Helmets off to legislation

“A group of well-dressed and well-informed citizens in Melbourne took the new bike share bikes in the city for a spin. And were promptly stopped by three bicycle cops and three police cars. For riding without a helmet.” (photo from here). Now, I understand that it is the police’s job to enforce the law and that these cyclists were breaking the law, but three police cars in addition to three bicycle police officers on bicycles seems merely a show of force and intimidation.

Also, “Cycling levels in Sydney could more than double if laws forcing cyclists to wear helmets were repealed, according to new research published today in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia”. (more here) Interestingly, there ”was an inverse association between riding frequency and support of the helmet legislation, with those not riding in the past year most likely to support helmet legislation, and more frequent riders less likely to support it”.

It’s also revealing that almost half of the respondents said they would never ride without a helmet, and a third said they will ride with a helmet some of the time. That is, a majority of current cyclists will still ride with a helmet regardless of the law. This (and other findings from this report and others) shows that repealing the mandatory helmet laws will increase cycling while not necessarily decreasing helmet use. Cyclists will wear a helmet in cycling situations where they feel a helmet is necessary, and education will help them make the correct decision.

Here’s the link to the paper: The possible effect on frequency of cycling if mandatory bicycle helmet legislation was repealed in Sydney, Australia: a cross sectional survey by Chris Rissel and Li Ming Wen.



  1. If Melbourne has enough cops so they can have a total of SIX officers handle a problem with bicycle helmets it means they have too many cops in town and need to fire a few of them. Obviously all serious crimes have already been solved and that is why the cops have so much free time. 🙂

  2. With my conspiracy theorist hat firmly in place, I wonder if mandatory helmet legislation is a deliberate move by governments? The legislation keeps number of cyclists low, thereby saving the governments from having to spend on installing cycling infrastructure. Much in the same way ticket pricing for public transport is set to keep passenger numbers to manageable levels.

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