(Photos: Georige Abbott) (Essaouira, Morocco - a 'no-bicycle-helmet-law' land)
When will a 'little child' in an Australian crowd alert us to the reality that Australia's "Bicycle Helmet Laws" are nothing more than the 'Emperor's New Clothes', leaving us naked and ridiculous?
Bicycle helmet manufacturers are not unique in their aggressive pitch for market share - check out 'Big Pharma' - and it appears their intense commercial reality has dictated that any adverse data is discounted. We only have to glance at spin-based helmet promotion tactics, coupled with the frequent use of sensational quotes and unsubstantiated statistics from various medical opinion leaders, to appreciate that this is the case.
Notwithstanding, helmet spin is eagerly adopted by the Australian public media even though conclusive evidence pertaining to helmet safety is absent. It is a great shame that the Australian public media so willingly contributes to the advertising campaign for bicycle helmet manufacturers without the slightest 'investigative' thought:
*Why do the Australian public media so readily swallow the market research and press releases so generously distributed by bicycle helmet PR companies?
*Why don't the Australian public media take up the invitation to delve further into this issue?
*Why don't the Australian public media ponder for more than a glib one-liner as to why the majority of Europe so successfully cycles in their urban and rural areas, and in such large numbers, and so safely?
Upon reading James Hansen's excellent article "We are selling indulgences", it occurred to me that our bicycle helmet laws parallel proposed "cap & trade schemes" of energy companies, promising the notion of heaven on the whiff of a prayer, but paid for dearly by us. Not only have mandatory helmet laws notionally hoodwinked us, they have completely failed us in terms of cycling safety, traffic congestion and any 'street-cred' in negotiations for a global climate accord. Given that many countries are now facing the consequences of oil-saturated societies, and have been urgently required to discuss the issue of climate justice & access to climate justice, Australia urgently needs to comprehend that we have responsibilities that ought to include a new approach to cycling and a 're-visiting' of our mandatory helmet laws.
We cannot afford to miss these deadlines in our charter of global responsibilities - mandatory helmet laws must go.