Pushing On With Helmet Reform

Filed in Recent News by May 19, 2017

SUE Abbott was in court this week for not wearing her bike helmet when riding on a local cycle-way.

While some people have criticised Ms Abbott for being a Councillor and not adhering to the law, she argues that Australian law is out of step with the rest of the world and in a democracy we all have rights and responsibilities to stand up if we think there is a problem.

Sue Abbott riding her bike in Tokyo in February.

Sue Abbott riding her bike in Tokyo in February.

“Australia and New Zealand have helmet laws and some states in the United States and some provinces in Canada,” said Ms Abbott.

“Australia is a case in point across the rest of the world for why helmet laws should not be introduced, in fact Mexica and Israel overturned their helmet laws because they wanted to bring in bike share schemes and they knew it would fail if they had helmet laws, so they got rid of the law,” she said.

“At least letting grown adults decide if they want to wear a helmet would be a start,” she said.

“They don’t wear helmets in Tokyo and it has a crazy amount of traffic, but there are mothers and children and everybody is cycling, basically anywhere you go in the world they are doing it, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, France you name it I’ve cycled in Jordan, I’ve cycled in Syria and in Egypt and the people doing the pita bread delivery cycle with these massive pita bread trays on their heads, we are such a land of no.

“Our schools used to have loads of bike racks and there would be bikes out the front of houses where children would go to play, but that changed overnight when the helmet laws were introduced in 1991.

“I think the helmet laws have been a public health disaster, we are one of only two countries in the world that have helmet laws, people aren’t riding bikes like they used to and we are one of the fattest countries.

“Interestingly the Northern Territory has the highest rate of cycling because you don’t have to wear a helmet on bike paths in the Northern Territory and as a result if you do end up riding on the road they don’t have a culture of the police stopping you so they have a really good rate of cycling in the northern territory,” she said.

“And places like Brisbane and Melbourne where they do have helmet laws, their bike share schemes have been dismal failures at the same Dublin has been an unbelievable success story and they have no helmet law,” Sue Abbott said.

Ms Abbott said she didn’t think it was about Australia being a nanny state, but questions the law in terms of public health and also evidence that helmets increase safety.

“There is a difference between a head injury versus a brain injury and the skull has some flexibility, but a helmet is hard and creates like a punch drunk syndrome, which effectively means the brain is in a hard container and that sort of injury can be catastrophic,” Sue Abbott said.

Ms Abbott has also recently been booked near her home, which is out of town, because someone called the police to notify them she was riding without a helmet.