Robin Harrison, Binna Burra
Dr Richard Harvey’s assumption that an objection to mandatory helmet laws (MHL) is an objection to wearing helmets couldn’t be more wrong.
I always wear one and certainly not because I’m obliged to by law. But then, on my electric bike, I tend to ride further and faster than most. Tootling around at less than 10km/h as most cyclists do, there is far less of a need but, MHLs or not, increasingly people do wear them.
I, like many parents, put helmets on my kids long before MHLs. They are, indeed, a really good idea.
His other assumption, that we would have complete disregard for our personal safety unless we are treated like children and compelled by law, is equally false. Studies in Europe with no MHLs and Canada where a handful of provinces have MHLs but many don’t, show a universal increase in helmet use close to on par with Australia and others with MHLs. However, without the drastic reduction in bicycle usage wherever MHLs were introduced. Education is a lot cleverer and more effective than laws like these.
There was a 40 per cent reduction in cyclist deaths here when MHLs were introduced. Of course, not mentioned, is that not all deaths are from head trauma, but it’s still a figure widely used to justify the laws. That figure becomes considerably less significant when we understand it was accompanied by a 50 per cent reduction in bicycle use.
Just because it’s a law doesn’t make it a good law.