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Lifting The Lid On Western Australia's Helmet Laws
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Lifting The Lid On Western Australia's Helmet Laws

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This paper was presented at the VeloCity Global Conference in Adelaide, South Australia, 29th May, 2014. It draws attention to the overwhelming evidence that mandatory helmet laws have decimated …

This paper was presented at the VeloCity Global Conference in Adelaide, South Australia, 29th May, 2014. It draws attention to the overwhelming evidence that mandatory helmet laws have decimated cycling as an everyday activity, with cycling levels still well below those before the laws were introduced, despite substantial investment in bicycle infrastructure. The community has suffered higher health and transport costs as a result of this poorly-thought-out law (there was no analysis of costs and benefits before the laws were introduced). Now, despite (or perhaps because of) all the evidence, the 'policy protectors' in the public service and government want to pretend that all is well and to deny that a change might be desirable.
Full paper is available at http://www.slideshare.net/Catalystian/lifting-the-lid-on-western-australias-helmet-laws-full-paper

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  • On the basis of health and safety impact only, but including reduction in cycling activity:

    …where cycling is safe, a helmet law is likely to have a large unintended negative health impact.

    …where cycling is relatively unsafe, helmets will do little to make it safer and a helmet law, under relatively extreme assumptions may make a small positive contribution to net societal health.

    De Jong P (2012). ‘The Health Impact of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws’. Risk Analysis 32 (5) 782-790

    Take into consideration all the other forgone benefits of cycling and the net benefit of helmet laws is certain to be negative.

    Even if all the physical activity of cycling forgone were to be replaced by other physical activity, 80% of the benefits of cycling would remain.

Transcript

  • 1. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Neo-Political Action and a New Public Policy Paradigm: A case study of mandatory bicycle helmet laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Full paper available from: http://www.perthurbanist.com/category/transport-3 or email catalystian@netscape.net
  • 2. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Evidence and Policy • Evidence-based policy • Evidence-informed policy – Directions 2031 (Metro Planning WA) • Ideology – evidence-free policy – Mandatory cycle helmet laws 1990-92 – Elizabeth Quay/Burswood Stadium (WA) • Evidence-denying policy – Climate change – Carbon tax – Forced local government amalgamations – Shark ‘culls’ in WA – Mandatory cycle helmet laws 2014
  • 3. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist If Governments Will Not Respond To Evidence… • Concerned and informed citizens must take the initiative – Michael Haynes – Head Organiser / Graduate Urban and Regional Planner – Ian Ker – Principal, CATALYST; Adjunct Professor Transport Studies, Curtin University – Brad Pettitt – Mayor of Fremantle – Tim Milsom – CEO Fremantle Chamber of Commerce – Heinrich Benz – Director Bicycle Transport Alliance – Annie Matan – Professor Sustainable Transport CUSP – Sam Newman – Urban and Regional Planner • Our Goal: – To initiate a Western Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into cycling in Western Australia and safety initiatives • Our Focus: – Ensure bicycle helmet laws are included in a parliamentary inquiry – Represent utility cycling in Western Australia – Discuss the impact of bicycle helmet laws as part of wider social, health, and safety context
  • 4. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist What’s the Problem? • Most (70% in UK) on-road cyclists admitted to hospital had injuries that would not have been mitigated or prevented by a helmet; and • Most (90% in UK) did not have impact injuries that would have been mitigated or prevented by a helmet. Image: Flickr/Amsterdamized
  • 5. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist What’s the Real Problem? • Focussing on 10% of injuries distracts attention from other means of improving cyclist safety  Mandatory helmet laws have reduced the level of cycling activity to the detriment of both those deterred from cycling and those who continue to cycle  The Australian policy process provides no effective way to have an issue debated when governments and bureaucrats are in denial.
  • 6. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Helmet laws in context Mandatory Helmet Laws Cycle UsageCyclist Safety and Health Head InjuriesOther Injuries Risk Compensation? Safety in Numbers? Trip purposesMode Share Injury and Illness Outcomes Resources Used in Transport Social Inclusion or Exclusion Trip Lengths Health and Fitness – Obesity – Disease Retrospective Evaluation Reversibility? Prospective Evaluation Intrinsic Effect of Helmets Effect of Compulsory Helmets Other Health Outcomes – Heat Stress – Skin Cancer Mandatory Helmet Laws Cycle UsageCyclist Safety and Health Head InjuriesOther Injuries Risk Compensation? Safety in Numbers? Trip purposesMode Share Injury and Illness Outcomes Resources Used in Transport Social Inclusion or Exclusion Trip Lengths Health and Fitness – Obesity – Disease Retrospective Evaluation Reversibility? Prospective Evaluation Intrinsic Effect of Helmets Effect of Compulsory Helmets Other Health Outcomes – Heat Stress – Skin Cancer Areas often ignored
  • 7. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Intrinsic Effects of Helmets: Heat Stress • Studies do not show greater heat build-up with helmets – <35ºC and not in extreme humidity • People do apparently perceive that helmets are uncomfortable in warmer conditions – Reduction in cycling to work was greatest and the recovery least in hotter cities
  • 8. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Intrinsic Effects of Helmets: Risk Compensation • Risk-taking by cyclists – “…those who use helmets routinely perceive reduced risk when wearing a helmet, and compensate by cycling faster.” Phillips R O, Fyhri A and Sagberg F (2011). ‘Risk Compensation and Bicycle Helmets’. Risk Analysis 31 (8) 1187-1195. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2011.01589.x/pdf  Risk-taking by motorists  “…overtaking motorists pass closer to a bicyclist when the rider wears a helmet.” Walker I (2007). ‘Drivers overtaking bicyclists: Objective data on the effects of riding position, helmet use, vehicle type and apparent gender’. Accident Analysis and Prevention 39, 417-425. http://forum.vikingscycling.org.au/attachment.php?attachmentid=907&d=1282117052  Real effect but more evidence and research needed
  • 9. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Are Compulsory Helmets a Barrier to Cycling? • Not simply ‘having to wear a helmet’ but also the clear implication that cycling is unsafe.
  • 10. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Cycle Usage • Agreement there was immediate reduction of around 30–40% • Disagreement about extent of ‘recovery’ since then – Paucity of evidence • Tendency to see absence of evidence as evidence of absence – Conflicting evidence • Disproportionately discourages low-risk cycle use and users – Short utility trips on local streets • WA clearly very slow recovery – Overall bicycle mode share down from 5.2% (1986) to 1.7% (2006) – Journey to work still below 1991 – But Perth Bicycle Network counts show strong growth
  • 11. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Cycle Usage in WA • Problem identified by 1996 52.3% 20.0% 8.0% 3.1% 16.5% 60.1% 14.3% 8.7% 5.2% 11.7% 63.6% 17.2% 5.5% 1.7% 12.1% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Car Driver Car Passenger Public Transport Cycle Walk Modeshare(%oftrips) 1976 1986 2006 • Overall bicycle mode share down from 5.2% (1986) to 1.7% (2006)  Even with population growth, total cycle trips down by 30%. 9% 47% 14% 30% Work School Shopping Other 20% 31% 6% 43% 2006 1986
  • 12. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Cycle Usage in WA • Problem identified by 1996  Overall bicycle mode share down from 5.2% (1986) to 1.7% (2006) 9% 47% 14% 30% Work School Shopping Other 20% 31% 6% 43% 2006 1986 16,300 87,300 27,100 55,200 17,000 26,800 5,500 36,900 - 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000 100,000 Work School Shopping Other Cycletripsperweekday 1986 2006 16 83 26 53 11 18 4 24 - 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Work School Shopping Other Cycletripsper1000personsper weekday 1986 2006
  • 13. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Cycle Usage in WA • Problem identified by 1996 0.96% 1.17% 1.44% 1.57% 1.03% 1.12% 1.16% 1.37% 0.0% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% 2.0% Bicyclemodeshare-journeytowork 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011  Overall bicycle mode share down from 5.2% (1986) to 1.7% (2006)  Journey to work still below 1991  But Perth Bicycle Network counts show strong growth – where quality infrastructure is built 16,300 87,300 27,100 55,200 17,000 26,800 5,500 36,900 - 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000 100,000 Work School Shopping Other Cycletripsperweekday 1986 2006 16 83 26 53 11 18 4 24 - 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Work School Shopping Other Cycletripsper1000personsper weekday 1986 2006
  • 14. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Safety in Numbers • “…the likelihood that a given person walking or bicycling will be struck by a motorist varies inversely with the amount of walking or bicycling.” • “a community doubling its walking [or bicycling] can expect a 32% increase in injuries.” Jacobsen P L (2003). ‘Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling’. Injury Prevention, 2003; 29: pp205-209. http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/9/3/205.full.pdf+html • For WA, a tripling of the number of regular cyclists resulted in a 50% increase in cyclist hospital admissions. – 33% for doubling of cycle use • Individual cyclists safer with experience/maturity and frequency of cycling. • Reduction in cycling activity reduces safety for those who continue to cycle, especially if they also cycle less frequently.
  • 15. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist -12 9.8 19.6 -12 49 98 -20 0 20 40 60 80 100 Roadtrauma Healthandfitness:Cycling Healthandfitness:Walking Centsperkilometre Year 1 Year 5 Effect of Compulsory Helmets • Health and fitness – Four times cyclist road trauma cost  Social inclusion or exclusion  Local utility access  People without drivers’ licence or car  Resources used in transport  Car operating costs  Traffic congestion  Already exceeds car operating costs  Triple in next 25 years  Car parking Car Operating Cost
  • 16. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Benefits of Cycling • On the basis of health and safety impact only, but including reduction in cycling activity: – …where cycling is safe, a helmet law is likely to have a large unintended negative health impact. – …where cycling is relatively unsafe, helmets will do little to make it safer and a helmet law, under relatively extreme assumptions may make a small positive contribution to net societal health. De Jong P (2012). ‘The Health Impact of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws’. Risk Analysis 32 (5) 782-790 29% 32% 14% 20% 5% Transport operating costs Congestion Car parking Road trauma and health Environment  Add all the other foregone benefits of cycling and net benefit is extremely unlikely.
  • 17. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Selective Law Enforcement • “It is outrageous that police do not fine the ‘interlopers’ immediately.” • “…they are still fining cyclists for not wearing helmets or for riding on footpaths.” Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University
  • 18. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Effect of Compulsory Helmets: Inhibiting Innovation • ‘Invisible’ helmet  Folding helmet  ‘Cardboard’ helmet
  • 19. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Key Issues • Reversibility – Generation of non-cyclists – Perception of danger instilled by compulsory helmets • Achievability – Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry recommended trial removal of some elements of mandatory helmet laws – Minister of Transport immediately said “No” because “helmets work” • Need to increase awareness of distinction between individual safety and population health.
  • 20. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist E-Petitions: An Alternative Public Policy Model • Overcome ‘evidence-denial’. • By-pass the policy protectors. • Demonstrate level of concern. • 100,000 in UK equivalent to 35,000 in Australia. • 17 petitions debated in the UK Parliament.
  • 21. A Case Study in Mandatory Helmet Laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Neo-Political Action and a New Public Policy Paradigm: A case study of mandatory bicycle helmet laws Ian Ker, CATALYST Michael Haynes, Perth Urbanist Full paper available from: http://www.perthurbanist.com/category/transport-3 or email catalystian@netscape.net