Mandatory helmet law survey to assess community opinion | Poll

LEGAL STANDARD: In Tasmania, and across Australia, a helmet must be worn by a bike rider under all circumstances. The law changes slightly for passengers but the penalty for breaking the law is the same.

LEGAL STANDARD: In Tasmania, and across Australia, a helmet must be worn by a bike rider under all circumstances. The law changes slightly for passengers but the penalty for breaking the law is the same.

Mandatory helmets is just one way to keep cyclists safe on Tasmanian roads, Tamar Bicycle Users Group president Malcolm Reid says.

While the country’s biggest bike riding organisation is undertaking a survey into whether the community still believes mandatory bicycle helmets are necessary, Mr Reid said the local group had always supported the law.

“Even if Bicycle Network was to make a push to change the law, as far as our riders are concerned we will always wear helmets, from our perspective it just makes sense,” he said.

“​What really makes people safe on our roads is more understanding from drivers, drivers being more sensitive to the fact that there are cyclists on our roads around town, but in saying that I know cyclists are not blameless and they sometimes ride more than two abreast, but I think that will help.”

Bicycle Network chief executive Craig Richards said almost 15,000 people had already responded to the national survey.

“We just think that all policies should be reviewed from time to time but the other thing is because what we’ve seen is bike riding numbers throughout Australia are very flat, in some areas they have declined and we think it’s time to look at everything because physical activity is so important for our health outcomes,” he said.

“Bike riding is a great way to get physically active so we think it’s time to look at all sorts of policies and the mandatory helmet law is one that a lot of people are interested in so we think it’s time to have a thorough look at it.”

The results of the survey will be considered alongside expert opinion and academic studies while Bicycle Network reviews its position.

“We’ve got a really strong membership base there and we want to hear from everyone to get a good representative sample,” he said.

“We’re looking to get all the survey answers by the end of next week then that will take a little bit of time to analyse but to finish our whole review we are talking April next year.”

The survey questions vary from whether helmets should be mandatory for those under the age of 18, to whether they should only be mandatory while on a road, and how police should handle people breaking the law.