Helmet debate: Chairman of brain injury charity wants Welsh Assembly to debate compulsory wearing

Says helmets save lives and prevent lifelong disability - and save money for NHS

by Sarah Barth   August 6, 2012  

White cycle helmet

The chairmain of a leading brain injury charity has called for all cyclists to wear helmets, and says that the Welsh Assembly should debate a change in the law.

Andrew Harding,chairman of Headway, wrote a piece on Wales Online, weighing into the helmet debate. He suggested that costs to the NHS could be lowered if all cyclists don a lid.

He wrote: "As a lawyer specialising in head and brain injuries, I represent many clients who have suffered serious brain or spinal injuries, some of whom have been injured whilst cycling, and see the devastating effects it can have on their lives.

"Arguments are also fought over whether wearing a cycle helmet should be a matter of personal choice – an opinion voiced regularly by Mayor of London and avid cyclist, Boris Johnson. Yet what is usually disregarded in this argument is the impact that a brain injury could have on the victim’s family and friends as well as the cost to us all in NHS treatment."

Mr Harding also notes that increasingly cyclists who do not wear helmets might receive lower compensation payments and different outcomes in court cases than those who do have one on at the time of an accident.

He wrote: "In legal terms, all cyclists should note that if they are involved in an accident, contributory negligence (meaning that an accident victim could be partly at fault for their injury) is increasingly being taken into consideration by insurance firms and judges if a cyclist was riding without a helmet when the accident occurred."

Mr Harding has asked that the Welsh Assembly consider legislation in favour of cycle helmets.

He cites Northern Ireland and Jersey, two places where cycle helmet legislation has been considered.

As we reported at the time, in Jersey, laws to make helmets compulsory either for all cyclists in public places or just for under-18s were proposed to the island’s parliament, the States, by Deputy Andrew Green, a long-time campaigner for compulsion after his son suffered a brain injury after coming off his bike in 1988 when he was aged nine.

The motion to make it compulsory for all cyclists was defeated by 25 votes to 24, while that in favour of applying it to under-18s was carried by 32 votes to 16.

But in Northern Ireland, a bill to make helmets compulsory ran out of time, amid widespread lack of interest for the move.

Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns Director told Road.cc: “Neither the DUP nor Sinn Féin – the two biggest parties in the Assembly - were interested in the Bill. The DUP felt that this would be legislation intruding into areas of life where it doesn’t need to go especially as they accepted that cycling is not a particularly dangerous activity. They also took on board our evidence that compulsory helmet use would seriously undermine cycle sales and the cycle tourist industry.

But Mr Harding thinks there might be more success in Wales for the proposal. He wrote: "I have recently spoken to one Assembly Member who thought that this was already law in any event, such was the obvious sense and necessity of the proposal."

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Facts and statistics on the helmet debate are summarised here:
http://beta.ctc.org.uk/files/cycle-helmets-evidencebrf_1.pdf

There is a full online reference for helmet evidence here:
www.cyclehelmets.org

Roger Geffen
Campaigns & Policy Director, CTC

posted by Roger Geffen [45 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:02

2 Likes

alun wrote:
ermine wrote:
alun wrote:
ermine wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:
The real issue here is bad driving.

Mis-use of the phrase 'the real issue' here. This should read, 'another relevant issue'.

Anti-helmet lobbyists traditionally deflect the attention away from helmet use to driver actions. These two are not mutually exclusive. It is, contrary to all the arguments, possible for a bad driver to be responsible for a collision and for a cyclist to fail to mitigate the damage resulting from that collision by failing to wear a helmet. In such circumstances, it is clear that liability may rest with the driver but compensation should be reduced because of the cyclist's failure to mitigate.


I've never met a Anti-helmet lobbyist, Anti-compulsion maybe, but never someone who wants to actively prevent people wearing helmets.
If I was riding without a helmet and suffered a broken leg as a result of a collision with a car would my compensation be reduced? Why?

Read up on mitigation in civil damages claims. Perhaps have a read of Smith v Finch. For starters, see my post at 14:22.

Does it explain how compensation for a broken leg would be reduced due to not wearing a helmet?

Yes and no. A basic grasp of anatomy is also required.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:03

2 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:

If I'm walking past a building site and somebody drops a scaffold pole on my head, causing me a brain injury, am i then required to explain why i wasn't wearing head protection in order to receive full damages?

the only differences between that scenario and one where a motorist hits a cyclist and is entirely at fault, so far as i can see, are:

1) people (judges) think cycling is inherently dangerous
2) cycling helmets are commonly available and walking helmets aren't.

The truth is that cycling isn't really any more dangerous than being a pedestrian, or a bunch of other things where wearing a helmet wouldn't even be considered. Also, where does that argument stop? You can already buy body armour for downhilling - if i suffer a back injury in an accident that wasn't my fauly, am i negligent for not having bought armour that might have lessened the injuries? or knee and shin pads? if i am wearing a helmet and still suffer a brain injury, am i negligent because i wasn't wearing a full face helmet? or an MX helmet? where does my burden of responsibility end?


This is such an idiotic comment... not unlike most defending riding helmetless.

First off... a person cannot be reasonably expected to know that there was a chance of the scaffold falling on you so that example is garbage.

As for your further idiocy... Cycling is inherently dangerous. You're traveling at high speeds on a minimal amount of rubber on a vehicle which, if subject to any of a variety of mechanical failures, rider inputs or external forces, can very quickly become unstable and cause a crash... and that's setting aside any other vehicular involvement. People crash their bikes because they got a flat tire, because of an unexpected gust of wind, etc... So, YES, it's an activity which presents much more risk than walking or those other activities where a helmet wouldn't be considered. That's also before you consider the statistics of it all... that people on average spend over 21,000 hours walking in their lives. Trying to bring downhill into the debate is just flat out retarded...

All that being said... I highly encourage you to ride fast and often without a helmet. The world could use more Darwinian justice.

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:03

4 Likes

alronald wrote:
Seems that the mere action of being on a bike these days is enough to invoke a cry of "contributory negligence" should you have the misfortune to be hit by another road vehicle

A defendant is entitled to make whatever pleas he wishes. However, if such pleas are entirely unmeritorious, the defendant is likely to upset the court and be penalised on costs.

For such a plea to be upheld requires a meritorious argument.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:07

2 Likes

cavmem - I'm not sure who the anti-helmet brigade are. No one seems to be anti-helmet here. The issue is one of whether helmet wearing should be compulsory. That's a different thing altogether.

Pro team riders go very fast and ride close together. Accidents do happen under those competition conditions. That is why wearing a helmet is a good idea in competition.

As for glove wearing, I can testify that having had a few slides down the road at various times I know why wearing gloves is a good idea when cycling.

Regarding body armour and leg and arm protection, statistics do show that the greatest number of injuries to cyclists are of limbs. On that basis it seems to me that there is a greater case for compulsory use of hand, arm and leg protection than for helmets. And therefore anyone who says helmets are important for day to day cycling should place hand, arm and leg protection as an even higher priority. To do otherwise is to contradict the claims made for the use of helmets in day to day riding. I don't understand how anyone saying benefits are so important cannot say leg and arm protection is even more so.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2441 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:08

4 Likes

ermine wrote:
That's a lovely utopic view. However, I recall that the groundwork (literally) for the creation of safe cycling conditions in the major cities of the lowlands was done by their neighbouring country in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It has proven difficult to convince landowners in UK cities to set about a similar demolition and rebuilding effort. Attempts have been made at making London safer, but many commentators and users of measures such as cycle lanes are concerned that they have, in fact, made matters worse by fooling cyclists into believing that they are immune to danger because they are cycling on blue tarmac.

most of the groundwork was actually done in the 1970s, long after the cities had been rebuilt with no great regard for cyclists. the catalyst wasn't the war but the inexorable rise of the motor car in living spaces, a rise which certain countries chose to counter with better infrastructure and more provision for other modes of transport. this was pretty unpopular at the time, 40 years on it looks far sighted.

so yes, it doesn't happen overnight. and yes, it can be unpopular and cost a lot of money. but it doesn't require scores of landowners to sign their property away, it just takes will and significant investment. Look at crossrail: if the political will is there, the money can be found.

Attempts have been made at making London safer? Not really. not real efforts, in line with best practice guidelines from the countries where it's been done well. not efforts that actually re-allocate space, as opposed to marking out 'shared space' that motorists ignore, including the majority of the cycle superhighway system. go to any of the London cyclist blogs to see any number of new road developments proceed with absolutely no thought for cycling at all. here's just one example:

http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/the-utter-tragedy-of...

where's the space issue? there is none. the issue is with perception and provision, the political will to make cycling a proper alternative. and it's the same all over london, and throughout cities all over the UK. Bath has some of the widest streets in the country. do you think there's any cycle lanes on them?

you can't make cycling popular and safe by forcing people to wear helmets. there's two things that will help: change the driving culture and habits of the UK's 30 million motorists, or build some proper bike lanes. both will take decades. I say building bike lanes is easier. your mileage may vary.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7677 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:09

2 Likes

Just wear the bloody things and stop being a bunch of childish selfish fools.Brain injury is shitty i have it and its no joke.Hay you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink!Just carry on about Holland etc perfect world and all that.When you wake up in intensive care as i did you will wish you had not been such a prat.Trust me all the shite will go out of the window and the fits memory loss will be with you always.I wish all you could walk in my shoes for a day.I know it would make you all wear a lid but carry on Bitching fools.Of course it will not happen to you so disregard all the above no problem.I still ride but waking up in an Ambulance after being found at the side of the road after a seizure is trying believe me.Carry on big boys i wish you the best and many years of cycling.

big mick

posted by big mick [208 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:10

2 Likes

badbadleroybrown wrote:
So, YES, it's an activity which presents much more risk than walking or those other activities where a helmet wouldn't be considered. That's also before you consider the statistics of it all...

I'm sorry: it presents more risk before you consider the statistics?

The statistics quantify the risk. that's what the the risk is. you're talking about the perceived risk, which is different. cycling is perceived as risky because of all those factors you describe. however, in purely statitical terms it isn't any more risky than walking.

if i'm riding fast i wear a helmet, that makes sense to me. if i'm riding to the shop down the road i don't wear one. horses for courses, i say.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7677 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:15

3 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:

I'm sorry: it presents more risk before you consider the statistics?

The statistics quantify the risk. that's what the the risk is. you're talking about the perceived risk, which is different. cycling is perceived as risky because of all those factors you describe. however, in purely statitical terms it isn't any more risky than walking.

if i'm riding fast i wear a helmet, that makes sense to me. if i'm riding to the shop down the road i don't wear one. horses for courses, i say.


Yes... it's obviously more risky based upon the nature of the activity undertaken. Once you get to the statistics of it, it IS more dangerous statistically... add to that the frequency with which people walk day to day compared to how often people cycle and trying to compare it to walking is miles beyond foolish.

I do agree that there are times a helmet isn't called for, I don't wear one if I'm just talking the dog for a quick spin around the block for example... but, if I'm going for an "actual ride" a helmet is a must.

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:29

3 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:
there's two things that will help: change the driving culture and habits of the UK's 30 million motorists, or build some proper bike lanes. both will take decades. I say building bike lanes is easier. your mileage may vary.

Both will take decades? That's your positive outlook? So until those decades have passed, we should just do nothing? Roadcc is asking today whether there should be a presumption of liability against motorists. So put the two together and we have a situation where cyclists accept that the streets are not cycling friendly and will not be for decades, cyclists are not required to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and motorists are assumed to be liable for the results of any collisions? Which part of that scenario is fair and equitable?

The idea that building bike lanes will be some sort of panacea also troubles me. Bike lanes tend to be a bit like railway lines; one inevitably has to leave the safety of the lane at some stage in order to complete one's journey. As a result of the segregation, the areas of non-segregation tend to become even more dangerous, simply because motorists are less familiar with the presence and behaviour of cyclists.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:29

3 Likes

Hands up ....who's from Wales then...?
It's your assembly that's being pushed to debate this issue not the English or Scottish Govs.
What's the collision stats for Wales then involving cyclists...?

Firstly ....no such thing as an 'accident'', it's an incident or collision that takes place.

In my line of work as a Forensic Collision Investigator... when a cyclist is involved its the norm for the trunk or leg to sustain the majority of trauma. So from the incidents that I've attended a helmet saves the person from secondary strikes or post impact injuries. Unfortunately the laws of physics are always going against the smaller mass in a collision, and that usually means the cyclist....unless he hits a pedestrian or another cyclist.

However, the cyclist will always be vulnerable as he has no metal shell to cocoon himself in ( or herself, sorry)....

But some don't help themselves as we all know...loads of quotes about red light jumpers etc but I see more of cyclists struck from behind or from the sides....now this stems predominately from the driver not being able to judge his vehicle width or just plain careless driving...
Not so long ago( February) I went to a collision on the A46 outside of Coventry at 5am...merc van hit a cyclist...cyclist, wearing a dark team Lycra outfit, dark carbon bike, no reflectors or lights wore a helmet....cyclist very poorly after being hit at 60mph...helmet perfect, not a scratch.
Wouldnt have made any difference.......

Make helmet wearing compulsory and tell me who is going to enforce it...? Don't look at the police...we don't even routinely patrol anymore and most forces have or will soon be losing their traffic cops.....

Touch paper lit.... Smile

colhum1's picture

posted by colhum1 [98 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:37

4 Likes

ermine wrote:
Both will take decades? That's your positive outlook? So until those decades have passed, we should just do nothing? Roadcc is asking today whether there should be a presumption of liability against motorists. So put the two together and we have a situation where cyclists accept that the streets are not cycling friendly and will not be for decades, cyclists are not required to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and motorists are assumed to be liable for the results of any collisions? Which part of that scenario is fair and equitable?

you're kind of missing my point here, which is that a helmet compulsion law won't make cycling safe and accessible. making cycling safe and accessible requires significant time and investment, and preferably a change in driving culture. we shouldn't 'do nothing', we should do the things that will make a positive difference, working towards the goal of making cycling safe and accessible. campaigning for helmet laws, as far as i'm concerned, isn't one of them. campaigning for strict liability is, as it would be an influence on driver behavour.

Quote:
The idea that building bike lanes will be some sort of panacea also troubles me. Bike lanes tend to be a bit like railway lines; one inevitably has to leave the safety of the lane at some stage in order to complete one's journey. As a result of the segregation, the areas of non-segregation tend to become even more dangerous, simply because motorists are less familiar with the presence and behaviour of cyclists.

that's not borne out in any accident statistics i've ever seen from countries with good segregated infrastructure. why not? i'm not sure. probably because most of the motorists are cyclists too.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7677 posts]
6th August 2012 - 23:55

4 Likes

@cavmem1:

a) No one is trying to force anyone to wear gloves.

b) Yes, the pro peloton is in fact *much* more dangerous than a city centre. They *cruise* along at a speed that most common-garden cyclists would struggle to maintain for more than a short sprint. Just look how frequently pro cyclists get serious injuries, and compare to it UK statistics or your own experience.

posted by Paul J [741 posts]
7th August 2012 - 2:36

3 Likes

Presumably you think this will apply to pedestrians, car drivers (there's evidence that even with airbags helmets would reduce car occupant head injuries), people who fall over in their home, etc. Its never going to happen for this reason : It just doesn't stand up to any rational scrutiny to single out cyclists as requiring helmets.

posted by imaca [52 posts]
7th August 2012 - 3:55

3 Likes

I give up.

It's almost as if most posters leave the ability to reason as soon as they click onto a story about helmets.

Dave is pretty much the only person backing up argument with actual statistics and in the end I agree that being legally required to wear helmet's probably won't help. However helmets laws for children should be encouraged.

Dave, if the two main things that can help cycling safety in this country are:

1) strict liability laws that change driver habits and
2) better infrastructure

what is road.cc doing about it? I know that's probably an unfair question but if those are the two things that can really really help why not start a national campaign jointly with someone like CTC to try and get strict liability laws on the political agenda? Drafting up a letter than readers can print and sign and send to their local MP that outlines the benefits to everyone (not just cyclists) and asks them to consider the matter may help to move this from something a few charities talk about to something MPs talk about.

Likewise, why not campaign to the DfT for greater provision for alternative means of transport. At the minute having a dedicated portion of their budget for cycling provision is 'ok' at best, it means that all that money is filtered into a couple of token projects that don't benefit most of the people riding bikes. Why not campaign for a strict %age of the budget for a single project to be used for alternative transport provision? If every new road project had to use even 2% of it's budget for things like the provision of segregated cycle lanes wouldn't this mean a broadly similar spend on these things but a greater consideration for cyclists when planning new infrastructure?

I know it's not really down to single websites to fix all of our woes, but why not do something to help?

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
7th August 2012 - 8:27

4 Likes

imaca wrote:
Presumably you think this will apply to pedestrians, car drivers (there's evidence that even with airbags helmets would reduce car occupant head injuries), people who fall over in their home, etc. Its never going to happen for this reason : It just doesn't stand up to any rational scrutiny to single out cyclists as requiring helmets.

Interesting presumption! Obviously a troll post.
I'm not aware of anyone, anywhere, ever suggesting that people in their homes or drivers, other than race drivers, should wear helmets. Rarely do people in their homes find themselves moving at speeds of around 20mph at a distance of less than a metre from moving cars, trucks, etc. I understand that the mantra of the anti-compulsion lobby is that cycling is not dangerous and this, presumably, is the point of this post. However, as pointed out by someone above, the complete inability of such lobbyists to recognise any weakness in their argument is harmful to that argument. The tone of this post is clearly that being inside one's home is as dangerous as cycling through London! I'll be sure to wave at you as you are tucked up to sleep on the hard shoulder of the M1.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
7th August 2012 - 8:39

4 Likes

drheaton wrote:
I give up.

It's almost as if most posters leave the ability to reason as soon as they click onto a story about helmets.

Dave is pretty much the only person backing up argument with actual statistics and in the end I agree that being legally required to wear helmet's probably won't help. However helmets laws for children should be encouraged.

Dave, if the two main things that can help cycling safety in this country are:

1) strict liability laws that change driver habits and
2) better infrastructure

what is road.cc doing about it? I know that's probably an unfair question but if those are the two things that can really really help why not start a national campaign jointly with someone like CTC to try and get strict liability laws on the political agenda? Drafting up a letter than readers can print and sign and send to their local MP that outlines the benefits to everyone (not just cyclists) and asks them to consider the matter may help to move this from something a few charities talk about to something MPs talk about.

Likewise, why not campaign to the DfT for greater provision for alternative means of transport. At the minute having a dedicated portion of their budget for cycling provision is 'ok' at best, it means that all that money is filtered into a couple of token projects that don't benefit most of the people riding bikes. Why not campaign for a strict %age of the budget for a single project to be used for alternative transport provision? If every new road project had to use even 2% of it's budget for things like the provision of segregated cycle lanes wouldn't this mean a broadly similar spend on these things but a greater consideration for cyclists when planning new infrastructure?

I know it's not really down to single websites to fix all of our woes, but why not do something to help?

A law changing the burden of proof in road collision cases such that there would be strict liability on the motorist is pie in the sky thinking.

I can't be bothered digging out my texts, but a quick wiki search proves a decent enough summary of strict liability. In short, "strict liability is the imposition of liability on a party without a finding of fault ... The law imputes strict liability to situations it considers to be inherently dangerous". The anti-compulsion lobby would be somewhat torn in having to argue that cycling was, in fact, inherently dangerous after all! Good luck with that!

Moreover, were motorists to be made subject to a strict liability law, the defences and mitigation arguments available to them would rapidly be further explored in courts and would, as a result expand. Mitigation factors such as failure to wear helmets, as already accepted in Smith v Finch, would be expanded upon. Those arguing that body armour is the next logical step on from helmets may see this becoming an actuality, as lawyers defending motorist work harder to overcome the burden of strict liability. That doesn't sound like a forward step at all to me.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
7th August 2012 - 8:56

2 Likes

drheaton wrote:
I give up.

It's almost as if most posters leave the ability to reason as soon as they click onto a story about helmets.

Dave is pretty much the only person backing up argument with actual statistics and in the end I agree that being legally required to wear helmet's probably won't help. However helmets laws for children should be encouraged.

Dave, if the two main things that can help cycling safety in this country are:

1) strict liability laws that change driver habits and
2) better infrastructure

what is road.cc doing about it? I know that's probably an unfair question but if those are the two things that can really really help why not start a national campaign jointly with someone like CTC to try and get strict liability laws on the political agenda? Drafting up a letter than readers can print and sign and send to their local MP that outlines the benefits to everyone (not just cyclists) and asks them to consider the matter may help to move this from something a few charities talk about to something MPs talk about.

Likewise, why not campaign to the DfT for greater provision for alternative means of transport. At the minute having a dedicated portion of their budget for cycling provision is 'ok' at best, it means that all that money is filtered into a couple of token projects that don't benefit most of the people riding bikes. Why not campaign for a strict %age of the budget for a single project to be used for alternative transport provision? If every new road project had to use even 2% of it's budget for things like the provision of segregated cycle lanes wouldn't this mean a broadly similar spend on these things but a greater consideration for cyclists when planning new infrastructure?

I know it's not really down to single websites to fix all of our woes, but why not do something to help?

a couple of things:

1) these are my views. they're not road.cc's views. road.cc is comprised of a number of people of whom i'm one; we differ in our opinions about stuff. we're broadly in agreement that helmet compulsion is a bad thing and strict liability would be a good thing. as an aside, on strict liability:

ermine wrote:
I can't be bothered digging out my texts, but a quick wiki search proves a decent enough summary of strict liability. In short, "strict liability is the imposition of liability on a party without a finding of fault ... The law imputes strict liability to situations it considers to be inherently dangerous". The anti-compulsion lobby would be somewhat torn in having to argue that cycling was, in fact, inherently dangerous after all! Good luck with that!

cars are inherently dangerous when in proximity to cycles, and cycles are inherently dangerous when in proximity to pedestrians. that's what the 'inherently dangerous' means there: it means that even when done properly, driving carries an inherent risk towards others due to the nature of the activity, and the same is true of cycling in a lesser sense. it doesn't mean 'cycling is dangerous', it means 'cars are dangerous' or, in the case of bikes and peds, 'bikes are dangerous'

anyway, onwards. we have different views on segregation and infrastructure here, and different habits when it comes to helmets. i wear one nearly all the time; tony hardly ever does. we don't really have a tightly formulated road.cc stance on all this. which is fine, because...

2) road.cc is a consumer website. it's not a lobbying body. there are plenty of lobbying bodies for cycling already; some (me included) would argue too many. we're here to highlight what's going on and give people a forum to discuss the issues. we do, and have, get behind causes and campaigns that we believe benefit cyclists in the UK and we do, and have, highlight legal decisions/commments/campiagns that we feel are detrimental, such as the comments of the chap that started this thread off. that's not to say we won't ever run our own campaign, or one in association with someone else, in the future, and your suggestions are worth thinking about. but as you can see above, we don't all agree on this stuff and it's good to have somewhere to discuss it. as soon as road.cc is firmly pro-this or anti-that, people might feel that their views aren't valued, which they are.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7677 posts]
7th August 2012 - 9:41

3 Likes

ermine wrote:
A law changing the burden of proof in road collision cases such that there would be strict liability on the motorist is pie in the sky thinking.

I can't be bothered digging out my texts, but a quick wiki search proves a decent enough summary of strict liability. In short, "strict liability is the imposition of liability on a party without a finding of fault ... The law imputes strict liability to situations it considers to be inherently dangerous". The anti-compulsion lobby would be somewhat torn in having to argue that cycling was, in fact, inherently dangerous after all! Good luck with that!

Moreover, were motorists to be made subject to a strict liability law, the defences and mitigation arguments available to them would rapidly be further explored in courts and would, as a result expand. Mitigation factors such as failure to wear helmets, as already accepted in Smith v Finch, would be expanded upon. Those arguing that body armour is the next logical step on from helmets may see this becoming an actuality, as lawyers defending motorist work harder to overcome the burden of strict liability. That doesn't sound like a forward step at all to me.

My understanding was that strict liability was about fault for causing the accident (driver has assumed fault unless proven otherwise) and not necessarily a guarantee that the driver was at fault for all of the injuries. That way if the cyclist was not explicitly at fault then the driver is deemed responsible for the accident but then mitigating factors such as helmet use may come into play on claims of injury etc.

Am I wrong?

That way the driver has to prove they were not at fault protecting the cyclist and perhaps encouraging safer driving but to get full compensation for their injuries a cyclist would still have to take reasonable action to protect themselves (high-vis clothing, helmet, lights).

Seems like common sense but as most of the above proves, no-one cares about common sense when they can argue the toss over something.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
7th August 2012 - 9:42

3 Likes

Fair enough Dave, another well reasoned and well made point... if only everyone else was so sensible Wink

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
7th August 2012 - 9:44

0 Likes

I respect that sentiment Dave.

As both motorist and cyclist numbers increase, particularly in congested cities, it is clear that safety measures must continue to adapt to suit. What frustrates me is that many of the people who represent or support the various cycle-safety lobby groups have an exceptionally blinkered view and, as a result, offer nonsensical arguments which inevitably attract ridicule rather than serious consideration. Whether one believes that the solution lies in helmet compulsion, segregation, strict liability, or a combination of all such measures, matters not one jot if the arguments are as fundamentally flawed as some of the comments above.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
7th August 2012 - 10:07

2 Likes

Ermine wrote:

That's a lovely utopic view. However, I recall that the groundwork (literally) for the creation of safe cycling conditions in the major cities of the lowlands was done by their neighbouring country in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

I just noticed this. This isn't true. The country saw very little fighting or bombing, besides Rotterdam (parts of which were nearly completely levelled by German air raids prior to the dutch capitulation), and Arnhem (which didn't suffer significant damage). The overwhelming majority of the Netherlands was untouched, property wise at least, by WWII.

Around where I grew up, much of the housing stock was actually from the 1930s and 1950s (before the dutch started to work on engineering safety into roads). Indeed, a lot of town and city centres date back hundreds of years, and have narrow streets.

Lack of space / need for land to make roads bigger is definitely not a credible reason for why the UK has crappy cycling conditions.

posted by Paul J [741 posts]
7th August 2012 - 10:32

2 Likes

cavmem1 wrote:
i take it all those who do not wear a helmet also don't wear gloves either. as it has never been proven that wearing gloves protects your hands if you come off-its just accepted.

I wear gloves - I take it you mean padded mitts - to prevent vibration from the road sending my hands to sleep. It works for the first 100k or so.

Mitts are comfortable and provide a continual benefit. Helmets are not and do not.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
7th August 2012 - 10:51

1 Like

Paul J wrote:
Lack of space / need for land to make roads bigger is definitely not a credible reason for why the UK has crappy cycling conditions.

In some areas, maybe, but please explain where the space is here:

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&safe=off&q=central+london&ie=UTF-8

How difficult/costly was Crossrail? That development is absolutely minute compared to a city/country wide cycle segregation scheme.

posted by ermine [19 posts]
7th August 2012 - 11:01

2 Likes

ermine wrote:
Paul J wrote:
Lack of space / need for land to make roads bigger is definitely not a credible reason for why the UK has crappy cycling conditions.

In some areas, maybe, but please explain where the space is here:

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&safe=off&q=central+london&ie=UTF-8

How difficult/costly was Crossrail? That development is absolutely minute compared to a city/country wide cycle segregation scheme.

http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/the-physical-constra...

some london streets are narrow. many are very wide indeed. certainly you cant put decent infrastructure everywhere. but that's hardly an argument for not putting it anywhere.

crossrail is costing what, £8bn? I wonder how much sustainable transport in the UK's cities could be improved for that kind of money? Bristol had 'cycling city' status for what kind of investment? £23m? 0.2% of the cost of crossrail.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7677 posts]
7th August 2012 - 11:36

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Ermine: Probably best if I direct you to David Hembrow's excellent blog, which goes into this into great great detail.

Basically, on narrow urban streets, bicycles and cars share the road, and the road is engineered to discourage cars hitting high peak speeds (cars average speed through dense urban areas is little faster than bicycles anyway), as well as there being 30 km/h or lower speed limits.

posted by Paul J [741 posts]
7th August 2012 - 12:38

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Cycling is safe, people are capable of deciding when to wear a helmet, a gentle 8mph pootle is very different from a day in the alps.

Fatalities in the main occur when involving vehicles, the advocates of compulsory wearing, are in imo focusing on the wrong target simply because it is easy. Car manufacturers could do so much more to make the exterior of cars safe, and the government could inject real revenue into cycle schemes and road safety.

By making things compulsory we strip away peoples freedom of choice, and their obligations of showing civility and respect for others, an ability to make judgement on risk and ownership.

As a species we are very good at preventing injury to the head, in fact I have done a lot in my life which could be considered dangerous, all of which without a government body telling me how to do it in respect to safety, each time you look at the situation and you make a decision, that's what keeps you alive, the worst head trauma I have suffered was walking through a door.

Think very carefully about making anything compulsory, it is a death by a thousand cuts, eroding your freedom, helmets today then where, one need only look at the stunted childhoods of today compared to the past, all in the name of perceived safety. Nations love control and would prefer all citizens to be as dependent as children, as does their bed partner of big business. What could be more dangerous than people of independent thought, who are self sufficient, where is the control or revenue stream in that. A far better route is real education, not scare mongering, and let people make a choice. There is as always an elitist approach to policy that only those at the top are somehow imbued with any level of intelligence to make decisions, that we are somehow deficient and need to cared for as we know no better.

posted by surreyxc [49 posts]
7th August 2012 - 13:41

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dave_atkinson wrote:

anyway, onwards. we have different views on segregation and infrastructure here, and different habits when it comes to helmets. i wear one nearly all the time; tony hardly ever does.

Your impartiality and objectivity on this is duly noted and appreciated. It makes a nice change from some of the vitriol.

posted by Ush [465 posts]
7th August 2012 - 20:10

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drheaton wrote:
However helmets laws for children should be encouraged.

This despite the fact that it appears that helmets would need to be considerably redesigned in order to offer significant benefits to children?

Is there any evidence that helmets prevent largely prevent traumatic brain injury in children, and how much does this preventive effect stack up against the injuries caused to children by helmets?

posted by Ush [465 posts]
7th August 2012 - 20:15

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Head injuries are the leading cause of death for car occupants. Why aren't we debating a helmet law for them?

posted by nick h. [32 posts]
9th August 2012 - 0:55

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