Cyclists will go helmet free in rides across Australia on Saturday 14 March in support of helmet choice.
Organised by Freestyle Cyclists, the rides aim to highlight the importance of cycling as a healthy and sustainable form of transport but which is being held back in Australia because of helmet legislation.
Alan Todd, President Freestyle Cyclists said: “Everyone agrees that we have healthier people and safer more liveable cities if we leave the car at home and use a bike instead. But if you do this in Australia, and don’t wear a crash helmet, you will be fined”.
“Internationally bike helmet laws have been almost universally rejected. These laws prevent the uptake of cycling while offering no proven safety benefit at a population level. Outside Australia, people are free to go about their business on bicycles, regardless of what they choose to wear.”
“We live in a world faced with climate uncertainty and an epidemic of ‘lifestyle’ diseases. Fining people for this healthy and non-polluting form of transport makes no sense at all,” said Alan Todd.
“Bicycle Network, Australia’s peak cycling body, has also joined us in calling for helmet law reform.”
“It’s time to admit that Australia got this one wrong, and stop fining healthy transport”, Mr. Todd added.
Bikes account for between 5 to 50 percent of trips in many European cities and towns. Australia is still stuck on the 1% it has been at for 25 years. Public bike share schemes flourish in Europe and the United States, while in Australia, Melbourne has already scrapped two failed schemes and Brisbane’s share bikes are hardly used at all, thanks to our helmet laws.
Health and transport experts openly acknowledge that the Australian experiment in mandatory helmets has been a failure. A Queensland Parliamentary Enquiry recommended in 2014 that a two-year trial exemption be put in place for adult cyclists in low speed environments.
The Northern Territory has long since wound back helmet requirements, and allows adults choice, and in 2016 a Senate Enquiry found insufficient evidence to support claims that helmet laws had improved cycling safety.
The National Cycling Participation survey shows a continuing decline in cycling levels in Victoria (pro rata). Community consultations in 2017 as part of the Victorian Cycling Strategy identified helmet laws as a significant barrier to cycling. Despite this, the minister refused to include any discussion of helmet laws in the strategy. So, after thirty years we have had no review of the laws in Victoria, and over three thousand Victorians are still fined every year for doing something that is good for them and good for the environment.
Melbourne Ride details
The Melbourne ride will start outside Park Street Dining, on the Capital City Trail, 815 Nicholson Street Carlton North, meeting at 10.45am. Our route will follow a mix of quiet back streets and separated cycle/share paths, ending at Abbotsford Convent around 12 noon where everyone is welcome to join in a BYO picnic. Food can also be purchased at the convent.
Supporting rides will take place in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Canberra and Hobart.
Find out more about the Melbourne 'helmet-free' ride on their website here and be sure to attend this Saturday!
Dates: Saturday 14 March
Location: outside Park Street Dining, on the Capital City Trail, 815 Nicholson Street Carlton North