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Politics trumps hard-headed reason on bicycle helmets

For a few hours, late last week, it looked like Queensland could become the first Australian state to start relaxing its strict bicycle helmet laws. After months of careful review of the evidence, a state…

Brisbane cyclists have to keep their helmets on after all, including on bike paths. AAP/Dan Peled

For a few hours, late last week, it looked like Queensland could become the first Australian state to start relaxing its strict bicycle helmet laws.

After months of careful review of the evidence, a state parliamentary committee backed the need for A new direction for cycling in Queensland, releasing a 200-page report that recommended, among other things, letting cyclists over 16 ride helmet-free in certain conditions.

Yet within hours of that report being released, the state Transport Minister Scott Emerson called a press conference to reject relaxed bicycle helmet laws, in what I would argue was a clear example of personal views and politics trumping science and evidence.

While the minister will support many of the report’s 68 other recommendations, such as safe passing distance rules for motorists and increased penalties for breaking road rules, he declared that:

Personally I’m a big believer in the benefits of helmets and I believe the evidence shows helmets reduce the risk of serious injury.

That statement sums up well the confusion around this issue.

While on the one hand helmets can protect against some head injuries, particularly minor scrapes and contusions, making them compulsory at all times does not automatically reduce rates of serious injury at a population level.

Clashing heads over helmets

The evidence on the effectiveness of mandatory helmet legislation is highly contested, with many analyses reporting negative effects on cycling participation.

There is compelling evidence that cycling head injury rates were consistently declining before the introduction of helmet legislation (see figure 1, p4 of this report), with any reductions in head injuries attributed to the legislation actually due to a marked reduction in the number of people cycling.

After examining the evidence, the Queensland parliamentary committee summed this up well:

The report notes Australia is one of the few countries in the world that has compulsory helmet laws and the committee was not convinced there was sufficient worldwide evidence of the safety outcomes of compulsory helmet wearing to justify the mandating of helmet wearing for all cyclists.

In other words, the committee was not against encouraging helmet use; instead it was a recognition that, in some circumstances, a helmet may not always be required when cycling.

Making adult decisions

The committee’s recommendation (number 15) was to have a two-year trial, exempting cyclists aged 16 years and over from the mandatory helmet road rule when riding in parks, on footpaths and shared/cycle paths and on roads with a speed limit of 60 km/hr or less.

Those people who want to wear a helmet can certainly continue to do so. The focus on adults is important, as 50% of cycling injuries are among children.

Further, the conditions of the trial are those scenarios where the risk of a cycling crash, or the even less likely event of a head injury, is very, very low. In the conditions where the risk of cycling is high, such as road racing or mountain biking, helmets are still required.

An important aspect of this recommended trial was to evaluate it carefully, with baseline measurements and data collection on injury and cycling participation. This trial could have established the evidence, either for or against this helmet law reform, and finally lay to rest the debate over the value of helmet legislation.

What a sensible idea! We could have had real world evidence to inform policy, but instead we have seen one politician and his advisers who know better.

Is this another example of politicians being out of touch with the majority views of the public? Consider the views on increasing spending of taxpayers’ money on public transport in Sydney (supported by the public) versus investment in motorways (supported by the government).

On this issue, many local councils around the country, including Brisbane, Fremantle, and the lord mayors of Adelaide and Sydney have publicly expressed their support of reviews of helmet laws, seeing them as one barrier to increasing cycling participation.

The negative effect of helmet legislation on the bicycle share schemes in Brisbane and Melbourne has also been well-documented.

Queensland has missed a good opportunity to start bringing Australia back to parity with the rest of the world.

It is worth remembering that the Northern Territory already has legislation, which allows helmet-free cycling on footpaths and cyclepaths. They have one of the highest rates of cycling participation by women, and cycling mode share for journey to work in the country. Their cycling injury rates are no different to the rest of the country.

Despite this lack of political leadership on bicycle helmet law reform, if the other recommendations of the Queensland parliamentary committee are implemented, there should be significant improvements in cycling. These are to be applauded.

If the Queensland transport minister can’t be persuaded to change his mind, then perhaps it will be up to another state now to do what needs to be done to trial and evaluate what happens when you relax bicycle helmet laws.

Join the conversation

166 Comments sorted by

  1. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " There is compelling evidence that cycling head injury rates were consistently declining before the introduction of helmet legislation (see figure 1, p4 of this report), with any reductions in head injuries attributed to the legislation actually due to a marked reduction in the number of people cycling. "
    No doubt committees could come up with all sorts of justifications re supporting recommendations and yet they should also consider potentials.
    First off, there does not need to be a collision…

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    1. Daniel Gardiner

      Trader

      In reply to Greg North

      I often ride my pushy to work. Do I wear a helmet? Yes. If helmet laws were relaxed would I still wear a helmet? Yes. If I want to ride 1km to the shop (along quiet roads) I should have the choice of not wearing it

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    2. Michael O'Reilly

      Journalist

      In reply to Greg North

      Righto, here's an idea. If you want to wear a helmet, WEAR ONE.

      But don't force your preference on other people.

      Sorted.

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    3. In reply to Greg North

      Comment removed by moderator.

  2. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    You straw manned this really badly,

    first; "protect against some head injuries, particularly minor scrapes and contusions" - "making them compulsory at all times does not automatically reduce rates of serious injury at a population level."

    Those two statements do not make any sense, a seat belt will prevent some injuries.......but making them compulsary at all times does not automatically reduce rates of serious injury at a population level........obviously.....the only person who would need to state this is someone building a straw man

    Second; I am sure that having to have a road worthy car before being allowed to drive on the roads is also a barrier to participation in driving

    it doesn't then follow that because its a barrier....it should be removed

    rediculous article, really badly written, personal prejudice over evidence

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Prof Rissell owns a cherry orchard, I believe.

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    2. The Warrior Factor

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      In those instances where a seat-belt doesn't do the job, a helmet would take over. Seat-belts are not the analogy. They offer no protection when your head smashes the interior of a car or during a rollover. Only a helmet does. Please, there's so many lives we can save. Far, far more than cyclists. Please, please, if it's just one life, it's worth it. No doubt you'll snub the proposal. Why? Oh, because it affects you. That is the crux of this issue: bigotry and hypocrisy on a voiceless minority by a pretentious majority. Shame.

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    3. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Michael Strand seems to have forgotten that cycling keeps people healthy – a benefit to society because it helps avoid expensive medical treatment for heart attacks, strokes and even dementia. Despite almost zero helmet wearing, Anderson et al. found that cycling to work decreased the risk of mortality by “approximately 40% after multivariate adjustment, including leisure time physical activity." - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10847255

      There is lots of evidence that helmet laws discourage…

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Cycling can improve health, absolutely - but so can walking to public transport and walking part-way or all the way to work and shops. There is no reason to privilege cycling over other forms of exercise. There is a dose-response effect to physical activity not some particular virtue attached to cycling itself - it is not physiologically superior to other forms of exercise of similar intensity and duration.
      That notwithstanding, I would draw you to the statistics of countries that do not have MHLs…

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    5. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The rise in cycling from the 1970s to MHL was against the increasing car ownership trend. Census data are one reliable source. In Australian states without enforced helmet laws, cycling to work (single mode journeys) increased steadily from 1.30% (1976) to 1.94% (1981), 2.15% (1986) and 2.28% (1991). In states where helmet laws were enforced in 1991, the decline coincided with the 1991 census: 1.04% (1976) to 1.41% (1981), 1.47% (1986), 1.22% (1991).

      Evidence suggests that the increasing…

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    6. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to The Warrior Factor

      Hi Warrior - you may not have seen but we don't allow aliases on this site, and we also ask people to keep their comments courteous (we had to remove some of the back & forth between you & Michael for that reason). It's all outlined our Community Standards, partly copied below.

      Could you please re-register with your real name if you'd like to keep commenting on articles? Thanks, all the best.

      "We aim to maintain theconversation.com service as an inviting space to focus on intelligent discussions. Be courteous.

      "We require real names. Contributors who want to comment must use their real names when signing up for an account on The Conversation. Organisation representatives creating accounts also must use their own names. Requiring real names helps us maintain a transparent and credible forum for discussion and debate. We reserve the right to delete comments made from profiles with partial names or aliases."

      Read more: https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards

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    7. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy seems to have either forgotten, or not be aware that given the VASTLY different (ie. better) cycling infrastructure in Denmark, it is not valid to extrapolate the Anderson results to Australian (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/05/07/how-come-the-dutch-got-cycle-paths-and-we-didnt/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/External_validity).

      Dorothy also seems to have forgotten to provide a references to support her claims that "The estimated the health benefits of cycling are about 20…

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    8. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      You claim that "nobody claims helmet laws are the only factor", but that seems to **exactly** what the BHRF (of which you are both a patron and editorial board member) is saying, eg. "The enactment of helmet laws in Australia in the early 1990s had a major impact on cycle use. Whereas cycle use prior to the laws had been generally increasing, as soon as laws were passed and enforced cycle use fell sharply".

      Where on your (BHRF) site is it pointed out that helmet laws are **not** the only factor…

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    9. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      You claim that "the evidence that helmet laws reduced cycling seems a lot more convincing that any evidence that they reduced head injury rates per cyclist". As demonstrated in my post above, examination of **all** the evidence (not just a cherry-picked version that ignores inconvenient facts) indicates that the reduction in cycling would have been both **small** (~5%) and **short-lived** (<18 months).

      Your claim that there is of a lack of convincing evidence that the helmet laws reduced head…

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    10. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Re your claim that "It would have been far better for public health if such people had continued cycling without helmets" . . .

      The Carr results indicate that the helmet law was responsible for a 40% reduction in the number of serious/severe (AIS3/4) head/brain injuries, or 30 such injuries per year in Victoria. This equates to about 90 AIS3/4 head/brain injuries per year Australia-wide. This severity of head/brain injury causes permanent life-long disability, with estimated long-term care costs…

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    11. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Linda: Remind me never to get into an argument with you!

      Something that seems to be being missed here is whether there is any fun in riding a bike with a helmet.

      Then, in my view a helmet is like airbags, after smash protection. As with driving a car, I would rather time and effort be put into selecting the right vehicle and developing driving/riding skills.

      Ian Chappell's attitude to arm guards and body armour for batsmen is if you go out with all this protection you expect to get hit, so what the hell is the bat for?

      I will back my (fading) driving skills against the after crash protection.

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    12. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      One way to put the effects of helmet laws into perspective is to look at the raw (unadjusted) data to see if there’s a response to the introduction of the law, or just a continuation of what was happening beforehand.

      For example, in NZ, there is a downward trend in adult head injuries which does not appear to change in response to a big jump in the proportion of adults wearing helmets - http://cyclehelmets.org/1241.html. Can you imagine the outcry if the red line represented road injuries before…

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    13. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      You cite a graph on your (anti-) Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation (BHRF) as showing that "in NZ, there is a downward trend in adult head injuries which does not appear to change in response to a big jump in the proportion of adults wearing helmets - http://cyclehelmets.org/1241.html";.

      If my aim was "to present a distorted and biased picture" of the impact of the NZ helmet law on cyclist head injuries, I would produce a graph showing
      - the ON-ROAD helmet wearing rate
      - cyclist head injuries…

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    14. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Re "In most cases, when the data are expressed as percentages with head injury, it is very difficult to spot any obvious change when helmet laws were introduced" . . .

      As noted in my post above, (bio-)statisticians who are competent in analysing such data do not analyse the change in %HI, they analyse the changes in head and non-head injuries counts/ratios. Also as noted in my post above, the data in your 2001 article shows that cyclist head injuries fell by 13% when cyclist limb injuries rose…

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    15. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      You say "I find it strange that anyone would want to cite the effect of the law on head injuries, without mentioning the obvious effect on non-head injuries, unless the aim is to present a distorted and biased picture". I find it WAY BEYOND strange that after reading my posts, which in which the word 'non-head' was used MORE THAN 10 TIMES, you have made this claim. (This suggestion from Jake Olivier to you was also quoted in one of those posts: "Perhaps you should spend some time actually reading…

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    16. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Povey’s paper states that the injuries to NZ cyclists not involving motor vehicles were on-road injuries. Linda rants about distortions from off-road injuries, because she jumped to false conclusions instead of checking facts.

      Another fact is that the Wang paper says:
      “After checking the residual plots and test for serial correlation, it seems that the model assumptions for Model (4) are satisfied”.
      Wang’s Model (4) fits both helmets and a time trend and shows that there is no significant additional…

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    17. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy seems to have worked herself up into a frenzy of confusion, and has produced a (great long) rant that is litany of errors, ignorance, misrepresentations and (selective) omissions . . .

      'rant' appeared 8 (?!) times in Dorothy's litany, does she thinks that others are incapable of recognising a rant when they see one? (Some might consider that Dorothy's 8 occurrences of 'rant', including 4 of "great long rant", a gold medal-worthy rant.)
      . . .
      Dorothy starts by ranting on about me…

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    18. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy bangs on about 'safety in numbers', this article http://acrs.org.au/wp-content/uploads/26_Olivier_PR.pdf debunks her (2005) 'safety in numbers' article. Olivier's article also explains how another study re another anti-helmet chestnut that she bangs on about, risk compensation, does not in fact support the risk compensation hypothesis.

      She then rants on about me failing to report that "the 40% reduction in numbers of head injuries . . .". If Dorothy checks the facts, she will find that…

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  3. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    As usual this is reduced to monofactorial rendering of the issue. Cycling safety is a product of many factors; including road design; legislation; driver attitude, skill and education - a helmet is a mitigator after the fact. Cycling participation is a product of safety perception; road design; business and flow and occasionally helmet dislke.

    By all means relax helmet laws for adults, I'm all for citizens being at liberty as to how they assess risk. But don't for a minute pretend that this will decrease head injury rates, especially in the absence of meaningful legislation change, improved road design, improved driver attitudes and a change in driver culture.

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    1. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The real question is really quite simple, which is preferable increased bike riding by Australians or that they be forced to wear helmets to reduce (not eliminate) head injuries.
      Increased participation by Australians with bike riding means better overall health outcomes, fuel savings, reductions in pollution in metropolitan areas and fewer cars on the road.
      Helmets means when the is an accident then the top of their head are somewhat protected, whilst the rest of the body is exposed including the spine, neck, face and all those bare limbs and joints.
      Since bike helmet laws came in, we have all seen school yards empty of bike racks with fewer than 1/10th of the number of students riding bikes. I have rarely seen an adult on a bike and I myself have not ridden since the helmet laws came in (a bike ride for me was a quick trip to the shop and wearing a helmet took the pleasure from it).

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      "Since bike helmet laws came in, we have all seen school yards empty of bike racks with fewer than 1/10th of the number of students riding bikes." Err, you're forgetting the other factor, which is since cycle helmet laws came in, it's become de rigeur to transport little Tarquin to and from school in the family Toorak Tractor.

      "I have rarely seen an adult on a bike and I myself have not ridden since the helmet laws came in". I've never stopped riding a bike, and have no problems with helmets.

      As a survivor of a major head injury (I was a pedestrian who got a fractured skull when struck by a car) I can assure that avoiding head injury is more valuable than the feeling of the warm wind in my hair.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to David Arthur

      "... it's become de rigeur to transport little Tarquin to and from school in the family Toorak Tractor."

      I forgot to mention, by the way, that I know of one young lady who suffered permanent orthopaedic damage, with pain and progressive paraplegia, as a result of being struck by one such vehicle while cycling to school.

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    4. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Arthur

      "As a survivor of a major head injury (I was a pedestrian who got a fractured skull when struck by a car) I can assure that avoiding head injury is more valuable than the feeling of the warm wind in my hair."

      Perhaps we should have mandatory helmet laws for pedestrians?

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Craig Read

      What's the probability of suffering head trauma as pedestrian? Very low.

      What's the probability of suffering head trauma as motor-cyclist? Considerably higher than pedestrian.

      What's the probability of suffering head trauma as push-bicyclist? Between the aforementioned two.

      Should we do away with mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists? Perhaps the discussion would be advanced with numbers on costs of running Casualty wards, and actuarial estimates of aggregate lifetime losses against helmet purchase costs.

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    6. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Arthur

      "What's the probability of suffering head trauma as pedestrian? Very low."

      Sure it's low, but it's not non-existent.

      I've had some close calls myself as a pedestrian. Every one of them from people turning right without slowing down or giving way to pedestrians. I also know people who have been hit by vehicles hard enough to break bones while crossing the road with the lights. But despite having several friends and work colleagues cycle to work on a daily basis, only one of them has had any sort of accident in the same time period. He's now much more careful around tram tracks as a result.

      As for motorcycle helmet laws? If it's a 50km/h (or slower) speed zone, why not? The police seem to be able to fine people for doing 1km/h over the speed limit these days, I'm sure they can add that factor in easy enough.

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    7. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Craig Read

      I think the strawman of:
      "We should have compulsory helmets for pedestrians because of MHLs for bikes. Therefore, as helmets for pedestrians seems absurd therefore MHLs for bikes is also absurd"

      if you look at it is not good logic. MHLs for bicycles exists because the state accepts the cost of insurance for injury/deaths on public roads as cyclists are vehicles on public roads. Furthermore, cyclists are at risk for 100% of the journey on a road. pedestrians are at risk realistically onmly at intersections when they cross the road and are exposed to traffic. What you are really arguing for here is not repealing MHLs, but having better intersection safety for pedestrians;or, if you want to be vexatious, helmets at intersections for pedestrian usage. However as an argument AGAINST MHLs it bears no weight. Same goes for the 'driving helmet' argument against MHLs.

      There ARE compelling arguments against MHLs but your argument is not one of them.

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    8. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Craig Read

      I haven't ridden a motorbike since compulsory helmets came in.
      Today you see little kids swaddled while on a trike. Horse riders all with helmets, cyclists helmeted --- no fun in any of it any more.
      Yes, I rode horses -- on the hunting field --- ordinary push bikes upon tracks that they now have specialty designed bikes for.
      Is any of it necessary?

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  4. Rod Andrew

    Editor, teacher, engineer

    Well ... what to make of this?
    From all I've read previously by the medical profession I thought helmets reduced injuries.
    The argument about 'reducing participation' is ridiculous. The same could be said about seat belts and motor bike helmets. There were vigorous campaigns against both of these.
    The worst thing is that this will encourage kids not to wear helmets. By attempting to define 'safe' circumstances, the law will become unenforceable. Even now police seem to ignore the helmet laws.
    Helmets protect against accidents - unforeseen circumstances.
    I think we could allow no helmets under two conditions:
    -that you sign a waiver freeing the state from all obligation to help you and treat if you get a head injury as a result
    -that you only do it when you know you're not going to have an accident.

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    1. David Coles

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rod Andrew

      The waiver sounds good but should we include smokers, dopers and drivers as well?

      Perhaps it would make more sense to simply say that you can only ride on a road shared with motorised vehicles with a helmet. Otherwise make your own decision.

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    2. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Coles

      I think the issue is we can't leave people to die in the street if they crash with or without a helmet.

      I would love it if we as a society let people make their own choices - say if you want to speed 120k on a school road at 15:00 on a school day - go for it

      unfortunately we have to send in ambulance, police, we have to scrap the bodies off the ground, etc and someone needs to pay for all that, if you hit someone else, especially a kid the parents get all emotional about the death of their child

      it seems we can never get away from the fact that our actions impact those around us

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    3. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Rod Andrew

      Given that riding a bike without a helmet reduces the expenditure and results in longer and healthier life, we should be rewarding people who ride with or without a helmet. The health benefits of riding outweigh the risks from all causes, including head injuries, so discouraging cycling has a net negative health impact.

      The same can't be said of driving a car with or without seatbelts - no improvement to health either way. And if seatbelt law does discourage driving, where is the downside to that?

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    4. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      This idea that requiring a helmet is a major barrier to people riding

      any proof of that?

      I would of thought being fat, unfit, living far from work, not having cycle lanes, weather being too hot / too cold, general laziness are vastly more important issues

      I mean we require the bike to have brakes as well - is this also a barrier to people? or do most bike shops sell the bike with brakes? and do most bike shops sell helmets as well?

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    5. Jarrod Chestney-Law

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rod Andrew

      "The argument about 'reducing participation' is ridiculous. "

      Not really. It's well documented.

      "I think we could allow no helmets under two conditions:"

      I think I should be allowed to ride 2 minutes down the road without a helmet if I choose to. No one is stopping you from wearing a helmet.

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    6. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      Oh, grow up. I've been cycling longer than you, and my helmet is as essential a part of cycling as my bike.

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    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Rod Andrew

      No need to sign waivers. Just "no helmet, no Medicare funding for Casualty."

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    8. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Arthur

      Freestyle Cyclists is a group, not an individual. The author of the remark you refer to has been riding since 1964, most of his life without the help of helmet laws.

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    9. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Did you bother to read the evidence listed by Dorothy Robinson above?

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    10. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      So the time I was concussed when a car didn't give way and knocked me off my bike, and my helmet prevented a fractured skull doesn't count?

      In 1980, a friend of mine was not paying due care and attention while cycling, had a minor collision that caused him to lose control and ultimately fall off. I don't know if his unhelmeted head impact was with the side of the bus, or with the pavement; what I do know is they switched the ventilator off 4 weeks later.

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    11. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      Dr Glen Koorey, recently carried out an investigation into virtually all on-road cycling fatalities in NZ from January 2006 to December 2012. “Only nine victims were noted as not wearing a helmet, similar to current national helmet‐wearing rates (92%). This highlights the fact that helmets are generally no protection to the serious forces involved in a major motor vehicle crash; they are only designed for falls … There is a suspicion that some people (children in particular) have been “oversold…

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    12. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Ski helmets should work a lot better than bike helmets for cyclists in high impact collisions with motor vehicle. But, according to the NY times:

      "Schumacher’s injury also focused attention on an unsettling trend. Although skiers and snowboarders in the United States are wearing helmets more than ever — 70 percent of all participants, nearly triple the number from 2003 — there has been no reduction in the number of snow-sports-related fatalities or brain injuries in the country, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

      "Experts ascribe that seemingly implausible correlation to the inability of helmets to prevent serious head injuries like Schumacher’s and to the fact that more skiers and snowboarders are engaging in risky behaviors: skiing faster, jumping higher and going out of bounds. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/sports/on-slopes-rise-in-helmet-use-but-no-decline-in-brain-injuries.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&;

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    13. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      "... virtually all on-road cycling fatalities in NZ from January 2006 to ..."

      With due respect, Dr Robinson, that word "virtually" concerns me. What was the criterion that excluded some fatalities from the study?

      You refer to declines in rates of cycling in jurisdictions where laws on helmets have been introduced. Well, back when they introduced compulsory helmet laws, there were sod-all Toorak tractors transporting all the little Tarquins to school - back then, it was safe for kids to ride all the way to school. Crikey, even I rode to school, along streets that were wide enough for sedans to pass cyclists without incident.

      That said, I agree that a trial would be a good idea, because it will allow epidemiological data. Similarly, I'm in favour of legalising recreational cannabis use.

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    14. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      I believe the study included all cyclist deaths on New Zealand roads or pathways between January 2006 and December 2012, but not off‐road fatalities such as mountain biking accidents.

      In Victoria, teenage cycling reduced by 43% within a year of the law, and 46% after 2 years. In NSW, schoolkids were asked if they had cycled in the past week. Of those that had not, 51% said it was because of helmet restrictions, far more than the 18% who said it was because they were concerned about safety, or the 20% who said it was because of parents.

      The increased popularity of SUVs took place over many years - the effect we are talking about here is a big drop in cycling that coincided exactly with the introduction of the helmet law.

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    15. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Thanks for that. So the gradual increase in kiddies being driven to school may have been driven by the kiddies refusing to ride?

      In terms of getting kiddies back onto bikes, are there alternatives to letting them go helmetless? Or should we just let them live through having a few classmates turned to vegetables?

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    16. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to David Arthur

      http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/CyclingintheNetherlands2009.pdf

      Cycling should be enjoyable, relaxing and safe. This can be
      achieved by what is usually called good ‘bicycle policy’. A wide range of measures are required. 'Enjoyable' does not relate to the police fining thousands of cyclists for riding without a helmet.

      Reducing the risk of an accident occurring is the prime objective.

      Helmet laws were a mistake and the focus should have been on accident avoidance, improving safety without insisting that all cyclists wear helmets.

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    17. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      "Helmet laws were a mistake and the focus should have been on accident avoidance, improving safety without insisting that all cyclists wear helmets."

      Reducing risk of accident is fine, and to be encouraged.

      While we're figuring how to achieve that, there are helmets.

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    18. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      Unless my maths is deficient, if you double the injury rates, but helmet laws prevent perhaps 10% of serious head injuries, the risk of becoming a 'vegetable' would be about 80% higher than without a law.

      Helmets don't work miracles. As I said before, here’s an example of a NZ cyclist who, despite wearing a helmet, suffered severe head injuries and died after hitting a dog - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10639076

      Canadian data for children provide…

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    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      It crosses my mind that where helmet laws resulted immediate decrease in cycle use, it was all among school-age children.

      Against that, there's a rising trend of adult cyclists, who aren't bothered about helmet laws; if anything, they see the sense in wearing helmets. Maybe that's part of the maturity of being adult.

      I'd suggest that, any adults who choose to not cycle because of helmet laws are probably a bit too juvenile (immature) in their outlook anyway?

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    20. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dr Robinson, on a quantitative basis, my argument may not make sense.

      However, when an individual child sees the consequences of another individual child suffering catastrophic brain injury, normal quantitative considerations are less relevant against this extreme event.

      Anyway, as I've just posted in another comment to you, since cycling rates among children suddenly decreased after mandatory helmet laws were introduced, there's been a steady increase in cycling among adults irrespective of helmet laws.

      It is cycling rates among adults that we want to see increase; those adults who are dissuaded from cycling because of helmets are probably insufficiently mature to count, anyway.

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    21. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      'Helmet laws were a mistake and the focus should have been on accident avoidance . . . '

      Stating what ought to be the bloody obvious, and applying equally to drivers of motor vehicles!

      And this doesn't included having someone walking ahead waving a red flag, either.

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    22. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to David Arthur

      According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over 1 in 12 Queenslanders are affected by an acquired brain injury (ABI). Stroke is the leading cause of ABI with around 60,000 new and recurrent strokes occur in Australia each year, by proportion approaching 13000 for Queensland or 277 per 100000 people.

      Considering cardiovascular disease:
      • is heart, stroke and blood vessel disease
      • kills one Australian nearly every 11 minutes – approx. one per hour for QLD
      • affects more…

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    23. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Mr Clarke, you present an excellent case for more cycling.

      What you do not present is any sort of case for cycling without appropriate head protection.

      Adults are quite capable of recognising that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the disadvantages of "helmet hair". If you can't see this, maybe you're not yet grown up.

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    24. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      What “rising trend of adult cyclists”? Census data and travel surveys show substantially less adult cycling per person than before helmet laws.
      Aus States with enforced helmet laws in 1991: 1.68% (86), 1.56% (91), 1.29% (2011)
      Aus States without enforced helmet laws in 1991: 2.15% (86), 2.28% (91), 1.41% (2011)
      Average number of cycle trips Aus (1985/86) for people aged 18 and over: 0.050
      Average number of cycle trips (Aus, 2013) for people aged 18 and over:: 0.038
      So adult cycling is now…

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    25. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Thanks for that clarification of my misunderstanding. I was assuming increased adult cycling based on my personal impression, not on data.

      Looking at NZ:
      "8 minutes per adult per week pre-law [1993?] to 5 minutes per week in the first post-law [1994-5?] survey then gradually climbed back up to 8 minutes [2012-3?]"
      Could be, after 20 years, a new generation of adult NZ cyclists who never experience the joys of helmetless cycling now find helmeted cycling quite enjoyable.
      That is, lots of the…

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    26. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to David Arthur

      "What you do not present is any sort of case for cycling without appropriate head protection."

      In 2007 I presented details.
      http://www.ta.org.br/site/Banco/7manuais/colin_clarke_cycle_helmet.pdf

      Additional information on NZ can be viewed,
      http://www.cycle-helmets.com/nz-clarke-2012.pdf

      If the elevated cycleways arrive in London I think some will wear helmets and others may not, as they currently do.

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    27. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Thanks for this information, Mr Clarke.

      If some UK cyclists wear helmets and others do not, then there is already available some comparative data on head injury?

      I assume you have such data, and it shows that helmets make no difference to severity of injuries suffered. And yet we have this from Cook & Sheik, Inj Prev 2003;9:266-267 doi:10.1136/ip.9.3.266, "Trends in serious head injuries among English cyclists and pedestrians" (http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/9/3/266.full)
      Abstract…

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    28. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to David Arthur

      Sorry about your head injury and I expect we can all sympathise with anyone who has experience. Hoping the following information may assist.

      With regards to the Cook & Sheik report, 1995-2000. The percentage reduction in head injury admissions was more than the increase in helmet wearing.

      http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/publications/1985/pdf/Bic_Crash_1.pdf

      Viewing Table 1 Appendix 2, near the end of the report, cyclists on average had shorter stays than other road users…

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    29. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      In Australia, the biggest drop in adult cycling is in the 18-30 year olds, those who have grown up with the law. In 1985/6 this age group averaged 0.66 trips per week. With cycling reported to be booming in the late 1980s, the average could well have been substantially higher in 1990 just before the helmet law was introduced.

      Estimates from the 2013 survey are 0.31 trips per week, a 53% reduction on 1985/86 and perhaps a 60% or 70% reduction on cycling of 18-30 year olds immediately before the law.

      Your prediction that cycling will increase certainly isn't true for Australia, which has seen a significant fall in the amount of cycling over the past 2 years, despite a National Cycling Strategy that aims to double the amount of cycling over 5 years.

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    30. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      Let me, too, express my sympathy about the head injury you suffered as a pedestrian. Bike helmets almost certainly protect pedestrians and motor vehicle occupants. In 1997, brain injury researchers in Adelaide estimated that: “an even greater level of protection would be provided (for car occupants) by the use of protective headwear. The total benefits associated with headwear in the form of a soft shell bicycle helmet were estimated to be $380 million (assuming a fully airbag equipped fleet…

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    31. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      18-30 year olds in 1986 are 45-67 year olds in 2013.

      18-30 year olds in 2013 might cycle less because they don't have a family history of cycling. By the time they were born, many of their parents had stopped cycling, so that it will take time (a couple of generations) for cycling rates to pick up again.

      Given the overt hostility against cycling in some of our more reprehensible media organisations, particularly over the last couple of years, we can expect that improvement in cycling rates will take time, despite some National Cycling Strategy.

      My personal view is that this hostility was deliberately manufactured by political opponents of the governing Party at the time of the launch of the National Cycling Strategy, wholly in keeping with the "oppose for the sake of opposing" approach of our present PM and his minions.

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    32. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      So, at the same time as expressing your personal sympathy, you'd insist that naifs with no realisation of head injury risk, may be permitted to purchase bicycles, then go out and happily trundle along?

      In other words, you insist on the "right" of others to unwittingly put themselves at risk of the debilitation I've endured.

      Instead, I propose that cycle helmets be mandated with a specific "opt-out" clause requiring lodging of a stat dec setting out your conscientious objection to you wearing a helmet. That way, those of you who have thought about the issue and reached an informed view can do as you consider appropriate, and the rest of we bunnies may be relatively "safe".

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    33. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy's statement that "Unless my maths is deficient, if you double the injury rates, but helmet laws prevent perhaps 10% of serious head injuries, the risk of becoming a 'vegetable' would be about 80% higher than without a law" is excellent example of GIGO, ie. the maths is correct but the calculation is based on Dorothy's mythical big decrease in cycling participation.

      Carr et al. noted that helmet law appeared to be responsible for a 40% REDUCTION in the PROPORTION of serious/severe (AIS3/4…

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    34. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy states that "When Alberta passed a helmet law for children in May 2002, the Edmonton Sun wrote in July 2003: “In the years 1999 to 2001, the percentage of head injuries among all bicycle-related injuries remained relatively constant at just above 5%. By the end of October 2002 . . ."

      Even with Dorothy's track-record-par-excellence in the 'selective' reporting/suppressing data/results, her failure to note the warnings contained in the Edmonton Sun article was 'impressive' . . .

      'The…

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    35. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Linda Ward

      http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/125-1349/5046/
      NZ report
      Summary -
      Cyclist’s injury risk per hour increased by 20–32%.

      South Australia
      http://cyclehelmets.org/1194.html shows data for cycling to work in South Australia, dropping from 2.27% in 1986 to 1.27% by 1996, down by 44%.

      Victoria
      http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/muarc076.pdf
      Carr et al report, Conclusions page 21, no reliable exposure data.

      Table below shows some of the reductions in cycling.

      Melbourne....................All…

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    36. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Carr et al. comment “it is possible that a part of the change relates to the reduced exposure to crash risk of bicyclists since the legislation's introduction”. Most people understand this as an admission that their models could not differentiate between changes due to safer roads, reduced cycling, or increased helmet wearing.

      Statistical models, just like correlations, are not proof of causation. Common sense should tell anyone looking at the data that the big reduction in non-head injuries…

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    37. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dr Glen Koorey, who apparently has a PhD in engineering, but no statistical qualifications (http://www.development.org.nz/about-us/our-presenters-coaches-and-consultants/personInfo?person=47), concluded on the basis of a crude analysis of 84 NZ cyclist fatalities, that "helmets are generally no protection to the serious forces involved in a major motor vehicle crash; they are only designed for falls".

      Associate Professor Jake Olivier, senior lecturer in statistics at UNSW, has demonstrated how…

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    38. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy's claim of a 56% reduction in kids cycling (in Alberta, Canada) is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, based on a crude and incorrect 'analysis' of the data.

      It is staggering that as a "senior statistician" (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.(gov/pmc/articles/PMC1410838/pdf/bmj3320722a.pdf)) and BHRF edititorial board member Dorothy has failed to notice/take into account the 'oversampling' of the school sites. In 2000, there were 854 child cylists (per hour) counted at school sites, 108 in the…

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    39. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy claims that "most people understand" that Carr et al's comment that "it is possible that part of the change" relates to reduced exposure" is an "admission that their models could not differentiate between changes due to safer roads, reduced cycling, or helmet wearing".

      Only if "most people" had either not read my previous replies to Dorothy, which included these quotes from the Carr study . . .

      Overview: "The mandatory helmet wearing legislation has had a SIGNIFICANT, positive impact on…

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    40. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy states that the Qld parliamentary committee “was not convinced there was sufficient worldwide evidence of the safety outcomes"

      I could not find any claim in the committee's report (http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/THLGC/2013/INQ-CYC/rp-39-29Nov13.pdf) that they had reviewed "worldwide evidence". However, a newspaper article contains the claim that "the committee was not convinced there was sufficient worldwide evidence" (http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/queensland-cyclists-may-go-helmet-free-tourist-are/2099738

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    41. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      In noting that "Census data and travel surveys show substantially less adult cycling per person than before helmet laws", Dorothy seems to have fallen into one of the first traps that public health research students are taught not to fall into - confusing association with causation.

      Despite it having been brought to Dorothy's attention multiple times, Dorothy has yet again (yawn) overlooked the fact that there was substantially less travel to work by bus, ferry/tram and train than before helmet…

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    42. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Using just one data point either side of the NZ helmet law, and the same 'logic' as Clarke (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327159), Dorothy attributes a " big increase in fatal and serious inuries not involving motor vehicles" to the helmet law. A letter by Wang et al. in response to Clarke's article (http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/, 14 Feb issue) notes that Clarke's analysis failed to meet any of the Bradford-Hill criteria to provide (even) minimal evidence of a causal relationship between…

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    43. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Linda Ward

      With regards to my New Zealand paper, that was peer reviewed.
      Evaluation of New Zealand’s bicycle helmet law
      See http://www.cycle-helmets.com/nz-clarke-2012.pdf

      It mentions;
      [The NZ Ministry of Transport stated ‘The travel surveys show that from 1989/90 to 2005/08, the average time spent cycling per week decreased from 28 minutes to 8 minutes among those aged 5–12 years and from 52 minutes to 12 minutes among those aged 13–17 years.’5 Averaging data for the two age groups implies a 75% reduction…

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  5. Janeen Harris

    chef

    Maybe it would be a good idea if Queensland let motorbike riders go without a helmet. Then they would be able to get rid of the bikie problem.

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  6. Nigel Perry

    Computer Scientist at University of Canterbury

    Support for MHLs for bicycling comes from asking the wrong question, ask the right one and the conclusion is rather different.

    Wearing a helmet while driving, oops sorry bicycling, clearly has the potential to reduce injuries. That does not imply the mandating helmets is appropriate or beneficial - something the MHL lobby would wish us to believe. To decide whether a law is justified many more factors need to be considered. If this were not the case we'd all by law be wearing helmets in our cars…

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Nigel Perry

      "should participants in an activity which benefits their own health and saves Society money be fined?"

      depends what the activity but more importantly - do you know what a strawman is?

      Are we fining people for cycling? no, didn't think so, so your question is entirely ficticious.

      As an example, speeding saves time, time is money, arriving on time to appointments benefits the individual and society - should we fine people for participating in an activity that is beneficial to them and others?

      your framing is absurd

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    2. Nigel Perry

      Computer Scientist at University of Canterbury

      In reply to Michael Shand

      No strawmen here, well none that aren't speeding.

      I'm afraid it is your comparison that is absurd, but sadly understandable given the huge amount of effort that has gone into painting bicycling as some irresponsible dangerous activity.

      In general speeding does not improve one's health, rather it puts you and others at risk. (Society has to decide the definition of what is "speeding" of course.)

      Let's ask the question:

      "Name all the activities in Australia (and New Zealand) which benefit…

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Nigel Perry

      Just before I read it, I got to this statement which was very interesting

      "effort that has gone into painting bicycling as some irresponsible dangerous activity."

      Victim mentallity much? jesus, who is doing this? where is the proof?

      it's like talking to a christian when they claim that they are the most persecuted people on the planet and that in many places they would be killed just for saying they are a christian

      ohh the poor victim

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    4. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Nigel Perry

      Dude, no one is fining people for riding a bike, stop the lies

      "If bicycling is so dangerous ..." and stop the victim mentality, I have no idea where you are getting this idea that society hates bicyclists - motor bike gangs, maybe - bicyclists? your crazy

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    5. Nigel Perry

      Computer Scientist at University of Canterbury

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Maybe just one last response in this thread.

      "who is doing this? where is the proof?"

      I don't know how old you are so cannot know if you remember the marketing campaign that went into selling the need for helmets. In New Zealand the billboards proclaimed "Bare head. Knucklehead!". A great deal of effort went into turning, in people's minds, the health benefit of cycling into a cost. Some years later when the NZ Government found themselves wishing to promote cycling, for is undoubted benefit…

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    6. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Nigel Perry

      Obfuscation;

      People are not being Fined for riding a bike - to make this claim would be the equvilant of claiming peoploe are fined for driving a car, they are not, they are fined for speeding

      People are not being fined for riding a bike - they aree being fined for not wearing a helmet

      As for your "Scare campaign" - yeah, look at ciggerette warnings from the government and drink driving campaigns - they do the same thing

      People are not attacking drivers....they are attacking speeding

      People are not attacking bike riders, they are attacking not riding without a helmet

      stop playing the victim

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    7. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Nigel Perry

      Ohh and your

      "Step 1 for justifying an MHL requires that the costs of cycling without a helmet exceed the benefits"

      It's nonsense

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    8. Nigel Perry

      Computer Scientist at University of Canterbury

      In reply to Nigel Perry

      In the posting that started this thread I wrote:

      “Informed opinion does not differ much on this: the benefits of bicycling outweigh the costs; where opinion differs is on the magnitude of the benefits over the costs.

      An individual who chooses to ride a bicycle benefits their own health - bicyclists on average live longer, yes even those wearing ordinary clothes. They also accrue other benefits, like reduced transport costs, etc.

      When an individual chooses to ride a bicycle Society…

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    9. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      speeding is the #1 risk factor for death and injury - whether driving a car or riding a bicycle. So it's not beneficial for "others". Indeed nothing about driving as a routine means of transport is beneficial to "others".

      Yes, we do fine people for cycling without a helmet. It's an activity that is beneficial to the cyclist and to "others".

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  7. Tom Nockolds

    logged in via Facebook

    If you believe Australia should relax it's bicycle helmet laws, there is a petition you can sign http://www.freestylecyclists.org/

    Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world with mandatory all-ages helmet laws. We introduced the laws over 20 years ago. Good ideas tend to travel, and this one just hasn't gone very far at all.

    When the helmet laws were introduced in Australia, they were accompanied by a well-funded marketing campaign which effectively brainwashed all…

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Is this really a big deal?

      Do you have a similar concern for seat belts?

      why don't they have seatbelts on buses? huh aye? good ideas travel so you say and it appears this one hasn't traveled very far

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    2. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      The seat belt argument isn't really analogous; the 'barrier' as I see it is using the bicycle hire schemes as I have to pre-emptively carry a helmet. In Brisbane, they made a very well intentioned decision to supply some helmets as well, however the idea of wearing some sweat soaked lice ridden badly fitting helmet personally makes my skin crawl a little, and to date I haven't hired a cycle (despite cycling in my spare time a bit). They also aren't always there either.

      Compare that to Europe or…

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ben Neill

      Yeah not only in brisbane but in melbourne they sell the helmets at almost every 7/11 for instance - it's not sweaty as no one else has worn it

      The fact that the hire cycles aren't always their when you want one suggest that this isn't a barrier

      your personal anecdotes are midly entertaining but are not evidence of anything other than your personal opinion, which as stated earlier, is contradictory "It's a barrier - the bikes are often being used and aren't their for me to hire"

      As for politicians 30 years ago convincing us that helmets are safe - helmets are safe, as safe as seat belts at least

      helmets sure as hell are not unsafe, what are you suggesting here, that helmets are dangerous?

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    4. Forth Sadler

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      The reasons why we don't have similar concerns about seatbelts laws are because studies clearly show that seatbelts *do* markedly reduce injuries and deaths on the roads unlike the ambiguous results when looking at bicycle helmet (as distinct from motorcycle helmet - speed seems to make all the difference there) effectiveness. What we also don't have with driving or motorcycling is health benefits derived from exercise. Making cycling a more attractive and popular mode of transport confers a notable health benefit - the risk versus benefit equation for cycling is very much in favour of cycling - regardless of whether we look at countries with or without helmet laws.

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    5. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I will quote my own comment here:

      "As a rule, if a helmet is available, I will wear one (manky or not) ..."

      I am not sure what your point is here, that my personal opinion has no place? The evidence is in the article, do I need to place it in the comment as well?

      Sorry, I wasn't clear on the availability: I was referring to the helmets. I don't recall ever seeing a bike rack close to empty and it is *very* rare I see someone using a citycycle bike.

      Sure, I can buy a helmet at a 7/11 (never seen one carrying helmets but I don't go looking for them either) however the cost becomes the barrier, and having to find a store before riding. Plus then, I have a helmet I need to carry around, that I can then add to the pile of helmets accumulating in my garage. May as well catch a bus or train, so back to square one.

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    6. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Forth Sadler

      As we are currently working through the One Punch issues in society

      that even a weak punch can cause someone to loose balance and hit their head on the corner of the pavement cracking their skull

      For you to present the idea that wearing helmets makes no difference is insane and dishonest to say the least.

      Beside your own proclomation that helmets have no impact but seat belts do - show me the data

      (Bear in mind that neo-liberals in the USA often champ the idea that seat belts have no impact and same as you - claim data is on their side)

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    7. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Tom, it's an interesting and vexing issue around what adults at least should be allowed to choose to do, versus the state inconsistently making some things mandatory/illegal while ignoring glaringly obvious other dangers because of costs/community backlash/industry demand/ideology etc.

      Not wearing a helmet is hardly likely to cause harm to other road users, so in that sense it is different to those other unsafe behaviours such as speeding, drink driving etc.

      On the other hand, wearing a helmet…

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    8. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ben Neill

      Yeah, catch a tram or train or buy your own bike - easy

      What angle are you coming at this from, I don't understand why someone living in city that wants to ride a bike can't;

      A) Buy a bike helmet
      B) Buy a bike

      This solves all your concerns - you seem to be mixing tourists use of city bikes with your own use of city bikes

      Also, if the provision of helmets is a problem - then provision of helmets is the problem

      it doesn't automatically follow that because the provision of helmets is inadequate that we should get rid of helmets

      I am sure when they first mandated seatbelts there were factories that didn't have seatbelts available - had to order them in

      the answer to that issue isn't to give up "Ohh the factories having a hard time sourcing seatbelts so quickly, that seat belt law has to go"

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    9. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      seat belts on public buses aren't wanted by the operator, who happens to be government. Also, riding on buses is one of the safest means of transport there is, so the benefits would be small. And what do bus seat belts have to do with bicycle helmets? Keep it relevant please.

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    10. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      LOL, please keep it relevant

      you declaring that it is not relevent is not the same as it not being relevent, I have experienced this several times today, people making assertions and the mere fact that they made the assertion means its true.

      I cannot help your mis-understandings

      The seat belt on the bus argument was used to highlight the absurdity of another commenter claiming that good ideas travel and because this idea hasn't travelled across to different situations and circumstances - it is therefor a bad idea - hence the bus seat belt example, just because buses do not have seat belts - it doesn't then follow that seat belts are bad

      but thanks for your input

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    11. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      A) I own two bike helmets

      B) I own a bike

      what you aren't understanding is that is not the issue. I can ride into the city but for me, it takes too long to ride to work. If I want to ride into the city at lunch I have to either buy a $50 helmet and then pay for cycle hire, or carry a helmet with me every day. That is the barrier.

      The tourism thing is just as relevant. I considered hiring a bike when I was in Melbourne last, but as I didn't have a helmet I caught a tram instead. Yes this is anecdotal, but it's to illustrate a point. And not that helmets are a scarce commodity like you seem to think I am saying.

      This is a cost vs benefit thing, the cost of putting (and maintaining) seatbelts in a bus is far too great compared to the benefit, hence why they aren't there. Same reason we don't put them in trains, but we do in planes.

      Will head injuries per capita increase? Quite possible, but the evidence indicates that it will be negligible compared to the benefits.

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    12. In reply to Ben Neill

      Comment removed by moderator.

    13. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to Ben Neill

      I completely agree to helmets being a personal 'barrier' to using the hire bike scheme here in Brisbane. I would have used that scheme many times to get around the CBD for meetings instead of using a taxi; however having to plan ahead and remember to bring my own helmet or the idea of using the public helmet (when there are any available) has prevented me from using the bikes. Considering that the CBD speed limit here is 40km/h I would personally be very happy to be allowed the option not to wear…

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    14. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      no, that is what you are saying. I am saying the hassle outweighs the benefits.

      Sure, I could keep my old helmet at work or take it with me on holidays, but the extra hassle of carrying a helmet around isn't worth my while. It doesn't fit in my pocket, so I would be carrying around a backpack just on the offchance I need to hire a bike.

      You can call it laziness, I call it convenience.

      I don't have to do that anywhere else in the world apart from NZ and the statistics say I am highly unlikely to have a worse outcome.

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    15. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Graham Walker

      I think Brisbane has its own problems too, namely hot weather and hilly terrain which make it less than ideal. Don't want to turn up to a meeting drenched in sweat!

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    16. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to Ben Neill

      Absolutely! Not a good look to show up dripping wet.
      For me it is what you mentioned in another post, I just don't want to carry around a helmet every day on the off chance that I might need it for a relatively short, slow speed CBD ride.
      Sure there are some meetings that I could plan ahead and bring a helmet, but it is often a case of a last minute meeting and a beautiful (winter :-) ) day and just wanting to be outside getting some exercise rather than in a taxi.
      For the relatively low risk, considering the 40km/h speed limits, I would be perfectly willing to "risk" not wearing a helmet so that I could ride to my meeting. At the moment if I did it would be illegal and I would risk a fine. That is over the top to me.

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    17. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ben Neill

      "I could keep my old helmet at work or take it with me on holidays, but the extra hassle of carrying a helmet around isn't worth my while."

      OPhh my lord, are you the laziest person on the planet or what, you remind me of a Dead Kennedy's Album "Give me conveniance or give me death"

      I keep a bowl at work for the times I eat cereal in the morning - it's not a hassle, I just took a bowl into work one day and left it in my draw - why this is a monumental obstacle for you I have no idea

      As for your holiday example - shure maybe it's a hassle and I can see an argument for tourists riding around tourists area's but to simply take this one example and then claim that no bike riding should wear a helmet is insane, there is a big difference between riding to and from work on public roads and taking a tourist stroll through the inner city - a big difference

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    18. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      So you carry a helmet with you daily then?

      Yet to meet anyone that does... guess I'm not the only lazy one.

      You can keep with the argumentum ad hominem but unless you have something better than logical fallacies, I think this particular thread is pointless.

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    19. In reply to Ben Neill

      Comment removed by moderator.

    20. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I noticed on my last trip to Sydney that they did have seat belts on the bus I was a passenger in, and I was instructed to put it on or risk a fine.

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    21. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Seat belts aren't compulsory on busses because public transport operators don't want them to be compulsory. Whether that is a good thing or not, I don't know.

      Seat belt laws are often citing in connection with MHLs. The big difference is, there is NO DOWNSIDE to seat belt laws (except the cost of installing them). If they did discourage driving, that would be a benefit. If helmet laws discourage cycling, there is a big disbenefit. See Dorothy Robinsons posts above for some of the evidence for MHLs discouraging cycling.

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  8. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    So let me get this right - while king-hitting people should be banned, protective head-gear for cyclists shouldn't be banned?

    Okay, let's leave it up to the cyclist to choose - provided the costs of any and all hospital treatment are borne, in the case of cyclists who choose to not wear helmets, by the cyclist.

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    1. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to David Arthur

      Are you seriously trying to compare a violent attack on someone by another individual to the personal choice of an adult not to wear a bicycle helmet under a constrained set of circumstances without breaking the law?!?

      Why not go the extra step and suggest that all people walking around on public footpaths and crossing those extremely dangerous roads have to wear helmets too and maybe wear those inflatable sumo suits just in case they get knocked over while crossing the road or maybe get knocked over by a cyclist (wearing a helmet of course).

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Graham Walker

      I'm not trying to make the comparison you're on about, I'm trying to point out that we're getting a bit selective in when avoidable risk of head injury is acceptable and when it isn't.

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    3. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to David Arthur

      The thing is that the issue around king hitting isn't that they are trying to reduce head injury's per se. It is about making a violent attack on another individual that seriously damages or kills them (possibly but not exclusively through a head injury) illegal. I think it is the attack on the person that is the acceptable/not acceptable issue around king hitting, not preventing the head injury itself.

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    4. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Graham Walker

      I am pretty sure reducing head injuries is part of the equation, if it wasn't then the law would be kind of pointless

      "He hit me and I was okay" - well maybe you shouldn't hang around this person, if you have their details we already have current laws to charge them with assualt

      not at all about head injuries....no, not at all

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Graham Walker

      My point about king-hitting may be a bit of a divergence, but it may be worth reflecting on our values.

      I understand hitting below the belt to be frowned upon in boxing, and that victory by blows to the head is applauded.

      I also understand that hitting above the neck is frowned upon in Asian-origin martial arts, and victory by blows to the groin is applauded.

      However, only one of these induces mirth among the spectators.

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  9. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    So the time I was concussed when a car didn't give way and knocked me off my bike, and my helmet prevented a fractured skull doesn't count?

    Had I not been wearing a helmet, and been hospitalised with fractured skull, should Medicare cover that?

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  10. Noel McFarlane

    Cycling advocate

    In 1977, my companion died beside me when she did not have a helmet (and apparently would have lived if she did). I am only a recent convert to the anti-MHL case. It is not about the case to wear or not wear a helmet. I ride on the main roads of Sydney and I certainly do wear a helmet.
    The case is about choice and the fact that adults are able to make sensible choices for the particular situations they are in.
    Recently I spent 15 days cycling around NYC. Every day 50-150km and in all the boroughs. I stayed in Brooklyn and there the typical cyclist going to the local shops or park, has no helmet. But nearby is the Williamsburg Bridge with a big cycle lane and in peak hour thousands of cyclists. I took a count and 84% were wearing a helmet. People can work this out for them selves.

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Noel McFarlane

      The problem with letting adults make their own choices is that adults are merely large children, many adults would speed through a school zone thoughtlesly if you let them

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  11. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Just a thought - would blow-up helmets be of any value?

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    1. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to David Arthur

      That might work, but you'd have to make them look ok too. :-)
      Is there a particular standard that a helmet has to meet to be considered a helmet such as a hard outer shell?

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    2. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to David Arthur

      I think they are a very good idea, just a little experimental and pricey at this point. I think for me, when there comes a day you can keep one in a pocket and can be purchased for around $30 to $100, it would become worthwhile.

      This idea looks particularly good, as one of my issues in Brisbane is that it's so damn hot, so they get uncomfortable:-
      http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/10/the-crazy-high-concept-inflatable-bike-helmet-is-finally-buyable/

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    3. Noel McFarlane

      Cycling advocate

      In reply to Graham Walker

      There certainly is. We were one of the first to develop helmet standards and most helmets around the world may not be sold in Australia. As a result it has become a trade barrier and only in recent years have a relative few imported helmets gained certification.

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    4. Etienne de Briquenel

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Arthur

      The invisible helmet concept came about because the inventors recognised that many people simply hate wearing a helmet. They also claimed it was a response to the possibility of Sweden enacting a helmet law and thus turning off a number of riders. (Sweden already mandates helmets for children up until the age of 15.)

      I'm not really sure what their chances are of being accepted under Australian standards. It's bizarre that there are plenty of helmets that are deemed suitable for people in Europe (even Tour de France riders) but illegal to use here where we're forced by law to wear them!

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      No one is arguing that cycling isn't good all round so no need to make that point because we all already agree

      as for your helmets hurting - they are not hurting cyclists, they are hurting people who want to ride the cityshare bikes - big difference

      you know the places they sell bikes? yeah, they also sell helmets, not a big deal

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  12. Tom

    Science communicator at University of Sydney School of Physics

    I'm all for the review of helmet laws, but I start to lose my mind when the term "under certain conditions" is mentioned.

    I know it isn't hard to get, but the more conditions you have the more wiggle room and close to unenforceable the laws would become. It's a trade off between simple "If this, then that" law and nanny state I guess.

    If we go with relaxed helmet laws, perhaps the Boris Bikes idea would be easier and less of a hassle (I used to live in a little town called Aveiro in Portugal, they have them there, it was brilliant!) But we'd also have to then redesign our cities, which I'm all up for, but who's gonna pay for that??

    But conditions and exemptions just lead to misinterpretations and arguments. Especially if you're go down the "No helmet, No Medicare" path. Danger, Danger!

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  13. Brent Driscoll

    logged in via Facebook

    I don't need to smash myself between the eyes with a hammer to know the outcome or the risk.

    What is actually progressive, the veil of evidence for those that wearing ponytails or don't like being told what to do or is this merely a reason to buck the system?

    Helmets make you no more invincible than a seat-belt in a car; perhaps i shouldn't wear my seat-belt in the driveway at home or in shopping center car parks, as there is probably no risk by comparison to a highway.

    If they only reason…

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  14. Craig Read

    logged in via Twitter

    I've heard a number of stories about this, including somebody saying that not having helmets actually had a calming effect on motorists. I suppose they're asserting that it's similar to the effects on traffic they've observed in cities like Drachten.

    But I'll take that with a pinch of salt. I've been hit by a speeding car (on a bicycle) before these laws came in. I've also had a blind friend hit by a care while crossing at the lights (and had several close shaves myself). I have doubts anything…

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  15. Douglas Pritchard

    logged in via Facebook

    Once you decree that a helmet should always be worn on a bike, then you put the activity in the "risky behaviour box".
    The great australian public, like the Americans, will then get paranoid and abandon bikes because thats "safe".
    So less people are on bikes, more in cars, and cyclists will get skittled more often (thats basic statistics).
    The roads get choked more easily, and drivers get stressed...etc etc.
    So the beneficial effects from more cyclists on the road (and less cars), is compromised by this legistlation.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Douglas Pritchard

      You've never wondered why the cycling participation rate in the UK is barely above Australia's, even though helmet wearing is not compulsory in the UK?

      Did you ever think that there are other factors other than MHLs that determine cycling participation?

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  16. Paul Teves

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    I've cracked two helmets from falling of bikes. One of those times was on a bike path. When you fall, regardless where you are, if you hit your head, you can crack it open, easily.
    I have witness many cyclist falling on shared bike paths. It's not only cars that cause cyclists to crash.
    If I remember correctly, there was a lot of resistance to seatbelts. Now it's part of the routine of getting in the car (I know. Some people still don't buckle up).
    I don't think I could get on a bike without a helmet.
    Get used to it.

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  17. Trevor S

    Jack of all Trades

    "Personally I’m a big believer in the benefits of helmets and I believe the evidence shows helmets reduce the risk of serious injury."

    I don't get Politicians nor do I understand my fellow citizens. We are consumed by the inane. Here we have a senior politician commenting on something of so little consequence and yet Billions are projected to die from climate change. Yet neither he nor my fellow citizens do anything ? But they will be so incredibly comcerend if I wear a helmet (or not) when I…

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  18. David Roth

    Postgrad History Student

    I'm all for evidence based policy, but I don't understand why wearing helmets is such a huge imposition or a major limit on freedom. I used to cycle to work and a helmet wasn't a big deal or a big expense. And it protected me from magpie attacks in spring. I prefer to err on the side of safety, but if consenting adults want to take risks, that's fine with me as long as I don't have to pay for it. Perhaps their families might differ. But I think this sensitivity to wearing a helmet is exaggerated.

    One problem with Chris's argument about not wearing helmets in low risk situations and wearing them in high risk environments is that cyclists regularly transfer from one to the other on the same day - from quiet suburban areas to heavy city traffic.

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  19. Linda Ward

    Biostatistician

    Mr Emerson's 'personal views and politics' have not 'trumped science and evidence', his views are ABSOLUTELY CONSISTENT with a large body of scientific evidence. The only 'confusion' around this issue is due to the noise made by the vocal (teeny-weeny) lay minority which argues that helmets/helmet laws are a bad bad thing.
    In claiming that 'helmets can protect against some head injuries, particularly minor scrapes and contusions', Prof Rissel appears to have overlooked the results of the Williams…

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    1. Ben Neill

      Mobile/Web Applications Developer

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Finally, someone with actual data! An interesting read Linda.

      In particular, I agree wholeheartedly about cyclehelmets.org who seem to have taken a page out of the AVN's playbook. Very misleading.

      Will have to read through some of the links tonight.

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    2. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Ben Neill

      Census data for QLD shows a significant reduction from 1991, down by 49%.
      http://cyclehelmets.org/1194.html

      Cycling to work in Queensland
      1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
      2.20% 2.40% 2.56% 1.84% 1.65% 1.41% 1.31%
      Census data

      Members of Parliament should consider all of the issues in detail and ask suitable questions.

      With regards to various report mentioned;
      The Williams 95 report for NSW suggested some benefits from helmet use but without precise adjustment for the changes in…

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      been out in the cherry orchard again, Colin?

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    4. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Hi Citizen SG,

      Could you please re-register with your real name? You may not have seen the site Community Standards, but they're very clear on it - it's purely to try to improve transparency and avoid people hiding behind fake names.

      We require real names. Contributors who want to comment must use their real names when signing up for an account on The Conversation. Organisation representatives creating accounts also must use their own names. Requiring real names helps us maintain a transparent and credible forum for discussion and debate. We reserve the right to delete comments made from profiles with partial names or aliases.

      Read more here: https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards

      Thanks very much, see you back here soon.

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    5. Nigel Perry

      Computer Scientist at University of Canterbury

      In reply to Ben Neill

      Ben, doing your own research is good - but read far wider than the links provided by Linda Ward so you can see all sides (and there are more than two) of this debate.

      Note the first paragraph above: "vocal (teeny-weeny) lay minority"; the following glossary may help decode it:

      teeny-weeny minority:

      Refers to either:

      * The vast majority of individual bicyclists worldwide who choose to bicycle without a helmet despite helmets being readily available and the need for one so plainly obvious…

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    6. Dana Dion

      Artist

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Why would anyone support laws that appear to reduce community health?

      To clarify the issues, consider the following two related propositions:

      1) Helmets protect heads in the case of an accident.
      2) Mandatory helmet legislation is good for community health.

      Virtually everyone accepts 1). If I was going to fall down stairs, I would prefer to be wearing a helmet. If I was going to be in a car accident I would prefer to be wearing a helmet. Ditto if I was going to fall getting in…

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  20. linda chalmers
    linda chalmers is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Delivery systems

    I hate wearing a helmet they are poorly designed have bad air flow are too hot & too expensive the clips are hard to join and undo (I can't believe there is no better clips) there is no safe way to store them when your bike is parked in public they are a bloody pest I knew I had to buy one because I've seen people fined by the cops but if I had a choice I wouldn't wear it

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  21. David Bentley

    logged in via LinkedIn

    "An important aspect of this recommended trial was to evaluate it carefully, with baseline measurements and data collection on injury and cycling participation. This trial could have established the evidence, either for or against this helmet law reform, and finally lay to rest the debate over the value of helmet legislation."

    Great idea! What we can do is see how many more people are killed or seriously injured after they stop wearing helmets. It certainly won't be fewer as there will be an…

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    1. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Bentley

      Mindell and Wardlaw point out that, after excluding non-transport-related injuries ‘fatality risk by time spent travelling varied within similar ranges for walking, cycling and driving.’ Moreover, “when third party deaths were included, the fatality rate per hour was >10 times higher for young males driving, as compared with cycling. “ - http://www.icsc2013.com/abstracts/mindell2013likeforlike-abstract.pdf

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    2. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Why would comparing bicycle accident statistics to the most at-risk cohort of driver be valid? It's like comparing safety statistics in recreational rockclimbers to high altitude mountaineers.

      i would think that if you wish to compare statistics about commuter and transport cycling (because that is where the debate really lies - not training or racing cyclists) you would compare the injuries sustained by cyclists commuting to work and competing with peak-hour traffic, as well as suburban cycling…

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    3. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Mindel and Wardlaw argued that you should compare like with like. Young males have high accident rates whether driving or cycling and are over-represented in the current cycling population. When these factors, and as injuries to other road users, are taken into account, they claim that cycling isn't anything like as dangerous as most people seem to believe.

      If politics had not 'trumped hard headed reason', the recommended trial might have been able to provide the research data to evaluate these and other factors and determine whether helmet laws do reduce injury rates, or whether other factors such as risk compensation and reduced safety in numbers are more determinants of cyclist safety.

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    4. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      if you compare like to like in 20 year olds you can not make conclusions that would pertain sufficiently to the demographic in question. The debate is really around commuting/transport cycling. How does accident data from 20 year old drivers and racing cyclists inform decisions around commuting cyclists?

      From the paper you cited:
      'Driving risk was highest in youth and declined with age. Walking and cycling risks were lowest in youth and climbed with age'

      Young drivers are naive to the skill…

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    5. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      I think their argument was you compare like with like over the range of ages and participation rates of current cyclists, instead of simply comparing risks per km for driving with risks per km for cycling ignoring the differences in ages and distances travelled.

      Rissel cites a recent survey showing that "One in five (22.6%, 95% CI 18.8-26.4%) respondents said they would cycle more if they did not have to wear a helmet .... " With, as you say, less than 1% of trips currently made by bike but 25% of the population saying they would cycle more without a helmet, and others saying they don't cycle because of perceived danger (as you'd expect for an activity considered so dangerous that participants are forced by law to wear a helmet!) it seems reasonable to act on the Committee's recommendation. They, after all, spent a fair bit of time reviewing the evidence before recommending a 2-year trial.

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    6. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      mmm.... Rissell's survey was confined to central sydney and i believe was a limited telephone questionnaire. I am uncertain what question was asked and whether the survey was comprehensive (or rigorous) enough to be extrapolated to other domains. As a statistician, would you say that Rissell's survey was comprehensive and rigorous enough to recommend legislative change?

      I believe that participation is the key and that any trial or legislative change must start with something a little more…

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    7. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      "Why would comparing bicycle accident statistics to the most at-risk cohort of driver be valid? It's like comparing safety statistics in recreational rockclimbers to high altitude mountaineers."

      It may not seem valid to people like you and me, but it the sort of 'rationale' that is one is accustomed to seeing emanate from (individuals associated with) anti-helmet organisations.

      I rather like the description of the Mindell/Wardlaw 'analysis' at www.anenglishmanscastle.com/archives/cat_health_and_safety_6.html

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    8. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Hi Linda,
      The point that seems to be ignored in these comparisons is not just cohort (ie comparing 20 year old drivers on a saturday night to mature commuters pootling to work) but also any comparison of safety by time should consider the time spent commuting a set distance. For example, in my commute - if I choose to ride it would take me around 40 minutes to complete the distance. if I drive it would be 15 minutes. As exposure (to time) whilst cycling is greater the risk of any individual journey…

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  22. Douglas Pritchard

    logged in via Facebook

    Has no-one considered the possibility that the more you ride a bike, the more skilled (or proficiant), you become and there fore you will fall less frequently, and you periferal vision will improve, and you will ride in a defensive mode, and you will survive, and benefit from regular bicycle use.
    I have done this for 70 years now (first bike at 4), and when I visit UK I wear a "beany" for the cold, and I am impressed with most motorists being "bike aware", and drive in a (mostly) considerate fashion.
    Yes, every now and again I fall for some strange reason, and when this happens my reflexess protect my cranium. Its learned behaviour which would never would have happened without lots of kays on 2 wheels, and a carefully honed set of survival skills.
    No MHL means more people on bikes, and thats got to be a move in the right direction.

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  23. David Bindoff

    manager

    I think Chris Rissel has made the case in support of the recommended trial. Dorothy L Robinson also had strong arguments which indicates the trial is worthwhile and I appreciated her input.

    I regard the objective of encouraging wide uptake of bike riding displacing car trips as very important but from a different angle.
    Bikes are the only form of personal transport with life cycle emissions per person.km travelled within an acceptable range for our carbon constrained situation. (around 5g…

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    1. Noel McFarlane

      Cycling advocate

      In reply to David Bindoff

      It is about time we were reminded that this is about viable transport systems for the future. I wholeheartedly agree with this comment.

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    2. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Noel McFarlane

      I would agree to promoting cycling, e.g. bikes of trains for free (mainland UK), buses that carry bikes (USA), both allowing for connectively. Government taxes/sales taxes on cycling equipment or cycling infrastructure could be zero rated.
      Registration has problems, millions of kids bikes and millions of others to register and keep track of. The admin cost and inconvenience for uses and sales would add to overall costs. It would create a problem that is not required.

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  24. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Surely the question here is whether the government ought be involved in an issue that affects only the cyclist?
    Wearing a helmet does nothing to protect others.
    We rode, in Gisborne NZ, from Barkers Hill or Kaiti Hill (?? spelling) from which if you hit the bottom fast enough the momentum would take you right into the (small) city.
    If a car came? out over the side, and in my case flying through the air dropping into massive blackberry bushes.
    Damage? lots of thorns!
    Age? My bike was sold when I was nine, we moved to the country and the choice was bike or a horse --- I had been riding to the Hunts since I was five years old, ---- no contest!

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  25. Jim Morris

    logged in via Facebook

    I have just received a fine and 'offender levy' totaling $300.70 cents for riding in a quiet back-street. (I'd just taken the helmet off).
    I informed the magistrate that I would rather go to gaol than pay such an exorbitant penalty because the law is wrong and in 55 years of bike riding I have never injured my head. I'm nervous about going to gaol but this is a matter of principle; especially considering that Tony Abbott's chief of staff got off a drink-driving charge. Who was I endangering? Not even me! Who was Peta Credlin endangering? The general public. Helmets by choice!

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