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November 09, 2012
Nanny government at its worst.
Lifestyle nags at their worst.
Individual freedom ends when your freedom infringes on that of others. Brain injuries are devastating to the individual... and to society as a whole. Unless they're very wealthy, most people with brain injuries depend on society for their very survival. Medical and rehab costs well into 6 figures, and commonly continuing support for a lifetime.
Society has a responsibility, if not to protect the cyclist, at least to protect itself. Slogans are just mindless chants.
Individual freedom is an ideal goal, but it has to be measured against whether there's "colateral damage."
Part of the problem starts with The Globe's headline on the cover of the G--The Helmet DEBATE. There is no "debate" about it. Helmets do two things. 1.) A helmet can save your life (as it did my husband's) if you are in an accident. 2) Helmets also saves me and you from supporting others who end up with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and cannot afford lifelong care due to the stupid choice of not wearing one. If you are Donald Trump, Bill, Gates, or Mitt Romney and have the money to care for yourself with a TBI that could leave you a vegetable for life, then, by all means, go without a helmet and risk it. If you're not, then slap a helmet on your head and do yourself and society a service. Helmets go far beyond an individual's right to choose, and right into major, real costs to society as a whole. And as for parents who let their kids ride without helmets after age 12 as a "right of passage" (yes, have heard that many times)--don't get me started....
Don't make me wear a helmet if I don't want to do it. Bicycling is a very safe activity, safer than walking. Eight times as many more people suffer head injuries from other people hitting them, whether through violent assaults, playing a sport or with another car. Over twice as many people suffer head injuries while walking. England has fewer bike related head injuries per capita despite much lower helmet use than in the U.S. These are all statistics from the NIH or organizations promoting bicycle safety.
I have three bicycles - road, mountain and street cruiser. I always wear a helmet when I'm on the road bike, but only when I'm agressively riding the mountain bike, and never on the cruiser. Its just common sense - the difference in the speed, the amount of miles covered, and how aggressively I'm riding that dictates what I do.
Mandatory bicycle helmet laws for kids are basically law that mandates fewer kids riding bikes, period. I taught my kids to ride a bike, and they were delighted. My wife put helmets on them and told them they had to wear them. They didn't, they just didn't ride their bikes.
There will ALWAYS be compelling statistics that predict fewer head injuries if helmets were mandatory. However the statistics indicate far greater reductions would be available by enforcing a helmet rule for pedestrians, basketball or anyone riding in a car. Go after them and leave me alone.
Society has a responsibility to protect its future, its children. That's true even in the most primitive tribes.
Your children don't just belong to you. Even if you can theorize that its the right of adults to go without helmets, society must protect its children from irresponsible adults.
I call this helmet fascism, and it's the kind of behavior that leads people to joining the Tea Party. The need to force others to wear helmets is akin to the Puritan behavior that forced women to wear the same button-down clothing. It has nothing to do with safety or rational thought, and everything to do with forcing others to be like you. Helmets are useful in only a very small fraction of bike accidents. In reality, helmet fascism reflects avoidance behavior, it's a way to deflect us from the *real* safety issues of making Massachusetts streets safer for bicyclists. In their feeling of impotence at being able to do anything for really improving bike safety, helmet fascists attempt to turn our attention away from the real issues and instead to partake in group navel-gazing. Europeans, who are much more successful at effecting real community change, see through this infantile deflecting of attention away from the real issues of bike safety.
See reply to topcop1. Freedom = responsibility.
If you do not want to wear a helmet, fine. As long as you have insurance to pay for any medical bills incurred by not having one. I mean, why should the rest of us have to pay for injuries sustained because you chose not to wear one. Further, you should not be allowed to sue over head injuries if you fail to wear a hemet. I know I was saved from a fractured skull because I was wearing a helmet when I crashed my bike. Tossed right over the handlebars like a rocket and head first onto the pavement.
I would like to add:
Not wearing a helmet is a statement about personal responsibility. If you don't want to wear a helmet, so be it. However, that means ONLY YOU bear the responsibility for this act. That means the cost of any injuries incurred and any long term care that may result is borne by you. Not the government, and not the insurance companies. In both cases the costs of your injuries should not be born by citizens or by insurance clients in the form of highrer premiums.
Seriously...two people interviewed who bike wearing HEADPHONES!? God what genetic wastelands.
Seems that there is room for both. Keep encouraging helmet wear for people AND start building a safer and complete bicycle traffic infrastructure. The road surfaces, the hills, the traffic all conspire to make riding bikes in Boston unpredictable enough to make claims of self responsiblity laughable. On the other hand, we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves. These helmets are cheap enough to acquire and effective enough to warrant wearing. Perhaps one day smooth engineered bike paths will take a rider from suburb to downtown safely.
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sounds like a good campaign. now what can i do to protect myself from being mown down by cyclists going through red lights or stop signs?