Cycling in Melbourne Australia
I am looking for some help and or advice. Let me explain. Back in February I was pulled over in St. Kilda by a Police officer while out riding my bike. He pulled me over for not wearing a helmet, the circumference of my head is just over 65cm, and as such I cannot get a helmet that fits, as the biggest most companies make is 63cm. I explained this to the officer but he didn't care or didn't listen or more likely both, as he ended the conversation with "there is a bike shop at the top of the road, go and buy yourself a helmet". But I digress.
A few weeks later a $280 fine is issued for not wearing and appropriately fitting helmet that meets australian standards and regulations. I went to St Kilda police station to explain my situation and the officer on duty laughed at me, and then went on to explain that they made it law because -'they were sick and tired of washing brains off the road' Now that doesn't sound like a very good basis for a law. I refused to pay the fine and am now awaiting a court date.
No one makes a helmet big enough to fit me, believe me I have checked and contacted the major major manufacturers and even if they did it is my understanding that Australian law / regulations require the manufacturer at their own cost to test every design, every colour of that design, and every size of that design to ensure it meets the regulations. Obviously therefore most manufacturers do not import their extreme size helmets as it is isnt cost effective. So even if I imported a helmet I would still be breaking the law. The way I am looking at it is that Australian law will not allow me to abide by the law, well unless I never want to ride my bike in Australia.
Taking into consideration that when I arrived in Australia 18 months ago the government initiative of these rent a bikes everywhere didn't offer you the facilities to hire a helmet, certainly gave me the impression that helmet wearing was not law here, as it isn't inn many countries around the world. Granted that have hastily rectified that now, by offering stupidly cheap helmets that probably wont make a difference anyway.
Does anyone have any information in regards to average head circumferences in Australia? Or anything that could help me prepare for my case?
Thanks in advance for any help or advice
I think the real question needs to be... is there any law saying you can't wear a motorcycle helmet in place of a bicycle helmet.
I would imagine any competant prosecutor would be able to argue that there are plenty of helmets on the Australian market that both fit your head and exceed the Australian standard. A quick google search show manufacturers make helmets up to 66cm.
The prosecutor does not need to establish that there are helmets available in Australia that will fit. At law the only issue is whether there was a breach of the regulations or not ie.was a complying helmet being worn at the time of the infringement ? If the answer is no, that is all that is relevant for the charge to be sustained.The issue of unavailability of helmets may be something that a Magistrate would take into account when considering the penalty.
Yeah, I guess I was looking for a polite way of saying... you'll have to pay the fine and get yourself a helmet.
I expect you are going to lose this one, one thing you probably could have done would be to state your case to the authorities before being pulled over. I am not in the legal game but if you could have obtained an exemption due to the fact that there are no bicycle helmets that will fit you then you may be in the clear. This would need to be approved in writing though. I expect like some people have exemptions to drive cars without wearing a seatbelt due to medical reasons.
Maybe you could talk to Sue Abbot who recently took her fine to court for other reasons. I have added an interview with Sue for you to watch.
Good luck with the challenge.
The infringement will be heard in a Magistrates Court so there will be no precedent set in that court in relation to this sort of prosecution as the decision of one magistrate is not binding upon the other, and the cases are not reported in any event. There may be a precedent if there has been an appeal to the Supreme Court in which case the judgment will be published on the internet. To check, look at your infringement notice or court summons to see the Act or Regulation that you have been charged with breaching, and note the relevant section number. Then Google Áustlii', click on the link for Victorian Acts or Regulations ( whichever is the correct one ), click on the appropriate one, then click on the relevant section number to go to the actual provision.At the top of the page will be 'note up'. Click on that and it should link you to any cases that have been reported in relation to that provision. Good luck.
There is a provision in I think the Magistrate's act which allows them to record no conviction and dismiss the case if they think it is not worth convicting you. Can't remember the section. You can ask for such a dismissal.
Then you can go about getting an exemption on the basis of the unavailability of a helmet that fits. You apply to Vicroads for that.
Former cyclist (too many helmet fines).
Why not just buy one of the oversized ones from overseas and wear it. You'll not be stopped by the police if you have a helmet on, regardless of whether it meets Australian standards or not - how could they tell? And even in the extremely unlikely event that they did fine you for not meeting standards, a court would likely look much more favourably on you for trying not to break the law than blatantly breaking the law. Like wearing a seatbelt in a car, the helmet law is there to protect those who have the misfortune of having to scrape you off the road and repair you if you have an accident as much as it is to protect you- suck it up, pay the fine and import a large helmet would be my advice. (I might add, I hate wearing a helmet but do so because it may just once save me from scrambling my brain)
Thank you again for all of the comments. Perhaps I did not explain myself clearly. it is not that I refuse to wear a helmet as per Susan Abbott, I do not subscripbe to her point of view. My issue is that none of the helmet manufacturers that I have contacted ( Specialized, Bell, Giro, Flash, Trek, or Bontrager) actually manufacture a 65.5cm helmet which is what I need. That is globally not just in Australia, there is no oversized helmet that will fit my head currently available. Giro used to make the Airblast but that was discontinued due to low sales volume. Not only is my head just over 65cm but is oval in shape, and therefore again I am limited to manufactures in that only Bell and Giro really make helmets for oval / elongated heads. So no it is not a case of sucking it up, I haven't thrown my toys anywhere. If the option was there for me to import a helmet that did not meet the standards I would do it, as you say the police are only looking to see if you have a helmet, but that option is not available.
My intent is not to break the law, so the home made option is not an option, but the law does not allow me to abide by it.
The reason I no longer wear the Airblast helmet is that it was destroyed in a previous crash, so I am aware of the virtues of wearing a helmet.
A good mate of mine rocks an exceptionally large noggin as well.
I'll ask him what his road style helmet is but I know his skate style one is a Nutcase. Despite being listed as 64 cm it is reported to fit larger heads than that.
Here's the proof: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=410761672126&set=t.1100...
From one friend to another:
"Jeremy Miller Read the post on Melb Cyclists and extend my sympathies for not being able to get a helmet that fits! My current Met helmet is the Predatore model - it is their XL model, the Met helmet I had before this was the Testagrossa - http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=45373 again a helmet designed for a big noggin. The Limar is the X-Ride model - it just fits my head well and is really comfortable."