hamishm wrote:I don't have all the facts on the benefits and drawbacks of helmets - I haven't read the papers etc - so I am not an expert.
It may be time to do something about that. I know a number of people who, having been fully pro-MHLs, when they really did some research and reading, could not demonstrate to themselves that MHL actually made a difference for cyclist safety. They now speak against the MHL. I think one or two of them post on here
Mind you they still make their own choice about wearing a helmet. I'd agree that in our current road system, for high-mileage enthusiast riders, it is a sensible choice
to make. But just that - a choice!
hamishm wrote:In general I believe that there are experts on any given topic - people who have enough information to give an informed opinion - and that the government involves such experts when making policy decisions and formulating laws. The experts told the government that mandatory helmets would reduce injury.
Now that isn't always true - sometimes a government feels compelled to act for populist reasons despite expert opinion (eg sentencing laws in Victoria). And it's possible that laws were based on expert opinion at the time they were passed but that expert opinion has changed due to new research, or changes in behaviour for some other reason. That may be the case for helmets
There was really no research utilised against MHL at the time they were introduced, governments only looked at the pro-MHL research by RACS and the Monash Accident Research Centre. Since then people have regularly pointed out the deficiencies of Australia's cycling participation rates and the poor cycle safety outcomes we still have compared to European nations without helmets. But there is no desire on the part of our masters to bother with any further research.
hamishm wrote:Now you and I can judge that the risk of a particular ride without a helmet is very low. Can the 18 year old boy make an equally informed decision? How about the 13 year old? I think research shows boys don't fully develop awareness of consequences until they are 20+.....
.....If you were arguing for helmets to be optional for 18+ year olds I'd be more swayed.
I pointed out earlier, this does not seem to be an issue for most of Europe. The Netherlands solves it through a very sophisticated bike path and lane system, shared spaces in town centres and many residential streets, a very closely regulated driving environment in urban areas, good driver training, together with a very effective bicycle safety program through-out their education system. They do the 'hard yards' rather than taking cheap short-cuts (that don't work).
A little pointer about helmets for under-18's - the really massive decline in cycling activity with the introduction of MHLs was within the teenage 'ride-to-school' scenario. Maintaining helmet laws just for this group will certainly do nothing to bring kids back to the school ride.