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Police pour cold water on group’s helmet-free cycling claim

A GROUP that claims cyclists are safer without bike helmets has showcased Byron Bay as a helmet-free Mecca.

The group, Freecycle Cyclists, claims on its website that "forcing people to wear helmets reinforces the perception that cycling is dangerous".

The group claims Australia's helmet laws discourage the safest of cyclists - "typical everyday riders" - in business clothes or casual wear who cycle slowly.

"These are the people who are most likely to give up cycling if forced to wear a helmet by law - so we discourage the safest cyclists off the roads," the website claims.

On a recent Facebook status, the group shared multiple photos of cyclists in Byron Bay who were not wearing helmets, saying helmet-free cycling was "completely normalised" in Byron Bay with 80% of riders going helmet-free.

"We'd heard about the helmetless bike riding in Byron Bay so thought we'd check it out for ourselves," the post reads.

The post also cited the cover of Rusty Miller's Byron Guide for tourists as an example that the town welcomed helmet-free cycling.

The cover depicts a historic photograph of local legend George Feros riding up Jonson St without a helmet along with a current photo of a young woman riding the same street helmet-free.

"This tells us two things. That the image of helmetless cycling is good for tourism as is a car-free street-scape," the Freecycle Cyclists post said.

However, Senior Sergeant Chad George of the Tweed/Byron highway police unit described the group's claims as disappointing and irresponsible.

He said helmet wearing was enforced in Byron Bay with on-the-spot fines issued for non-compliance.

"It's irresponsible to promote something that could harm people," Snr Sgt George said.

"It's not hard to wear a helmet and it is clear that it is safer to do so."

Snr Sgt George conceded there was a non-formist culture in Byron Bay among both locals and tourists that added to riders going helmet-free.

"But police certainly don't turn a blind eye to it," he said.

Topics:  byron bay cycling



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