Mum weighs in on bike hel­met de­bate

Pilbara News - - News - Pe­ter de Krui­jff and An­drew Til­lett

■ 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.

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