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Position paper

Australia’s mandatory helmet laws: Bicycle Network position paper

Bicycle helmets Injury Road safety Cycling Australia

Bicycle Network is calling for a change to Australia’s bicycle helmet laws that would allow adults to decide whether they should wear a helmet when they’re not riding on the road.

In all Australian states and territories (excluding Northern Territory), it is currently mandatory for people to wear a helmet whenever and wherever they ride a bike.

Bicycle Network is recommending that these laws be relaxed with a five-year trial permitting people older than 17 to choose whether they wear a helmet when riding on footpaths or off-road cycle paths.

Mandatory helmet laws since were introduced in Australia in the 1990s. Bicycle Network became supporters of the law, however after a 14-month policy review has decided to call for change.

While Bicycle Network believes that in low risk, off-road riding environments people should be able to choose whether they wear a helmet, they also believe that Australia’s road networks have not been developed to a stage where they can confidently recommend a full repeal of mandatory helmet laws.

Making helmets optional for off-road riding would match legislation in the Northern Territory which is the only place in Australia without a blanket mandatory helmet law.

Bicycle Network’s three-part helmet policy review began in August 2017 when nearly 20,000 people completed a survey about Australia’s current helmet laws. Bike riding and medical industry experts were also asked to make submissions and a rapid review of more than 2,500 academic studies was conducted.

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