Cycling helmet debate re-ignited
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 6:19p.m.
By Adam Hollingworth
The biggest name in cycling, Bradley Wiggins, has reignited debate about compulsory helmets.
Only a third of British cyclists wear helmets and the British gold medallist says they should be mandatory, but cycling advocates here aren't so sure.
One of those advocates is Tim Gummer, who says he never wears a helmet riding round Auckland despite risking a $50 fine.
“Literally I feel safer than when I used to wear a helmet,” says Mr Gummer. “In the big picture I'm conscious that if I do wear a helmet I'm sending a signal that cycling is much more dangerous than it actually is.”
Tour de France and gold medal winner Wiggins sparked the debate in Britain after a cyclist went under an Olympics bus.
“Ultimately if you get knocked off and you haven't got a helmet on how can you kind of argue, or if you get killed and you haven’t got a helmet on,” says Wiggins.
In New Zealand 10 cyclists a year die, despite helmets being made compulsory 18 years ago.
Paul Nichols watched as his daughter Grace went under the wheels of a car as they were out cycling - but she survived.
“The helmet split into a whole lot of pieces so it did its job and without the helmet she would certainly have not been with us today,” says Mr Nichols.
And St John Ambulance also says helmets make you safer.
“Helmets reduce injuries, and in particular they reduce injuries to the brain and in doing so they reduce the number of people who die,” says the organisation.
But Mr Gummer says we need to weigh that advice against our collective loss of fitness when people pack up pedalling because they don't want to wear a helmet.
“A helmet will save some heads but break many hearts and obesity is one of our biggest problems in New Zealand,” he says.
One study reported the helmet law"led to a 19 percent drop reduction in head injuries to cyclists over its first three years - but another showed many gave up cycling altogether, though the distance we're cycling a year is now nudging back up.
Cycling radicals say others don't want to copy New Zealand. Norway looked at our helmet experiment then rejected it, and Mexico and Israel are the latest to soften their laws on helmets.
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21/01/2013 9:07:24 p.m.
Noel Power wrote:
I just love these laws that help me to stay so safe. Can we please have more of them? Maybe one for handling boiling water, cleaning my gutters, mowing the lawn, changing a light bulb. I'm sure I can think of a hundred other dangerous pursuits. All of us silly idiots need more stringent laws to help protect us and don the appropriate safety gear just in case...Meantime Ill continue to play the fool and go for a bike ride sans helmet because as yet thankfully they havent imposed the death penalty for daring to look after my own life.
21/08/2012 6:19:56 p.m.
I boycot New Zealand and other countries because of the helmetlaw. It should be up to youself if you want to wear a helmet or not!!!
16/08/2012 4:56:18 p.m.
Bill Armstrong wrote:
Since the compulsory helmet law I've given up riding.I just find it a hassle and I don't want to be told I have to wear one. I don't want to be fined either so I just don't ride. There will be thousands of others out there just like me.To me they are just a pain in the neck.
10/08/2012 6:50:19 p.m.
Ok Greg you think anyone that chooses to ride a bike without a helmet is stupid and by virtue of that stupidity should be denied state funded health care. Therefore anyone that chooses to do anything dangerous without properly mandated safety equipment should similarly be denied healthcare because of their stupidity. Some activities are so dangerous that even with all sorts of safety equipment injuries and death are common; one example is riding a motorcycle. In fact riding a motorcycle is so dangerous we could make a pretty good argument to have the activity banned altogether. We could reasonably argue that anyone who chooses to ride one is mad or stupid or both. If we use your reasoning Greg, safety equipment notwithstanding, we should deny motorcyclists health care because choosing to ride a motorcycle is stupid in any case. But we don’t because stupid or not we place a higher value on the individual’s right to choose, than the cost of their healthcare, even if we think they are complete morons. I have plenty more to say on the matter, but with no room for an essay I will leave it here.
10/08/2012 4:58:55 p.m.
The Year that helmets became law I had a major with a helmet in my bag instead of on my head because the it was not law till July and I had no where to put the rubbish from my new helmet that I had just received for my birthday. If I had just put the packaging in my bag and my helmet on my head I would not be taking anti epileptic drugs 2 times a day for the rest of my life. I got off easy. Many others do not.
9/08/2012 1:52:39 p.m.
How about giving up your right to publicly funded hospital stays if you do not wear a helmet? Then make your own decision.
I have no issues with evolution and people making their own decisions. What I do have an issue with is paying for medical care for idiots.
6/08/2012 2:40:55 p.m.
Steve if you reason that attacking the man while ignoring his argument makes you right, then there is no point in me or anyone else debating with you. However if you would like to try a rebuttal, I would be happy to accommodate you and who knows I might learn something.
5/08/2012 1:14:13 a.m.
Please yourself Mr Gummer , wether you die or become a vegetable doesn't concern me in the least .I've been an avid cyclist for 49 years and worn a helmet for 41 of them . I am here today because I a wear a helmet . I love my family from my wife to my grand children , so I intend to keep wearing my helmet for them . Cycling IS dangerous my friend because fools such as you get behind the wheel of a car and have no regard for anyone else. You obviously don't ride much or you would understand that . If your hairstyle or the way you look is more important than your life that is your choice but don't tell others what they should do . I presume Nigel , that you come under the Obese or Vain banner , cos in the time it took you to write all that piffle you could have gone for a ride and got a little fitter . Oh and worn a helmet . SAFE CYCLING RULES
4/08/2012 7:50:06 p.m.
Your damn right Spud as a grown man I’m fully capable of making my own decisions stupid or otherwise and I don’t like the constant intrusion of the state for my own good. It is paternalistic, paranoid and petty most of the time. The original reason for making bike helmets compulsory had about as much to do with safety, as pigs wanting to go to a bacon factory. It was a new Minister of Transport making a name for himself. Some Ministers are motivated by self-interest and greed like John Banks for example and know little or nothing about the portfolio that is assigned to them. And more esoteric ideas such as freedom of choice and freedom of speech are completely beyond them. They become increasingly totalitarian in their outlook because they are not intelligent enough to think in any other way and that’s why they keep making these rules all the time. Addressing the safety aspect Spud more people, in fact many more people die in accidents around the home than on bikes. If safety is the paramount concern we could protect the population to a much greater degree if wearing a helmet around the home were made compulsory. For you to be safe and not stupid Spud, you should start wearing a helmet full time, even at home; it’s just too dangerous choosing not to.
4/08/2012 4:46:22 p.m.
Let's not confuse "does wearing a helmet help you when you have a crash?" with "should it be mandatory to wear a helmet?" - they are quite different questions and have quite different answers. Wearing sunscreen and a hat help to prevent deadly melanomas - is anyone saying they should be mandatory when out in the sun?
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