The Queensland government has announced it will amend bicycle helmet laws to allow exemptions for riders with 'religious headwear', such as turbans. The decision was made following the recent court case of a Brisbane Sikh who successfully contested a $100 fine for not wearing a helmet. This got us to thinking — if it's legal to ride without a helmet on religious grounds, shouldn't it be legal for everybody?
Bike helmet picture from Shutterstock
Don't get us wrong: we think all cyclists should wear helmets for their own safety, especially when riding through busy city streets. But should you be forced to do so by police? It seems somewhat unfair to have different laws for different community groups. Perhaps a blanket relaxing of the rules would be a more sensible way to go.
For starters, this could actually get more people out on their bikes and free up road congestion. As we have noted before, the proportion of people regularly cycling in Australia has dropped in recent years, with the fact they're forced to wear a helmet cited as one of the key reasons. (i.e. — It's something extra you need to carry around or attack to your bike and risk getting stolen).
Making the wearing of helmets non-compulsory would naturally lead to more injuries nationwide, but the same could be said for plenty of legal activities, such as rock fishing and the consumption of alcohol. (Then again, a recent study from the University of NSW found that people who ride without helmets are more likely to ignore traffic rules and to ride drunk, so maybe it isn't such a good idea after all.)
Would you get on your bike more if you didn't have to wear a helmet? Or is this something that should be limited to idiots and turban wearers? Tell us your take in the comments section below.