'It needs to be changed' - cycling campaigner calls for mandatory helmet laws to be scrapped

A campaign is calling for the law requiring Kiwi cyclists to wear helmets to be scrapped.

Jeremy Teague says helmets are a barrier to getting people on their bikes, and that's a tragedy. Source: Breakfast

New Zealanders have been required to put on a helmet while riding since 1995, and is one of three countries with such a law.

Those caught riding without a helmet can be fined $55. 

Christchurch courier Jeremy Teague said since the law was introduced, less people were riding, and that was a tragedy.

"It's not working, it's preventing people from riding bikes. It hasn't worked and it needs to be changed," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast. 

A cycling campaigner is calling for mandatory helmet laws to be scrapped. Source: Breakfast

"It dropped dramatically, every country that has introduced legislation has seen the same thing. I think it's tragic."

Since the law change New Zealanders spent half as much time on bikes as they did in 1995.

He said helmets did prevent injury, but that had to be balanced with the impact of having people doing less exercise.

"When people stop riding bikes you lose all those health benefits."

Associate Transport Minister David Bennett said statistics proved head injuries could be prevented by the use of helmets, but admitted getting more people on bikes was good for health and the environment.

A Christchurch man wants compulsory helmet laws to be scrapped, but the government wants Kiwis to be safe. Source: Breakfast

The Government was committed to making infrastructure safer for riders.

"We need to make sure there is a safer environment for people to cycle, and NZTA studies show if you provide a safe environment, provide that infrastructure, people are more likely to cycle."

Cyclists spoken with by Breakfast were divided over the suggestion helmet laws should be scrapped.

"I like that freedom," one said, while another offered that "it just makes sense to wear one".

A poll on the Breakfast Facebook page showed 84 per cent of people didn't think the law should be changed.