Mum weighs in on bike helmet debate
■ Scrapping mandatory helmet laws would be a bad idea, according to a Tom Price mother of three.
The Sustainable Transport Coalition of WA wants mandatory helmet laws scrapped, telling a Senate inquiry recently they cut cycling numbers sharply after starting in 1992.
“We’ve got a whole generation that’s been told cycling is dangerous, you must wear a helmet and if you don’t wear a helmet you can’t ride a bike,” coalition convener Ian Ker said.
The inquiry which is looking into so-called “nanny State” laws has attracted many submissions on helmets from supporters and detractors.
Despite growing up in Sweden where no one wore helmets, Tom Price mum Susanna Tope said she was a big advocate for the head gear after a few spills by her children.
“A year-and-a-half ago the youngest was at the skatepark and had his helmet on,” she said. “He hit his forehead quite hard and started violently vomiting.
“They were just about to call the flying doctors (at the hospital) but he started feeling good… if he hadn’t worn a helmet he probably would have cracked his skull open.”
Mrs Tope’s eldest also recently suffered a fall and chipped half his front tooth but the rest of his head had been well protected.
“The helmet has saved two kids out of three,” she said.
Cyclists can be fined $50 for failing to wear an approved helmet.
But WA Police could not say how many people were booked or cautioned for riding without a helmet in the past 12 months.
In its submission, the STC claimed helmets may induce greater risk-taking by cyclists who feel safer and by motorists who are less wary around riders.
The group’s submission says the cycling infrastructure and encouragement programs of State and local governments in WA are much less effective because of the persistent and pervasive negative effect of mandatory helmet laws on cycling.
Road safety and medical experts said helmets should remain mandatory as they reduced the risk of head injury. The Australian Medical Association said emergency physicians and neurosurgeons could tell of cases where helmets had saved lives.