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Secret Queensland review rejects change to helmet law

THE Queensland Government ordered a detailed study into scrapping its mandatory bicycle helmet law, receiving the results a month after Brisbane's controversial CityCycle bike hire scheme was launched. But critics of the law were forced to wage a four-month battle for its release despite findings recommending against any changes.

The confidential AUD 34,000 study into bicycle helmet laws examined whether cyclists off-road or in 40km/h speed zones should be allowed to ride helmet-free. Any such relaxation could throw a lifeline to the struggling CityCycle scheme, with helmet laws widely seen as the main deterrent to new CityCycle users.

Researchers were instructed to examine the benefits and disadvantages of compulsory bicycle helmet laws and examine "evidence to support a segmented approach to mandatory helmet legislation," documents released under Right to Information show. Debate about the worth of helmet laws and concerns about the impact on public bike hire schemes triggered the study, according to a ministerial briefing note.

Conducted by Queensland University, the study predicted that any relaxation of helmet laws would lead to a rise in the number of cyclists sustaining head injuries and it did not think that it would change the number of riders dramatically. As a result, the State Government has ruled out any change to its law.

Fri 17 Jun 2011

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