Sunday, 4 October 2009

Helmets (yawn)

The argument goes that cyclists who wear helmets are more inclined to take chances and motorists are more likely to treat them differently. If helmets are made compulsory, the number of cyclists will decline and people will choose less healthy means of transport. The net result will be a decline in public health.

It is a “thin argument”, says emergency consultant Dr Conor Egleston, who practises at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

“Motorists wear seatbelts, motorbicycle riders wear helmets, why not cyclists? There seems to be a ‘wind in the hair brigade’ who think that helmets will deter people from cycling. I think it is ridiculous,” he says.

He’s a bit dim, that Dr Egleston. For a start, seatbelts encourage greater risk taking by drivers, which is exacerbated by airbags and steel safety cages. Lunatic drivers can now have spectacular crashes and walk away unscathed. The same cannot be said for any cyclists or pedestrians they hit, or those in smaller cheaper cars who don’t have the benefit of all-round protection.

Secondly, unlike flimsy cycle helmets, motorbike helmets are immensely strong, designed for riders who crash at high speeds. On August 27 the free Metro newspaper extolled the exciting virtues of the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja (which is apparently a ‘mean biking machine’). It has a top speed of 185 mph and is ‘not for the faint-hearted’. More criminality which is indulged by our politicians and the Association of Chief Police Officers, who are mute on this glaring criminal conspiracy to flout the maximum speed limit.

People like Dr Egleston have nothing whatever to say about high speed killer machines or the blood-drenched road safety industry which helps to perpetuate their existence. Instead of addressing the source of road danger, they accuse those who are its primary victims of not armouring themselves adequately against it.

Luckily there’s someone in Dublin a lot smarter than Egleston:

Cllr Montague says proposals for a 30kph speed limit in the city centre would be of greater benefit to cyclist safety than any move towards compulsory helmets. The move was approved unanimously by the council’s transport committee and is likely to be given the go-ahead by the full council next month.