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No strong evidence bicycle helmet legislation deters cycling

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A focus on helmet legislation detracts from concerns about cycling infrastructure and safety

Opponents of helmet legislation often argue that mandatory bicycle helmet legislation (MHL) is the primary impediment to an increase in cycling.1 The public debate regarding MHL recently flared up with the Leyonhjelm Senate inquiry2 and the Australian Capital Territory proposing a relaxation of their MHL in low speed areas.3 As there are numerous health and social benefits to cycling, such arguments need to be evaluated with rigour against the highest quality evidence available.

Victoria was the first jurisdiction in the world to adopt MHL in July 1990. Other Australian states and territories adopted similar legislation by July 1992. Around this time, the governments of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia commissioned research to assess the impact of their state-specific laws on helmet wearing.48 In SA and WA, stratified random sampling surveys were employed to estimate cycling frequencies before and after the introduction of MHL.6,8 The results of these surveys suggest that there was no real impact on cycling frequencies…