Australia’s biggest bike-riding organisation, Bicycle Network, has supported helmet use since compulsory head protection first became law in the early ’90s. Now, it’s asking Australians to have their say on whether helmets should remain mandatory.
Helmet advocates still argue that head protection reduces the risk of brain injury, but others believe making helmets optional would encourage more people to ride, and the benefits outweigh the risks.
Bicycle Network wants to open the floor to both sides of the argument, and will go through all the survey data with experts and academics before making a final decision on its stance.
The results of a 2016 study at the University of New South Wales found wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70 per cent.
Vic Roads statistics show more than 300 cyclists are seriously injured or killed in the state each year, with head injuries being a major consequence. After the mandatory helmet law was introduced in 1990, helmet use jumped from 31 per cent to 75 per cent in the following year.
Two years after legislation was introduced there was a 16 per cent reduction in head injuries in metropolitan Melbourne, and a 23 per cent reduction in head injuries throughout Victoria.
The 2011 Ride a Bike for Transport survey of more than 1000 Australian adults showed mandatory helmet laws discouraged nearly 16 per cent of those interested in cycling.
Bicycle Network is asking people to send any recommendations for experts and research to help with the policy review, which is expected to be complete by April 2018. The online survey is open until Friday September 22.
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