In many countries, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle is mandatory. The law also requires the bicycle to have headlights and taillights when riding at night. However, despite the same importance, law enforcement officers seem to be more aggressive when it comes to wearing a cap. Why is that?
In New Zealand, for example, helmets are mandatory for cyclists of all ages. Yes, no matter how slow you go, how few vehicles are in your bike lane, or how experienced and competent you are, you should wear a helmet. The fine for not complying with this law is NZ $ 50. New Zealand roads are generally relatively quiet and therefore much less dangerous than roads in Europe, where the use of a helmet is not mandatory.
Bicycle helmets became mandatory in New Zealand in 1994. The introduction of this law came as a result of a national campaign led by Rebecca Otten, a prominent cycling champion whose son suffered a catastrophic head injury in 1986. The law It came into force despite a report written by the Australian Department of Transport in 1987 stating that there was little doubt about the actual effectiveness of bicycle helmets in serious accidents. Many European countries believe that having to use them not only makes cycling less modern, convenient and comfortable, it also means that cyclists are more likely to ride with less caution and therefore increase the risk of accidents.
On the other hand, bicycle lights are essential. It is a well-known fact that cyclists who ride at night without bicycle lights are more likely to collide with an approaching vehicle from the rear or side. One of the most dangerous situations is when a bicyclist is on a main road and a car stops on an adjacent road from an intersection. The installation and use of lights on your bike is mandatory in New Zealand, but despite the significant risks associated with not using them, they are much less controlled by law enforcement authorities. In fact, it would be difficult to witness or hear a cyclist being stopped and warned or fined for not having their lights on after dark.
Not only must riders have a white light in the front and a red light in the rear, they must also have reflectors or lights on the sides of their bikes. In France, it is illegal to sell a bicycle without a lighting system. All bicycles over 11 kg in Germany must also have lights.
Fortunately, many cyclists understand the importance of turning on their lights at night. There are still quite a few of them that are not installed, they only have a front or rear light or their batteries are empty. For cyclists to be safer, avoid fewer accidents and catch up with the rest of the Western world, it should be more important to ride with bike lights and less with helmets.