Helmets are always a safe bet
ABID to go helmet-free on bikes is bonkers. The Bicycle Network’s call to free riders of their helmets is a desperate and misguided attempt to increase the number of people using bikes. How can a body that is the voice of its members apparently condone those same people being hurt in the pursuit of their hobby?
The bike body argues adults should have the choice to go helmet-free when riding on footpaths or off-road and it wants a national five-year trial. It admitted it couldn’t support a total lifting of the helmet law because cars still posed a risk.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards knows that the plan will be divisive.
“Some people will look at this and say ‘Thank goodness’; some will say ‘Why didn’t you go further?’; others will say ‘What on earth are you doing?’’’ he said.
In Victoria, only 1 per cent of people travel to work by bike and on average eight cyclists die on the roads every year. The idea that more people will take to bike trails because they don’t have to wear helmets is ludicrous.
Anyone who is staying off a bike because of helmet hair isn’t going to be a convert to cycling for long.
People can’t ride to work because those in the suburbs live too far away and those in town value their lives too much to ride on our busy roads.
In support of their helmet-free argument, the rider lobby points to the low number of deaths.
That may be true, but helmets aren’t only to stop people dying. They also protect riders against concussion — an injury we are only just uncovering the severity of — as well as head and facial fractures and lacerations.
By anyone’s calculations, there can only be one winner out of skull versus concrete. It doesn’t take a high-speed collision with a car for someone to end up with serious or life-altering injury.
Other cyclists on bike trails pose a risk, as do pedestrians, many of whom are distracted by headphones or mobiles.
The spin-off of allowing riders to go helmet-free on paths is that in all likelihood they will end up on the road as well. Very few people live directly on a bike path so it’s inevitable they will have to use suburban roads to get to one.
We don’t ask cyclists to be registered, we don’t force them to wear knee and elbow pads. We want them to wear one protective item to save their heads.
It doesn’t seem like a big ask.