• Country

Australia’s Largest Cycling Lobby Opposing Mandatory Helmet Law

By Monica Buck

An organization called Bicycle Network claims that Australia’s laws are “out of step” and fail to reduce bike fatalities. The lobby reversed its decades-long support for the policy after a survey among cyclists. Almost 60% of the 20,000 participants called for a change. The organization is therefore calling for a five-year trial that would allow adult cyclists to ride without a helmet.

“The number of people who ride a bike isn’t increasing and there has been no decrease in the number of bike rider fatalities. It’s clear that our bike policies aren’t working, so it’s important that we review everything. Our recommendation is to give people the freedom to choose if they wear a helmet in low-risk circumstances, because that’s what bike riding is ultimately all about, freedom,” said Craig Richards, the chief executive of Bicycle Network.

The extensive survey found out that 58.3% of cyclists want the helmet laws to change. 41.7% want the current status to remain. 17.6% of the respondents believe helmets should never be mandatory.

Riding without a helmet would only be permitted on bike paths and footpaths, according to the proposal. However, New South Wales and Victoria already bar cyclists from riding on footpaths. Those laws would then need to be changed as well. Victoria was the first to introduce mandatory helmet laws in 1990, and the other governments did the same in the following years.

“In low-risk environments where there are no cars, such as on paths and trails, we believe adults should be trusted to decide whether they wear a helmet or not,” the lobby argues.

Do you agree?