After months of pursuing it, CBD BUG has finally obtained under Queensland’s Right to Information legislation a copy of the Bicycle Helmet Research paper ( PDF, 4.9 MB) produced by the Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) late last year.
While they have been a simmering bone of contention between different schools of thought in both the cycling and broader community since even before they were introduced twenty years ago, Australia’s mandatory helmet laws have attracted a lot more attention and discussion in the last year. This has been partly due to the introduction (and slow start) of the CityCycle bike hire scheme in Brisbane (and a similar scheme in Melbourne), and partly due to the publication of research from the University of Sydney last year concluding that the laws had had no effect in reducing injury rates.
One of the difficulties in conducting a rational debate is the paucity of useful evidence and research in the area, with most existing research having very limited scope and/or serious flaws. There was a lot of hope that this latest research might be a valuable addition to the debate, but unfortunately it seems to offer little beyond the existing research. It relies very heavily on police crash data, which contain only reported, on-road collisions, and not those on bike paths (off-road, and usually considered to be significantly safer). The analysis of whether it makes sense to allow limited exemptions (e.g. on bike paths or lower speed roads) is highly speculative at best. It does not cover the possibility of a limited exemption for CityCycle, and the impacts of the laws on CityCycle are not addressed at all. Most importantly it does not seriously attempt to address the fundamental issue of the debate: whether the overall benefits of the legislation outweigh the overall costs.
We will continue to assess the report but in the meantime we want to get it out as quickly as possible so that members can read it and come to their own conclusions.
The main report itself:
- Bicycle Helmet Research (November 2010) ( PDF, 4.9 MB)
Related documents, obtained as part of the same Right to Information request:
- Ministerial briefing note (30 March 2011) ( PDF, 48 kB)
- Attachment 2: The effects of bicycle helmet legislation on cycling-related injury: the ratio of head to arm injuries over time (Alex Voukelatos, Chris Rissel) ( PDF, 305 kB)
- Attachment 3: Data and graphing errors in the Voukelator and Rissel paper (Tim Churches) ( PDF, 218 kB)
- Attachment 4: Summary of findings ( PDF, 24 kB)
- Draft briefing note (22 March 2011) ( PDF, 4.1 MB)
- Draft briefing note (with comments) ( PDF, 187 kB)
- First draft report (10 September 2010) ( PDF, 3.3 MB)
- Second draft report (13 September 2010) ( PDF, 4.1 MB)
- Related emails ( PDF, 4.7 MB)
- Contract documents ( PDF, 943 kB)