16 June 2020

Following up on my earlier post about how bicycle laws can be used as an excuse for police to harrass people whose public presence they generally dislike, here is an analysis of NSW’s helmet laws [$] in the Alternative Law Journal: “[T]here is also evidence from our research of quite arbitrary enforcement where unstated and sometimes discriminatory factors — rather than legitimate safety considerations — dictate enforcement practices. For a start, there is enormous geographical disparity in the number of penalty notices issued for failure to wear a bicycle helmet. … More worryingly, our interviews with legal aid lawyers and others indicate that the law is not infrequently used for a range of purposes clearly unrelated to bicycle safety, including to gather intelligence about other offences and suspects, to justify searches and to harass targeted individuals (particularly among young people). … Draconian enforcement of this kind does nothing to address the safety issue and is more likely to engender cynicism, resentment and resistance which may in turn produce escalation effects, including confiscation of the bike where a person cannot prove ownership and/or further offences like resist police, offensive language, goods in custody and so on.” Sound familiar?