A PROPOSED two-year trial removing mandatory helmet laws for cyclists aged over 16 years in less risky areas is part of plan to increase cycling participation rates in Queensland.
A Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee report tabled in Queensland Parliament today also suggests the move, through getting more people on bikes, might improve the overall health of Queenslanders.
The report - A new direction in cycling for Queensland - suggests exempting cyclists over 16 from wearing helmets when riding in parks, on footpaths and shared or cycle paths and on roads with a speed limit of 60kmh or less.
"The committee is appreciative of the fact that bicycle helmets, that meet national standards and are correctly fitted, provide some protection against head, brain, and facial injuries and is therefore of the view that the use of helmets should be encouraged," the report reads.
"However the committee is not convinced there is sufficient evidence of the safety outcomes of compulsory helmet wearing to justify the mandating of helmet wearing for all cyclists of all ages regardless of the situational risk.
" The committee is therefore of the view that relaxing mandatory helmet laws in specific circumstances is likely to increase cycling participation rates with a range of associated health benefits and economic benefits in tourism areas.
"The committee also believes that a relaxation of mandatory helmet laws may assist in normalising the perception of cyclists by motorists."
The report notes Australia is one of the few countries in the world that has compulsory helmet laws and the committee was not convinced there was sufficient worldwide evidence of the safety outcomes of compulsory helmet wearing to justify the mandating of helmet wearing for all cyclists.
Should bike helmets remain compulsory in Queensland?
This poll ended on 06 December 2013.
Yes. They save lives
No. They discourage cycling
Depends on the speed limit
They should be for kids
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The committee has also recommended a minimum overtaking distance when a motorist overtakes a cyclist - not less than 1m if the speed does not exceed 60 kmh and 1.5m above 60kmh.
A driver may overtake a cyclist on a road with single or double continuous lines if the driver has a clear view and where it is safe to do so.
Committee chairman, Warrego MP Howard Hobbs, said Queensland would lead the way with new road rules if the Queensland Government accepted the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry.
He said the committee was given a wide brief to inquire and report on matters such as the short and long term trends in bicycle injuries and fatalities involving motor vehicles, impacts on other road users, alternative road rules and current penalties and sanctions.
'We have undertaken an extensive review of Australian and overseas road rules and best practice infrastructure and it was quite clear that we needed to make significant changes in Queensland to meet the needs of future generations of road users" Mr Hobbs said.
"The committee has worked hard to come up with sound principles in which to recommend new Queensland road rules that will protect vulnerable road users.
"The new principles allow more people to cycle in safety and provide motorists with clear and practical road rules".
The committee has made 68 recommendations in a 200 page report.
Some others include:
· A 'rolling stop' permits cyclists to treat stop signs as give way signs where it is safe to do so and to complement this, allow cyclists to turn left on red after stopping at a red light where it is safe to do so.
· Permit cyclists to ride across a pedestrian crossing provided the cyclist slows down, keeps left and gives way to pedestrians.
· Amend road rules to provide for cyclists to enter and exit a roundabout from the centre of the lane.
· Introduce a criminal offence of 'Infliction of Injury' or 'Death to Vulnerable Road Users' which incorporates maximum penalties that are tougher than the existing penalty for careless driving.
· Increase infringement penalty units for cyclists to equal those for motorists where the potential to endanger other road users is greatest.
· Introduce tougher penalties relating to Menacing and Predatory Road Behaviour, leaving the scene of an accident and on the spot fines for dooring.
· Rejection of bicycle registration in Queensland.
A full copy of the report is at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/thlgc.