History and rationale
Bike Adelaide has carefully considered evidence from many sectors including transport mode share, preventative health, cycling safety, injury rate trends for all transport modes and comparisons with global policy.
Bike Adelaide’s key advocacy approach is to encourage investment in quality cycling infrastructure and lower speeds limits. Unfortunately putting the onus of rider safety back onto individual riders (that is blame the victim) has been the long term policy at all levels of Government and we believe this hinders the responsibility Governments have to provide a safe riding environment. In a hierarchy of controls for transport cycling requiring personal protection is the least reliable policy approach. Bike Adelaide advocates for the most reliable – physically removing the hazard.
Serious injuries and deaths for people choosing to travel by car have decreased. Seat belts and lower speeds limits have contributed to this decline; in this area the evidence is clear that these are effective policies to reduce harm. Lowering speed limits and requiring seat belts are also globally accepted best practice. In comparison, only four countries in the world have mandatory helmet laws and rather than being held up as best practice, in this regard Australia is held up as a “what not to do” example.
We have a health epidemic on our hands and it is not because of injuries. It is because of lifestyle, with many people having illnesses resulting from inactivity. All we want to do is give them a bike! It is crazy that governments do everything they can to get people into a car but do not implement all the necessary safety steps to manage the hazard this creates for others (for example the need for 30km/h local street speeds and protection from vehicles in high speed/high traffic areas) despite the evidence for these measures being very clear. To then put the onus onto pedestrians and cyclists to manage their own safety is outrageous and ineffective.
Bike Adelaide will continue to focus our advocacy efforts on encouraging governments to build quality cycling networks and reduce speeds, but it is important to call out ineffective policy, and helmet laws are a small part of the picture.
Bike Adelaide therefore has the following position regarding compulsory helmet laws for utility riders:
Bike Adelaide believes our city and world are a better place because of those that choose to cycle, and that transport policy should encourage more people to make the switch from the car to the bicycle.
Bike Adelaide believes riding in low risk environments is a safe activity and in these environments people should have the option to choose if they wear a helmet.
Bike Adelaide believes that government is responsible for controlling the hazards presented by motor vehicles. Effective policy to achieve this includes investment in quality cycling networks and low speed environments.
Bike Adelaide does not believe that compulsory helmet laws are an effective policy to ensure rider safety and is interested in investigating possible alternative future trial options including exemptions in low risk environments.
Bike Adelaide therefore supports a trial in line with NT Helmet laws. A trial would look to make helmets optional for people over 17 when riding on off-road paths and footpaths. Supporting this trial Bike Adelaide also calls on the state government to reduce all local street speed limits to 40km/h.
For further information Bike Adelaide encourages you to read the following document: http://www.bikeadelaide.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/201807-Freestyle-Cyclists.pdf