Facts on the Rules
1. Helmet laws discourage cycling - cycling rates dropped 40% when mandatory helmet laws were introduced in the early 1990s.
2. Fewer cyclists on the road made (& continue to make) cycling more dangerous, radically departing from the 'safety in numbers' factor
3. Helmet efficacy is greatly exaggerated, and largely unproven (full marks for brilliant marketing though!)
4. Helmet laws cultivate the notion that helmets are the first & last words in bike safety. Governments & parents feel immensely reassured once they've popped a helmet on a child's head - 'well done, us, we've done our bit!'
5. Helmet laws distract from measures that can actually keep cyclists safe such as comprehensive and extensive cycling infrastructure
6. The health benefits from cycling without a helmet outweigh the risk of 'imagined' risk of cycling.
The enactment of the Australian helmet laws was just a 'smoke & mirrors' routine to provide an illusion that something significant had been done for cycling.
Instead of mandatory helmet laws, the following intiatives should have been implemented:
(i) A 'metre' passing rule for motor vehicles passing cyclists
(ii) Banning cars from parking in bike lanes (see photo above of Newcastle's attempts to 'provide' for cyclists - one open car door & hey presto you hit the deck!)
(iii) Creating more bike lanes
(iv) Creating bike-only thoroughfares
(v) Incorporating bike safety training into public school curriculum
(vi) Providing free bike safety classes to the general public
(vii) Enforcing traffic laws, for both motorists and cyclists
(viii) Holding at-fault motorists fully accountable when they injure or kill cyclists
It is sobering to note that many more motorists die from head injuries than cyclists do. Oh! and the seat belt argument just isn't comparable. Seat belt efficacy has been overwhelmingly demonstrated; bike helmet efficacy has not.
"Rules, Rules"...as Simon Cutting of Manly put it in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, "I can't wait till I'm old enough to move out and get my own country so I can do what I want."
Needless to mention, all the pious goodie-goodies slaughtered his sentiments yesterday!
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