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Old 04-27-10, 01:47 PM   #1
randya
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Nanny-state helmet law hurts cycling efforts

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Nanny-state helmet law hurts cycling efforts
Derek Moscato
26 April 2010 08:00

Brad Kilburn can’t be thrilled to be an outlaw in British Columbia. But the avid cyclist has become exactly that since last year.

Kilburn, you see, no longer wears a helmet while riding his bike.

The Richmond resident, who has commuted to work by bicycle for the last 26 years, has come to the realization that mandatory helmet laws are actually bad for cyclists and Metro Vancouver’s cycling environment.

“It’s too bad well-intentioned individuals have harmed cycling advocacy by forcing riders to wear helmets,” he told me. Kilburn also maintains the same law is hampering Vancouver’s attempt to set up a bike sharing program.

He’s not alone in his assessment of helmet laws as more hindrance than help. In 2007, Saskatoon’s city council rejected a bylaw that would require bikers to wear helmets. One councillor wisely cited Canada’s obesity epidemic as a reason to distance the city from punitive measures that would discourage folks to get on a two-wheeler.

This is not to say that cyclists shouldn’t wear helmets. Most should — especially children, and those who ride in heavy traffic. But forcing riders to wear head protection in every circumstance has had the effect of killing any spontaneity and enjoyment from cycling.

Not only do helmets give some riders a false sense of security, they also send a message to motorists that cyclists are somehow better protected — and less vulnerable — in the case of a collision.

Sadly, the law is symptomatic of the nanny-state mentality that is so pervasive today.

Last September, Colin Clarke, a bike safety expert and former coach with the British Cycling Federation, published a detailed report entitled “Evaluating bicycle helmet use and legislation in Canada.”

According to his report, “helmet law effects in Canada appear to have resulted in the public being fined, subject to police involvement, loss of cycling health benefits and a reduction in civil liberties, as well as additional accidents and longer hospital stays for head injury.”

Canada, his research concludes, should emulate the cycling culture of the Netherlands, where helmet laws are unnecessary because of “good cycling facilities or wide on-road cycle lanes that avoid high speed and heavy vehicle traffic.”

Sadly, the sensibility that exists in Holland and even Saskatoon has yet to prevail in B.C. And that means cyclists like Kilburn will have to continue riding on the wrong side of the local law.
http://www.metronews.ca/vancouver/co...y-hurt-cycling
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Old 04-28-10, 12:46 AM   #2
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Apparently Advocacy and Safety is becoming an ironic moniker on this website...it should be the helmet bashers thread.

If helmets are bad for cycling, but 'allowed' by spinach haters, why do you deign to cave in and 'approve' of helmets in '...MOST...' situations, and then go on to state that those 'most' situations are CHILDREN and, what's that? HEAVY TRAFFIC??!!
You spinach haters can't even see how tenuous a grasp your line of thought is. If helmets CAUSE increased injuries and that STYROFOAM shells are useless in crashes, why in all the bicycle gods names would you even consider supporting their use in HEAVY TRAFFIC?

Rhetorical question for anyone who has 2 brain cells to rub together. Helmet Bashers will proceed to try to justify their illogic.

Leo H.
Sun Valley, NV

Let's see, just how many posts before closetbiker trolls by....
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Old 04-28-10, 01:00 AM   #3
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OK, we got Leo on the line, reel 'em in, boys!

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Old 04-28-10, 05:55 AM   #4
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brads kind of anti- "wide on road bikelanes" as well as anti-helmet.

he's a throw them to the motorized lions advocate.
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Old 04-28-10, 06:22 AM   #5
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At the risk of sounding foolish, WTF is a spinach hater?
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Old 04-28-10, 09:09 AM   #6
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WTF is a spinach hater?
someone who doesn't like Popeye?

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Old 04-28-10, 09:55 AM   #7
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brads kind of anti- "wide on road bikelanes" as well as anti-helmet.

he's a throw them to the motorized lions advocate.
I don't think that Brad is anti-helmet, as much as he is anti-mandatory helmet law.

I tend to agree with him.

Do I think helmets serve a safety purpose? Yes.
Do I think the state should mandate their use? No.

As for adults, I think it is up to them.
As for minors, I think it is up to their parents/guardians.

If you are competing in an organized sport/event, it is up to the Organizers to determine the safety equipment necessary, and/or up to the particular sport's Rules & Regulations governing the conduct of the sport.

Do I wear a helmet? Most of the time.

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Old 04-28-10, 10:33 AM   #8
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Do I think helmets serve a safety purpose? Yes.
Do I think the state should mandate their use? No.


Do I wear a helmet? Most of the time.
Me too.

Mandatory helmet laws have apparently failed at their only legitimate purpose, which is to reduce medical costs to the state. That alone should be enough to call them into serious question.
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Old 04-28-10, 10:44 AM   #9
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I think a better title would have been "Helmet laws hurt cycling efforts" and that the article would have done better to focus on claims that helmet laws result in "additional accidents and longer hospital stays for head injury", instead of appealing to emotions.

Bike advocacy articles that talk about how things should be in an ideal world, based on emotional impact and with no context or facts, aren't really any better than the pro-car mirror image. You know, "Bicycles belong on the sidewalk, shouldn't be on the road, must yield when I want them to, and shouldn't exist in the first place." Everyone has an opinion on how things should be.

Since you brought it up, how do helmet laws cause longer hospital stays for head injuries?
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Old 04-28-10, 11:17 AM   #10
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brads kind of anti- "wide on road bikelanes" as well as anti-helmet.

he's a throw them to the motorized lions advocate.
Beks got his own way of looking at things. Apparently, he's sure he knows more about what I think, than I do.

There's only one person on the planet who may know me better than I know myself. After living together for 32 years, my wife catches me if I'm not being who I am. My mother knew me well too, but she passed, so that leaves my wife. Not Bek.

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Old 04-28-10, 11:40 AM   #11
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I don't think that Brad is anti-helmet, as much as he is anti-mandatory helmet law.
You got that right zac. Bek seems to forget I wore a helmet for over 20 years and instructed others to do so as well.

Here's my head, appropriately (to some) attired (as originally documented by the press):




The only thing I would add would be the theme of the third version of the continuing helmets cramp my style thread. That those who choose to ride without helmets, should be respected for their choice.

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Old 04-28-10, 11:49 AM   #12
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Let's see, just how many posts before closetbiker trolls by....
I guess it was 9.

Really though. A newspaper article posted from a major metropolitan area which has some of the highest rates of trips by bicycle in North America that features me as it's central example on a forum that I have been active member for years and it's about my pet peeve? How could I not respond?

It might be also a worthy note to mention the article was posted on one of the worlds leading cycling advocacy websites, http://www.copenhagenize.com.

That's pretty cool, don'tcha think?

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Old 04-28-10, 04:32 PM   #13
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I think a better title would have been "Helmet laws hurt cycling efforts"
My wife thought that too. She doesn't like the issue being relegated to the nanny-law argument.

The print version of the paper has a different headline with the same body of text. It says, Head-Scratching Law

I think all three headlines don't matter much. I think the point is still the same.
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Old 04-28-10, 05:16 PM   #14
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Well I'm not a spinach hater...a little lemon, some white beans....makes for a great meal.

I wear a helmet... I think it is a wise idea no matter the situation, a little gravel and a slow speed can cause irreparable damage to your noggin, it's happened.

IMHO, a government getting involved with a persons right to choose can become even more irreparable...If their reasons have to do with insurance and health then it would be only a matter of time before they get involved in other areas..no butter (not a problem), sugar, no red meat (not a problem), no alcohol...etc. More than likely this government could care less if someone wore a helmet or not...it was prolly something passed in order to move forward in another agenda that has no relation. again just my opinion.
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Old 04-28-10, 05:26 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Bike advocacy articles that talk about how things should be in an ideal world, based on emotional impact and with no context or facts, aren't really any better than the pro-car mirror image. You know, "Bicycles belong on the sidewalk, shouldn't be on the road, must yield when I want them to, and shouldn't exist in the first place." Everyone has an opinion on how things should be.
well put. thanks for posting this.
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Old 04-28-10, 10:16 PM   #16
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Experience here has revealed, even if many are in favor of helmet use, not many are in favor of helmet laws.

Here's a question. Does anyone here think I am doing the right thing?

Is going without a helmet in a mandatory helmet law province the right thing to do? Do you see this as taking a stand against an unjust, or unreasonable law, or am I just, (as Derek says) an outlaw?
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Old 04-28-10, 10:24 PM   #17
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it's civil disobedience at the most basic level
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Old 04-29-10, 12:28 AM   #18
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A similarly fallacious return argument would be: "So will you be giving up seatbelts and disabling your airbags as well or are you going to continue with your false sense of security and increased danger caused by the general feelings of protectedness floating around?"

But in reality I'd rather just simplify the issue. The effects of helmets are readily quantifiable by existing scientific methods. Either they do genuinely protect you more than any unquantifiable modifier such as a "feeling of security" might endanger you from having it and should be worn, or they don't and thus there's no point to wearing them to begin with.

There's a little room for specifics with regards to situations where they're better or worse but otherwise this is not a debate about feelings and other unquantifiable and often fallacious arguments, it's a simple and straightforward case of how well an object physically protects your HardnSquishy.

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Old 04-29-10, 01:48 AM   #19
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But in reality I'd rather just simplify the issue. The effects of helmets are readily quantifiable by existing scientific methods. Either they do genuinely protect you more than any unquantifiable modifier such as a "feeling of security" might endanger you from having it and should be worn, or they don't and thus there's no point to wearing them to begin with.
In reality, credible risk analysis of real world cycling risk (analysis that includes both event probability and injury severity) will readily identify the LACK of effect of helmet wear on reducing the cyclist population's injury risk. This should not be a surprise since by design bicycle helmets are not built to significantly reduce such risk.

Don't be dazzled by the emotional rants of the proselytizers and promoters, the only legitimate rationale for an MHL as a public risk countermeasure (worth the cost of implementation) is evidence of risk reduction for the public. The "scientific" evidence for any such positive "effect" on the public is seriously chimeric.
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Old 04-29-10, 02:41 AM   #20
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Experience here has revealed, even if many are in favor of helmet use, not many are in favor of helmet laws.

Here's a question. Does anyone here think I am doing the right thing?

Is going without a helmet in a mandatory helmet law province the right thing to do? Do you see this as taking a stand against an unjust, or unreasonable law, or am I just, (as Derek says) an outlaw?
Personally, I appreciate your efforts.
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Old 04-29-10, 02:55 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Leo H. View Post
[...]
If helmets are bad for cycling, but 'allowed' by spinach haters, why do you deign to cave in and 'approve' of helmets in '...MOST...' situations, and then go on to state that those 'most' situations are CHILDREN and, what's that? HEAVY TRAFFIC??!!
You spinach haters can't even see how tenuous a grasp your line of thought is. If helmets CAUSE increased injuries and that STYROFOAM shells are useless in crashes, why in all the bicycle gods names would you even consider supporting their use in HEAVY TRAFFIC?

[...]
Indeed it could be argued that bike helmets are <i>least</i> useful in 'heavy traffic.' They explicitly are not designed to protect in collisions with motor vehicles, and it's in traffic situations where the helmet is most problematic in terms of risk compensation. It makes just as much sense to say "leave your helmet at home if you're riding in heavy traffic, but always wear it for short jaunts on the bike path."
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Old 04-29-10, 09:42 AM   #22
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it's civil disobedience at the most basic level
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Personally, I appreciate your efforts.
I appreciate the support.

When I decided to go without it was to protest. I wanted to add to the numbers of people riding bikes that just don't buy into this law. The helmetless have grown and have about reached the levels of helmetless pre-law.

The cops don't seem to enforce the law, but it seems when they do it's part of a temporary campaign and it's carried out in areas that make it safe and easy for them to pull over cyclists. That means they pull them over on slow, safe, and separated bike paths. The areas that cyclists are least likely to be hurt the most.

As Robert mentioned (and Moscato got wrong) helmets are least useful in heavy traffic and that may be the next focus in my annual helmet column this year. The misconception that bike helmets are made for protection in collisions with motor vehicles.

Helmets may indeed help in simple falls that usually result in superficial injury, but that's not why our law was passed. Our law was passed specifically to save lives and reduce serious head injuries. It wasn't passed to reduce or mitigate minor injury, that would have never sold. It was sold because people made the link between TRTs Seattle Harborview report on children having simple falls with no vehicle involvement and cyclists killed by vehicles. A fallacious association to be sure, but one that sold a story.

* Oh, and as a side note. There are just as many deaths to cyclists wearing helmets as not since our law was passed. The number of dead has not dropped *

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Old 04-29-10, 11:09 AM   #23
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[SNIP] It was sold because people made the link between TRTs Seattle Harborview report on children having simple falls with no vehicle involvement and cyclists killed by vehicles. A fallacious association to be sure, but one that sold a story.
Sold a lot of helmets too; mission accomplished for those on the Bell helmet payroll.
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Old 04-29-10, 11:21 AM   #24
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Snell profited too. I believe they were paid a fee per helmet sold for their certification.

As their certification was de rigueur at the time, they profited from sales beyond Bells.
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Old 04-29-10, 04:48 PM   #25
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I think you're doing the right thing, closetbiker. Especially since you're working hard to get the word out.
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