Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

“There’s no ethical case for mandatory cycle helmets”

with 2 comments

The Guardian Bike Blog 

This analysis by an ethicist of the evidence for bike helmet legislation would be worth reading in any event. But over the weekend there was a contentious – if not actually mendacious – opinion piece in the Sun taking the opposite view and supporting it by very selective references to long refuted “evidence”. I am not linking to that. If you want to search and pay for someone else’s opinion that’s your privilege. Though I do wonder why there seems to be an anti-cycle policy at PNG.

But I do think it is worth quoting the banner

“Helmets do not provide sufficient protection to warrant the claim that they are highly effective – and the right to cycle bare-headed is by no means trivial”

I do wear a helmet, simply because I do not wish to get a ticket. Note too that in Vancouver, the local bylaw applies to parks and bike paths that are not subject to the Motor Vehicle Act. I have had a bike crash – actually with another cyclist, on a bike path. I came off, broke my wrist and the helmet made absolutely no difference.


Written by Stephen Rees

July 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

2 Responses

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  1. My only multi-vehicle bicycle crash (as opposed to crashing into a tree while riding off-road) occurred when cyclists going in opposite directions on a bike path tried to navigate through a crowd of people waiting for the bus. We saw each other at the last minute and hit handlebars causing both to be tossed off their bikes. It was winter so I was wearing my usual fuzzy touque. The other rider was bare headed. I hit my head on the ground, but the blow was minor and the hat cushioned it.

    The near misses I had with side mirrors missing my handlebars by mere inches all happened at considerable speed and I doubt a hemet would have made any difference had I actually been hit.

    I haven’t ridden in decades, but now that my kids are getting old enough to ride on the road I will be buying a bike and wearing a helmet.


    July 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm

  2. When it comes to helmet legislation, people forget that cycling is a strongly health-positive activity (unlike driving, which is slightly health-negative). Cycling increases life expectancy, and reduces health care costs. By my calculations, the health benefit of non-helmeted cycling is at least 97% of the benefit of helmeted cycling, a difference that’s really insignificant.

    I know that the BC helmet law is there to benefit us cyclists, and we should be grateful to have such paternal care lavished upon us. But it makes me think of the Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye says to God: “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”

    Richard Johns

    July 22, 2013 at 8:36 am

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