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Dump Harmful Helmet Law Say Cyclists

Cycling Health Press Release, 12th November 2003.

Dump harmful helmet law say cyclists.
Cycling Health supporter challenges LTSA Director in court.

Cycling Health member Patrick Morgan has appealed the Director of Land Transport's decision to decline his application for an exemption from the mandatory bicycle helmet requirement. The case will be heard in the Wellington District Court on Thursday November 13. Several Cycling Health members plan to attend and will ride to court in a display of support for Mr. Morgan's appeal.

Mr. Morgan said "Well-meaning people believe the helmet law keeps cyclists safe. However, the evidence in New Zealand and overseas shows it discourages cycling and harms the overall health of the population."

The Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) has the power to issue exemptions on a case by case basis for religious or medical reasons or on other reasonable grounds. Mr. Morgan's initial application was made on reasonable grounds including the lack of protection offered by bicycle helmets and the possibility of increased risk of spinal and brain injury caused by increased rotational forces. He also claimed that the regulation is discriminatory.

Car drivers and pedestrians are not required to wear helmets despite research suggesting they should provide similar or greater protection than for cyclists, as the LTSA have already acknowledged.

The LTSA is currently reviewing the Road User Rules which include the bicycle helmet regulation. Cycling Health spokesperson Oliver Thompson said "The law has failed to do what it was meant to do; that is, make cycling safer."

"The law should be repealed. Cycling is a safe and healthy activity which doesn't need special safety equipment. In the Netherlands, nearly everyone cycles; people see no need for special safety equipment. All the New Zealand bicycle helmet law has achieved is to make a fun, healthy and convenient transport mode less comfortable and seemingly more dangerous."

The LTSA is fond of pointing out that the number of cyclist head injuries has decreased by around 20% but they fail to mention that the the trend before the law was for reducing injuries and that has continued without any measurable impact of the law.

Mr Morgan believes he has reasonable grounds for an exemption in light of all evidence suggesting a helmet can endanger his personal safety and well-being. The law is discouraging him from a safe, healthy, non-polluting activity.


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