Cambridge Cycling Campaign to debate withdrawing support for events promoting helmets and hi-viz

Motion at next Tuesday's AGM takes cue from move by Lothian campaigners Spokes earlier this year

by Simon_MacMichael   October 31, 2012  

White cycle helmet

Cambridge Cycling Campaign will next week debate whether to withdraw backing for events that promote the wearing of cycle helmets and high visibility clothing, with a motion on the issue due to be debated at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday. The proposal follows a move earlier this year by Spokes, the Edinburgh and Lothian cycle campaign, not to promote events requiring participants to wear a helmet.

The motion, proposed by Simon Nuttall, a committee member and adult cycle trainer, and seconded by Heather Coleman, says:

Cambridge Cycling Campaign supports all cyclists as they go about their lawful business on the public road. We note that the law does not require helmets or high visibility clothing. The image of cyclists presented to the public has become so strongly skewed towards riders wearing those items that the legitimacy and status of those who do not wear them is being undermined. In order to help restore the balance the campaign reserves the right to decline to promote events or activities where helmets or high visibility clothing are required or implied.

The background to the motion published on Cambridge Cycling Campaign’ website points out that the image of helmet wearing, lycra clad cyclists seen on TV screens this summer during the Tour de France and Olympic and Paralympic Games does not reflect the reality of people using their bike to go about their daily business.

“It is getting harder to find pictures of ordinary looking cyclists wearing ordinary clothes in central government publications, local government publications and even holiday brochures,” it adds.

“There have been some exceptions such as Transport for London's 'Catch up with the bicycle' campaign, and after a long battle with Cambridgeshire County Council at last we have a photo on the front of the cycle map which is representative of the majority of Cambridge's cyclists.

“The time has come to put down a marker that sends out the message that we want ordinary everyday cyclists to be better represented in the media. The Lothian Cycling Campaign, Spokes, have taken a lead here and decided to stop promoting events in which helmets dominate.”

Councillor Martin Curtis, Cambridgeshire’s Cycling Tsar, told Cambridge News: “Our role is to promote safe cycling, so it would be wrong of us to do anything that didn’t promote the use of high visibility clothing or helmets.”

Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, disagreed, saying: “Cycle safety is best delivered by improved infrastructure, training for drivers and cyclists, and above all, by getting more people cycling.

“Simply insisting people wear helmets and hi-vis is not the answer to the problem, although of course people may well want to wear them.”

Earlier this year in an e-bulletin sent to members, Spokes said: “We are concerned at the creeping growth of semi-compulsion, for example charity bike rides insisting on helmets for young adults and government-funded websites picturing all or nearly all cyclists helmeted, thus creating a climate in which total compulsion could eventually happen.

“Helmet advertisers, promoters and government agencies bombard us with the benefits but, disgracefully, we are never told of the risks – although there is evidence on both sides, and crashes and injuries occur as a result of the risks of helmets.

“Compulsion, or one-sided promotion, is very wrong – even more so as they put people off the healthy choice of getting about by bike. Therefore, Spokes will not, after this [bulletin] issue, publicise charity rides or other events involving helmet compulsion. We call on all other organisations concerned about public health to do the same.

“Helmet manufacturers and sales outlets, in the interest of public safety, should have to make clear on boxes and in sales literature a helmet’s impact design speed (usually around 12mph) and the potential risks as well as benefits.”

43 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

OldRidgeback wrote:

Saet belts do save lives.

I'm afraid they cost lives. The casualty rate for cyclists and pedestrians went UP when seat belts were made compulsory.

http://www.john-adams.co.uk/category/seat-belts/

They did not save lives either. Have a read of this website. I know taking on board new data and ideas is painful, but be open minded and give it a chance.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [294 posts]
31st October 2012 - 21:41

3 Likes

Could someone explain the potential risks - this is news to me?

Having been over the bars a couple of times and split my helmet in half once (without it it would have been my skull), I don't have a problem with wearing one - as someone above said its just like seat belts.

As we don't live in the ideal world, this motion seems a tad academic. Personally, I find I'm using high viz and lights more and more (thank heaven for high powered LEDs), even in the day time as I'm fed up with people not seeing me, cutting me up etc.

Last thing - as a driver, I'm fed up with nearly running over ninja cyclists - dark coloured hoody, trousers, no lights, on and off pavements, crashing lights etc. these guys are clearly living the 'no safety gear or hi viz dream' - it all just depends on the rest of us to facilitate this by being super vigilant. Thinking

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [221 posts]
31st October 2012 - 21:45

1 Like

pastaman wrote:
Could someone explain the potential risks - this is news to me?

In countries where mandatory helmet laws have produced a large increase in helmet wearing (in Oz, from memory, from 35% to well over 90%) the effect on cyclist casualty rates is undetectable. If helmets do protect then SOMETHING is negating the protection. My own guess is risk compensation, but this is very difficult to show. What is your explanation? Have a read of the website I link to above.
Why is it that motorists take risks with our lives? Might it be because they are safer in any collision than we are? Perhaps our estimate of our safety affects our behaviour.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [294 posts]
31st October 2012 - 22:03

3 Likes

Brilliant, thank you Cambridge Cycling Campaign. I just wonder if your ban would cover the BBC, which has been running a propaganda campaign about cycle helmets, in complete contravention of their charter, for the past thirty years.

For the record, for all you people who have written above promoting cycle helmets as being effective and saving lives, nowhere with a massive rise in helmet wearing can show any reduction in risk to cyclists. That's right, after more than twenty years of helmet laws and propaganda campaigns, it is impossible to show that they are effective, and all robust research shows that they aren't. The evidence which shows that they are effective is unreliable and has been disproved on peer review.

Cycle helmet laws and promotion have only two effects: a large drop in the number of cyclists and obscene profits for the helmet manufacturers, there is no safety benefit. Because cycling confers such huge health benefits (regular cyclists live longer and are fitter and healthier than the general population) and the people deterred from riding lose those benefits, the effects of propaganda and laws is large and completely negative. The countries with helmet laws are the most obese on earth, which may be just a coincidence, or not.

Check out cyclehelmets.org for a few facts.

burtthebike

posted by burtthebike [79 posts]
31st October 2012 - 23:05

1 Like

Just got back from a couple of days in Hamburg.*
I saw thousands and thousands of cyclists.
I saw two people wearing helmets - one was about 4 years old, the other was a rather mental looking bike courier.
I didnt see one person wearing hi viz.
The traffic in Hamburg is very very busy and chaotic - worse than the UK - and the bike handling 'skills' of most Hamburgers leaves a lot to be desired.
Despite all this there didnt seem to be piles of dead cyclists stacked up by the side of the road.
I hate this 'creeping compulsion',as someone nicely put it, in the UK.

*i can say the same thing about Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen and countless other European cities

posted by Some Fella [815 posts]
31st October 2012 - 23:12

1 Like

well yesterday i was driving and following a commuting cyclist who was wearing a helmet (i'm in oz so he had to be), a fluoro jacket, flashing bright rear and front light - though it was daylight many main rd commuters here, like in UK use lights) moving at about 25-30mph in 2 lanes of traffic - he was taking a safe position in middle of lane as crossed a busy junction - but a car pulled out of the side road straight at him - brakes covered and a check behind he successfully avoided the bonnet whilst i had to brake hard as car was half across lane

point - simple the driver was looking for and only focussed on a gap in the traffic - saw what they were looking for but not the highly viz cyclist.

it is all about driver skills and awareness of other road users - not what you are wearing - i wear a high viz vest on some busy roads in the hope some drivers may see me who otherwise wouldn't but there are still plenty that don't

hi viz doesn't fix the not looking / didn't expect cyclist to be there problem

not sure what will - other than challenging the "right to drive" culture - eg compulsory hazards awareness testing/license renewal - say every 3years?

how about making the driver in any accident involving hospital treatment for a ped or cyclist have to automatically give up license for 30days - why not ? most of the reasons given for hitting a pedestrian or cyclist are crap - "came from nowhere" "just stepped out" "blind bend" "sun in my eyes" "busy dual carriage didn't expect a cyclist to be there" etc etc

here in Victoria sadly the state have just declined to make car dooring a mandatory points offence - despite it being a real big problem and fairly easy to identify who is to blame - unless of course the victime isn't wearing hi viz then it becomes the cyclists fault?

long rant but it is an issue and its all about sharing road space without forcing pedestrians and cyclists to be the ones who have to be inconvenienced further

....final one - school kids in high viz...from our local paper

"Just recently a primary school student was hit by a car, solely because the driver couldn't see the child," Sen-Constable Pethick said."

http://progress-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/kew-cop-urges-kids-u...

antigee's picture

posted by antigee [169 posts]
31st October 2012 - 23:23

0 Likes

Sure motorists should be forced to take more care, through training and penalties etc, but a more effective solution is to take away the danger - the USA has a much higher murder rate despite the death penalty, probably because in many states anyone can buy a gun.

Banning the sale of cars is perhaps an extreme step now, but separating bikes from cars with decent infratstructure, with a kerb or barrier and not just a white line, would make the most difference.

Truth is that our politicians and media are totally in thrall to the auto industry - the biggest advertising spender on earth, plus a hevay duty lobbyist. To the auto industry, ANY alternative to cars and road transport is a threat, and maintaining the hegemony of the car over poublic transport and the bicycle is critical - even conceding that a modest proportion of journeys eg <3 miles or city commutes would be better served by alternatives is anathema - this would curtail (not stop) the rampant growth of the industry, and never ending growth is the lifeblood of any private company.

Under these circs we can expect that even the Beeb will be pro-car and will spout crap designed to make cycling look like an extreme sport, because this guarantess that it will not gain mass appeal. Politicians are no better - they know the truth but dare not say it because they depend on the auto industry for financial support. Local politicians are much worse - many of them are frankly too stupid to get it, althouygh mercifully they are also not going to get a nomination for national politics.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
1st November 2012 - 7:32

2 Likes

Wear or don't wear, it's a choice.

posted by Beaufort [184 posts]
1st November 2012 - 7:47

2 Likes

Unfortunately not every car driver is perfect and some are downright selfish/dangerous so it seems to me that in the interest of self-preservation Hi Viz is necessary. Let’s face it mixing slow bikes with cars travelling faster is a recipe for disaster if anything goes wrong.

Not on my bike but waiting for a bus in Bristol the other night saw at least 4 cyclists without lights and wearing dark clothing in just the space of 15 minutes. Are they just stupid or do they have a death wish ?

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [72 posts]
1st November 2012 - 8:55

1 Like

Helmets for drivers and passengers

http://www.drivingwithoutdying.com/

Around 2000 people die annually on UK roads. The majority of these are car drivers, many of whom suffer head injuries. Clearly the air bag isn’t enough protection, so we hope drivers will consider wearing a motoring helmet on London’s drive to work day and every time they get in a car.

Why should it be acceptable only for cyclists to wear helmets and not us drivers. Ensure you and any passengers especially young ones wear this additional protection, even on short trips. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [294 posts]
1st November 2012 - 9:04

3 Likes

Helmets should be individuals choice, however i think hi viz during the evening and nights is a no brainer.

The way some people drive at least if they can see you lit up in their headlights its worth something.

A simple hi-viz vest, about 4.99 from hardwear shops, and a light clipped onto it is sufficient.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
1st November 2012 - 9:48

3 Likes

and HANS devices ....

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [746 posts]
1st November 2012 - 9:54

2 Likes

Beaufort wrote:
Wear or don't wear, it's a choice.

Sadly, it's becoming less and less of a choice, with huge pressure from media, advertisements, road "safety" pressure groups, cheating insurance companies, moronic magistrates and the general public, all of whom think they know all about cycling even if they haven't got on a bike since they were eight, all telling us we're terribly irresponsible if we don't take to the roads dressed for war.

Good luck to Cambridge CC trying to reverse this insidious and evil pressure, ultimately aimed at stopping people riding bikes.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
1st November 2012 - 11:23

4 Likes

I'm not getting into the helmet debate again, but one thing that is unfortunately not mentioned here is that Charity bike rides have to have insurance to operate, and those insurance companies are the ones who usually dictate the mandatory helmet rules, so not promoting the rides because of that seems a bit like shooting the messenger.

Followign on from this, we now live in an ambulance-chasing personal-injury lawyers' paradise (I am a lawyer - not a PI one though, and I detest all these ambulance-chasers) where people so often use the "health & Safety" excuse for ridiculous rules - the problem being, that there are plenty of people out there who will launch spurious claims for personal injury and accidents against ride organisers for not stipulating helmets as mandatory if someone is injured - accusing them of negligence. And the way things work, the isnurance policies won't pay out if helmets weren't mandatory as they'll exclude that from the policy, leaving the charities to foot the bill of a personal injury claim.

Sadly, there is no such thing as personal responsibility any more and people are always looking for someone to blame...anyone but themselves. There really is no such thing as and "accident" in the world of personal injury claims!

And before anyone says it, PI lawyers do play a valuable part in protecting those with genuine claims and i know i'd want one on my side if someone hit me when riding and caused me potentially life-changing injuries - it's just it's gone WAY too far now.

posted by Paul99 [17 posts]
1st November 2012 - 12:07

2 Likes

Here goes my tuppence worth.

Helmets should be a choice. I wear one in case I fall off not get knocked off. Making them compulsary will not work, erm speed limits, mobiles and driving, stopping at red lights...........

As for hi-vis, yes it's better than black at night. But it does not stop the driver looking down at the phone, changing a cd or generally not looking where they are going, from running you down.

Let's be honest here, if the blinding/flashing light does not signal your presence at night, a reflect stripe ain't going to do much. As for daytime, well what did the driver not see, the coloured helmet, jersey, frame or the coloured stripe on the tyre?

Maybe smashing a prospective driver's face on the bonnet and saying that's what it's like when a cyclist is hit. Maybe the same for every bike owner. Or heaven forbid, striping cars of all safety feature and fitting a six inch spike on the steering wheel will solve.

Perversily enough making somethings safer, makes them more dangerous as people push the limits further.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [309 posts]
1st November 2012 - 12:59

4 Likes

adriank999 wrote:
Unfortunately not every car driver is perfect and some are downright selfish/dangerous so it seems to me that in the interest of self-preservation Hi Viz is necessary.

Hi-viz is not necessary and it doesn't work most of the time (including at night). It may help in dull, murky conditions. It is also not a solution. For cyclists some decent lights and a few reflectives do a better job.

Like the "you'd be stupid not to" helmet lemmings, you probably won't be listening. Don't assume.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2032 posts]
1st November 2012 - 14:10

3 Likes

ok, so its not law, but here is what the highway code states...

Clothing.
You should wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

posted by mornic [4 posts]
1st November 2012 - 14:38

1 Like

Do remember that the Highway Code is written by risk-averse, motoring civil servants.

The only sensible advice in that bit of the HC is the bit about wearing appropriate clothes for cycling (i.e not flappy) and avoiding entanglement with the bike or obscuring the lights (ditto). The rest of it is controversial, to say the least.

It reads like the instructions a driver would give if he (or his insurance company) wanted an excuse for killing a cyclist.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
1st November 2012 - 14:47

4 Likes

I'm sorry but hi-viz do work, i spend a vast amount of time driving during the night and when its dark in the evenings.
There is a vast amount of residual light in built up areas bouncing off vehicles, windows, bus shelters etc etc so that lights cannot always be seen or are lost unless your lit up like a christmas tree, whereas a high viz with the usual stripes on it do get lit up by headlights.

Helmets are personal choice so its pointless anymore trying to get "the lemmings who dont believe" to try and change.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
1st November 2012 - 15:46

3 Likes

stumps wrote:

Helmets are personal choice so its pointless anymore trying to get "the lemmings who dont believe" to try and change.

This does not make sense. Why should the idea that helmets are a personal choice lead to the conclusion that its pointless to try to persuade people to wear them?
It also rather misses what this thread is about, which is the CCC trying to stop people being forced into wearing them, probably in the cause of trying to stop helmets becoming de facto and then de jure obligatory.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [294 posts]
1st November 2012 - 16:48

1 Like

felixcat wrote:
stumps wrote:

Helmets are personal choice so its pointless anymore trying to get "the lemmings who dont believe" to try and change.

This does not make sense. Why should the idea that helmets are a personal choice lead to the conclusion that its pointless to try to persuade people to wear them?
It also rather misses what this thread is about, which is the CCC trying to stop people being forced into wearing them, probably in the cause of trying to stop helmets becoming de facto and then de jure obligatory.

If you check back through the posts i've said all along its individuals choice and big business / companies or whatever should not be able to make people or not. However i was referring to one of the previous posts who mentioned the lemmings theory.

It is pointless because if you've taken any notice at all of the comments, some people are dead set against wearing one and its pointless trying to persuade them otherwise just like i will never be persuaded not to wear one, simples.

And when has a thread ever ever followed what it was started about and kept to that track all the way through ???????????????????????????

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
1st November 2012 - 17:22

1 Like

In the end its your personal choice and lets leave it at that rather than argue. After all thats not what the topic was started about was it.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
1st November 2012 - 17:24

2 Likes

stumps wrote:
I'm sorry but hi-viz do work, [..] whereas a high viz with the usual stripes on it do get lit up by headlights.

Its not hiviz (or wearing bright colours) but the reflective material that makes the difference.

I wear mostly dark clothing on my bike yet I am always seen because of the reflective strip I have strategically placed.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [592 posts]
1st November 2012 - 17:34

2 Likes

stumps wrote:
In the end its your personal choice and lets leave it at that rather than argue. After all thats not what the topic was started about was it.

I would be very glad indeed if all the pro helmet people took that view, and stopped all the helmet propaganda.
We have just had a long discussion started by an American cyclist who wanted us all to wear helmets. Some of us felt we needed to reply.
The topic was begun precisely because the CCC want helmet wearing to remain a choice. The refusal by the CCC to publicise organised rides which require helmet wearing is a reaction to the tide of compulsion. I really hope that it will remain personal choice but there are many non-cyclists who want to force us into foam hats. You will have to forgive those of us who don't want to wear them. We feel that if we don't speak up we will be forced to contribute to the profits of the companies which sell overpriced polystyrene.
Perhaps you would like to add your voice to the anti-compulsion side?

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [294 posts]
1st November 2012 - 17:35

1 Like

Gladly, it should always be choice not law.

We live in a country where choice has always been important and i hope that remains the same however my view remains the same about wearing one but i would never ever suggest its brought in as law for the reasons above and to be honest i would probably never, as a cop, try to enforce such a law as we have to much other govt interference to deal with.

However with the Govt lacking any spine to take on motorists other than stealth taxes i feel they will ultimately pick on lesser bodies such as cycling.

Hope that answers your question Big Grin

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
1st November 2012 - 20:25

1 Like

Read this article:

http://most.psych.udel.edu/MAPlab/Publications_files/MostAstur_2007.pdf

and then tell me that the colour you choose to wear has any effect whatsoever on your safety on the road. Drivers see what they are looking out for and that means other cars, and vehicles that will scratch their paintwork (god forbid). My reading of it is also that if as a cyclist you are of a colour that cars often are not, then you could be endangering yourself because the motorist at a junction looking for a gap will "filter out" that colour because it is outside his attentional set.

Read the article.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 1:28

2 Likes

So in other words approx 50 students who used a predetermined computer programme and were tasked to look out for a specific colour crashed into somehing a different clour means that hi-viz dont work.

Get real, drivers look for gaps between cars / lorries / buses etc and dont look for bikes either motorised or pedal. It's been known for years, you just have to check the adverts from the 80's about looking for bikes at junctions. Colours have nothing to do with it and generally hi-viz is for oncoming or rear approaching vehicles.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 21:06

3 Likes

Hooray for a bit of sanity on this question. Some kind of perspective is desparately needed on the risk compensation effect that some lawyers and insurance companies are forcing on any kind of organised activity. Some perspective has to be obtained on this matter, and one of the foremost authorities is John Adams, Emeritus Professor of Geography at University College, London. Anna Minton, in "Ground control : fear and happiness in the twenty-first century" (2012) cites him as follows (pages 182/3):

"Research on the 'risk compensation effect' by John Adams...found that if protected from hazards, people simply readjust their risk threshold, with the consequence that improving brakes on cars does not necessarily increase safety, because people drive faster and brake later. Similarly, traffic controls can actually increase accidents because they remove personal responsibility from drivers. Research on children's play reaches the same conclusions, finding that increased safety measures in playgrounds do not reduce accidents and may in fact increase them
Importantly, Adams agrees that the impact of heightened security on people and places is similar to that of increased control over the environment: it raises the risk threshold and that makes us yearn for ever more security, in turn losing out own individual and collective responsibility for our bevaviour. 'The message conveyed is that everything that isn't strictly controlled is to be feared. This creeping paranoia that is used in the name of safety and in the absence of any compelling evidence is reshaping our society. But the effect is that all this security is diluting personal responsibility and our own feelings of control over the environment, making us more scared and paranoid and desisring of more security to protect us. It's a never-ending spiral', Adams said.

In cycling terms, this means Think, ride within yourself, don't do stupid things like ride up the inside of high sided vehicles in heavy traffic, sign your intent, be decisive and learn how to "hammer it" at roundabouts, for instance it. Risk cannot be sanitised out of the enviroment by technical fixes like helmets. I have been cyling since 1957 and I cannot deny that I have done stupid things and been rebuked for it. I have also seen other riders do "stuff" which was downright hairy and dangerous.
All that can be said is that, when cycling, people have to think and learn to control their exuberance and also hope that drivers of the potential lethal weapons that are motor vehicles are doing the same.

An antidote to modern day "risk compensation" culture can be found in a short story written by Alexander Baron (1917-1999), called "Strangers to Death : A Prologue" It is the first in a collection entitled "The Human Kind", first published in 1953 and reprinted in 2011. Set in the early 1930's it tells in the first person how a 16 year old boy,from London's East End, is bought his first bicycle by his parents. One Saturday morning in May, he celebrates the occasion by joining a "crowd of young people [who] would meet at the street corner. The cyclists, with rucksacks on their backs, tin mugs and kettles, all a-rattle, tied with string to their crossbars, and cheap little tents slung under their saddles, would stream away along the Cambridge road to their camping-site by the River Lea."

While at the camp site, a boy drowns in the river. "He had been caught by the silkweed...It was impossible to break the strands when they wrapped themselves around the body"

This suggests to the narrator and his companions "an exciting new game-to play with the silkweed...
And there, among the waving weeds, we played, heading down through the midst of the weed, seeing it part respectfully (moved by the ripples we made with our outstretched hands) to make a path for us, running it through our fingers, winding it round our arms, tugging at it, disturbing it with our legs".

Amazingly for a modern day reader, no one tries to stop them.

The following evening, as the boy and his companions leave the camp site and cycle back to London, it starts to rain. As the journey progresses, Baron "lost all notion of where I was or where I was going. All I knew was to keep my headlamp shining on that little red guide, and to flee from the hissing menace of the machine behind me"

When they entered the town, "The pace slowed but the steady regularity of the column continued". Baron recounts how he and his companions coped with the hazards presented by the "fat, treacherous cobblestones", the "wet road that sloped in a steep camber to the gutters" and the tramlines, deep metal slots, slippery with rain that waited to trap our narrow tyres and fling the riders under some rumbling truck"

"To my seniors", Baron says, "the tramlines were a final happy challenge. Buses, stopping and starting, blocked the narrow carriageway in front of us. As the line of riders came up from behind each bus, they did not slow down to let it move away in front of them, but swerved out, at undiminished speed onto the tramlines. One by one the machines shot round each stationary bus and swung back into line in front of it, and each time each rider had to make in an eye's blink a series of precise calculations and movements"

Inevitably, the inexperienced Baron encounters his nemesis. "A bus loomed in front of us. The line of bicycles in front of me swerved out out onto the tramlines. I swerved with it, sped alongside the bus, swung to the left in front of the bus". His front wheel gets stuck in a tramline and he crashes. Yet he, his bicycle and his wet glasses escape unscathed. "Jacko asked me if I wanted to go along to the hospital and I, imitating the maner of my seniors, answered, "Nah, I'm all right'"

The last sentence of the story reads "Life was inexhaustible and death was still beyond our ken". (And this, after being present at a drowning).

There is enough here to drive twenty first century risk compensators apoplectic. Because, however, the story was written before "our" compensation culture with its misplaced health and safety rules, took hold it presents sober reality. Accidents will happen. They cannot be sanitised out of existence. The drowning of the boy and Baron's crash were driven by youthful exuberance which realised itself as foolhardy behaviour. Of course, this has to be guarded against. But it cannot be controlled all of the time and certainly, technical fixes, like helmets will make no difference, because they do not get to the root of the problem.

posted by Glenn-Meredith [1 posts]
5th November 2012 - 17:43

1 Like

Civil liberties gone silly again. I ask, do you put your seat belt on when driving, if you do then what's the issue with putting your helmet on. Basically same purpose.

Surprise

posted by Meerkat [1 posts]
7th November 2012 - 11:29

1 Like

Seat belt is the law. Helmet isn't. Simple.

Actually, there are a lot of car drivers who regularly wear helmets. Why are you so irresponsible to not wear one when you drive? A good number of cyclists and motorcyclists wear body armour (for good reason). How come you don't?

Same purpose: to keep you safe in case of a crash. How could you argue with not wearing a helmet in your car, or body armour on your bike? Especially when it doesn't bother other drivers or cyclists to do so? How can you be so irresponsible not to?

If you crash your car and have a head injury, or fall off your bike and break a rib or an arm, well you'll just be getting what you deserve for not wearing helmet and body armour at all times.

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
7th November 2012 - 11:50

2 Likes