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Freo takes lead on bike helmet trial

Fremantle Independent MP Adele Carles and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt  have joined forces to call for the Port City to lead the way with a ‘no bike helmet’ trial.

Ms Carles and Dr Pettitt say Fremantle is keen to start a two-year trial in the City of Fremantle in which helmets will be optional for adults cycling on separated cycleways, dual use paths and roads where the maximum speed is 50km/h or less.

The call follows comments from Manfred Neun, the president of the European Cyclists Federation, who has told the International Transport Forum in Leipzig that he believes the number of cyclists in WA would treble if helmets were not compulsory.

 Cycling has been proving to be more popular in Fremantle after the introduction of further bike lanes and bike parking facilities at key destinations but anecdotal evidence is that many more would consider riding if bike helmet laws were relaxed.

“Research has shown that compulsory bike helmets laws do little to improve cycling safety and act as a disincentive to more people taking up cycling as a daily means of transportation,” Ms Carles said.

“Many potential cyclists are missing out on the health benefits of this activity while our roads are increasingly congested. Safety can be addressed in other ways such as by providing dedicated bike lanes and reducing suburban traffic speeds,” she said.

“Fremantle could reap significant benefits from a relaxation of bike helmet laws with more people enjoying a healthy cycling lifestyle while creating a more dynamic and livable community with less traffic congestion and pollution” Ms Carles says.

 “The proposed trial will focus on low risk, low speed cycling environments in Fremantle and will monitor the expected increases in cycling numbers” Mayor Pettitt said.

 “Australia is one of very few countries which legally require bike helmets for adults and as a result our cycling numbers are well below many comparable nations.  Adele and I are expecting this proposed trial will see cycling numbers jump in Fremantle especially among women”.

“Fremantle in call for no helmets trial” – The West Australian 11 May 2012

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