Aussie bike stores and helmet laws.

I can bite my tongue no longer. One too many Australian bike retailers, has told me they need mandatory helmet laws, to stay in business. If only bicycle retailers had not wasted their youths as tour-de-france wannabes, and had learned, how, to, think. They would see how helmet laws are driving them under. Abolish helmet laws, and Australians would drag out their bikes (1.4 per Aussie household), find they need fixing, and wheel them straight to their nearest bike shop for repairs.

It is through repairs that local bike stores pay their bills. Unless they are nationwide distributers for particular bike brands, they only profit a little from the sale of new bikes—they would sell more, of course, were it not those helmet laws! However, their mainstay is mechanical repairs, and the sale of parts like chains and cables, that go along with repairs. Most aren’t really bike shops, but mechanics shops, with a few things for sale out the front. Furthermore, it is importers who make the best mark-ups on helmets, not the hapless retailers, who are left holding all the XXS models when the new season stock comes. K-Mart makes more money than either, moving equally safe and comfortable helmets in bulk, for $12 each.

$12 helmets smell no worse than ones for $250.

So next time a bike retailer tells you that Aussie standards approved helmets are the only accessories left to them to sell, without competition from overseas, howl them down with your superior reasoning.

As for me, instead of buying new pads for my Laser Garmin at $20 a piece, I’m going to start racing in $12 helmets from K-Mart, with “$12 from K-Mart” proudly written all over them, with marking pen. I’ll buy a new one each time I stop at the shops to buy milk, and I won’t cut the tags off. I might even keep that blue cardboard visor.

6 Comments

  1. Lukas Junker says:

    Dr. Beehoving,

    I have often wondered about the lack of debate on the helmet issue in Australia, which could also mean that I simply arrived after the debate had finished. While I did get used to wearing a helmet to ride at jogging speed the 1.5km from Carrington to Honeysuckle Drive on the shared path along the water, I also am male without much care about my hair and am happily married, so not out to flaunt my good looks.
    Other than the lady from Dungog, who goes to court every couple of years for her right to not wear a helmet, I have not heard any complaints, ever.
    In a left wing weekly newspaper in Switzerland however, I read many years ago, that the bike use dropped enormeously (50%?) in the years after the introduction of the helmet law. This was cited to fend off similar laws from introduction in that part of the world.
    Could these numbers be true? Have there been any credible studies done and published? Did Australians ever take to the bike in numbers in the distant past?

  2. Steven says:

    Hi Lukas, I’m not really the expert you may be seeking. During the interwar period in our city (Newcastle), almost the entire BHP workforce went there by bike. Thousands per shift! The poor uptake of bike hire schemes in Brisbane and Melbourne, compared to cities like Paris and Barcelona that don’t have these helmet laws, are the strongest evidence of the negative impact, that in turn means our traffic is not being tamed by cyclists, as is happening in the two places I mention. I’ve never actually actually seen stats confirming a drop in the bike share after mandatory helmets laws were introduced here.

  3. Lukas Junker says:

    There appear to be some experts at the website above. At least collectors of all sorts of statistics and research into the effects of bike helmet laws in Australia. Such as: the male/female ratio of commuter cyclists went from 2.6/1 in 1976 to 4.7/1 in 2001 while the overall percentage of commuter cyclists dropped from 2.3% to 1.2%. Mandatory helmets were introduced in 1991. Apparently these figures are from Adelaide, but there is lots more from other places. The publishers of the website clearly get more off on numbers than style, so it may not be your thing…

    • Steven says:

      Hi Lukas, I admire your interest. Sometimes I get bothered that this debate smothers discussion of other topics, but I appreciate, it’s an important topic, especially for us bunnies here in Australia. Want to write a guest piece, that I can edit (or maybe not), then post on this blog? Perhaps from a Newcastle perspective?

  4. Lukas Junker says:

    How about this one, also from http://www.cycle-helmets.com/bicycle_numbers.html:

    West Australian government advice to cyclists clearly recognises how the enforced wearing of helmets discourages female cycling participation:

    “During the warmer months, women in particular are concerned about getting so-called “helmet hair”, caused by the shell compressing their locks. Hairdressers often suggest a shorter cut with unstructured layers for clients who cycle regularly. Chemically relaxing may also create a more wash-and-wear style. For longer hair, ladies might try blow-drying after a shower using a round brush, before applying a gel and then a volumiser to reduce “fly-away”. This can be followed by a brush through with a heavy paddle and a comb to finish. A good tip for keeping curls from being crushed is to pile the hair on top of the head, holding it place with one hand, while putting the helmet on top with the other. When arriving at the destination, the curls are simply shaken loose.”

  5. Lukas Junker says:

    Ok, this is the last cut and past job from this place:

    •Helmet straps have become entangled on play structures leading to children being hanged (6).

    Now we are talking. Helmets kill children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.