Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘bike helmets

“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

“Use your head: Bike helmet laws don’t work”

with 26 comments

Useful reminder

Brad Killburn in the Richmond News presents some intriguing information about how helmet laws got through the legislature.

The article is full of useful data – but sadly none of it is properly cited or referenced, so I have not been able to identify his sources or check them for myself. It does indeed seem likely that cycle helmets do very little to reduce fatalities of cyclists involved in collisions with motor vehicles. The bike hemet is after all mostly a thin plastic shell on styrofoam.

He refers to a study that was cited when the legislation was being debated

what the honourable members did not know was that it was collisions with motor vehicles that caused virtually 100 per cent of the cycling deaths, and that the study used to show reduction of head injury did not include a single collision with a motor vehicle, or any involving cycling adults for that matter, but merely simple falls by children from their bicycles.

I think he should have identified the study sufficiently to help his readers follow up if they wished to. I have heard many people argue that helmets save lives – including former Vancouver Councillor Dr Fred Bass. I have equally heard a lot from advocates who say that helmets simply convey the message that cycling is dangerous, but do little to reduce its risks, and that cyclist fatalities will start to fall when more dedicated cycling facilities are provided. The ticketing of cyclists without helmets is an especially controversial practice, given the lack of evidence that it actually does any good at all.

I thought that I would at least raise it here in case any of you know of these studies and can provide URLs in your comments

Written by Stephen Rees

September 16, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Posted in bicycles, cycling, Road safety

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