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Victoria Government report overlooks impact of helmet law

A report entitled 'Developing Cycling as a Safe and Appealing Mode of Transport' was tabled in parliament by the Victorian Auditor General in August 2011. The document is intended as an audit of Victoria's bicycle promotion strategy but mentions mandatory helmets only once and has been criticised for failing to address a key issue that continues to deter bicycle use in the Australian State of Victoria. Victoria was the first jurisdiction in the world to enforce a mandatory all age bicycle helmet law in 1990.

Government data shows how cycle use was affected by the helmet law. From 1985/6 to 2007/8:

The data confirms that the cycling popularity "boom" in Victoria since 2000 is from a low base in the 1990s when cycling suffered a major downturn in numbers due to helmet law discouragement. On a 25 year comparison, the increase in Victoria's bicycle use has not kept pace with population growth.

Although the Victorian Auditor General reports correctly that Victoria's public cycling participation is abysmal by international standards, by not mentioning the impact of mandatory helmets as evidenced in the government's own studies, he has failed to alert the Victorian Parliament to an ongoing legislative failure that is damaging public health and safety.

The sole reference to helmets in the report is to recommend that their use should be promoted, especially for young riders. It completely misses the point that the helmet law has reduced cyclists' and children's safety.

Mon 7 Nov 2011

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