This add series was aired by a friend on TV in Brisbane recently. :-)
QLD recently had change of government the original nanny state party is gone so there is now a good chance that there could be a change to the helmet laws either to an NT style exemption or complete exemption for all adults.
It is remarkable that at time when we are about to be hit with a CO2 tax and with all the public concern over global warming and the huge burden on the health system of sedentary lifestyle diseases that the most efficient and healthy form of transport has been and is still being discouraged by helmet laws. As a result of this law the predominant type of riders remaining on our roads seem to be lycra wearing men on racers - this would tend to suggest that repealing this law would result in a huge increase in the number of other people riding especially women (the NT has the highest participation of women riders of any state - it is also the only region with a bicycle helmet exemption for adults ).
At the same time there is a lack of any statistical evidence of effacicy of helmet laws in fact their failure and large deterrent effect on cycling is both used as...
- so why are we still burdened with this counter productive nanny state law.
Even though 1500 people die in car accidents yearly car drivers are not forced to wear helmets, in fact the government takes our tax and gives it away to incompetent car companies who cant balance their books. !
The government's bias is clear, in your car it's air-conditioned comfort but ride a bike and you get will get fined if you refuse to wear a sweat box on your head even at low speed or offroad.
The Labor governments poor judgment and steadfast refusal to admit their bias is obvious - it is simply appalling that this law not only results in thousands of innocent people being fined every year, which is at best a waste of police time and resources. It also deters thousands more from cycling in favour of motor cars which are one of the primary sources of pollution including not just C02 but other toxins which can cause health problems for people living near roads. Motor vehicles are also responsible for the great majority of pedestrians killed each year and over 90% of cyclist fatalities.
Whether you personally prefer to wear a helmet or not please show your support for reform and support the right of others to choose for themselves.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
I certainly appreciate what you're saying, and I understand the frustration, trust me - I certainly advocate that we should move towards improved safety for cyclists by way of infrastructure improvements, I just dont think we will get there by repealing MHLs first - it seems counter intuitive to me, I still see helmets as a piece of personal protective equipment, and I cant see any government approving improvements to cycling infrastructure on the basis of improving safety, if we go about it by first removing a piece of safety equipment!
I too ride 15k each way, alot of which is in bike lanes, but they are not 24 hr, they are right alongside motor vehicles that wind their way in and out of said lanes, and then there's the stretch between belair and clapham - belair road past windy point. Now on the downhill, you have to go at around 45k/h minimum to avoid cars overtaking you (not hard, usually peel away from cars around the corners anyway) I dont know how others feel about this, but to me being overtaken on that road is more dangerous than riding at speed. On the uphill, I try and keep as far to the left as the usual collection of road detritis that builds up between sweepings allows me. Alot of motorists are really considerate, and wait for a clear view before they overtake, giving you room. Alot of real w#nk3rs don't, they always seem to be driving WRXs or 4WDs. Weird.
The infrastructure that was put in to improve this for us up here was a track that is fine (so long as you have tyres full of green slime) on the way down (and you replace your brake pads weekly), but a heart attack on the way back up. This is part of the problem we as a community of cyclists face, we need to ensure that what governments do implement is going to be an improvement that is user friendly - not just for superfit speedfreaks, but anyone who can pick up a bike and get pedalling - ie, the majority.
And I guess this is my point: yes, lets pressure our government to improve OUR safety on OUR roads (I paid my taxes too!) please follow these links:
make your feelings known here
making improvements to the cbd is a critical first step toward the greater goal of spreading improvements wider throughout suburbia - the only way we will get our councils to spend our rates on such facilities is if they are told what we want! And if we dont tell them, how will they know?
Stephen, I beg you - I'll sign your petition, if you sign mine! I know we both have the same intention here, of improving conditions for safer riding, as I'm sure everone who has posted on or read this discussion!
Please!! Anyone who hasn't started "banging the table" already, it's time to make ourselves heard!
I happily supported your request for 24 hour bike lanes on the following basis.
Mandatory Bike Helmet laws have greatly reduced the number of bike users we have compared to other cities but that is no excuse for the government to avoid spending money on infrastructure like 24 hour bike lanes, it is entirely the governments fault that there are so few bike riders when they get treated so poorly, they should not also be denied bike lanes,
The councils and government trying to claim the lack of demand as an excuse for any lack of infrastructure or to deny building such infrastructure is joke when their own policy of mandatory bike helmet laws was and still is directly responsible for the lack of demand in the first place. !
I have seen the adelaide bicycle police booking students riding along linear park for not wearing helmets and they wonder why we have so few people riding after treating them like that !.
The Laws also read
"you may only ride your bicycle on a footpath if:
you are under the age of 12 or
you are carrying and complying with a certificate issued by your
What is with the under 12yo age limit do they expect a 14year old to know how to ride on the road safely and be strong enough and visible enough to be able to safely interact with motor traffic, even many adults can't do that especially the elderly.
Adults use of the footpaths seems quite reasonable since plenty of car drivers use the bicycle lanes for car parking spaces.
Bike helmets in spite of what many are mislead to believe do not provide sufficient protection from motor vehicles collision or even falling at high speed so for many less confident riders or even just one who is very tired using a footpath at low speeds provides them with an alternative option till they gain confidence.
An even clearer example is places like the Netherlands where very few people wear helmets yet they are around 3 times safer than in countries like Australia with mandatory helmet laws.
It just so happens that David Hembrow's latest blog makes it pretty clear how vastly safer Netherlands cycling infrastructure is than Australian cycling infrastructure. Unless you can put a number on that relative degree of safety you can deduce nothing about the usefulness of MHL. For example here is one random quote from it
In fact, over 40000 km of roads in the Netherlands, a third of the total, have a speed limit of 30 km/h or lower.
Hi Murray Thanks for the links D.Hembrow's site.
That 40000Km is about 1/3rd of their roads but as he points out people often exceed the 30Kmph speed limits.
Over here many suburban streets are 50Km zones people tend to go only as fast as the roads allow it is often slower, suburban streets comprise a large proportion of our roads So we are not really that much different.
He points out there are many factors including a safety in number's effect and their design experience is better because they have more bike riders - we could learn some lessons here.
He writes the following
"So, where do helmets and fluorescent clothing fit in ? For some individuals, wearing such a thing improves their own feeling of safety to the level that they will ride. However, these items actually do little to improve actual safety and can have a negative effect on the subjective safety of other people due to making cycling look dangerous. Where cycling has a high degree of subjective safety, as it does here, no-one wears these safety aids. Dutch cyclists are safer without them than cyclists elsewhere are with them."
It seems we have 3 questions to answer.
1. Is Riding a bike really that dangerous - I don't think so It's actually very safe activity as long as you don't do anything reckless it's just like driving or walking - statistically our safety record
is not a crisis - even walking is about the same risk.
2. Helmets don't actually help make us any safer in terms of serious accidents or fatalaties - data gathered show this to be the case, we are less safe than in the netherlands where few people wear them.
3. Why then do we believe the only way to make people safe is forcing them to wear helmets ! we seem to be missing something here cause the helmet law has failed to do anything other than reduce the number of people riding. !.
It's a catch 22 situation.
By marginalising and criminalising bike users with helmet laws we are focusing on the most ineffective method of accident prevention and we are also creating a misconception that cycling is inherently dangerous. We are saying no matter what you do you will always get hit and people say no way am i gonna ride or let mey kids near a bike so consiquently less and less people do it and our participation rates went down and have stayed down.
Anyone who think's a bike helmet is sufficient protection to stop a child being seriously injured by a 1 tone motor car at 40kmph or even just 20kmph is kidding themsleves , that is just misleading.
Instead of helmet laws the netherlands focus on real safety with education like how to cross roads how to wait for lights to go green, more bike infrastructure and they also get safety in numbers effects,
We introduced helmet laws they did not, Their cycling participation rates and safety increased ours both went downwards by comparison. !
By marginalising and criminalising bike users with helmet laws
Being booked and paying a fine for not having a helmet on will not leave you with a criminal record. It is not criminalising anyone.
We introduced helmet laws they did not, Their cycling participation rates and safety increased ours both went downwards by comparison. !
You keep making the same logical mistake: "We introduced helmet laws they did not". Yes this is correct but it very far from the only thing that Holland and Australia did differently which might have impacted on cycling participation rates and safety. So you cannot deduce that MHL caused participation rates and safety to go down in Australia. Perhaps if we had introduced all the other things the Dutch did as well as MHL our participation and safety rates would have stayed like the Dutch rates.
I seem to be repeating myself so I am going to stop now. Thanks for the conversation.
Just because an offence is non recordable that does not make it non criminal. The police enforce criminal law, the traffic laws are part of the body of criminal law. They are not civil law.
OK thanks. I guess I was equating a bike user being criminalised with a bike user being given a criminal record. But I'm no lawyer so happy to be corrected.
We know Mandatory Bike Helmet laws reduce the number of bike users and thus the government have a great excuse to spend less money on bicycle infrastructure. Why build infrastructure if so few use it.?
And why would you possibly need bike infrastructure it since we are told bike helmets are the only possible way to keep people safe !. The helmet manufacturers tell everyone they are so effective, they are even endorsed by our government who have let themselves be mislead like fools.
Yet it seems many people don't believe them or the government nor should they it seems since they are only usefull for minor events and in some cases even can make injurys worse. Studies and evidence showing they are little more effective than a placibo in serous accidents seem to be ignored by our government..
Deep down though people know the result of being in an accident is going to expensive and even fatal and a foam helmet won't change that.
But we don't tell people them how to avoid these accidents instead the government and law advocates the helmet salesmen tell us they are
inevitable so we must wear a helmet no matter what after all it's completly outside our controll right highly dangerous activity no way to possibly avoid accidents.
So now people dont let their kids ride to school they even stop riding themselves out of fear, some stopped directly because of the law others stopped because of the misconceptions of danger created to justify the law. !
Now we have few bike riders and remainder of the populaiton are too scared to ride and convinced that it's highly dangerous. Wowsers who don't even ride and some who do are convinced we must rely on these laws and keep them - end result we end up with less safety, less infrastructure, less bike users , and exactly where we are now - helmet laws create a negative feedback loop.
If you think I am presuming that such attitudes exist - just look at the comments on news article's like this one there are dozens of examples.
Here is just one.
"Brendan of Helensvale Posted at 7:29 PM November 08, 2010
Mum has a startling attitude to child safety. Where was her child prior to being stopped? She hasn't ensured her child's safety, and anyone who does clearly is infringing on her childs rights to ignore danger. No doubt if her child had been issued a ticket she would have been squealing that police weren't out there catching criminals. What does she use to discipline her children? magic wands, bubbles, or just wishes!!
So this person thinks a boy riding a bike on an open road in the country is considered to be in great danger and believes that the solution is
forcing him to wear a bike helmet ! He also seems to suggest it's irresponbible to have let a 15yo out of the parents sight really. ! It's Rediculous
nanny stateisim next it will be considered normal to lock the children in a cupboard on the weekends to keep them nice and safe. !
In the netherlans instead of a knee jerk reaction and criminalising half the population they did not over react or sell out to plastic helmet retoric and draconian laws. Instead they teach people how to ride safely and avoid accidents. As more people rode they build more infrastructure creating a positive feedback system, the more riders the more infrastructure they needed and built and the safer they felt the safer they became so more people ride. Car drivers are more likley to be bike riders or know them and how to behave near bike riders, due to the larger number of bike riders it creates safety in numbers effects which also make's it even safer.
Any time the Netherlans wants they can introduce bike helmet laws create a negative feedback loop and end up just like us !. But they wisely choose not to for obvious reasons. We seem to be stuck at ~2% while they have over 30% of people riding daily and with the lowest risk of bicycle fatality's in the world.
We made the wrong choice and we seem to have developed a habit for doing it over and over again.
Ok Stephen and Edward you 2 will never agree with me on the helmet law debate. Let me say that I respect you and admire your passion for what you believe in. I also admire your love of cycling.
So putting helmet debate aside which divides us I would love to put our heads together on something we all passionately believe in and that is the push for our government to build a first class cycling infrastructure in this state!
Now that sounds like a plan.
Can't believe this is what I'm famous for. :)
@Number Five I think you will find that Stephen has some kind of medical condition which prevents him from wearing a helmet and is unable to get a medical dispensation to ride without a helmet, so to enable him to ride he would like to see the mandatory helmet laws repealed.It has been pointed out to him that he might be better off by seeking help from a civil libertarian organisation to get dispensation. He and Edward have raised this issue several times with neglible support.