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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: What is the correct governmental approach to bicycle helmets?
Cyclists need not wear helmets because there’s no proven benefit. So, of course, the government should not require helmet use. 5 7.04%
Cyclists should wear helmets, but the government shouldn’t pass a law making it mandatory. 47 66.20%
The government should pass a law requiring cyclists to wear helmets, but not enforce it. 1 1.41%
The government should pass and enforce a law requiring cyclists to wear helmets. 18 25.35%
Voters: 71. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-23-04, 11:31 AM   #1
Daily Commute
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Poll: Mandatory Helmet Laws

This captures most of the opinions I have seen in this thread. I was wondering where people stood onthe various helmet law questions. I suggest that you use this thread to discuss the poll, but use this well-established thread to discuss the merits of mandatory helmet laws.
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Old 11-23-04, 12:43 PM   #2
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I think it makes sense to wear a lid, but if you're not in the mood or you like taking chances, that's your business. Incidentally I feel the same way about motorcycles. You wanna take a chance, that's your business...
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Old 11-23-04, 01:10 PM   #3
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I checked the second option, but I actually favor the current California law, which mandates helmets, but only for riders under the age of 18. I hope we are raising a new generation for which helmet wearing is instinctive.
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Old 11-23-04, 01:53 PM   #4
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#4 Even though they never enforce it anyways. Moot.
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Old 11-23-04, 02:28 PM   #5
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I support helmet use but only mandatory use for children. Mandatory helmet use should be more for automobiles.
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Old 11-23-04, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johe
I support helmet use but only mandatory use for children. Mandatory helmet use should be more for automobiles.
Sorry I left out that option.
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Old 11-23-04, 05:19 PM   #7
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Let's face it - mandatory helmet laws would probably end up being used to arrest CMers and to harrass minorities. While I certainly think that every cyclist should wear a helmet, helmet laws aren't going to stop people from not wearing them.
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Old 11-23-04, 07:30 PM   #8
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There is another option you have not set in the poll: mine. Here it is.

While I prefer to wear a helmet, I don't care at all whether or not anybody else wears them. Therefore I also don,t think they should be legislated.

On the other hand, I do care about the way other people drive or cycle.
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Old 11-23-04, 08:00 PM   #9
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For a country that's ostensibly headed down the path of deregulation, mandatory helmet laws in the US seem contradictory.

Go to almost any European city and observe the cyclists. Where I recently traveled in France and Spain, almost none of the cyclists were wearing helmets, or any of the other goofy cycling gear like reflective vests that many US cyclists advocate for. Traffic in the European cities is as bad as the traffic in any American city. Despite the traffic, my routine observation was that most French and Spanish motorists were very respectful of their cycling brethren, and drove with due caution in their vicinity.

In America, however, the motorists all behave like they own the road and the cyclists are in their way. The prevalent attitude in the US seems to be - wear a helmet so you don't hurt your head when I run you down.

IMO, mandatory helmet laws are total BS and are only one of the latest salvos in the 'blame-the-victim' mentality and behavior that's so common in the US. If US motorists and cyclists all took more responsibility for their own behavior and acted accordingly, there would be no need for mandatory helmet laws - helmet use would be a matter of choice among cyclists, and the motorists would drive way more responsibly, as befits the operators of potentially lethal motor vehicles.
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Old 11-23-04, 09:50 PM   #10
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You're leaving out an option: helmet wearing is not necessary, because the benefits of helmet wearing are too small. So, of course the state should not make helmet wearing mandatory.
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Old 11-24-04, 08:22 AM   #11
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While my strong beliefs in limited government should dictate that I am against laws requiring helmets, I find that in the current environment that I must support those laws.

In the current environment, if you are injured and cannot pay your short / long term medical care, the tax payers foot the bill. Given that, I must choose between another *%^*ing law, or paying to keep some dumb-ass’s medical bills? Long term disability? Life support equipment for the next 10 years?

Even if injured party has insurance, do I want my premiums being spent on people who don’t have enough sense to wear helmets, seat belts, have smoke detectors, etc? Certainly the insurance industry should be able to discriminate --- big time. They should have provisions to not pay claims if the injured party wasn’t acting in a responsible manner (wearing a helmet, seat belt…) Again government interference in the insurance industry has forced the responsible amongst us to support the irresponsible.

Overweight, inactive, smoking, alcoholic drug addicts that ride their bikes at night against traffic with no lights or helmets have the same access to health care as the most perfect of us. Are we, as a society, prepared to let those injured without helmets, seat belts, smoke detectors, etc. just lay in the street and die? What is the downside to irresponsible behavior? (Who gets to pick what is irresponsible behavior?)

People complain about the intrusive government, yet expect to be taken care of in the event of a disaster – large scale or personal.

It ain’t easy…
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Old 11-24-04, 09:06 AM   #12
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In the current environment, if you are injured and cannot pay your short / long term medical care, the tax payers foot the bill. Given that, I must choose between another *%^*ing law, or paying to keep some dumb-ass’s medical bills? Long term disability? Life support equipment for the next 10 years?
Don't worry Jerry, the "long term" folks are very rare, death is the usual outcome and dead people cost tax payers very little. Besides, these same people will die anyway and would likely end up costing tax payers more later in life.

The only legitimate reason to have mandatory safety laws for rare occurrences (helmets, seat belts, flotation devices) is for saving lives, not money.

I voted option two, but there should be laws for children.


Edit: Oops, sorry daily commute, I should have put this in one of the other threads.
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Old 11-24-04, 09:35 AM   #13
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I believe there are many laws that have some justification but the authorities wont enforce because that costs money. My town has a buy-law that you cant mow your lawn on Sundays - the reason was to allow people to enjoy a day of quiet. This is unnecessary since there are also laws governing noise nuisance.
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Old 11-26-04, 11:22 AM   #14
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I voted for #2 and have to say, based on the past responses to posts I've made on this subject, that I'm a little suprised at the results. I would have expected #4 to generate more votes. I'm glad a clear majority give faith to an individuals choices.

I started to wear a helmet about 16 years ago because I believed it when I was told that it would save my life. I could put up with a bump or a stitch or 2 (after all, I played hockey for 10 years and football all through high school) but if I was going to go down at the speed I ride or if I was to absorb the impact of an oncoming car I would want proper protection.

Then I found out about the standards that the hemets are tested to. How sad when I found out the standard for a bike helmet was a simple drop from 6 feet with a 11lb rigid headform onto a flat anvil. I feel this is not a test that would reflect protection in a real world collision that would be life saving. Some may think this is good enough, but I don't. I believe it is better than nothing, but it's not the life saver that I'm looking for.

I don't believe now what I believed when I first started to wear a helmet and I can't say I'm all that suprised at the view of politicians who try to push for MHL's. They just have a different perspective and they have to prioritise the level of investigation they need to persue to make an informed choice. Cyclists are not a big concern to governing and motoring is. From the perspective of the motorist, cyclists should give way to motorists. To cyclists, motorists should give way to cyclists. There are 2 sets of values here. Guess whose values are given more weight?

The promoting of helmets have resulted in a lot of misinformation, both about the level of protection provided, and level of incidents requiring protection, so it's good to see the majority here think individuals should have the choice to investigate on their own, make a choice on their own, and not have some misinformed politician making that choice for them.

Last edited by closetbiker; 11-27-04 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 11-26-04, 03:55 PM   #15
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I'm not stupid enough to ride without a helmet, but consider the enforcement of a cycling helmet law a waste of policing time when there are so many greater behavioral hazards out there--aggressive drivers, DUI's, speeders, etc. Requiring bicyclists to wear helmets in our current traffic environment is like requiring women to wear chastity belts in public to prevent ****.
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Old 11-26-04, 04:27 PM   #16
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is like requiring women to wear chastity belts in public to prevent ****.
Hadn't even thought of that option. I will ask my wife to wear a chastity belt (or maybe I should) to assist in reducing injuries in the event of a bicycle accident. Or am I just a bit confused here?
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Old 11-26-04, 04:28 PM   #17
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Lol...good point! In NY there is a mandatory helmet law. For those under 14! 15 and above the State feels that the individual can make a good educated decision on whether or not to wear a helmet. Even if I see a 10 year old w/o a helmet, the most I can do is bring him/her home (I'm a cop) and find out from mom/dad/legal gaurdian if then knew that Jr. was out riding without there helmet. If they say yeah the little twerp does not have a helmet. Then I can issue a traffic summons to the parent. If you go futher down the road to the court, I am sure that if the parent b*tched and moan about the "over" zelous Officer and that they can't afford to pay a ticket and get a helmet. The judge is likely to conditionally discharge the ticket if they purchase a helmet and show proof to the court. If on the other hand the parent says "I didn't know little Jr. was out w/o his helmet! Jr. get your #@s in here! Then I just have to hope that good parenting skills are used and the child will wear a helmet in the future.

Oh...a helmet saved my sorry butt on more than one occassion! Wear a helmet!

Pedal On,

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