Inconvenience and Fear

Inconvenience

Below lists some problems faced by Australian bicycle users because of the mandatory helmet law.
When you stringently enforce something which should be simply a matter of choice it creates many problems. We are required to wear helmets even when there is no risk mitigation effect or where wearing one may expose us to neck injurys or other danger. It appears the law has gone insane or is simply there to bully or harass people to raise revenue.
  1. You can't legally ride a bike if you don't have a correctly fitted Australian standard helmet. Unlike seat belts helmets are not built in automatically adjusting one size fits all devices. They are personal protective equipment, people cannot be expected to carry a helmet everywhere just on the off chance we may want to borrow, hire or use bicycle, that is unrealistic and it simply prevents many people ever borrowing and riding a bike, instead they will hire a car, use a taxi or attempt to use public transport. Melbourne's bike hire scheme is the perfect example of this problem, unless they start handing out free disposable helmets in every possible size at every hire station I can't see it ever being used much indeed Unless there is a specialist available to assist fitting how do you account for individual comfort and ensuring the item is even fitted properly.

    Before the laws I could hire or borrow a bike anytime and anywhere but now the law effectively prevents anyone doing that in australia.

  2. Due to the protruding size of a helmet it can make them awkward to wear and interfere with free movement for example if sitting or lying down. The increased effective radius of your head even risks bumping against other people causing them injury on public transport etc. While worn the helmet or the straps can get caught on branches or other protrusions even causing people to be injured as a result. In an fall you are more likely to injure your neck due to the effectively larger head size if the helmet strikes ground or other objects it will transfer force to the brain or spine which may not otherwise occur.
  3. Short trips using a share bicycle system to travel between campus buildings etc become completely impractical if they require a helmet to be worn. Even if there was not a bicycle available the user would have to store and carry a bulky helmet between buildings just in case they may get a bicycle to use next time and require it.
  4. In Sunny weather a most bicycle helmets will not properly shade you from the sun they fail to protect the face, neck, ears or forehead some also have large breather holes threw which you can get burnt, australian cyclists suffer extreme UV exposure and cancer risk as a result..
  5. In hot conditions and under physical exertion it prevents normall convection cooling and prevents the body's natural cooling ability from working fully not only is this uncomfortable so it may contribute to heat stroke and dehydration which are life threatening conditions and left untreated can cause heart attack's, stroke's or organ failure.
  6. In cold weather many helmets offer little comfort compared to say a beanie and are difficult or impossible to fit one over, this discourages people from cycling in cold weather if they have to remove their warm clothing yet most winter head clothing already offers abrasion resistance and padding in case of a fall.
  7. Helmets are quite bulky and for someone traveling it is awkward to pack and they may not even know if they will want to use a bicycle.
  8. Few Countries have laws requiring grown adults to wear bicycle helmets (Some have laws for children), For International tourists this may either deter them from visiting Australia or worse they may as a result be subjected to fines and penalties because they don't know about this unusual law, this creates a bad impression.
  9. Other countries helmets are not compliant with the Australian standards leaving people liable to fines unless they buy/wear an Australian standard helmet for use in australia, or as many professionals tour cyclists do they must get special exemption to use their own helmet this is a simply ridiculous situation and no other country has such stringent laws than australia/NZ.
  10. The Australian bicycle helmet standard AS/NZS 2063 is the only acceptable type of helmet that can be worn, if your helmet is not marked as certified you are liable to receive an infringement. Skating helmets offers better coverage and protection than the standard helmet but are not allowed to be used this is a ridiculous situation to be in, if someone at a skate park wants to use/borrow a bicycle they should be able to legally use the skate helmet which offers far better protection.
  11. They flatten down and mess up your hair, people should not have to ruin a hair style by crushing it under a helmet or having to remove hair clips, bands or such items, some hair styles for example top knots or plats, dreadlocks simply prevent a helmet ever fitting properly. The mandatory helmet law is an attack on freedom and personal expression.
  12. In rain you cant easily wear a waterproof hood over the bulk of a helmet, and cooling holes in some helmets will duct the water inside the helmet creating an uncomfortable soggy mess of your hair and the helmet lining.

  13. Helmets have a chin strap making it difficult to eat, drink or talk when wearing it, by comparison seat belts are far less intrusive.
  14. It cause pressure points against your head or make your head sweaty or Itchy possibly causing dandruff. It is also not comfortable if worn for long periods. If you found it itchy or sweaty for example that would be very distracting while riding.
  15. An incorrectly sized or fitted helmet can actually be a hazard. Often it will do little to help and may even cause injurys in an accident especially spinal injurys.
  16. Unlike a car seatbelt you can't use just any helmet it has to fit ,be available and dry, not have cobwebs in it and it may develop mold or mildew if it gets wet or sweaty too often.
  17. Many optical and sun glasses can't be easily be worn with a helmet as they interfere with the strapping and the frames may be pushed against the head by the helmet in an uncomfortable manner, this would make riding a bicycle especially uncomfortable for some people.
  18. You cant practically borrow a helmet - Hygiene issues like Grease, sweat ,smell , bacteria , dandruff even lice from you own or someone else's sweaty hair or scalp are not something most people wish to share - would you wear someone else s socks or underwear without washing them first.

    Even if the helmet fits Fashion issues such as colour and design make it even less palatable would a guy wear a pink helmet or a woman a black bikie style helmet they do have a choice it's usually simply not to ride at all.

  19. Wearing an ugly bulbious bulky foam helmet when totally unnecessary gives the impression you are some kind of sports fanatic. Being a worn item helmets have even specialised to specific mens, womens, children, MTB , racing and other specialist designs adding still further expense to remain fashionable or comfortable depending on the specific usage and so requiring the rider to have obtained a selection of helmets for MTB, racing ,stunt riding and other specialaties to minimise the negative's of having to wear them.
  20. One is now encumbered with a helmet which needs to be some how secured or stored and kept dry while shopping, eating or working after riding somewhere.
  21. Air turbulance from a helmet can can make it more difficult to hear appraoching cars. The brim or shade of a helmet can obscure a riders forward vision and a full face helmet may restrict it even further. This may lead riders to loose some situational awareness which greatly increases risk of accidents occuring.
  22. Further item and expense to find, inspect , and adjust and fit on before you can start riding a bike. Some of the more advanced and supposedly more comfortable bicycle helmets retail for prices in excess of $300, more than cost of many bicycles, while the cheapest often leave much to be desired in comfort and design.
  23. Members of certain religions or cultures may wear a hijab, turbans or have hair styles incompatible with wearing a helmet. In one case a Rastafarian's dreadlocks meant they were unable to wear a helmet and Those of the Sikh religion in south australia had to fight for their rights against the helmet law - their win decision is now enacted in the leglislation. [ref 1]
  24. In industry's like construction, mining or welding people already wear particular headgear i.e. face shields, bump hats, respirators, goggles, ear phones, ear muffs, head mount microphones, which effectively make it either impossible or very awkward to also wear a bicycle helmet.
    Certain people i.e. pilots, nurses, army, clergy, police and others expect to wear particular recognizable hats or functional headgear which would have to be removed in order to wear a bicycle helmet to ride bike.
There are many other reasons people have to add to this list and I myself have suffered some these inconveniences at some time, thus been either unable to ride at those times, or been less comfortable than I should have otherwise been. The other option is simply risk being fined and ride without - there is a good chance you will only get a warning and if you get an infringement you can try to fight it in court.

Fear Factor

When you see people wearing a helmet you assume it's to protect against danger. When the police stop and fine people for not wearing a helmet we assume that they must be doing something very dangerous to warrant that kind of attention. People then assume every bicycle accident will result in their brains splashed over the pavement.
people start to perceive and associate riding bicycles with being a very dangerous activity.
Fear is contagious and affects how people behave either consciously or unconscionably we make decisions based on perceived threats. The mandatory bicycle helmet law's actually subconsciously make people avoid riding bicycles. There are bicycles selling for little more than 100 dollars, marked cycle lanes, multiuse paths, and many places have bicycle parking, yet few people actually use these things because bicycles are perceived as so dangerous thanks to the helmet laws. How much damage has the Australian law done to the reputation of the bicycle as a safe means of transport and exercise and how long does will the effect last for ?.

This page is a us site

This page has a bicycle safety quiz

This study from Canada offers further insight

Northern Territory Helmet Free Zone

Many people are also unaware that around 1994 Australia's Northern Territory obtained offroad helmet freedom for those aged 17+ [ref 2] The following excerpt is from the NT's document "cycling safety" [ref 3] document under the section Helmets.
• For a person under 17 years of age an approved helmet, correctly fitted and fastened, must be worn at all times while riding.
• For a person 17 years of age or older, an approved helmet must be worn, correctly fitted and fastened, when travelling on a road or on abicycle lane that forms part of the road.
• The above helmet requirements apply to therider and any person being carried on a bicycle.
Note: An approved helmet is a helmet that complies with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2063
The relevant excerpt from the NT leglislation is
[ref 4] 86 Helmets for cyclists
(1) For the purposes of rule 256, the requirement to wear an approved bicycle helmet does not apply to a person over 17 years of age if he or she is riding or being carried on a bicycle:
(a) on a public place;
(b) on a bicycle path or shared path; or
(c) in an area declared by the Minister, by notice in the Gazette, to be a bicycle helmet exemption area.
(2) In this regulation, a bicycle path does not include a bicycle lane that is not separated from the part of the road used by motor vehicles by a physical structure or barrier in addition to or in substitution for the lane line.
(3) In this regulation and rule 256, an approved bicycle helmet is a helmet that:
(a) complies with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2063:1996 Pedal Cycle Helmets; or
(b) is approved by the Registrar.
The exclusion was obtained after pressure by cyclists and others when it became known the police had started imprisoning children or their parents in order to supposedly "protect" them (much like the stolen generation).
Thus NT law now has exclusions for anyone 17+ to ride off road without a helmet if they want. In spite of the pro-helmet fear mongers rantings it turns out that there is no difference in cycling safety, the NT have a safety record comparable to other states and better than many including SA.
Thanks to this exclusion the number of bicycle riders in the NT is now significantly higher per head of population than any other australian state.

The NT provides a clear cut example for other states to follow if they truly want to get more people using bicycles.
The statistics comparing the NT to other states contradict both of the lies the pro helmet law lobby (anti cycling lobby). It is clear mandatory helmet laws discourage cycling .
It is clear mandatory helmet laws give no safety benefit and may actually increase rates of injury among any remaining cyclists.
Australia's mandatory helmet law is a total failure under analysis and compared with places which leave the decision to the individual. In australia we suffer harassment by the police and a worse safety record. The Labour Party's Nanny State Ideology and burecratic attitude deters cyclists and does not make people safer.
Labour hide whatever their real intentions are behind a mask of secrecy and lies hoping to remain unnoticed. No doubt Labour have plans to over turn the territory helmet freedom in the future so they can once again have the police locking up and assaulting people who dare to ride without helmets. Perhaps at the same time the Labour party will use their planned internet monitoring and censorship legislation to shut down any protests over the continuing human rights breaches caused by the mandatory helmet laws.

The reason NT was unable to include on road exemption is it would have violated a federal road funding requirement and denied the NT federal TAX towards road construction - essentially the NT's funds are held to ransom by Canberra a technique used to force the law aupon all australian states irrespective of the state government views.

What about the Children

Australia's mandatory helmet laws are also a savage attack on the most vulnerable members of society that is children. The helmet law applys without exclusion to all ages. Young people may find themselves subject to mandatory helmet law charges. Many young people have no income and so are unable to pay these fines. This is a terrible situation to place anyone in and has resulted in the police locking children or their parents in jail who are unable to pay the fines. Think of the psychological effect this kind of treatment would cause to someone to be incarcerated by the police. The people in the Labour Party who wrote the mandatory helmet laws without an exclusion for children are have no humanity. How can anyone can possibly justify imprisoning children and or their parents in order to supposedly "protect them" is pure insanity. [ref 5] The pro-helmet law fanatics ignore all negatives of their actions including even deaths of children. Thankfully Product Safety Australia warns people that helmets can kill. [ref 6] This does not include death or injury while cycling where the helmet may have contributed.


sunburn.

Visiting Melbourne once I met up with a friend there who offered to show me around we went riding along the beach cycle path. I wore a broad brimmed mesh sided hat, he wore a helmet concerned about the police and potential fines for not wearing one. After an hour or two cruising he had severe looking sunburn on his face, ears and neck. I only had a little burning on my legs where my sunscreen had rubbed off or not covered properly.

My helmet wearing friend ended up with very painful sunburn because the helmet Law forces bicycle users to wear helmets rather than allowing them any freedom to attire in far more sensible sun protection. There was no chance of any accident but sunburn [ref 7] was unavoidable without a hat and the painfaull after effects and risk skin cancer are extremely high.

The mandatory helmet law here allows no exceptions even on cycle ways or multiuse paths. The Labour Party's mandatory helmet laws are therefor partially responsible for the estimated 1700 deaths each year in Australia from skin cancer and the costs of treating skin cancer sufferers with surgery, radiation and Chemotherapy etc.
The mandatory helmet law denies people the right to protect themselves from sunburn or skin cancer. As a result Australian skin cancer rates are the highest in the world with cyclists suffering the most.
When you seeing with a big slab of skin cut out someones face because of skin cancer, risking a helmet fine is nothing in comparison to the medical expenses and permanent and life threatening damage skin cancer can potentially cause.
Wearing sunscreen is no substitute for a hat, it is messy, difficult to apply it rubs off, it stings the eyes and has limited protection. Some types are believed to cause liver damage and cancer.

Northern Territory.

Australia's Northern Territory has somehow enjoyed a greater level of freedom than other states thanks perhaps to tightly contested election results or more likely simply having less do gooders to take away peoples rights as the Australian territories have fewer politicians. The NT has the highest speed limit (130kmp) of any Australian state or territory and at one stage had completely open limits. It was also the only Australian state or territory to have legalized euthanasia until the federal government stopped it.

Millitary Duty.

One person I Know gave up cycling because of the helmet law it's self. In the past they had been conscripted into the national service and had to wear a millitary helmet and uniform. Their dislike of this experience and memory of having to wear the helmet persisted long afterwards. So the recently introduced mandatory bicycle helmet law put them of cycling completly. They happily drive everywhere ever since - yet another example where the law discourages people from riding.


Reference list

1. South Australia . (1999). Road Traffic (Road Rules - Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations
Retrieved from http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/R/ROAD%20TRAFFIC%20(ROAD%20RULES%20-%20ANCILLARY%20AND%20MISCELLANEOUS%20PROVISIONS)%20REGULATIONS%201999/2010.06.30/1999.218.UN.PDF

2. Bicycle helmet research Foundation . (n.d.). Helmet laws: Northern Territory
Retrieved from http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1114.html

3. Northern Territory Government . (n.d.). Cycling Safety - rules to remember while riding your bicycle
Retrieved from http://www.nt.gov.au/transport/safety/road/publications/documents/cyclingsafety_000.pdf

4. Northern Territory Of Australia - Department of Lands and Planning . (1999). Traffic Regulations: Regulation 86
Retrieved from http://notes.nt.gov.au/dcm/legislat/legislat.nsf/d989974724db65b1482561cf0017cbd2/f4222f8dbea57d8669257625001d7d0f?OpenDocument

5. Cyclist Rights Action Group . (6th May 2011). SUBMISSION TO NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONSULTATION MAY 2009
Retrieved from http://crag.asn.au/?p=191

6. Product Safety Australia . (n.d.). Bicycle helmet injuries
Retrieved from http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/982119

7. Wikipedia . (n.d.). Sunburn
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunburn


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