Government should fully repeal compulsory bike helmet law

I’m a great believer in bicycle helmets and I’d never ride my bike on the road without one. Indeed, a nice red Giro helmet I owned undoubtedly saved me from a nasty head injury when I decked it after hitting a branch on Settlement Road at the Gap one Sunday morning in 2004. Wearing a helmet makes sense for anyone riding a bike and you’re taking a risk if you don’t wear one. That said, making helmets compulsory is bad from a public health perspective, because it discourages people from riding bikes, as I discussed in a post back in 2010:

Should we repeal the compulsory bike helmet law?

Also worth a read is Cameron Murray’s 2010 post Helmet law rebound effects and the success of terrorism.

Given that the compulsory helmet law is bad policy, I’m pleased that the Government is allowing an exemption for Sikhs, as reported by the Brisbane Times, and I hope it eventually considers getting rid of the compulsory helmet law entirely.

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4 Responses to Government should fully repeal compulsory bike helmet law

  1. The Happy Hillbilly says:

    I think I might need to see more compelling evidence to be convinced that compulsary helmet laws have unintended consequences serious enough to outweigh the benefits. Would there really be a significant jump in the number of people cycling as opposed to lying in the couch in front of a Sony Playstation? As long as helmets are affordable I think we can be fairly certain that people accept them now and that there is not some kind of broad scale protest movement going on. Perhaps it might have more to do with the huge advances in relatively cheap electronic entertainment. When I was a kid there were 2 tv channels and a small time slot for cartoons. Outside those hours we we doing more physical things. There were some basic computer games (I had an old TRS-80. Remember them?) Now, there are any number of 24-hour cartoon channels and a mind-numbing array of video game technology – kids don’t leave the house without their Nintendo DS in their hand. In fact, when you can have fun with your friends over the internet while hunched in front of a computer, why would you even leave the house? I think ever-advancing entertainment and communication technology has created more incentive to engage in sloth. Maybe we could somehow discourage that instead (hypothetical argument of couse – it’s not going to happen).

    Multiply your own escape from serious injury courtesy of a helmet by however many people fall each year from an elevated sitting position of a bicycle seat onto bitumen or concrete, hitting their head in the process and work out the amount of time and resources that helmets save paramedics and hospitals. I understand that there might be a libertarian argument for being free to choose on this matter but it looks like a fairly minor quibble to me. Perhaps we could tax video game units more heavily and tranfer the saving into subsidising bikes and trampolines………and cooler-looking helmets?

  2. Gene Tunny says:

    Thanks for the comment. I’ll have to dig up the figures but I’m pretty sure rates of cycling fell after helmets were made compulsory. Of course, it may be difficult to control for the social trend toward a more sedentary lifestyle.

  3. stephen says:

    Completely agree on repealing the helmet law consider the LDP is one option for a party opposed to helmet laws.

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