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article imageOp-Ed: Wiggins calls for cycle helmets to be made compulsory

By Steve Hayes     Aug 2, 2012 in Lifestyle
Britain's greatest Olympian and only Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins, last night called for cycle helmets to be made compulsory.
In a press conference, after his time trial gold medal winning performance, Bradley Wiggins responded to a question about the death of a twenty-eight year old cyclist by calling for cycle helmets to be made compulsory. Whilst Wiggins is undoubtedly a great cyclist, he is clearly less competent when it comes to managing press conferences. As earlier reported by Digital Journal, he allowed his Tour de France press conferences to be marred by constant questions of illicit performance enhancing substance use. Last night, he again showed his lack of ability to deal with questions from the press.
By his own admission, Wiggins was "tipsy" and was "probably the last person to be talking about this". Nevertheless, he offered the cycle helmet control freaks a spectacular victory. When all the attention and headlines should have been focused on his remarkable achievement, his lack of skill in dealing with the press provided the anti-cycling, anti-individual liberty control freaks with an brilliant propaganda prize.
And make no mistake, all the hype around cycle helmets is pure propaganda.
The cycle helmet control freaks apparently believe that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity and that wearing a helmet significantly and substantially reduces that danger. They are wrong. But, if one dares to disagree with these arbiters of morality, one will be subject to vilification and abuse. They will not argue on the merits of the issue. They will merely resort to ad homimen, emotive language and empty rhetoric as though that were an argument.
Here are a few facts, facts the control freaks are either completely ignorant of or wilfully choose to ignore.
First, a cycle helmet is only designed to offer protection for a fall from a distance of one metre onto a stationary object at a speed of up to twelve miles per hour. This is the sort of accident that may well happen to someone who is completely inexperienced, particularly a child. It is not the sort of accident that affects experienced cyclists. A cycle helmet is not designed to offer protection in a traffic accident.
Second, even for the limited purpose it is designed for, a cycle helmet will be worse than useless if it is not a perfect fit. Where the control freaks have successfully campaigned to ensure that the law forces people to wear cycle helmets, they have not ensured that the helmet will be a perfect fit; indeed, how could they? Would they have the police randomly stopping cyclists to check how well the helmet fits the rider?
Third, the notion that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity is palpably false. Regular cyclists are more healthy and live longer than comparable non-cycling groups. And, just for the sake of clarity, this includes injuries. If the activity was inherently dangerous, one would find the opposite result.
Fourth, international comparisons show conclusively that lack of cycle safety is a function of motorist behaviour, rather than anything to do with cycle helmets. Thus, where there are more cyclists, as in Holland in comparison to the United States for example, there are substantially less cycling accidents. The relationship, mathematically modelled, shows that a community doubling its cycling will reduce the chances of a cyclist being hit by a motorist by sixty-six percent.
The precise opposite of this was seen in Australia when cycle helmets were made compulsory. The introduction of this law resulted in a thirty percent reduction in cycling, yet the risk of injuries to cyclists substantially increased.
Fifth, if we compare risk rates for different categories of road users per hour of road use, we find much higher rates of risk for pedestrians and motorists than for cyclists. Moreover, a cycle helmet would be much more likely to be of some potential benefit to either a pedestrian or a motorist, and yet the control freaks do not demand the wearing of helmets by these road users.
Finally, the cycle helmet control freaks are not cyclists. Oh, you might occasionally see one sat astride a bike, smilingly wearing a helmet, for a photo-opportunity. But these control freaks are not cyclists; they are motorists. This should come as no surprize, for the pushing of cycle helmets is not to compensate for an inherently dangerous activity, but as an ineffective sop to deal with dangerous motorists.
Bradley Wiggins should be basking in the glory of his achievements. Instead, many of the very people who have been thrilled by his performances will be dumbfounded and dismayed by his call for cycling helmets to be made compulsory. Experience has repeatedly shown that the introduction of such a measure reduces cycling and increases the risk of accidents, whilst doing nothing to protect cyclists from motorists. Rather than listening to him calling for such a regressive and anti-individual liberty measure, they could have reasonably expected this cycling champion to be promoting the right of all cyclists to use the roads.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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