Long road for bike helmet debate: Do they harm or help?

EXPERTS are at loggerheads on the issue of Australia’s mandatory bicycle helmet laws, with suggestions they are hampering the fight against obesity.

A University of NSW study reviewing hospital admissions showed head injuries from bicycle accidents dropped by 25–29% immediately following the 1991 introduction of mandatory helmet wearing. 

Head injuries decreased significantly more than limb injuries among cyclists, but not among pedestrians.

“What we found provides compelling evidence that the legislation has served its purpose in reducing bike-related head injuries, and any repeal of the laws would only put lives at risk,” author Dr Jake Olivier (PhD) said.

But the paper also noted transport-related head injuries were already in a long-term decline. 

“So the head injury rates in cyclists went way down before the legislation came in, and after that it pretty much flattened out,” said