My Opinion on Helmet Law

My Opinion; Regarding the latest controversy over the Helmet Law.

I have ridden with a helmet for the last thirty years and now feel naked if I ride without one. I have spend many years riding professionally as a bike patrol supervisor as well a three decades just enjoying the sport and have witnessed first hand dozens of times helmets have prevented serious injury. Some of those incidents were not down hill single track crashes but just riding around the block kind of stuff that turned into serious accidents.

Nobody plans to have an accident; that is why they are called accidents.

Once when I was waiting for a light on my bike, beside a friend who was an UBC student with a bright future as a lawyer, such an accident occurred. She left the curb and in one of those rare moments of fate she missed her pedal and rolled off her bike. I was about to laugh when she hit her head on the curb with that horrible sound like a watermelon fracturing. Before this she was a part of an anti-helmet lobby and used to tease me as being a legalist for I would insist on my patrol members wearing a helmet even though the law was just being proposed. I wish that she was still able to argue her point but after that accident she was in a vegetative state until she passed a few years later from complications from that accident.

Helmets make a big difference when you land on your head. Nobody plans to but if you ride long enough it will probably happen to you. If you are unlucky it can happen the first time you go out. Actually your chances are greater the less experience you have but once hard core you are fighting a losing battle of the odds as you toss that proverbial coin every time you ride. Modern helmets, don’t heat up, fit well and if you think you look bad with helmet hair try brain damage on for size.

Those trying to change the law to allow cycling without helmets usually have a vested interest besides their vanity and the fear of helmet hair. The latest controversy is over the new biking system being considered for Vancouver. These take-a-bike-and-ride systems are not issue free but when politicians want something the tendency is to highlight what they want to promote and hide want they don’t want discussed, like bike theft, damaging bikes and damaging the bike rental companies who are in the area. Not to mention what happened to the bike fleet donated by Vancity a few years ago. Most ended up either sold by bike thieves for drugs or on the bottom of the harbor within a few months.

But what burns me the most is the twisted logic of those who would repeal BC helmet law, proven to save lives, just to bring in pet project.

I remember when seat belt law was introduced and how some people vowed to go to jail rather than buckle up. Well we didn’t yield to their twisted logic and now their argument seems foolish. Well I hope we resist the twisted logic we are now facing just so that a pet project will happen and that we decide to discuss some of the other aspects of the project that have been back-burnered, like theft, the lousy bikes available in such a system and the damage it may cause to Vancouver bike rental companies who as private small businesses who will now have to compete with a subsided cycling rental system wanted by a few idealists.

So I hope that the helmet law argument is outed as to what it really is, safety compromised for the sake of a pet project that we have only heard the good aspects of while the bad aspects have been hidden from view.

When dealing with a rattlesnake it wants to you focus on its rattle but my advice it to watch the other end or it will snake around behind you and bite you in the ass.

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3 Responses to My Opinion on Helmet Law

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  2. Drew Snider says:

    Good piece, Tom. May I refer you to my own blog posting on the subject (which refs your letter in The Province)? http://veryconvenienttruth.blogspot.ca/2012/07/getting-ones-head-around-bike-helmets.html

  3. Brad says:

    I’m also wondering at your opinion of BCs helmet law being “proven” to save lives.

    “Proven” means, having been demonstrated or verified without doubt, and considering head injuries as proportion to other injuries did not decrease and deaths to cyclists increased (according to ICBC), I wonder how you come to say the law has been proven to save lives.

    Just like to hear your perspective on these points. Thanks