In Sweden it’s illegal to ride on a bicycle without a helmet, if you’re 15 years or younger that is. This results in that very few teenagers and adults wear one. That law was not in place when I was under 15 and I remember how I used to take it off after I left home or not wear it at all because it was dorky to wear a helmet I also remember a accident I had on my bike where I did hit my head and got a concussion, something that possibly could have been avoided if I wore a helmet.
I haven’t worn a bicycle helmet in around 16 years but that’s all going to change if I want to ride a push bike here in Australia because here there is also a law about wearing a helmet. The difference? The Australian law applies to EVERYONE! Australia is actually one of only two countries in the world that has an all-age mandatory bicycle helmet law. The only one who has copied Australia is our neighbor, New Zealand.
I still hate wearing a helmet and probably wouldn’t wear one if it wasn’t for the law here, even though my sensible self tells me that I probably should.
Though there is no compelling evidence that Australia’s compulsory helmet laws have reduced injury rates on a population-wide basis.
While there is evidence that wearing a helmet will provide some protection from a knock to the head, the benefit is small. Severe head injuries amongst cyclists are not particularly common, and helmets do not prevent all or even a high proportion of those that might occur, but rather provide some marginal decrease in the likelihood of injury.
The mandatory helmet law also change people’s behaviour and perception of risk. Some cyclists take more risks while riding with a helmet than they would without, while studies have shown that some motorists drive closer to helmeted cyclists, than unhelmeted ones. This tendency for individuals to react to a perceived increase in safety by taking more risk is known as risk compensation.
Are you pro or con mandatory helmet laws for everyone?