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Cycling helmet law advocates likely to be “insane”

February 6, 2013

What if you were told that we could end the need for speed cameras, red-light cameras and booze buses if motorists wore helmets? That’s the insane logic from the latest Australian nanny state do-gooders trying to peddle the continuation of mandatory helmet laws for cyclists.

Quote: “Cyclists without helmets ‘likely to be risk takers’. In part, this was because cyclists who were not wearing a helmet were more likely to engage in other behaviour that led to accidents: they were more likely to disobey traffic rules and more likely to be riding while drunk.”

Who’d have thought a helmet could actually moderate behaviour? Get these things onto everyone all the time! Maybe it’ll prevent all forms of reckless driving, or even social ills like domestic violence. Hey, if not wearing a helmet means that you’re more likely to break laws and be drunk, logic dictates that wearing one will keep you adhering to laws and being sober. Clearly, a blatant lie.

The true correlation is that those that are drunk and/or flagrant law-breakers are more likely to cycle dangerously whether wearing a helmet or not. Putting on a helmet does not moderate their behaviour.  In fact, it’s anathema to all other studies of risk whereby helmet usage actually increased the risk for cyclists because they choose more dangerous roads, ride more recklessly, all in the belief they are safe in their flimsy pieces of foam. In Holland, where very few people wear helmets, it’s the helmeted elitist cyclists far more likely in hospital. The most common victim in Australia is the middle-aged “weekend warrior” male.

The other insanity of this study is that it’s predicated on a situation that involves helmet choice. Wrong. Australia has a viciously policed helmet law that has been active throughout the period of the study. For a cyclist to not wear a helmet, they are already breaking the law. If they are drunk, they are obviously not in control, hence breaking other laws, irresponsibly choosing to even use a bicycle, and then cycling recklessly – the true cause of the crash.  Why such statistics are even used defies belief.

Finally, the study only examines crashes involving cars. This is almost as self-annulling of the analysis as it is as self-prophesising the solution.  The immediate deduction is that without cyclists forced onto roads, there’s no statistics to study. Indeed, why not study crash data from accidents not involving cars? Maybe because SIMPLY THERE ARE NOT MANY!! Solution? Infrastructure! Don’t throw cyclists onto the roads and pretend a helmet will protect them. The results show that they clearly do not. For such a safety product, it fails abysmally. It should come with a warning: this helmet only offers minimal protection and you’ll still most likely die or be serious injured if hit by a car. Because that’s the truth. The study proves it.

The simple fact of the matter is that helmets don’t prevent crashes. They only attempt to protect from a crash. If there was less focus on helmet laws and more on proper bicycle infrastructure, then this drunk, reckless cyclist might just have made it home safely.

Just how many of these drunk cyclists were included in the injury statistics, notably the 3.9 times increased chance of getting a head injury? Because such few cyclists go without helmets, it’s very easy for such a small sample to adversely affect the results. The study provides no actual numbers of injuries, only percentages, often a sign of hiding the real information.  The most common fudge is including the most minor of scrapes and bumps – typically the worst a cyclist will get on the rare chance they’ll even hit their head – as a “head injury”. How many severe injuries were there? It could be a handful, rendering the statistic as noise. Most notably there’s rarely any mention of fatalities. With the high usage of helmets, presumably almost all fatalities were helmet wearers, suggesting that the helmet-free cyclists are less likely to be killed. It just shows how a statistic can be twisted.

As with most of the studies, the issue is not about the value of wearing a helmet. Helmets would also work minimising head injuries in cars and for pedestrians. So where’s the same sympathy for victims and demands for a law there? Considering that’s over 97% of the road head trauma, it’s criminal to discriminate if you pathologically believe in helmet wearing.

The issue is about a society that BANS cycling and PERSECUTES cyclists with brutal fines if they are out cycling without a helmet. For some reason, to many people, “repeal helmet law” means “ban helmet wearing”. No. It means choice. It means exemption from persecution. It means freedom. It means you can still wear a helmet regardless of any law compelling you. Facts are that very few people would ditch their helmets, and those times they do it would be for the casual rides on secluded bike-paths or to the local shops or using the vastly under-utilised public bike-share schemes – totally harmless and safe activities. Whereas now they stay at home or use the car. In a society with ever expanding health concerns and obesity, that is being the true “risk taker”.

In response to: http://m.smh.com.au/national/cyclists-without-helmets-likely-to-be-risk-takers-20130204-2duga.html

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From → Cycling Free

2 Comments
  1. Hi The Warrior Factor,

    Just letting you know about a Victorian based group campaigning for an end to mandatory helmet legislation. We’d really like to have you on board. Here is our website with petition on the front page.http://www.freestylecyclists.org/

    I really liked your blog on that Conversation article and agreed with your sentiments completely. Just email me if you want to know anything more. We might have a meeting in Melbourne sometime soon.

  2. Thanks Kathy. No problems, I’ll check your group and sign the petition.

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