Netherlands is one of the country that does not have mandatory helmet law, and yet their injury rate is one of the lowest in the world (Comparing the amount of the distance they have traveled with fatal accidents happened per kilo meter, it is the lowest among any other country.) What are the policies that make this significant progress? How did the Dutch achieve it?
First and the most important reason, bicycling is super safe in in the Netherlands. The average bicycling speed in the Netherlands is as slow as a jogger, which is about 4-5km per hour. In addition, bikers have their own pathway, they do not have to share lanes with other vehicles. The bicycle infrastructure is connected to everywhere else.
Helmet requirement discourages bicycling. The Netherlands does not have the mandatory helmet laws since it is counterproductive. Hence, wearing a bicycle helmet do not necessarily makes people feel safer. In some research they found that wearing a bicycle helmet have a physiological impact while bicycling, which makes people feel danger is within the reach in any second.
What do you think about these arguments? Do you feel safer not to wear a bicycle helmet if bike pathways are separated?
According to the Cycling Promotion Fund, in conjunction with the National Heart Foundation conducted a survey of 1000 Australian adults in relation to whether or not they ride a bike for transport. The survey here is useful for understanding why people do not use bicycle as their means of conveyance.
- Unsafe road conditions: 46.4%
- Speed/volume of traffic: 41.8%
- Don’t feel safe riding: 41.4%
- Lack of bicycle lanes/trails: 34.6%
- Destinations too far away: 29.9%
- No place to park/store bike: 23.5%
- Do not own a bike: 22.5%
- Weather conditions: 22.1%
- Not fit enough: 21.8%
- Too hilly: 19.6%
- Don’t feel confident riding: 18.6%
- Not enough time: 16.7%
- Don’t like wearing a helmet: 15.7%
- No place to change/shower: 14.6%
- Health problems: 14.4%
The first four factors are all about traffic and road conditions, which means people do not feel safe riding while sharing the lane with automobiles. The lack of specific lanes and pathways for bicycle is an important factor that contributed to the issues around Mandatory Helmet Laws in Australia. Since the number of cyclists are increasing each year, the traffic and path way can not sustain the surge of cyclists. As a result, this is one factor that contributed to other researcher’s argument for not wearing a helmets. Helmets failed to reduce the injury rates. This is not true, they have to consider the increasing number of people cycling.
By targeting to improve road conditions, the number of people cycling is likely to go up. However, since the traffic condition remained the same, the Mandatory Helmet Law is there to protect and ensure everyone’s safety.
American academic quoted : “the most hostile city(Sydney) to cyclists in the developed world.”