Australia: Sikh Cyclist Wins Right Not to Have to Wear a Helmet

Update: see previous post – May 16, 2012 Kirpan, Sikh Ceremonial Dagger, Now Allowed in Toronto Courthouses, August 14, 2011 Will Ontario Amend Section 104 of the Highway Traffic Act to Accommodate Sikhs?

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A Sikh cyclist was able to beat a $100 ticket
A Sikh cyclist was able to beat a $100 ticket, which was issue to him for riding a bike without a bike helmet, as can be seen above in this picture.

A Sikh cyclist in Australia has successfully appealed against a AUS $100 fine for riding without a helmet.

Jasdeep Atwal, 23, said that his faith demanded he always wear a turban in public – and that conflicted with the Australian legal requirement for cyclists to wear helmets.

Man wearing turbin
Man wearing turbin

According to, Atwal was absolved of the charges by a Queensland court, which also criticised the local traffic authorities for the decision.

“How on earth is a bike (rider) going to get a helmet over his turban?” magistrate Stuart Shearer of the local court was quoted as saying.

Atwal told the court he had only ever taken off his turban to sleep or wash his hair.

“The law indirectly discriminates against Sikhs from riding bicycles because essentially we cannot wear a helmet,” Jasdeep Atwal told he Australian media.

“It’s absolved me of all the charges, I’ve got no fines to pay and no demerit points on my license.

“This is a bit of a landmark which we will be able to use in our lobbying in the future.

Currently, Australian cyclists can only be exempt from the helmet requirement if they have medical certification.

In the UK, Sikh motorcycle riders are not required to wear a helmet, in accordance with the Motor-Cycle Crash Helmets (Religious Exemption) Act 1976 passed by the British Parliament in 1976. Section 2A “exempts any follower of the Sikh religion while he is wearing a turban” from having to wear a crash helmet.

Exerpt from the South Australian Road Traffic Act :

South Australia

Road Traffic (Road Rules—Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1999

under the Road Traffic Act 1961:

26 — Sikhs exempt from wearing bicycle helmets

For the purposes of rule 256(1) and (2) (Bicycle helmets), a person of the Sikh religion who is wearing a turban is exempt from wearing a bicycle helmet.

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