Long known as one of only two nations in the world that mandate cycling helmets for every man, woman, and child, Australia may be on the cusp of ending its prohibition of helmet freedom.
Without wading into the worn arguments about whether bike helmets themselves help or harm bikes as a movement, it’s important to note that mandating helmets absolutely discourages riding bikes in general. This was the case in Australia in the early 90s when cycling sans helmet was made a crime.
Riding levels tanked after the law went into effect, and have struggled to recover despite the global rise of bikes as an increasingly preferred mode of urban transport.
By all accounts, helmet laws are a disaster for cycling.
— helmetfreedom (@helmetfreedom) July 15, 2015
Several awareness campaigns have been launched over the last several years, utilizing social media as best they can. But to really do away with this ridiculous law, somebody elected needs to bring down the legislative hammer.
Look no further than Senator David Ean Leyonhjelm. His ire against the “Nanny State” forcing him to wear a helmet when he doesn’t want is admirable, even if it puts him squarely in the Libertarian camp. I’ve always said, bikes have appeal across political spectrums, especially among white dudes with a hard on for Individual Liberty.
Parliamentary inquiry into the nanny state
Leyonhjelm has launched an official parliamentary inquiry into a range of issues he feels Big Gov’ment should not be in the business of, most of which is bike helmets. “It really annoys me that I have to put a helmet on otherwise some police officer somewhere is going to book me, and it’s going to cost me money. It’s my head and I’m not hurting anyone else“, confided Leyonhjelm.
While an inquiry could lead to repealing Australia’s helmet law, it could also go nowhere. Time will tell.
What needs to continue is a groundswell of popular opposition, especially among the biking masses abroad. If you don’t already, consider following Helmet Freedom and other Aussie cycling orgs to signal boost their content.
If you’re like me and you believe promoting bikes will literally save the planet, getting rid of any and all impediments to riding is a no brainer. The culture of fear that legislating helmet use brings with it is a detriment to cycling.
In Australia, New Zealand, and cities like Vancouver BC, it’s time to end mandated bicycle helmets.