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Editions

Docklands Science - June 2013

27 May 2013

There is a reason for helmets

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia last month found that bicycle riders who don’t wear helmets were close to 6 per cent more likely to sustain a head injury or a severe head injury, compared with law-abiding cyclists who wear helmets.

Before you scoff at that statistic, the study also found that medical costs for injured cyclists without a helmet were on average close to $50,000 more expensive than the medical cost for injuries obtained by cyclists with a helmet.

Helmets definitely aren’t worn for good looks. The scientists’ findings are an affirmation of the public and individual benefit of mandatory bike helmet laws, which are enforced in Victoria.

The published journal supports a decision announced by roads minister Terry Mulder (reported in last month’s issue of Docklands News) that 200 free bike helmets would be circulated through the RACV bike share system. That being said, the Government’s announcement wasn’t backed by research or concern for cyclist safety.

Rather, it was about ensuring that they raised revenue from the languishing bike share system by removing the perceivable hindrance of buying a helmet.

According to statistics compiled in the Access Docklands plan: A strategy for the Docklands transport network, the research is pertinent to residents of Docklands, given that they ride their bikes to work twice as much other residents of wider metropolitan Melbourne.

David Sibenaler is a Docklands Resident and science communicator.

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