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Sep 8, 2015

The No. 1 sign of nanny state overreach? Those damn bike helmets.

David Leyonhjelm's nanny state inquiry has brought out the Lycra libertarians ...

Sally Whyte — Political reporter

Sally Whyte

Political reporter

In the war against the nanny state, which laws stick in the craw the most? Is it fines for jaywalking, age restrictions for paintball gun control or something else entirely? Submissions to Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm's inquiry into "Personal Choice and Community Impacts" overwhelmingly focus on mandatory bike helmet laws, or MHLs, as they are called. Leyonhjelm launched the Senate inquiry in June, with its terms of reference covering the use and sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and the classification of movies and computer games. It also includes the catch-all "any other measures introduced to protect personal choice 'for the individual's own good'". But it turns out Australians (and even some submissions from overseas) are most angered at laws that make wearing a helmet while riding a push bike compulsory. The inquiry is still accepting submissions, which number more than 200. While lobby groups and stakeholders such as the Institute of Public Affairs and the Australian Medical Association have made thoughtful contributions, the submissions from the general public reveal the long list of grievances held against laws associated with the nanny state and political correctness. Most cyclists referenced their experiences riding helmet-free in Europe, or in Australia before the laws to make helmets mandatory came into effect. Many said they continued to defy the laws. One keen cyclist (with a confusing propensity for fried eyelid) wrote that if women were allowed to smoke while pregnant, cyclists should be able to ride without a helmet:

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