more people doing it and drivers become more used to having cyclists on the road,” claims the Road Safety Minister.
Other changes would follow this unusual plan – increased fines for drivers caught texting, expansion of 40-kilometre-per-hour zones in town centres, automatic license for serious offences and lowering the number of demerit points for each driver.
You might think it’s crazy to let people cycle without helmets, but there is at least one expert who expressed support towards Rattenbury’s plan. Gordon Waddington, professor of sport and exercise medicine at the University of Canberra, believes there is another side of using helmets nobody talks about. He said there is a proof that when cyclists wear helmets, they tend to behave more dangerously and take more risks, because they believe to be protected. That is, however, not always the case.
“Looking at larger scale research studies now, we can actually see that in fact when we see helmet use go up, we actually don’t see an increase in protection occurring. We do see an increase in protection from lacerations and cuts and damage directly to the skin of the head, but we don’t see protection from significant head injury the way we’d like to have thought it might happen,” said Waddington.
What do you think? Could cycling without a helmet be actually more safe?