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Cycling advocates seek change to helmet laws

Sunday 29 Dec 2013 4:41 p.m.

A group of cycling advocates are concerned that the Government's national cycling network won't be used by tourists this summer as much as it could be.

They say it all comes down to one archaic law that needs reviewing – the requirement for all cyclists to wear helmets.

New Zealand is one of the few countries left in the world to enforce a compulsory helmet rule, and Isabella Cawthorn is one of many already ignoring it.

"Something like this it's really pleasant, well away from the road," she says of country cycling. "The only traffic you get is other cyclists."

Ms Cawthorn says she only wears a helmet when she feels she needs to.

The Government has invested $50 million in the national cycle network, but some cycling lobbyists say they'll never reap the full tourism benefits from it as the helmet laws are putting people off.

Frocks on Bikes and a number of other lobby groups want the compulsory helmet laws reviewed to boost the number of low-key inner-city cyclists.

Robert has been riding his bike around Wellington for years, but he says he's never even owned a helmet and rules are made to be broken.

"They can give me a fine [but] I'm not going to wear it," he says. "They can fine me as much as they want [but] I'm still not going to wear it."

But others reckon he's one wheel short of a bicycle.

"I think people would be nuts to ride a bike without them," says one member of the public.

"I think it's essential," says another. "I mean, you've only got one head."

Frocks on Bikes says the important issue is how bikes can become everyday transport, and not just an extreme sports accessory.

In the meantime, those who don't mind helmet hair can still choose to keep themselves safe.

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