Thursday, September 2, 2010

Northern Territory Bicycle Helmet Exemption - a kinda-sorta one!

(Photos: Brickspace, Flickr)

TRAFFIC REGULATIONS - SECT 86 Helmets for cyclists

(1) For the purposes of rule 256, the requirement to wear an approved bicycle helmet does not apply to a person over 17 years of age if he or she is riding or being carried on a bicycle:

(a) on a public place;

(b) on a bicycle path or shared path; or

(c) in an area declared by the Minister, by notice in the Gazette, to be a bicycle helmet exemption area.

(2) In this regulation, a bicycle path does not include a bicycle lane that is not separated from the part of the road used by motor vehicles by a physical structure or barrier in addition to or in substitution for the lane line.

(3) In this regulation and rule 256, an approved bicycle helmet is a helmet that:

(a) complies with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2063:1996 - Pedal Cycle Helmets; or

(b) is approved by the Registrar.


"What a difference a state makes!" - arguably a small glimmer of light in the tunnel!

Yet the intricate legislative provisions (like when is a 'public place' a 'public place'?) must be problematic to 'police', inevitably leading to further unnecessary and largely unenforced law.

Why do our politicians thrive on this stuff?

When it's our turn here in NSW, let's go the 'full monty'!!!!!



  1. In South Australia a public place is defined

    public place includes—
    (a) a place to which free access is permitted to the public, with the express or
    tacit consent of the owner or occupier of that place; and
    (b) a place to which the public are admitted on payment of money, the test of
    admittance being the payment of money only; and
    (c) a road, street, footway, court, alley or thoroughfare which the public are
    allowed to use, notwithstanding that that road, street, footway, court, alley or
    thoroughfare is on private property;

  2. Thanks, anonymous! - definitely way too confusing for 'law enforcing' purposes and also way too wasteful of our precious resources!!

  3. I saw you're going to be on the evening news. Cooolll!!!!!!!

    Love the photo above. When did they make this rule in the Northern Territory? Was it like that from the beginning or did they change it?

  4. Hi Erik,

    Basically mandatory helmet laws in the NT were abandoned for adults in 2004...

    ...and guess what? - thereafter cycling rates increased!!!

    Why are we not surprised?!!

    Did you watch the 7PM Project? I got the usual predictable questions but it was good to have a 'platform' of sorts!!! Ha! Ha!

    I think I've got a handle on the 'hair & medical liability' Qs now which is just as well because it seems to be all the Australian media can really focus on!

    Oh well! C'est la vie!

    Somewhat surprised I didn't get the seatbelt Q though!...and I was all ready for it too!! Shame!!

  5. I live in Darwin and ride to work everyday (10 km each way) almost entirely on separated bicycle paths. I wear a hat to keep the sun off my face, and no helmet.

    Here are some observations:

    * There is an extensive network of separated bike paths running alongside main roads, through parks and along the foreshore. It's fine not to wear a helmet - no confusion!

    * However, it is illegal to ride across a road sans helmet, and I've recently heard of someone being fined $45 for this (she may have been unlucky, see below). The law requires the cyclist to dismount and walk the bike across the road. I rarely dismount, except at one particularly bad intersection.

    * Some people do ride on the roads without helmets (especially in the city as Mike Rubbo pointed out in his YouTube documentary), and most police don't seem to be enforcing the helmet law.

    * There is a non-separated bike path that runs down a hill and past the botanical gardens. Police often set up checkpoints here (RBT) - earlier this year I was shouted at by a police officer for riding without a helmet, after riding around their cars which were parked across the bike path! As a result, I usually avoid this path.

    * The helmet law still applies to children, even on bike paths. I see very few children riding to school, and if I do see any, their helmet straps are not done up, or the helmets are hanging from the handlebars or missing altogether.

    * I see very few teenagers riding.

    * If you ride without a helmet, be prepared to be CONSTANTLY criticised for it, usually by people who drive around in air-conditioned SUV's but also by other cyclists!

    * If you try to argue against mandatory helmet laws (even though the NT has an exemption!) you will be regarded as a crazy person - it's akin to arguing against seat belts in cars. There are many, many people in Darwin who strongly support mandatory helmet laws for cyclists.

    * Bogans in utes roar up and down the streets, and shout at cyclists. I usually don't make it through the week without someone roaring past and calling me a "C*NT!!!"

    1. Hi Anonymous from Darwin, I'm also from Darwin, I was born here and used to always walk to school and not ride - Why? becasue my brothers chained up bike was stolen from school and my parents couldn't afford to replace it. For us it was more the danger of it being stolen why we werent allowed to ride to school. This was in the 80's I'm sure theres a higher risk of it being stolen now-a-days.

      Just a question about the NT law - do you still have to wear a helmet when cycling on the road? is this law exemption above just saying its ok to not wear one on bike paths and in parks etc?

      I had a friend in school whose dad was killed while cycling to work. Becasue of this I think its arrogant for cyclists to ride on the road (on the RH side of the white line) and expect other road users - trucks included - to move for them. I think the same for scooter riders who cant do over 50 too. Is endangering yours and others lives worth it? THATS probably why 'bogans' yell at you, their cars are just wide enough for the lane and to go around you they are heading into oncomming traffic. My husband is a truck driver, and its amazing how many blind spots there are! He was going around a round-a-bout and knew there was a small 4x4 beside him, but once he was exited the round-a-bout, he couldn't see it in his mirrors - so hows he going to see a cyclist? It really is concerning.

      Just a question to the blogger, why do you want cyclists to not have to wear a helmet? I can understand on cycle paths - I myself use the Nightcliff ones regularly - but on the road? oh that just makes me sick to think of the possible outcomes :(