Ok, we haven’t had this argument for a while and I’d like to get some new players views before it gets out of control and I lock it. You may or may not know my view that I’m well in the pro choice corner and think I should be able to make the decision myself to wear or not to wear a helmet out of competition.
I’m bringing this up again because a study has just been released by Macquarie University in Sydney that mandatory helmet laws actually levy a substantial cost on healthcare systems because savings from fewer head injuries pale in comparison to the costs incurred by decreases in cycling. This is also backed up by the study from Monash University that found head injuries actually increased after mandatory helmet laws were introduced, even though participation rates in cycling had fallen.
There are also more head injuries sustained in Australia from people walking or falling off chairs so why not make it illegal to be out on the street without wearing a helmet. Doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, I know this’ll get messy but I just want to have a choice when I walk out the door to go for a ride to the shops. I know I do when I go snowboarding and pull back flips wearing just a beanie, or grab my deck and skate down a hill, or decend Alpe de Huez in France in just a cycling cap, waving back to the police as I go. . . . . . . and I’m still here tapping away with a beer in hand.
but based on the number of people i see riding around without a helmet, i wouldn’t say that lacking a helmet was dissuading people from cycling anymore, and a law that the police don’t rigidly enforce, isn’t really a law…
the only reason i would say wearing helmets is a bad idea, is that it enforces the notion of cycling as an unsafe activity in the general view
personally i will always wear one…but then again, i suppose it should be down to each individual to choose.
I once heard a convincing argument for it being mandatory. The theory went that, it minimises injury in a situation where the accident is your fault. If not wearing a helmet, the driver has to live with the fact that you became paralysed/vegetable becuase of an accident involving their car that wasn’t their fault. I’m not sure if that’s convincing but it’s food for thought.
I chose to wear one even well before they were mandatory*, I would choose to wear one now, so I guess I’m pro-choice.
*oddly enough, I hadn’t had a fall for years and the very first time I ventured out with my brand new yellow-and-white ATOM helmet I fell and hit my head on a gutter in Fitzroy St. I continued to wear my helmet anyway and it wasn’t long before I got used to being called “omelette head”
I totally agree. I’m not saying don’t wear a helmet, not by a long way. All I’m saying is I think I should be able to make the choice weather I do or don’t depending on the situation. Why is this country one of the only ones in the world to force you to do it?
In regards to TC, I’m sure all of us would of been wearing a lid in that situation too.
I have lived in Melbourne since 1994 and have had this subject in my head ever since. I was into mountain biking in the 90’s (just like everyone else) and wearing a helmet for the first couple of years in Melbourne really sucked. But I did it for fear of breaking the law (read-deportation). I also commuted a bit back then too, so I guess it was part fear of the cops and part peer group pressure when on the road with others. Never once then did I think the helmet was actually for my own protection.
A decade later I find myself back on a bike for most of the week, and I see things a little different. I now see the helmet as something for my own safety. Maybe its because Im more aware of how dangerous riding on the road can be. Maybe its because Im wiser or more responsible? I dunno. The older I get, the less I seem to know therefore I don a helmet. I never leave home on my bike without it.
But I cannot help but think that if I stayed in Malaysia where there is no such thing as a helmet law for bikes - that I probably won’t own a helmet and wouldn’t even consider it a necessity.
You know what really bugs me? Cyclists that hang their helmet around their handlebars. For f**k’s sake, if you’re going to take your helmet you may as well wear it! If you don’t want to ruin your hair-do, leave it at home!
(Eek, I’m about to crash…luckily I have my trusty helmet here on my splat)
I wear one because I’ve used it a few times. Moreso in mountain biking taking low branches and rocks to the melon. But I’ve also crashed the road bike a few times in races and crits where I think a helmet helped.
Last week we lost a fellow rider in a crit at the Driveway racetrack in Austin. He died of severe head injuries even with a helmet in place.
As a licensed paramedic I also appreciate helmets on cyclists and motorcyclist. I’ve seen some pretty busted up people and it always makes me wonder why they don’t do whatever possible to protect them self.
I encourage people to wear a helmet because I care about their safety. I always wear a helmet myself.
I am pro choice - I hate people who love to follow laws. A lot of the time, it’s not the safety issue that throws people but the stupid law that is getting broken that makes them upset.
On the topic of laws- historically, those ‘unicivilised’ people (hundreds of years ago) always had the ‘emperor’ or ‘the king’ that they had to answer to and pay their taxes for etc. These days, ‘civilised’ people answer to ‘THE LAW!’. The law is a faceless entity that people love to serve and uphold. A lot of people are too stupid to question the law and its principle. They mindlessly stick up for it and love arking up to say something to you if they can.
I can just hear them:
“This isn’t a bike path, mate!”
“You ran that red light, mate”
“Where’s your helmet, mate!”
“You’re not allowed to do that, mate!”
“Stick it up your ass, mate”
People become self appointed guardians of the law.
So, I think there are 2 sides - the safety side, and the law side.
Safety side - For
Law side - Against
Thats exactly it. My boss and I both ride to work- she doesnt wear a helmet because she says it messes up her hair and scoffs at me when I told her I spent $200+ on a helmet. I just asked her how much her head is worth and whether having her brains spread accross the road is worth having neat hair. She wears a helmet now.
Dont get me wrong, I’m all for a free choice of wearing a helmet or not. It does seem a little bitt silly that I can get the same fine riding with no helmet 100m down the road to the milk bar as I would if I were to ride accross Victoria with no helmet. I’m totally pro-choice in this respect.
I think that if laws were brought in place that said we had a choice, I think most of us would still wear a helmet any way. But it would save us from those stupid ‘by the book’ policemen that fine us for not wearing a helmet on a ride that we know is safe, short and the likelyhood of needing the helmet is un-nessesary, just because it was decided how ever may years ago (probably by bitter old men that have never even riden a bike) that we need to wear one.
That study isn’t very well designed-it’s too variable over 3 years. a 10 year study that takes into account the severity of injury not just frequency of submissions to the hospital and TAC would be more accurate, while also comparing participation results. More people hurt themselves sitting and walking around becasue there are more people walking and sitting around than there are cycling.
As annoying as laws making helmets mandatory are, I think the added incentive to wear a helmet of getting fined by stupid ‘by the book’ policemen, is probably beneficial for the rate of helmet wearing and subsequently the safety of all riders not just experienced riders who generally know what they’re doing ie most of this thread
As a kid I was always told to wear a helmet, and I remember I hated wearing it, thinking it looked daggy. Given the choice I probably wouldn’t have worn it a lot. Only after some serious stacks in my late teens did I come to realise how important my helmet was. It may be a stretch but I make the argument that had I not been forced to wear a helemt in my early years I wouldn’t appreciate its usefulness in my 20s? Only through wearing it do you come to appreciate its usefulness.
I’d support repealing the law for adults but think it should still apply to minors. I don’t believe that minors are in a position to make an informed decision about whether they should or shouldn’t wear a helmet. And I don’t trust the bogans in the burbs to decide if little Zayden or Britney should wear one.