You’ll surely die without a helmet

I’ve been fined for not wearing a helmet and my wife still recalls the endless wingeing I did afterwards. I was silly enough to recount the story to her, and it became obvious during the retelling that I’d talked myself into a fine. I was angry, belligerent and arrogant…all the things cops love.

My problem was I hated the helmet laws from day one. Why the hell were cyclists being targeted? Were we uniquely stupid? Were car drivers so much smarter? You have to remember that these were the days before air bags and head trauma was the number one serious injury in car crashes. The laws had all the hallmarks of dickhead legislators deliberately avoiding the gorilla in the room (because the gorilla would kick their arses so far out of office they’d need a map to find their way back to parliament) while concentrating on a harmless (and largely voteless) minority.

The Poms had a look at the legacy of our laws a decade later when considering the wisdom of helmet laws for their country. What they discovered was it had taken ten years for cycling numbers to recover. They ruled that public health was better served by people cycling and discouraging them with helmet laws was counter-productive.

In this article in Copenhagenize the author presents some stats for us. About 7,500 people suffered head injuries in car crashes in Australia (in 1989). Read his article under Existing Approved Helmets Ideal For Use In Cars to see the rest of the stats. My point here is I’ll start wearing my helmet when car drivers start wearing theirs. A trip to the shops carries with it an inherent danger of serious head trauma whether cycling, driving or walking. Yet only the cyclist is forced to wear a helmet. (The article refers to the Caine government, which indicates it’s age somewhat. I can only wonder how and why someone dredged up this article after all these years. Or why someone like me would re-blog it….I think perhaps we’re finding it a little hard to let go.)

I’m old enough to weigh the dangers involved with riding without a helmet and though I may yet get turned into a vegetable for the sake of a carton of milk I’m probably much more likely to suffer serious injury during soccer. Mountain biking with a helmet on, is probably more dangerous than the milk run without.

I don’t trust those bastard car drivers and I always wear a helmet for any serious road riding, but surely I should have the choice?

On the morning I got my helmet fine I passed two kids on a BMX, one standing on the stunt pegs, neither with a helmet, the guy standing on the stunt pegs with a broken leg holding his crutches.

I have some guys who live near me and they ride their motorbike up and down the footpath without a helmet. I’ve called the police 20 times and they never attended. If these same police find time to apprehend me for endangering my own noggin I’ll justifiably go completely bonkers.

Of course, if you’re crazy enough to ride a bike with no brakes (and good on you) in traffic then a helmet should be pretty much bolted to your head on a permanent basis.  

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