The notion that mandatory helmet laws (MHLs) have made cycling safer is not only superficially plausible, but deeply misleading, and begs the question "why were MHLs so quickly adopted?"
Recent research suggests that Australia's long term use of MHLs contributed to the development of our seriously crippled bicycle culture. The climate of disinformation that surrounded their implementation allowed the commercial reality of helmets and attendant 'PR puff' to hi-jack credible findings to the contrary.
We should be concerned that our MHLs were enacted without any conclusive evidence on the efficacy of bicyle helmets, and that our governments still will not countenance international consensus that MHLs have left us bereft in terms of health, transport, congestion and the environment. In fact the bias exhibited in 'government willingness' to assume that helmets are useful even when the data is not there, is typical of our committment to helmets and MHLs. Arguably "Big Helma thinking" has brainwashed our governments and society into believing that bicycle helmets are the first and last words on bicycle safety.
Why do our governments refuse to acknowledge the obvious success of the cycling cultures in the Netherlands and Denmark?
Why do our governments stubbornly refuse to consider any of the 'tried & true' cycling strategies successfully employed in Europe?
Why do our governments always go to great lengths to remind us that Australia is not Denmark or the Netherlands?
...and last but not least...
If we must have cycling laws, why can't we have the Danish one, enacted in the late 1940s, that requires children to pass a 'cyclist exam' in 9th year, as well as undertaking a 'cyclist course' in 3rd year?