Thursday, August 13, 2015

About bicycle helmets

I'm not going to die in a ditch (allusion to not wearing a helmet not really intended) defending compulsory bicycle helmet laws, as I think that a more moderate legal line in use of bicycles generally in this country may be justifiable.  (For example, if, as in Japan, the population was polite enough that cyclists could be trusted to ride at moderate speed and cautiously on urban footpaths,  I wouldn't mind seeing that permitted, and for those who ride in such a manner not to be required to have helmets.  Those who use dedicated bicycle lanes that are on the road - they can be treated differently.)

But still, people who say things like this:
But critics claim that helmet laws put people off cycling, causing far wider weight-related health problems due to Australians favouring driving, or not moving at all. One study found that 16.5% of people say they would ride more often if they were not required to wear a helmet at all times. 
should at least exercise some skepticism about what people say they would do were it not for factor X, especially when it comes to health matters.   Just how many people would say, for example, that they know they should lose some weight, and will they take steps to do so, and then never quite get around to it?

In fact, let's look at the actual link at the claim, and here is what it says:
So what are the things that are preventing over 50% of the population from hopping on a bike, and what can our governments do to help the situation? Here’s what the they said was stopping them:
  • Unsafe road conditions: 46.4%
  • Speed/volume of traffic: 41.8%
  • Don’t feel safe riding: 41.4%
  • Lack of bicycle lanes/trails: 34.6%
  • Destinations too far away: 29.9%
  • No place to park/store bike: 23.5%
  • Do not own a bike: 22.5%
  • Weather conditions: 22.1%
  • Not fit enough: 21.8%
  • Too hilly: 19.6%
  • Don’t feel confident riding: 18.6%
  • Not enough time: 16.7%
  • Don’t like wearing a helmet: 15.7%
  • No place to change/shower: 14.6%
  • Health problems: 14.4%
 Oh really?   Having to wear a helmet is just about the least of their reasons?  That's not the impression that article initially gave.

As for other reasons why the "never cycled as an adult in Australia" are not about to take it up now:  the professional amateur cyclist (by which I mean "anyone who has ever wore bicycle pants - while on a bicycle") has probably done a greater deal of harm in the last 25 years than helmet laws which, I suspect, most adults have come to accept as sensible precaution.  How?  By frequently acting like entitled jerks on the road, and even on cycleways.  

3 comments:

Jason Soon said...

i actually agree with your last few lines. yes the dickiest cyclists are the Lance Armstrong wannabes. there is a particular correlation between ass-hatery and spandex. unfortunately I think the lance Armstrongisation of cycling is encouraged by mandatory helmet laws.

Steve said...

Perhaps, although I would say the cyclist ass-hattery is 85% related to the spandex alone, with 10% to the helmet, and 5% to Tony Abbott.

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