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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 18 February 2016) . . Page.. 616 ..

MR RATTENBURY: Yes, on Monday I launched the ACT’s new road safety strategy, the road safety action plan 2016-2020. It is a four-year plan with 39 action points. As Mr Wall rightly identifies, one of those 39 points is an undertaking by the government to engage an expert to examine the balance of risk of allowing cyclists to ride without a helmet in low speed environments, such as university campuses, parkland areas and potentially even the 40 kilometre per hour zones in our town centres—the benefits that that will deliver by having more people cycling more often and the health benefits that arise from that—against the risks of people not wearing helmets.

There is evidence to suggest that helmets reduce head injuries for people who ride bikes. There is also evidence to indicate that the requirement to wear helmets discourages some people from cycling. I think it is quite appropriate that we engage an expert to have a look at this to try to weigh up the relative sides of those two equations and to give the government advice on the best way to proceed.

I am aware that this has elicited quite some discussion in the community. I have been intrigued by the focus on one of the 39 items. Nonetheless, our policy should not stand still. Government should be prepared to at least engage an expert to look at the issue and to give us clear advice.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Wall.

MR WALL: Minister, what is the government doing to increase cyclist safety on main roads within the territory?

MR RATTENBURY: There are a range of measures the government is taking right across the portfolios to improve the safety of cyclists in our city. Certainly the action plan that I launched on Monday contains a range of other measures directed towards improving cyclist safety such as having a new component in the learner driver program that specifically covers vulnerable road users—motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians—so that one of the core competencies that young drivers are taught is to be aware of vulnerable road users.

My colleagues in other directorates are working on things like the infrastructure—to improve the infrastructure in our city to have more marked cycle lanes on our roads, to look at the next generation of cycling infrastructure with increased levels of separated cycling infrastructure as well as very practical measures like moving to 40-kilometre-an-hour zones in our town centres. Clearly, lower speeds mean that if there is an accident the likelihood of death is reduced and the opportunity for people to stop so there is not a collision at all is enhanced.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Minister, what assessment was made regarding the announcement about cycling helmets of the damage potentially caused to decades of cycling helmet education policy?

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