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Australia's mandatory helmet law up for review. Will it stay?

Alia Parker's picture
Do all cyclists need to wear bicycle helmets? Or should the rider decide?

As part of a broad review in which Australia will reflect on whether it has been too much of a 'nanny state', the Federal government will take a second look at Australia's mandatory helmet law to determine if it's really all it's cracked up to be.

The law, which has required all people riding bicycles to wear a helmet since 1989, will be reviewed by a Federal Government Senate Standing Committee on Economics, which will examine the issue of 'Personal choice and community impacts'.

The government describes the review as: “An inquiry into measures introduced to restrict personal choice 'for the individual's own good'.”

“There has been strong support from individuals within the Senate to remove mandatory helmet laws both on personal grounds and the perceived wasted public money associated with the poorly-performing bicycle hire schemes,” Bicycling Australia said.

Australia is one of the few places in the world to have a mandatory helmet law for bicycle riders of all ages.

Besides the helmet law, the government will also examine laws affecting the sale and use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana, as well as the classification of publications, films and computer games.

Community groups and those in the bicycle industry are invited to make submissions to the committee by 25 August 2015. More information can be found on the Parliament of Australia website. The committee is due to report on its findings by 13 June, 2016.

Image: Parent puts bicycle helmet on child. Source: Shutterstock


Australia has had this law for 16 years now. I can't imagine them repealing it. Having said that, I've cycled quite a bit in Europe where helmets are not mandatory and I've noticed that road cyclists generally wear helmets and commuters and slower cyclists don't. It seems to work for them. Maybe people really are capable of making up their own minds as to whether they need to wear a helmet and we don't need to be such a nanny state. I know, law or no law, I would wear a helmet while cycling on busy roads, but I'd like the freedom not to if just riding slowly in a bike lane to a café down the street.

It will stay, not because it is going to save lives (which it can), but so that when you wear it (along with a high vis vest) it will give other road users the false perception that you are safe. That way the Government doesn't then need to address issues like separation or road user attitudes (it's my road, I've paid for it - they are the problem). Sorry rant over

“An inquiry into measures introduced to restrict personal choice 'for the individual's own good'.” Wearing a helmet is entirely up to us. For safety reason, I have always wore a bicycle helmet. Those people who urged to repeal mandatory helmet should reconsider the issue. What if today someone you know suffered head injury from cycling because he or she did not wear a helmet? Would you still tell other people DO NOT wear a helmet? I do not think so...

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