Compulsory Bicycle Helmet Legislation

2017 October : Cycling Helmets : do we actually need them ?

2013 02 23 :

Freestyle Cyclists seeks the reform of bicycle helmet law in Australia and New Zealand to get more people riding bikes.

Repealing helmet laws will give people a choice, and remove the barrier for those occasions when a person decides to ride a bike without a helmet. 

Discouraging cycling is bad for public health because the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a large factor—including when not wearing a helmet.

May 2016 ( Australia )

Taking it to the Courts

Sue Abbott has been fighting helmet law for years, taking many cases to court. In March 2014, Sue Abbott was stopped and fined by South Australian police, for not wearing a bicycle helmet in Adelaide, where Sue was attending the 2014 Velo-city world bicycle conference.
After 20 months and six court appearances, Sue was found guilty and penalised a total of $560 - plus handed a criminal conviction.

In partnership with Upright Bicycle Riders of Australia, Freestyle Cyclists has launched an appeal to contribute to Sue's costs. The appeal will be on-going and will be offered to help pay the costs of people who take helmet fines to court.

Think of it as an insurance policy. Donate once a year, take your helmet fine to court and the fund will help you.

We know helmet laws put many people off cycling. Higher fines in NSW will deter many more people from getting healthy exercise and cheap, reliable transport by riding. Taking your case to court is a form of resistance to the law that needs to be multiplied, to raise awareness and to make police think twice before penalising people who are doing themselves and the community a favour by cycling.

Freestyle Cyclists will administer the fund. Assistance will be offered to those who take their fines to court. Please help bring an end to helmet laws in Australia.
Number of signatures to date: 1319
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2012 New Zealand Medical Association's review of the NZ Bicycle Helmet Law 

Bicycle Helmets on National Radio's 9 to Noon Programme:

16th of June 2010

Listen to ( and  download  ) Kathryn Ryan's interview with  David Haywood ( Christchurch) on the effect the compulsory bicycle helmet legislation is having on our nation's health.

Click here for the direct link or here for the 9 to noon page.

  Hey ! Where are your helmets !!!  ( Berlin,Germany )   

It can (and must) be observed that wherever utility cycling is widely practiced, the wearing of helmets is neither compulsory nor observed by the vast majority of cyclists. E.g. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Kyoto.

 ( in Japan ) 

Extrapolating from observable attitudes and behaviours to helmet wearing by those who choose to cycle in other countries, it must be concluded that the compulsion for cyclists to wear them is dissuading many in New Zealand from taking up cycling.

This issue evokes strong feelings and is a ‘political hot potato' that neither cycle advocates nor Government are willing to address.

 It is however, an impediment that is dissuading many potential cyclists from taking up what should otherwise be the ‘mode of choice’ in our cities .

N.B. I am not advocating for the abolition of helmets.

I AM advocating that the law which compels all cyclists to wear helmets at all times, be rescinded to make it discretionary on the rider.

It is absolutely essential for the Ministry of Transport to address this issue if they are serious about achieving the goal of increasing the numbers cycling in our urban areas  ( 'to 30% by 2040 ) 

Funding must be allocated for further research to be done on this issue to focus on the experience of the Europeans and to highlight the benefits of getting people out of their cars.


Film maker Mike Rubbo from Avoca Beach , N.S.W. Australia has recently (October 2009 ) made these excellent little videos (available from his  YouTube channel ) following a challenge to Australia's bicycle helmet law

see also the videos Mike has made which highlight the effect the cycle helmet law is likely to have on cycle share programs such as this one being proposed for Melbourne.


" As a candidate for the Health Board I am concerned that not wearing helmets would undo all the good work in reducing head injuries in cyclists, especially in children."

 I am not advocating for the abolition of bicycle helmets.

I am advocating that the law which compels cyclists to wear them be rescinded to make it discretionary on the rider as to whether they do or not,-in order that all impediments that would dissuade people from taking up cycling be removed.

A compromise could be to maintain the compulsion to wear helmets up to say 16 years to ensure the development of a culture that accepts them,-while not dissuading those adults who do not from taking up cycling.

It seems that there has been an assumption that cyclists lack the common sense to look after themselves while they're riding so legislation is needed to protect them from worst case scenarios.

I can't understand the logic of legislating to compel cyclists to wear helmets for their safety and then compelling them to ride on our narrow crowded roads between parked and moving motor vehicles that are moving much greater speeds.

    "As there are more racing cycles and mountain bikes here, they are more likely to travel faster."

As I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, we really only have 'vehicular' and 'recreational ' cyclists in New Zealand because our legislators, cycling advocates and the bicycle retail industry are not (in effect) aware of the needs of the 'would be' slow cyclists.
Road racers and mountain bikers are aware of the dangers they are exposed and expose themselves to and will most likely accordingly chose to wear helmets.

Hey !  Where are your helmets !!!  ( Copenhagen ,Denmark )

Maybe this ($55 fine) will help to remind you!

What are the rules for wearing cycle helmets?

It's compulsory for all cyclists on New Zealand roads to wear cycle helmets. Your cycle helmet must:

Check that your helmet is the right size - it should fit snugly on your head with a minimum use of pads. It's not a good idea to buy a child a helmet that they will 'grow into'.

If your cycle helmet gets damaged, replace it with a new one.

Please note that if a police officer stops you and asks to inspect your helmet, you must give it to them.


What does the Road User Rule say about helmets?
The Road User Rule sets out who has to wear a helmet, what standards helmets need to meet and under what circumstances they need to be worn.

How do I apply for an exemption?

You will need to contact Land Transport NZ on 0800 699 000  or write to PO Box 2840, Wellington.

Land Transport Cycles study guide

Land Transport NZ Helmets

For more discussion and links to the situation in other countries :

Cycling Health promotes safe cycling and cyclists’ rights.
Consequently one goal is the removal of the New Zealand anti-safety & discriminatory bicycle helmet law.

In Australia, there is an interesting article on the Civil Liberties Australia website written by Colin Clarke of the British Cyclists Federation - CTC.
There is a .pdf to download and read on the page or you can get it here.

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