SA Traffic Law Regarding Bicycle Helmet Fines?

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11 February 2016

I have a couple of questions regarding Australia's mandatory bicycle helmet laws.

1). Can police fine someone just for sitting on a bicycle without a helmet?

I was threatened by police with a helmet fine, just for sitting on my stationary bicycle without a helmet on my head. I was sitting on my bike reading a flyer in a shop window and wasn't moving. My helmet was in my backpack. A patrol car pulled up and rolled down the window and yelled out to me to put my helmet on. I refused. The two officers got out and threatened to write me a ticket. I said "Go ahead, let's take it to court and see what the magistrate says". After a bit more banter, they issued me a stern warning and left.

2). Is there an occasion where one's own safety trumps traffic law?

I live in the country. I recently went on a long bike ride (70kms). I wore a helmet for the first half of the trip (morning), but as the day heated up I was starting to feel the effects of the sun on my helmet. I was very worried about my head overheating and suffering heat stroke, but I still had to get home. I soaked a T-shirt in water and wrapped it around my head like a bandana. This had the desired cooling effect and I was able to ride home very comfortably and safely. I wasn't concerned about police and the helmet law, I was more concerned for my own well-being.

Thank you!


Hi Spokey Byclemore,

As to your first question, interestingly the Australian Road Rules state:

"The rider of a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider's head, unless the rider is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet under another law of this jurisdiction" ....whereas... "A passenger on a bicycle that is moving, or is stationary but not parked, must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the passenger's head."

The definition of a rider is: "A rider is a person who is riding a motorbike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle."

"Ride" in the Rules dictionary further explains, "for the rider of a motorbike or animal-drawn vehicle, includes being in control of."

Therefore, it would appear that simply sitting on a stationary push bike, would not trigger the requirement for a helmet, as long as you couldn't be classified as a "passenger".

As to your second question, the debate regarding whether helmets are healthful or harmful is ongoing and it would depend on a case by case basis as to whether or not you would be able to avoid a fine in a situation where safety became an issue.

The only exception to this rule in South Australia is for a person of the Sikh religion who is wearing a turban - they are exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet.


Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
They could have written you up for riding your bike of the footpath too. So you got off light.

As for the 'it was too hot' excuse. Don't even bother. I very much doubt a magistrate would let you off on that one.