Mandatory helmet laws do more harm than good. Allowing cyclists to ride without a helmet would remove a common barrier to cycling and encourage more Australians to take it up as a means of transport.
The positives of increased participation in cycling such as higher levels of physical activity, less air pollution and reduced congestion significantly outweigh the potential risks.
Australia became the first country in the world to make it illegal to ride without a helmet in 1991. The law increased helmet use but has also decreased cycling numbers.
More importantly, the introduction of the law did not result in a marked reduction in head injury rates. There is actually no consensus among experts that helmet laws reduce head injuries. Any reductions may simply be the result of fewer cyclists on the road and therefore fewer people exposed to the risk of head injuries.Chris Rissel is from the University of Sydney's School of Public Health
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