Virgins and vampires - Sir Richard Branson joins Robert Pattinson in falling foul of Aussie helmet law

South Australia police caution business tycoon after he's spotted riding without cycle helmet

by Simon_MacMichael   May 9, 2013  

White cycle helmet

Business tycoon Sir Richard Branson has become the latest high-profile visitor from overseas to fall foul of Australia’s compulsory cycle helmet laws.

The 63-year-old, who is in Australia to help promote a new regional airline operated by his Virgin Group as well as undertake speaking and charity engagements, was cautioned by police officers in the South Australian capital, Adelaide.

"He stopped immediately and was spoken to by two police officers at the time," said a police spokesman, quoted on Telegraph.co.uk.

"He was given a caution and then put on a helmet. It was pretty straightforward."

Earlier this year, Twilight star Robert Pattinson also received a caution in South Australia after police were alerted to a picture snapped by a fan of him riding a bike without a helmet.

According to police, foreigners typically receive a caution rather than a fine due to their presumed unfamiliarity with the country’s compulsory helmet laws, introduced more than two decades ago, and which remain a subject of fierce academic debate within the country.

4 user comments

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He may have wrecked a transatlantic catamaran, crashed a hot air balloon, and been caught in an island house fire, but he really has taken his devil- may- care attitude to risk too far this time.

posted by wild man [287 posts]
9th May 2013 - 15:25

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"and which remain a subject of fierce academic debate within the country"

Please point to the "academic debate" in Australia? An anti-helmet campaigner claimed that the accident data showed no reduction in injuries after the introduction of compulsory helmet laws - those claims were promptly discredited because the campaigner and his co-author had mismatched the data and the journal which published the article withdrew it. The evidence clearly shows that helmets have been saving lives.

Your other favourite argument is that helmets inhibit the take-up of cycling - yet cycling in Melbourne is booming, with increases in some sample sites of 62% in one year. And with helmet compliance at 99.7%, helmets clearly aren't stopping anyone.

posted by Sakurashinmachi [48 posts]
17th May 2013 - 14:09

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Australia has abysmal usage rates for it's 2 bike shares the helmet law is the reason. Ask a Helmet law advocate and they will LIE and come up with every excuse imaginable but wont admit the obvious. In the survey in this article I reference below for example 71% are in support of exemption for bike share users.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/helmet-law-makes-nonsense-of-bike-hire...

Bicycle mode share in AU is 2% or less in spite of very considerable efforts by government to try and get people to ride.
With the mild weather and quality of roads and paths bike usage should have a natural balance of around 5 to 10% mode share in australia. So the helmet laws and related scaremongering have kept it closer to 1% in spite of government efforts to try to get it higher.

FYI rates of helmet usage are actually no where near the 99.7% suggested by Sakurashinmachi who posted above. In fact they struggle to reach even 90% for adults and lower for children - helmet law supporters are not know for telling the truth and would never admit the law is a failure. Rates of helmet infringement tickets are in the order of 25 thousand each year and many times that number of threats, warnings and police letting peoples tires down etc.

We have a rapidly increasing growth in inactivity disorders and public health costs to go along with under the exclusionist style helmet laws we seem to have been sucker punched with.

Here is another recent news article. The debate is clearly increasing and it is probably only a matter of time before one state trials a helmet law repeal. After that the remaining states law's will fall like domino's thus putting an end to this bullying and worthless law.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/13656583/fremantle-in-call...

posted by steve from au [1 posts]
12th June 2013 - 14:08

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The statistical support for helmet wearing is deeply flawed. You are about as likely to suffer a head injury cycling as you are walking /jogging. Plus the protection that helmets offer is overstated. They are nothing like motorcycle helmets. They also offer protection for one type of impact (flat and forward) whilst they increase the potential damage for any kind of rotational impact. And they increase the likelihood of rotational damage by increasing the size of the head (ie helmet and head are larger together).

They are useful for competition because in a bike race they will top you getting a head injury in a pile up. Likewise in mountain biking where the likelihood of going over the bars (forward and flat) is pretty common as is the likelihood of crashing anyway.

If there was a huge line of cyclists outside A&E departments suffering head injuries then that would be one thing but there isn't. Nowhere in the world has an increase in helmet use resulted in a fall in head or brain injuries relative to cycle use.

The big myth buster though is our old friend the Netherlands. It has high rates of cycling. Almost no-one commuting or in everyday cycling wears a helmet. There's no difference between the outcomes for cyclists heads that are involved in accidents in the Netherlands with the outcomes in the UK.

That's because the risk of head injury is low and helmets don't work as well as the manufacturers would have you believe and only protect you from a certain kind of injury (low chance within low chance).

If you want a detailed analysis then here you go: http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1139.html

Cyclists are safer when more cyclists are on the road and driver awareness increases. Helmet laws tend to reduce those numbers by taking cycling away from being something normal and for transport into something perceived (wrongly) as dangerous and in need of special equipment.

Been cycling on the roads properly since around 1970. I wore helmets (such as they were) for races when I had to. Club runs and most other cycling since then has been without. I now commute 25 miles round trip most days and no helmet. Races are one thing and commuting is another.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
21st October 2013 - 16:18

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