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News

Ditch helmet laws, ECF President tells world transport ministers

Speaking at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany on 2 May 2012, European Cyclists Federation President Manfred Neun told 53 transport ministers from across the world that cycle use in Western Australia would treble if cycle helmets were not compulsory.

"Helmets are a disincentive to riding, there is no doubt about that," Herr Neun said. "And if people aren't riding, they aren't enjoying the many health benefits associated with this pastime."

Herr Neun, who has been campaigning for improved cycling conditions for over 30 years, said politicians and health organisations supported helmet laws because they thought they improved safety for cyclists. But he said the truth was far more complex.

"Wearing a helmet creates the image of cycling being an abnormally dangerous physical activity," he said. "While this may be the case for cycling as sports, it is not necessarily so for cycling as a daily means of transportation."

"Statistics show that the more cyclists are on the road, the safer it is actually to cycle. Car drivers are more used to the presence of cyclists. There is no doubt that the main effect of bike helmet laws has not been to improve cycling safety but to discourage cycling, undermining its health and other benefits."

Herr Neun said dedicated bike lanes and reducing car speeds in urban areas would do more to protect cyclists than helmets.

Cycling was proving the answer to many problems facing fast-growing cities all over the world, including traffic congestion, energy use and pollution. Governments were beginning to understand cycling was a relatively "cheap" investment that could create dynamic, livable communities.

Mon 7 May 2012

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