Does the helmet regulation make it safer to ride a bike?

Feeling safe? Image credit: ibiketo.ca

Simon has put up the propositions that countries with good cycle safety don’t need helmet laws and countries with bad cycle safety do. I disagree. I think that countries with bad cycle safety need proven safety measures, not unproven ‘popular’ ideas such as our helmet regulation. Here’s why:

The helmet regulation was introduced for the sole purpose of making it safer to ride bikes in NZ. The question is therefore whether it has made it safer to ride bikes in NZ.

To answer this question, we need evidence. Measurable evidence. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough of that. The authorities haven’t bothered to keep the records that would allow us to measure.

The next link in the thought chain usually goes “Can’t hurt, probably helps.” But. When we are legislating on matters that affect whether people live or die in a given situation, we need to know – really know –  that we are not causing harm.

Do we know it can’t hurt? No. We don’t. We can’t, because we didn’t measure.

Think about this. Measuring’s pretty important when you’re telling people they’re safer. How do you reckon this kind of approach would go over on a city construction site? “OK chaps, we’ve heard that people reckon this will help, but actually we have no idea – it might even hurt you for all we know. Aaaand we’ll never know, because we’re not going to check. You’re fine with that, aren’t you chaps?” OSH would have a field day – and so should we.

There is growing belief that helmet mandation does hurt. The theory – the expert theory – is that it does this by putting people off riding. And we already know that when fewer people ride, the  safety of the remaining riders is jeopardised.

So. It’s my very firm belief that we should scrap the helmet regulation and implement proven cycle safety measures. Measurable measures. Measures that have been measured in a number of locations across a number of  scenarios. Measures such as the ones in countries with good cycle safety records.

You know the ones. The ones without helmet laws.

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58 thoughts on “Does the helmet regulation make it safer to ride a bike?

  1. I’m also concerned that the helmet regulation gives people a false sense of safety, especially people who don’t ride. This is important because those people drive past me on the road. I don’t wear a helmet anymore, and I’m treated noticeably more carefully by drivers than I was when I wore a helmet.

    This quite clearly makes me safer without a helmet. That’s pretty important to me.

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  2. Rob

    I highly doubt helmets are to blame for most people not riding bikes. How many parents do you think won’t let their kids ride to school because they think helmets look dorky? I’m willing to bet most don’t because the roads are just not a safe place to be. Helmets, mandatory or otherwise, won’t fix the real issue.

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  3. Unity

    @ Rob – you are looking at this on a single person basis. The helmet law is a population level problem. A mandatory helmet law has problems because it makes cycling seem more dangerous than it is and does put people off riding. It makes it inconvenient and also puts successful bike-share out of reach. Most people don’t want to wear ‘cycling gear’ – simple as that!

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  4. Simon Kennett

    First up – I should point out that those ‘propositions’ are just ideas I was throwing around on another discussion.

    The theory that helmet laws are bad for cycling overall is just that – a theory. There are ‘experts’ and strongly held views on both sides of the debate. I’m a fence-sitter who would prefer to spend my time on more important issues (but can’t sit by while dodgy logic is distracting from those issues).

    It seems odd to me that that you should be so upset by what you percieve as a lack of evidence for the helmet regulation, and yet rather than demanding a proper review to ascertain the truth of the situation, you want to jump straight to repealing that regulation. You are clearly very sure of your belief on this matter, as is Rebecca Oaten.

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  5. Oh I’d love a review. In fact my preferred mode of addressing the regulation is via Judicial Review – alongside the PR campaign that would be required in order to avoid a Parliamentary knee-jerk reaction.

    I don’t believe there’s enough evidence to a) support keeping the regulation, or b) show that there is no harm done to cycling safety by keeping it (or that the harms are outweighed by the benefits).

    Re dodgy logic – pot, kettle, black. Ahem.

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  6. Hilleke

    Nicely put Lisa.

    I read somewhere a while ago that medical experts in the UK are 50:50 on the benefits of helmets. I wonder if they were 50:50 about a new drug whether it would be approved? Let alone made mandatory?

    I think the drop in cycling can be attributed to many things, but I wonder how big an impact the scaremongering around *needing* a helmet has had?

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  7. Doug

    You’re right that we need to “know – really know”. If we’re being sciency here (I LOVE science) please link to the literature. We should all be able to read and understand it, then we’ve got something to go on.

    By the way, I’m not sure either way on this. I can see obvious arguments for and against. But as I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s not the point. We need data that’s been examined by critical eyes including our own.

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  8. Nigel

    Helmets were introduced to satisfy the motoring lobby’s conscience. The conscience brought on by them faintly realising that their motor vehicles might be dangerous, and that they must help protect the ones endangered by their contraptions. And even better if the cost/inconvenience of the safety measure is borne by those affected.

    I am amazed by how many people at my office (who can’t even ride a bicycle) want to look at my helmet. That then qualifies them to have an informed opinion about the safety of them.

    It beggars belief that there are no governmental statistics kept on this issue. Surely other countries flirting with introducing such regulations are asking “what were the results of your experiment down there in NZ/Aus?”.

    @Doug. Did you read the article in the Medical Journal published recently? If you love science that will be something to get your head around!

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  9. Doug

    The British Medical Association has quite a good section entitled Promoting Safe Cycling. They cite several studies of the effectiveness of helmets in reducing injuries, and look at whether helmets discourage cycling.

    Best evidence supports the use of cycle helmets. They have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury and its severity should it occur. This does not apply to fatal crashes but in such instances the force of impact is considered to be so significant that most protection would fail.

    They conclude helmets should be compulsory.

    I also read the recent Evaluation of New Zealands bicycle helmet law by UK cycle coach Colin Clarke in the NZ Medical Journal. He compares pedestrian and cyclist activity and injury rates over time. I personally don’t think it’s a particularly good article. For example, he says:

    If people cycle less and this in turn reduces their overall fitness it could contribute to them walking less as well. The survey information 1989/90-2003/06 suggests a drop of 53% and indicates that the helmet law discouraged cycling to a significant extent.

    These two conclusions are not supported in the article. For example, it could equally have been a decline in walking that contributed to less cycling. And he doesn’t isolate the effect of the helmet law when concluding that it discouraged cycling – all kinds of things changed in that time.

    I’m sure there are better articles out there in favour of losing the helmet, anyone got any?

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    1. Alastair

      Thanks for the critique of the Clarke article, Doug. Although Clarke argues that the decline in ridership is due to the helmet law, there were many other factors (cheaper cars, increasing traffic volume and speeds, etc) that could have contributed to the decline.

      In contrast, a Canadian study compared ridership in different provinces, which had different legislation, thus isolating the effect of the helmet laws. They concluded that “Helmet legislation is not associated with changes in ridership”

      Dennis, J., Potter, B., Ramsay, T., & Zarychanski, R. (2010). The effects of provincial bicycle helmet legislation on helmet use and bicycle ridership in canada. Injury Prevention : Journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention, 16(4), 219-224

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  10. You’re looking at it from an individual-level perspective, but as Unity said above, this is a population-level issue.

    No-one is disputing that in some limited circumstances, helmets have a level of value. (Especially if you weigh 5kg and fall onto the centre of the helmet from a height of one metre, which is how they test them).

    What we’re talking about here is the effect on a population of mandating helmets. This requires epidemiological research, not incidence investigation.

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  11. Doug

    Maybe I’m being dumb, but if something’s beneficial on an individual level, isn’t it beneficial for a population? I don’t really get the difference (sorry)

    Which standard are you referring to? In many tests, the deceleration forces of the “head form” in the helmet are measured too, and extrapolated so that the effect of much bigger impacts can be determined by a small test. So they’re not expecting us to weigh 5kg and only fall 1 metre.

    Again, I’m not sure if helmets are good or bad for a population overall. As you said in your post though, we need to measure. Is there a good study you can recommend that helps in that regard?

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    1. Gilbert Sanseau

      “if something’s beneficial on an individual level, isn’t it beneficial for a population?”

      No, of course it’s not that easy. Because on a population level, many more aspects enter into account :
      – the perceived safety of cycling, from the point of view of would-be cyclists, which influences the number of people cycling, which then influences the actual safety of cycling through cyclist numbers;
      – the perceived safety of cyclists again, but from drivers point of view, which influences their behaviour towards cyclists, thus influencing the number of accidents.

      Basically, the helmet has a good influence on the outcome of some cycling accidents (unarguably), but a helmet law may have a bad influence on the overall number of cycling accidents through social impacts. This overall number may then result in a worse situation for a population.

      You will notice that each time there is an accident and comments on the web, some drivers are always going “Were the cyclists wearing their helmet and high vis”, as if a foam helmet was any protection against two tons of steal. It seldom is.

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  12. Hilleke

    The other thing which helmet testing (and any other testing really) can never effectively measure is the change of behaviour when a cyclist is wearing a helmet.

    The change in driver behaviour is easier to measure and has been done before (from earlier comments):
    Mikael ColvilleAndersen states that you are 14% more likely to get hit. He referred me to this link: http://video.tedxcopenhagen.dk/video/911034/mikael-colville-andersen where he quotes “The 14% stat comes from the Norwegian Transport Økonomisk Institut (TØI).”

    But has anyone ever looked at the change in cyclist behaviour? Anecdotally, I’d say NZ helmet wearing cyclists take more risks than non-helmet wearing cyclists. Also, in London, I’ve seen helmet wearing cyclist brave a red light in front of six lanes of traffic, where the non-helmet wearing cyclist sensibly stopped. In the past week, I’ve narrowly avoided collisions with two helmet-wearing cyclists doing incredibly stupid things.
    It’d be very interesting to see some research into this.

    Surely if we behave more sensibly/cautiously because we don’t have the *ahem* illusion of being ‘protected’ – and drivers clearly respond in the same way, giving us more space – then there is some argument for removing that (false sense of?) protection?

    Avoiding the collision must be better than hoping not to get hurt in it?

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    1. Simon Kennett

      The Norwegian report can be found here:
      http://www.cycle-helmets.com/norway.pdf

      The key quote from the report is in section 4.2.2:
      “There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand the risk is estimated to be around 14%.”

      The question is, did the person who concluded a ‘14% increase’ take into account the dramatic rise in vehicles on our roads in the 1990s? And over what period was there a 14% increase in risk? From 1980 to 2000 the vehicle kilometres travelled on New Zealand roads grew by 100% – that’ll cause a huge increase in risk exposure, right there.

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      1. Simon Kennett

        I found the 14% figure in ‘The Handbook of Road Safety Measures’ (Elvik et al) Table 4.10.3.
        It is a ‘best estimate’ based on a review of four Australian and one New Zealand study published between 1988 and 1997.
        Elvik et al say “The results are likely to be affected by publication bias, time trends and methodological weaknesses that have not been controlled for”.

        They also publish a table of the cost-benefit ratios of helmet use (assuming a 10% reduction in head/face/neck injuries, and assuming helmet replcement every 3 or 4 years). The BCR ranged from 0.66 for people who cycle 1 km/day to 15.08 for people who cycle 30 km/day. The break-even point occured when people cycled 1.5 km/day. This is for cyclists over 13 yrs old. The BCR of helmet use is generally accepted to be significantly higher for children.

        Note that the BCR for mandatory helmet use is different (i.e. lower).

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  13. Alastair

    There has been research on whether cyclist behaviour is affected by helmet wearing – an affect referred to in the medical literature as “Risk compensation”.

    A Spanish study of 23 000 cyclist crashes found that crashes in which the cyclist broke the law (i.e. were taking risks) were in fact associated with NOT wearing a helmet. The conclusion was that although risk compensation could not be ruled out, the study did not support the existence of a risk compensation affect.

    Lardelli-Claret, P., de Dios Luna-del-Castillo, J., Jiménez-Moleón, J. J., García-Martín, M., Bueno-Cavanillas, A., & Gálvez-Vargas, R. (2003). Risk compensation theory and voluntary helmet use by cyclists in spain Injury Prevention, 9(2), 128-132.

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  14. Here are a few truths

    We all know someone who would ride a bike if they were not required to wear a helmet.

    If there were more people who ride bikes there would be more facilities and safety measures provided as there would be a greater measurable public benefit in doing so

    There is poor driver (and cyclist) training in this country, in particular about how to share roads with other users.

    When a population is more physically active there is an improvement in the general health and therefore less associated public cost and an improvement in quality of life.

    No one in this string has suggested outlawing helmets, the argument is for removing the law making it mandatory to wear helmets.

    When we step out of the detail and partisan nature of the arguments do these points not seem to lead towards a natural logic?

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    1. Simon Kennett

      I don’t think anyone here is arguing for the helmet law (except perhaps for children) but there is another truth that plays a big part in this debate:
      – Most of us probably know somebody who has damaged a helmet in a fall. Helmets reduce the risk of injury in the event of a large portion of crashes; therefore, we probably know somebody who has avoided (or suffered a less severe) head injury thanks to their helmet.

      Now apply that truth to somebody who was only wearing the helmet because the law compelled them to do so.

      We need the detail (actually a lot more of it) to answer the question – does the overall effect of the helmet regulation on head & facial injuries outweigh the effect of people being put off cycling?

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      1. That’s a pretty moveable truth though, Simon. For example, mountain bikers & sports people like yourself are more likely to know people who have fallen & damaged their helmets. Ordinary commuters like me – not so much.

        I’d also argue that one is more likely to know someone who fits that category now that it’s less safe to ride on the street than before the helmet regulation came in.

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  15. TM

    Helmets are a non-issue. Very few people would decide not to ride because they had to wear a helmet. It’s silly to think that repealing the mandatory helmet law will result in most of the population hopping on a bike.

    The reason people don’t commute is because of the traffic and road layout. This includes my partner who is an avid helmet-wearing cyclist otherwise, but can’t adjust to the assertive way you have to occupy the lane just to get down Willis St without becoming the filling for a car sandwich for instance.

    And it would take a brave politician to repeal the law. As soon as a cyclist died of a head injury, people will pop out of the woodwork saying “I told you so”. No poli would want to risk carrying that political baggage around unless you could convince the entire population it was a good idea.

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    1. Well, pretty much my whole high school stopped riding when the helmet regulation came in. As, it seems, did kids in most other schools. Used to be that if I was later than about 8:50 I wouldn’t get a bike park, but when I went back to my school a few years ago they’d taken out the bike racks for lack of demand.

      I agree with you about Willis St but I can assure you the streets of Nelson haven’t changed that much.

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  16. Albert Ross

    TM states that “Very few people would decide not to ride because they had to wear a helmet”.

    Then it follows that many people would decide to ride if they had not to wear a helmet.

    Lets focus on positive arguments, rather than negative logic.

    I commute 5kms sans helmet in heavy traffic without concern.

    I choose to wear a helmet when downhill skateboarding as the likelihood of an unplanned dismount is far greater.

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  17. Alex G

    I’ve just arrived to NZ and I wonder whether I can be fined for not wearing a helmet. I’m an experienced biker and I’ve never been wearing it. What if I wear a cap say instead of a helmet? Can I be stopped by the Police then?

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    1. Simon Kennett

      You can be stopped by the police and fined, although they usually have more important business to attend to. A few times a year they set up checkpoints to check for proper lights or clamp down on red-light running. Get stopped at one of those and you’re likely to get a fine for not wearing a helmet.

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    2. Nicole

      YES! You can be fined, and certain police officers will stop you and give you a ticket. I have been stopped a few times for not wearing a “proper helmet” by the same police officer who usually rides a motorcycle.
      I was stopped in Newtown and given a ticket for $50 for wearing a helmet that “did not meet NZ standards”, even though I was wearing one!
      However, they offered me “compliance”, meaning I just had to go to the Police Station and show them I did have a proper helmet that met all of the various ISO standards and then they waived the fine.

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  18. Michael

    I love all these articles about wearing helmets.

    Take it from someone whose life (or at least massive brain injury / damage) was saved by wearing a hemlet.

    When I college I was cycling home and got hit from behind by a van. My bike was a right-off and so was my helmet but it took the brunt of the force when I hit the road and save my head from any injury.

    I would rather have to pay to replace my bike and / or helmet after an accident then be a vege for the rest of my life.

    Whenever I got out on a bike even off-road (eg: Hutt River Trail / Rimataka Incline) I always wear a helmet to be on the safe side incase the worst happens even if it isn’t a car / van.

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    1. Rob

      This is what I want to read – comments from people who’ve actually been in the position to say whether a helmet is a good idea or not.

      I still maintain that vanity is the prime reason people don’t ride bikes nowadays.

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      1. Hilleke

        My cousin got hit by a car when she was a teenager biking to school. She was hospitalised for several weeks and had shattered bones in her leg. She wasn’t wearing a helmet and I can assure you, her head is quite alright.

        This is why I’m sceptical about these stories about shattered helmets saving lives – it’s anecdotal. Essentially meaningless. If you believe it, good for you – no one wants to stop you form wearing a helmet. But if helmets make cycling look more dangerous than it is, and this discourages people from doing something that would be of enormous benefit to them… seems a shame, just because some people don’t think they should have a choice.

        I’ve been hit by cars three times in my cycling life. All three times I haven’t suffered any head injury and all three times I wasn’t wearing a helmet (in the Netherlands fyi).
        I do wear a helmet while mountain biking because this is riskier and I acknowledge I take more risks. Just like race car drivers wear helmets while racing, but not when going to buy milk from the shops. There is a difference.

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      2. Simon Kennett

        I agree that anecdotes are esentially meaningless at a population level, but they are very powerful at a personal level.

        The recently completed Transport Perceptions survey found that cyclists are more likely to think that cycling is unsafe or very unsafe than the general population. What this says to me is that it’s not so much the appearance that cycling is dangerous that we need to worry about, it’s the actual experience (which is a scary one for over 50% of cyclists in the Wellington region) that is the problem. Driver/cyclist training and better infrastructure are where there’s good progress to be made in our life-times.

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  19. Another anecdote, but still….
    I have twice seen people wipe out in slippery conditions and smash their head — no cars involved. Both times the rider wore a helmet, and both times the helmet prevented a serious head injury.
    Also, in uni, my roommate was hit by a truck and he landed squarely on his forehead. His concussion was severe and he was never the same guy after that.
    I feel safer wearing a helmet, but…
    some more data on this issue would be grand.

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  20. Nigel

    A quote from a recent Dompost article about a drowning, and the inevitable call for life-jacket compulsion:
    Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said: “In the absence of good evidence that compulsory wearing of lifejackets will make a safety difference, I don’t think that New Zealanders will thank me for over-regulating in this area.”

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  21. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Bicycle helmet laws make cycling dangerous by reducing the effect of safety in numbers and increasing risk compensation. pushbike helmet laws put a lot of people off cycling, which is bad for public health and the environment and leads to less demand for better, safer conditions for cycling.
    Pushbike helmet laws reduce the quality of life in many ways.
    Scrap this evil law.

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  22. Chris Glover Kapiti Coast NZ

    These are well known and researched facts.
    After introduction of the pushbike helmet law in NZ on 1 January 1994, the number of students cycling to school halved immediately and further dwindled after that. Schools got rid of their bike sheds, bike racks, bike stands to make room for car parking and other stuff. That’s more like a 90 percent reduction in cycling. The same sort of thing happened in Australian states during the early 1990s and 2 states of Canada some time after that. Bicycle helmet laws make bike share schemes unworkable, causing them to fail, like the one in Auckland, and have put a curse on NZ and OZ.

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  23. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Bicycle helmet laws have caused bike share schemes in Melbourne and brisbane to perform poorly.
    Their performance is less than 10 percent compared to bike share schemes in countries or states without a helmet law.
    The only reason they are surviving is because they are funded by the taxpayer or ratepayer.

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  24. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Bicycle helmet laws have been a disaster for bike share schemes, utility cycling, tourism, the economy, health, safety, civil liberty, democracy, freedom, and the environment.
    Pushbike helmet laws reduce the number of people cycling and cycling hours. This is bad for public health and the environment, and leads to less demand for better, safer conditions for cycling.
    Bicycle laws have reduced the quality of life in many ways and have put a curse on NZ and OZ.
    Scrap this evil law.
    No more helmet gestapo or nazis.

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  25. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Bicycle helmet laws make bike share schemes unworkable, causing them to fail, like the one in Auckland.
    Pushbike helmet laws have caused bike share schemes in Melbourne and Brisbane to perform poorly. Their performance is less than 10 percent compared to bike share schemes in countries or states without a helmet law.
    The only reason these bike share schemes are surviving is because they are funded by the taxpayer or ratepayer.

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  26. Doug

    What’s all this talk of Nazis, curses and evil? Get a grip.

    Lots of things happened since the helmet laws were introduced, including scooters becoming more popular, anti-helmet people campaigning about helmets stopping cycling, and a million other things.

    You say you’re quoting “well known and researched facts”. You are not, otherwise there would hardly be a debate. The research does not all back your opinion. See previous comments in this thread and try some impartial research of your own.

    Bike share schemes aren’t necessarily a good idea without helmets anyway, why should any given scheme succeed at all costs?

    Strong emotion doesn’t make an opinion right – that was the original point in this thread. We need evidence instead, and beware of cherrypicking your evidence to support your opinion.

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  27. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Bike share schemes are not very successful in countries or states with bicycle helmet laws.
    Cities in Australia, New Zealand and British Columbia especially Vancouver, need successful bike share schemes in order to:
    -Reduce motor vehicle congestion, pollution and noise.
    -Encourage physical exercise and fitness.
    -Promote tourism.
    -Reduce the cost of urban transport.
    Israel and Mexico city have repealed their helmet laws so that their bike share schemes can succeed.
    Bike share schemes are not compatible with helmets and pushbike helmet laws.

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  28. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    A large number of people gave up cycling or greatly reduced the number of trips and hours since bicycle helmet laws were introduced. In Sydney there was a 90 percent drop in female cyclists. There was a similar drop in students cycling to school. There was a significant drop in commuter, recreational and utility cycling. Bike share schemes failed or performed poorly.
    Pushbike helmet laws are evil and have been an ABJECT FAILURE. There have been no benefits from pushbike helmet laws but they have caused a lot of problems, they certainly are a curse.
    I have experienced police behaving like nazis or brown shirts. A cyclist in Nelson, NZ was rammed by a police car,in a chase because of no helmet.
    The bicycle helmet law was introduced to NZ without any parliamentary debate or public consultation or proper research.
    This undemocratic public control and manipulation is a form of Witchcraft that has eroded freedom and civil liberty.

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  29. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    The bicycle helmet research foundation has an article on: pushbike helmet laws discourage the safest cyclists. This is recent research from Norway.

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  30. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    An article from BICYCLE HELMET RESEARCH FOUNDATION states that attempts to set up bike share schemes in Porirua and Palmerston North in the 1990s floundered due to the helmet law.
    The Auckland bike share scheme failed and closed in 2010
    The pushbike helmet law has robbed us big time!

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  31. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Bike share schemes are very safe in countries or states without a pushbike helmet law.
    Bicycle helmet laws exist because of two lies:
    1: Cycling is dangerous.
    2: Bicycle helmets make it safe.

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    1. Simon Kennett

      I think you need to be careful using simple words like ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Safe’. What is ‘dangerous’ or ‘safe’? It’s all relative. ‘Lies’ – sounds so absolute, so simple; but the reality of cycle safety is that we’re dealing with shades of grey.

      The crash rate for cyclists is worse than that for driving, but better than that of motorcycling. In the event of a crash, helmets do reduce the chance and/or severity of a head injury. Helmets make cycling look like an activity where there is a significant chance of banging your head (as do car airbags, etc) – depending on how you define ‘significant’, this may also be reasonable. And there is risk associated with sedentary lifestyles.

      This is a very complicated problem. Reducing your point of view to an accusation of “two lies” seems rather unhelpful.

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  32. Rob Edward

    I agree with Simon. Not only does such overly simplistic reduction make for an impoverished argument but it is also polarising and makes you seem like a ranter.

    Even those who agree with you on the need for repeal of the legislation may be put off by accusations (however tongue in cheek) of Nazism and Sorcery.

    Well reasoned argument is always far more compelling than vitriol.

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  33. Rob

    It’s obvious that mandatory helmets have caused a decline in cycling. I mean look what happened when they made seatbelts compulsory in cars.

    Oh wait, that didn’t happen.

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  34. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    Seat belts did not cause a significant reduction in car use because they are part of the car, not something you must not leave home without.
    Seat belts don’t look stupid and make you sweat, causing health problems.
    Seat belts don’t mess up your hair.

    Mandatory bicycle helmet laws have caused up to 90% reduction in cycling, especially utility and commuter cycling. Compulsory hi vis vests will cause a further decline in cycling.

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  35. Rob Edward

    Chris, can you explain to me how looking stupid and sweating causes health problems? I can imagine other problems caused by that combination but not health…

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    1. NigelTwo

      Simon, An interesting read. Love the “Go by Kike” days (occurs twice) ;-).

      The drop in school children cycling to school (para 4.1.3) is the “canary in the mineshaft” indicator for me. Clearly caregivers/mums/dads/parents don’t consider cycling safe enough for the children under their care to engage in.
      This is supported by the fact that fewer people are considering cycling as safe and very safe (para 5.5 and Fig 20).
      But this is then contradicted by a majority (>70%) of respondents that would let a child cycle unsupervised (Table 11).
      I conclude that that the caregivers et al, are really only comfortable with their children cycling up and down the driveway!

      So have mandatory helmet laws (and now maybe hi-viz) made cycling safer. Well not by the canary readout above. Perhaps it has helped re-inforce the perception that cycling is dangerous (in fact this report claims bicycling dangerous-ness is next below motorcycling para 5.3), ouch.

      I notice that the helmets section (para 7.5) is almost the only section to draw on pre 2001 statistics. Here I “smell a rat”. Worse, it is vague about a conclusion, citing insufficient data as cycling numbers collapsed. This section therefore doesn’t hold much credence to me.

      Moving off helmets, how does the Wellington region compare with other regions on some of these statistics? This census just can’t come fast enough for me!!!

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  36. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    The mandatory bicycle helmet laws in Australia and New Zealand have been a tremendous victory for the FATHER OF LIES over the last 20 years.
    Pushbike helmet laws have been a political success but they are an ABJECT FAILURE in every other way. SCRAP THIS EVIL LAW!

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  37. Rob Edward

    Chris your rhetoric reminds me of “thought-terminating cliché” .

    “…The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed.” http://philosophy.thecastsite.com/readings/anonymous2.html

    The reduction of cycling injuries is a complex problem. It most likely requires a combinatorial solution, rather than the panacea you claim will be provided by repeal of the legislation.

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