Religious exemptions to helmet laws


Changes to the ACT’s road rules are now in effect, providing an exemption to mandatory helmet laws on religious grounds.

Jegdeep Singh with his bike after the helmet laws were introduced
Canberra resident Jagdeep Singh lobbied the ACT Government for an exemption to mandatory helmet laws, and can now legally ride his bike without a helmet. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

The exemption, which commenced in December 2019, was sparked by correspondence from a member of the public, Jagdeep Singh, who wrote to Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury to request the law be amended so those from the Sikh community could ride bikes in the ACT.

“Canberra is a community where everyone should feel included. The Territory supports individuals practising their religion or belief and this regulation ensures that sections of the community are not excluded from active forms of transport,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“The change responds to an issue raised by the community, identifying this as a barrier to cycling. As an example, it is important to Sikh members of our community to wear religious headwear, and this can mean they can’t wear a bicycle helmet.

The exemptions will apply to people who: are members of a religious group; wear a type of headdress customarily worn by members of the group; wear headdress that makes it impractical for them to wear an approved bicycle helmet.

“The changes bring the ACT into line with Queensland, Victoria, WA and SA which already have similar exemptions in place. Helmet laws will remain in place for all other cyclists and there is no exemption for motorcycle riders,” Minister Rattenbury said.

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