It’s time for the anti-helmet brigade to get off their bikes, stop making ‘bizarre’ statements, and face reality, says PAT PILCHER.
Some of these idiots argue that if helmets were optional, more people would ride bikes. Others say it should be a matter of choice.
Listening to these bizarre statements, I’m beyond stunned.
Helmet choice advocates say that after 1994, when helmets became mandatory, there was a 50 percent drop in people riding bikes. This they say equates to a 50 percent drop in the number of people getting the life-extending benefits of riding.
What they fail to mention is that the number of cyclists maimed or killed fell with a resounding thud once helmets became mandatory.
This is what helmet choice advocates are not telling you: a cycle helmet will absorb impacts to your noggin.
A typical cycling helmet consists of a hard-outer shell and a soft inner liner. The hard-outer shell spreads the force of an impact over a broader area so your skull is less likely to get fractured. The soft liner squeezes inwards and absorbs impact energy, which means less gets transmitted to your head and there’s less chance of concussions or serious brain injuries.
Our heads are one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body. Not only is it home to our eyes, ears, nose and tongue, it also contains our brains (although I do wonder with helmet choice advocates). Brain injuries caused by impact to the head can lead to long term mental impairment or death.
Cycling helmets might make self-conscious cyclists look dorky, but their use has reduced injury rates.
In a 2016 Australian study researchers Jake Olivier and Prudence Creighton found that “Bicycle helmet use was associated with reduced odds of head injury, serious head injury, facial injury and fatal head injury”.
They weren’t talking about a minor decrease either. Helmet use accounted for a staggering 70 percent reduction in serious head injuries and a 65 percent reduction in fatal head injuries. This isn’t something mentioned in the wacky ideological rantings raised in the media.
Here’s the thing: New Zealand has a taxpayer funded no-fault accident compensation programme as well as taxpayer funded health care. If these idiots do get to go helmet optional, the odds are good that there’ll be a sizeable uptick in head injuries. These cost a significant amount to treat taxpayers will pick up the tab. This money could instead be spent on treating people who have unavoidable illnesses or on stuff such as funding more teachers and improving our schools.
The reasons for cycle helmets to remain a legal requirement far outweigh the nonsense spouted by helmet choice advocates.
All this noise around what is a common-sense non-issue is really obscuring a far more serious matter – the generally shitty behaviour of a growing number of cyclists throughout New Zealand. Wouldn’t it make far more sense for there to be more education for kids about safe cycling? How about a crack-down on cyclists who choose to behave like inconsiderate wankers?
Cycling on the footpath seems to have become an accepted norm. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to leap out of the way of a cyclist speeding along the footpath when there was little to no traffic on the road. Maybe pedestrians will soon need to be given the option of helmets to walk down the street?
These militant cycle short wearing idiots who complain about the lack of cycle paths (despite the fact that ratepayers have forked out hundreds of millions of dollars for them to get built) or their God-given right to choose not to wear a helmet need to stop and realise A) that cycling is a privilege, not a right, and B) just how ridiculous they look in cycle shorts. Perhaps we need to make cycle shorts optional instead?