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Bare-headed cycling in ACT could return

Cycling along with the wind in your hair may seem like a thing of the past but, under a new road safety plan, the ACT may be the first to take off cycling helmets.

First, the ACT wants to be the first Australian jurisdiction to have zero deaths or injuries on the road. Under the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 (NRSS), all states and territories in Australia have the target of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 30% by 2020.

Second, the ACT wants to explore whether having to wear a helmet all the time on a bicycle contributes to that strategy.

Why helmets

Helmets were introduced in 1992 but not all cyclists wear them and not all cyclists agree they ought to be worn.

Road Safety Minister, Shane Rattenbury says:”There is clear evidence that wearing bicycle helmets does reduce the rate of head injuries. There’s also evidence that it can reduce the number of people who cycle”.

A University of Sydney study, for example, found 23% of Sydney adults would ride more if helmets were optional. It also claimed a 10% increase in cycling would not only reduce traffic congestion, but cut the risks of cycling because there would be fewer cars on the road.

According to the ACT’s Road Safety Action Plan 2016-2020, the aim is to get more people on to bicycles. If more people are cycling, it makes everyone safer because:

  • Cycling is more visible
  • More people are doing it
  • Drivers become more used to having cyclists on the road.

Under the plan, experts will investigate the effects of riding without a helmet in low speed areas, such as parks, town centres, shared zones and university campuses. The plan may also expand the number and extent of 40kmh zones in town centres, as currently happening in Sydney.

As a driver, you need to know how to behave on the road around cyclists, for the safety of everyone. For more about cycling in NSW – especially the new rules for cyclists and motorists – see our Blog, New laws for cyclists.

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