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Cycle


What is a cycle?

Definition:  

A bicycle, motorcycle, tricycle, etc.

Wider definition


What's wrong with cycle safety?

Most people will voluntarily adhere to cycle safety, but some can't afford it on top of other cycling costs. And hence will not cycle.

Cycle safety

Safety gear

  • Bike lights (+ batteries)
  • Cycle helmets (ideally replaced every 6 months if active cyclist)
  • High vis jackets
  • Anti pollution mask
  • Goggles
  • Padding
  • Bells
  • Body armour
  • Mirror
  • Reflectors
  • Sunglasses
  • The bike ( some bikes models are safer than others)
In addition to this, the age or the bicycle or rust on the frame may affect safety, so upkeep of bike is needed.

So which ones of these should be made compulsory and what is the justification for that?

Risk

Maybe we should all wear all the possible safety gear all the time and suits of bubble wrap too. How about we only bike during the sunniest hours of the day, or when there's low traffic to avoid risk.

I suspect there is almost no-one who does the above, they would rather not bike. We have to assume that those who bike accept that there is a chance of a fall,collision or accident and they might not know the probability, but are comfortable enough to go ahead.

Each person has their own risk preferences, and according will decide to equip themselves with the safety gear they are willing to wear or to cycle at all. If the government decides the minimum risk level, some people will just decide not to cycle when they would have otherwise, but there will still be accidents and deaths on the road. They may wear the helmet when mountain biking but not on the road.

Why must cycle helmets and lights be compulsory, when other safety gear not?

Everything in life has an element of risk, it should be down to the individual to make the choice to wear on not to wear safety gear and not be legislated. It would be to costly to legislate and make people comply with minimum risk for everything. There are already laws for harming someone else's person.

If we took the same attitude to pedestrians then they should also wear helmets then to prevent them having a head injury.

cyclists who think that being stylish or comfortable is more important than being safe or protecting their delicate cerebral matter.
There are cyclists who think that being stylish or comfortable is more important than being safe or protecting their delicate cerebral matter.
Everyone is different, in some cases they may be right.  Each person will have a different value from the formua:  Risk x frequency x downside = assement of worthniness to wear or not wear a helmet.
Rather than make a mandatory law, maybe the government should embark on the educating about risk and downside.

Skate boarders are not required to wear a helmet by law, but do an arguabily more dangerous and less essential activity.
What about swimmers, should they all wear lifejackets. Drowing stats are huge. What about deaths from drinking and smoking.

Does a reduction in head injuries from cycling, get offset by obesity issues, and increase in injuries via other methods of transport?

A compulsory helmet law, removes people the choice to manage risk according to their own judgement. People scared of their own shadows can still wear cycle helmets whenever they want; just don't impose those insecurities on other people.

You may have heard and anecdote, about a helmet saving someones life. As someone else said, the plural of anecdotes isn't data

Countries with compulsory cycle helmet laws

 New Zealand 
 Australia 
 United Arab Emirates



Enjoyment

One of the reasons people cycle is for enjoyment. Wearing safety gear can affect that.
  • Helmets uncomfortable and obstructive.
  • Helmets detracts from the leisurely experience of cycling.
Would you enjoy a walk aas much if you were wearing a helmet.

Proponents of wearing a helmet point to safety. But life isn't only about safety, risk taking is a necessity, and can be more than balanced by the rewards.
The problem with legislation, is it cares not for the rewards, and only the safety aspect.

Praticality

Would you bije to work, if there were no showers there and you were to end up with a sweaty head?
When you get to the detination you need to make sure your helmet is safe, or carry it round with you.
Could all the money spent on helmets be spent better to save more lives in the health system?

We need look away from the knee-jerk 'brain injury' headlines, and consider the overall risks vs health benefits.More kids cycling = healthier kids, vs the small risk of a head injury, together with the rising health costs of having a generation of non-cycling couch potatoes.
Helmets also cause risk, when one breaks and you ahve to get home without breaking law.

Those that are against compulsory helmets think they wont be worn. Where is the evidence for this?
Does forcing people to wear helmets reduce the impetus for designing good biking infrastructure, leading to the sme or increase amount of deaths?
Is this ignoreing the real problem that cars need to respect cylists and need to be prosecuted properly.

False sense of security 

  • Some people certainly feel more aware without a helmet.
  • When drivers see cyclists without safety gear sometimes they drive more carefully around them.
  • Are helmets even being worn properly
  • Is the predicted the fall in head injuries due to helmet laws stopping people making as many journeys?
  • Skin cancer may get more cyclists than head injuries, does than mean compulsory facto 50 spf?
  • Why anyone riding would want to block out the sound of traffic that gives so much information about what's happening on the road just to listen to music. A helmet wont stop somone listening to music crash.

Subtle messages


The message being sent out is 
  • Government has the right to make decisions for us. Meaning its not clear when we should be making decisions and when government should.
  • There is a right decision, as a one size fits all. Nuanced situations are not taken into account.
  • Government does not trust us to make the 'right' decsions - and therefore we should not feel confident to make any decision
  • The message is, that your personal saftey is the domain of the government, and not yours. But your saftey is your concern and no-one elses.

Legislating for cycle helmets

Cost

  • There's no way the police have got the resources to enforce it.
  • If helmets become law, it will put many kids off cycling all together, thus denying them the health benefits
  • The risks of discouraging cycling by adding expense and bureaucracy would appear to outweigh the flimsy evidence for improved safety.
  • It risks police resources being diverted from more serious crimes.

Head injuries are extremely rare when cycling, it's hands, elbows, shoulders and knees that get hammered, and this was borne out in research by ROSPA years ago 
How about cyclists just stay off the road?

There are lots of activities where wearing a helmet might protect individuals from head injuries in the event of an accident, driving or being a passenger in a car for example. Why don't we make that compulsory? Or would the motor industry have something to say about that?

Some people are for others wearing helmets, as the taxpayer may pick up the bill if they get injured. But if the cost was born by insurance instead, would they still be proponent?

"If the healthcare system is incompatible with civil liberties, then it is the healthcare system which is unfit for purpose in a liberal democracy and should be removed."

Terms and conditions

If you are going to bring in a law, should it be one size fits all?

Should the compulsory helmets apply to everywhere, or:
  • Just the public roads
  • Only in urban areas
  • Only in busy areas/zones
  • Only when not on cycle lane
Does the law take account if the cyclist is safe or dangerous.
  • Does the law take into account if a cyclist normally rides fast and recklessly or slow and carefully. 
  • Old people with slower reaction times are more likely to want to wear helmets.
  • Does it distiguish between audults and children?

Will the law allow an opt out?

What gear is more important?

In a cycling accident your hands go down first, so gloves are the most important bit of protective clothing.

Alternatives to safety gear

Education

  • Better training for youngsters and more awareness, educationally or legally, for drivers
  • Bicycles should be treated as scooters/mopeds/motorcycles; Insurance , Competence testing, lighting/safety equipment , personal protective equipment and vehicle tax. Why should cyclists get a free ride?
  • Cars and lorries do NOT kill cyclists. Bad driving AND bad cycling kill cyclists
  • Wearing a helmet (or seatbelt) isn't a 'road safety' measure. They may mitigate the consequence of an accident but they don't make roads 'safer' by preventing accidents happening in the first place. 
  • It should be illegal to pass a cyclist with 10 feet on main road –wait for a gap.
  • Riders should ride in a predictable manner that does not require other road users to react suddenly to your movements.
  • Riders should give hand signals
  • Cyclists should have to pass a test before riding on the highway
Responsibility: What we need is more responsible driving and cycling 

Road design

Could the road be designed differently to reduce the need for safety gear?
Better designed road junctions.

Stop the activity

Ban bicycles altogether!

Links

Link165 Cyclehelmets.org Very interesting points not yet digested - Proof cycle helmets do not help.
Link166 Cycle-helmets.com Very interesting points not yet digested - Proof cycle helmets do not help.

References


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