Helmets and safety gear
Research studies have shown that helmets can help to reduce head injury by up to 60 per cent, and brain injuries by 58 per cent, in the event of a crash.
Everyone is different; some helmets will fit you perfectly, others slip and slide all over the place. It's important to make sure you test out a few different types in your local bike shop to see which models and styles fit best for the shape of your head.
Check out the NSW legislation around bicycle helmet use in NSW.
Some things to looks out for when fitting your helmet
Your helmet should fit comfortably and securely on your head when the straps are fastened.
The straps should not be twisted nor cover the ears. When done up correctly, the straps should provide a snug fit over and around the ears and under the chin.
Try to choose a bright coloured helmet so other road users can see you.
Remember to replace your helmet if:
- It's been dropped onto a hard surface or involved in a crash or severe fall.
- You see any cracks in the outer shell or inner foam liner.
- The straps look worn or frayed.
The following lists the steps for a correct helmet fit:
|Can you place just two fingers between your eyebrows and your helmet?||Do the straps join in a 'V' just below your ears?||Can you fit just two fingers between the helmet strap and your chin?|
Helmets and the law
The NSW helmet law came into effect in 1991. The law was introduced in response to the known safety benefits of helmet wearing, particularly in relation to preventing the brain trauma that may result from a fall or crash.
Under the current Road Rules 2008 a rider of a bicycle on roads and road-related areas must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on their head. This applies to all cyclists, regardless of age, including children on bicycles with training wheels and any child being carried as a passenger on a bike or in a bicycle trailer.
Accredited companies that certify bicycle helmets can be found on the JAS-ANZ website. As of October 2010, there are three JAS-ANZ accredited bodies that can certify bicycle helmets to comply with AS/NZS 2063:2008. These are:
When it comes to riding safely, prevention is better than cure. Being the smallest vehicle on the road can make being seen more difficult than for other road users. Making yourself more visible on NSW roads can help reduce the risk of an accident, and there are some simple but highly effective ways to make sure you're seen while you're riding in the bright, dark or rainy conditions.
For details see NSW legislation around bicycle riding in NSW.
Wear bright or light coloured clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night. The brighter your clothes, the more chance other road users will have of seeing you. Fluorescent yellow colours are best for higher visibility in the dark.
Try to wear shoes that cover your toes. Even though we live in a sunny part of Australia, resist wearing your thongs on the bike. It might be hot outside, but open-toe sandals offer little to no pedal grip with the prospect of nasty injury if you lose foot contact with the pedal.
Cycling gloves provide grip to your handlebars on hot and sweaty sunny rides. They also help protect your hands in the event of a fall. In the winter, long fingered gloves keep your digits warm and protected from the elements. If you do wear gloves, make sure you can still operate your brakes, gears and bell.
Sunblock and sunnies
Always keep some sunblock in your cycle bag and don't forget your sunglasses, even on cloudy days. Sunnies can protect your eyes from sun glare and, in rare instances, from small stones or debris thrown up from the road.
Lights and reflectors - be seen, it's the law!
Staying back at the office to meet that urgent deadline? You'll need to be seen on the ride home, particularly in the winter months when the evenings get dark early. A simple flashing red LED light for the back of your bike will help make you more visible to traffic behind you. A good light up front will enable you to see the path ahead more clearly and will help other road users travelling in the opposite direction to see you.
Horns and bells
While cycling on NSW roads, your bike must be fitted with a working horn or bell to help sound a warning to other cyclists or pedestrians.
Your bike must be fitted with at least one working brake.