Helmet debate... new twist

Mussels

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 17, 2008
3,208
8
Crowborough
How are they going to make kids wear them. If a kid doesn't wear a seatbelt then the driver is to blame, are the going to arrest the kids or the parents. ???
And as riding a bicycle is dangerous should they be banned as well?
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,363
27,068
It's not an issue. There's one fanatical MP who has tried repeatedly to bring in this measure for youngsters over a number of years and governments of both persuasions have blocked it on every occasion and will continue to do so.

The two reasons for that are first, that this move would discourage cycling by the young at a time when governments are anxious that the young should cycle to school etc, and take up cycling permanently. Second, cycling legislation of this kind is an EU matter which the UK government cannot enact in isolation.

The arrogance of medical people on the helmet issue always irritates me. They imagine that their medical knowledge qualifies them on issues of protective gear, which it emphatically doesn't, it's an engineering issue. We often have silly statements by surgeons like "he would have been killed if he hadn't been wearing a helmet, seatbelt etc", but they simply aren't in a position to know that, their assessment being no more than a guess at best.

We can forget this as it's destined to fail in the same way as all previous attempts by the nanny state do-gooders.
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Alex728

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 16, 2008
1,109
-1
Ipswich
We can forget this as it's destined to fail in the same way as all previous attempts by the nanny state do-gooders.
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Although just like criminals and terrorists they don't win in the long run they can still do a lot of damage.. one pro-helmet lobby group (the main one?) is based in Reading, and my high school was the nearest to their offices..

These idiots spread so much FUD during the 1980s that my parents (and many other peoples parents) stopped me from cycling to school as they thought it was highly dangerous. I'm making up for it now of course, but it also coincided with the greater affordability of motor cars for the younger generation - and the schools / individual teachers becoming more worried about being sued. Within a few months of their campaign, the school bike sheds lay empty, other than me and my mates using them for smoking in!
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,363
27,068
Yes, that's sadly true Alex, I've noted the same reaction elsewhere. The most notable thing about the kids and helmets issue around here is the cycle proficiency training requirement to wear helmets. Each year we see parents forward a large number of their kids for proficiency training which is diligently carried out on our estate with the kids self-conciously wearing their new helmets. Thereafter very few are ever seen cycling again, and I'm sure the helmets are a great deterrent to getting the bike out for local trips.

Compulsion seems to be a great way to kill cycling and governments are well aware of that. The Netherlands where well over 90% of the cycling population never wear helmets has the highest rate of cycling participation in the world (27%). Australia where helmets are compulsory for everyone has the lowest rate of cycling participation of any country in the World (under 1%).
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Alex728

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 16, 2008
1,109
-1
Ipswich
Each year we see parents forward a large number of their kids for proficiency training which is diligently carried out on our estate with the kids self-conciously wearing their new helmets. Thereafter very few are ever seen cycling again, and I'm sure the helmets are a great deterrent to getting the bike out for local trips..
I am a mod for a popular youth lifestyle forum based around the electronic dance music scene. As you would expect many there are hedonists and risk takers in their teens and twenties, who are not at all shy about all the pills, powders and potions involved.

But of these youths who are based in England many now think "you should wear a helmet when cycling" and are shocked when I tell them I do not do so! (the ones in NL, DK, BE just ride their bikes of course :D)
 

BertYardbrush

Pedelecer
Jul 29, 2008
80
6
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Wearing a helmet is a bit like bike lights, you don't do it for yourself, you have lights to be seen and you wear a helmet for the poor bloke who has to sort you out after the accident.
I well remember my father telling me how he had to put someone's brains back in after a motor bike accident in the 1950's. (He wasn't squeamish - he ran casualty clearing stations in ww2).

I can not understand why parents put helmets on their children but not on their own heads. If a parent has an accident the impact on the family is far more serious.

All the "nanny" stuff is a bit Daily Mail.

Quite simply, if you feel you have responsibilities to others and you are riding a powerful machine, you should consider very seriously wearing a helmet. If you are a free spirit, then it's up to you.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,363
27,068
Quite simply, if you feel you have responsibilities to others and you are riding a powerful machine, you should consider very seriously wearing a helmet. If you are a free spirit, then it's up to you.
The Dutch must be a very irresponsible lot on this basis! :)

I don't think they are, and most of the evidence points to the opposite. They just don't wear helmets and have one of the lowest cycling accident and injury rates in the world. The situation in Denmark is very much the same. Maybe they share my attitude that a sensibly lived life has some small intrinsic risk, but it's too small to be neurotic about it, so they just accept it. There's a balance to be struck between quality of life and restriction, one which we often get wrong in modern Britain, and those who get it wrong and want to administer their views are by self definition the "nanny" brigade.
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wibble

Pedelecer
Aug 9, 2008
178
0
Well I saw this thread this morning and thought nothing of it.

But just now I stumbled upon the quote "It is written." and so looked on Google to see where I had heard it before.

Turns it's from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia". So I then found myself reading about Lawrence on Wikipedia and came up on this little fact:

At the age of 46, a few weeks after leaving the service, Lawrence was fatally injured in a motorbike accident on a Brough Superior SS100 in Dorset, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars of his motorcycle. He died six days later. The spot is marked by a small memorial at the side of the road.

The circumstances of Lawrence's death had far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly affected by the incident and consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries and his research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists. As a consequence of treating Lawrence, Sir Hugh Cairns would ultimately save the lives of many motorcyclists
So I suppose it does seem inevitable that Karma would eventually catch up on boys on bicycles.

It is written!!

:p
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,363
27,068
It might have been written, but it's wrong in one very important detail. :p

Sir Hugh Cairns died in 1952 so the following isn't true since helmets weren't even on sale for road motorcyclists then. I was in the trade at that time so I know better. The first (useless) one came later and the compulsion didn't happen until 1973 when better helmets had finally ben developed, 21 years after Cairns death.

The circumstances of Lawrence's death had far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -his research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists. As a consequence of treating Lawrence, Sir Hugh Cairns would ultimately save the lives of many motorcyclists
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Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
Is that when you get a bunch of school kids on bikes to line up next to each other, and......:D
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,363
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I don't buy that in this instance. Cairns working life was in the 1920s, '30s and 40s, and there wasn't the slightest sign of anyone developing a civilian motorcycle helmet then or in the immediate following decades. The army used a steel dual purpose helmet without the brim that other squaddies had, and that was also used in racing. Having worn them during my army career I know how heavy and impractical they were for general use.

The first developed for general use was in the mid 1950s and called the Corker since it was made of compressed cork. Needless to say it gave absolutely no practical protection and Cairns would certainly not have approved. If he really had anything to do with the eventual introduction of motorcycle helmets, they would have been both sooner and far more practical that the very poor Corker effort. Obviously he had nothing to do with that, and the disconnection of 1973 from the 1940s is too great to say that he had any influence. The 1946 T E Lawrence death also has no connection, these associations being purely fanciful in writings by those who were not around in those times. The impetus for the introduction of compulsory helmets was the motorcyclist death rate on the roads as faster modern machines became more widely available, nothing else.
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Footie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2007
549
10
Cornwall. PL27
The first developed for general use was in the mid 1950s and called the Corker since it was made of compressed cork.
My father had one of these, used it on his 1951 Velocette. It had a black shinny outer shell (rock hard), with what looked like little pockets on the outside of the wide leather strapping that came down over your ears.
I was given it as a toy when I was a little and we used to take it in turns to wear it and bash each other over the head with what ever we could lay our hands on .... protection to the head was zero :eek:

Maybe that's why I hate wearing a helmet
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lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
Things like helmet compulsion have a way of rearing their heads when all was thought to be settled and then proceeding with unstoppable force, propelled by some politician with more ambition than knowledge.

On a recent Dragon's Den a guy came on with a helmet to be worn by toddlers to protect their heads in case of a fall. The Dragons didn't like it but he seemed to do OK with it at a mum and dad's show at Olympia or somewhere. I felt this sense of despair. Just as pregnancy is now viewed as a medical condition, it appears that every day things are seen as hazards. Somehow, being alive itself is becoming regarded as either an illness or a risk.

In practise, the principle that the state had a right to protect you from yourself was established when motorcycle hemets were made compulsory. The nanny state flows from that.

I have seen no evidence that cyclists suffer more head injuries than walkers pro rata. Since more head injuries happen to pedestrians than cyclists, if compulsory then we should all wear helmets for both walking and cycling.

I sound like some mad militia man from Oklahoma but I'm not really. If I choose to wear a helmet that's my freedom. My freedom stops short of telling you to wear one.
 

Barry Heaven

Pedelecer
Sep 19, 2009
162
0
It seems to me that helmets are effective in reducing injury. Their sole function is to absorb the shock and energy of an impact and thereby reduce injury to the most critical part a rider's head. Unless there is evidence that helmets are ineffective then surely there is an argument for them.

Holland and Denmark are given as examples of higher cycle use and lower injury rates but these countries have much better cycling infrastructure that separates cars from cyclists. They also benefit from the curious phenomenon of accidents generally reducing when cycling use increases.

The question seems to be whether the 'nanny state' should interfere and protect people from themselves in any situation where there is a risk that could be controlled. Would we seriously go back to no seat belts for car drivers and no helmets for motorbike riders? These are examples of high risk activities but low likelihood of them happening. Cycle helmet use comes into this category.

In a democracy we could choose to abandon all legislation that protects the individual from himself on the basis that it is not the state's business. On that basis all drugs would be legalised. I suspect not many would vote for this despite it interfering with individuals freedom to do what they want.

The 'nanny state' does have a role to protect people, sometimes from themselves and certainly has obligations to children. It does not attempt to remove all risk despite what the tabloids would have you believe. I am proud to live in a society that is civilised enough to take on these responsibilities despite this disparagingly used soubriquet.
 

lectureral

Esteemed Pedelecer
Apr 30, 2007
396
59
Suva, Fiji
I don't think the parallel with drugs is very good because there a reasonable argument can be made that it is a protection-of-society-as-a-whole issue whereas a similar reasonable argument cannot be made in respect of bicycle helmets. In any case the direction drug laws seems to be taking at the moment is the opposite, with quasi legalisation of cannabis in some US states now.

The problem is the more you nanny people the less prepared they are to think and look out for themselves.

I'm afraid I am at the other end of the spectrum on this one, Barry Heaven.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,363
27,068
We've had this debate a number of times:

The great majority of the membership are against compulsion.

The CTC is also against compulsion.

The majority EU countries are against compulsion.

The cycling magazines are against compulsion.

The UK governments of both political persuasions have been and remain determinedly against compulsion.

All evidence shows that compulsion brings no benefits, it merely greatly reduces the incidence of cycling which is against all government's policies.

The USA from where we get so many of our social norms is against compulsion, even for motorcycles.

Ergo, there will be no compulsion so the debate is pointless when we already know the conclusion.
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