You shouldn’t have to justify not wearing a helmet to the state

Sam Boyer at Stuff reports:

Having a big head, sweating profusely, and stress are enough to excuse a cyclist from having to wear a helmet, but the Transport Agency has stopped accepting “personal desire not to wear a helmet” as a medical condition.

Three cyclists have this year been granted exemptions from wearing helmets on medical grounds, all for “headaches and/or claustrophobia”.

Information obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act shows 147 people have successfully applied for helmet exemptions since records began in 1994. Twenty-five applications have been declined in that period.

Last year, there were five exemptions issued by the NZ Transport Agency: two for headaches or claustrophobia, two for “hypersensitive scalps, eczema, heat, sunburn”, and one “physically unable to fasten strap”.

Easily the most common medical ground accepted by the agency was headaches or claustrophobia. In the past five years, four people with “abnormally large heads” have been granted helmet exemptions, as have two people for “stress” and one for “excessive sweating”.

The mandatory helmet law is well-intentioned. However I believe people should decide for themselves whether or not they wear a helmet.

Interestingly there is some data from overseas that suggests helmet laws are bad for public health, as significantly fewer people cycle because of them.

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