Home page

Main topics
News Headlines

Frequently asked Questions
For Policy Makers

Research evidence
Misleading claims
Helmet laws

Search Engine

New Zealand
Other countries

Full index

Policy statement

Helmet laws repealed or reduced in scope

Northern Territory, Australia

The Northern Territory helmet law came into effect from January 1992 and initially applied to all ages. Like other Australian laws, it was introduced due to Federal Government pressure backed by a threat of funding reductions. It was never popular with most NT residents. On 31st March 1994 the NT Minister for Transport announced an amendment to the law to permit cyclists over the age of 17 to ride without a helmet "along footpaths or on cycle paths which are not on roads". This was in response to a public campaign against the law, backed by petitions signed by 8% of NT's population. The compromise to continue to require helmets on roads was to avoid a penalty from the Federal Government.

In practice, the remaining law is now rarely enforced and helmet use is low both on and off road, for adults and children. Estimates in 2004 suggested that 15% - 20% of cyclists continue to wear helmets, mostly 'serious' cyclists. Far from being detrimental to cycling safety, Northern Territory has the lowest number of cycling casualties pro-rata population in Australia, which is all the more remarkable as the injury rate for everyone except cyclists is easily the worst in Australia.

Mexico City

In 2009, Mexico City implemented a bicycle helmet law as part of a package of measures concerning cycling. The legislation met widespread opposition from a diverse range of organisations and cycling groups as it posed a threat to encouraging cycling and could put cyclists at a disadvantage in claims against motorists and insurance companies.

The City Government had a target to increase cycling from 2% to 5% over 3 years by promoting a cycling culture. It became clear that the helmet law was not compatible with this aim and it was repealed in February 2010, having been in operation for only a year. On the same date Ecobici, the city's first public bicycle system was launched.

Ecobici is part of the government’s plan to increase the number of cycling commuters. Part of the decision to revoke the helmet law was based on the fact that Ecobici wouldn’t provide a public helmet to each and every one of their users. At the same time, Mexico City's Department of Environment, known as the Secretaría del Medio Ambiente (SMA), realized that obliging cyclists to use helmets would give the impression that riding a bicycle in the city was inherently dangerous and it wouldn’t encourage people to cycle more in order to reach the City’s target of 5% of commuters using bicycles. The SMA was critical at changing opinions internally and pushing for revocation of the law, with advice from non government organizations such as Bicitekas and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.


On August 4 2011 the Israeli Knesset passed the a bill to remove the requirement for adult cyclists in Israel to wear a cycle helmet in urban areas.

The Bill's proponents said that the reason for the law change was to encourage more people to cycle. Research had shown that forcing people to wear a helmet deters people from cycling. A cycle hire scheme in Tel Aviv had difficulty getting started because of the deterrent effect of the helmet law.

Ontario, Canada

The Ontario law was originally all-ages. Following public pressure, it was subsequently modified to exempt adults through regulatory powers.

Austin, Texas, USA

Originally applying to all cyclists, this was restricted to children under 16 years in October 1997 following public protest..

Seymour, Connecticut, USA

A law in Seymour was overturned by public referendum.

Barrington, Illinois, USA

It is understood that this had an all-ages law, subsequently restricted to under 17s from 1997.