Anthony Purcell UL student: "It's in a cyclist's best interest to wear a helmet"
Yes or no, should cyclists be legally obliged to wear a safety helmet on Irish roads?
I've listened to both sides of the argument in relation to the great bicycle helmet debate and I have to say that my common sense always seems to win out over any of the statistical evidence arguments on this one.
Pro - helmet studies and brain injury groups suggest that they reduce the risk of head injury by 85%. Pro 'choice' groups usualy find flaws in such information.
Some people suggest that drivers react more cautiously when they see a cyclist on the road WITHOUT a helmet. I can say from my personal experience as driver, yes I always react to cyclists with extreme caution.
But what worries me is when you hear stories like, the driver said that 'they never saw the bike' or that 'the cyclist seemed to come from nowhere'. Such a scenario can have fatal consequences, that is why I support helmet laws for those who cycle on Ireland's roads on a daily basis.
The RSA and mandatory helmet use
Contrary to past whispers in the media, the Road Safety Association (RSA) confirmed to me recently that mandatory helmet use was not on their agenda at this time. Chief Executive Officer, Noel Brett said that that the RSA's only aim was to "Encourage and promote the voluntary use of helmets by all cyclists".
He concluded that the organisation had no imediate plans to introduce mandatory helmet use, but he hoped that parents would lead by example where young children are concerned and "socialise their kids into using a helmet".
Like many people I'm still unsure as to where we should draw the line in relation to mandatory use. But as far as i'm concerned, if you cycle on public roads, mixing with traffic, on a daily basis, wear a helmet.
Bike share schemes
Incorporating helmet use into such a scheme would be very costly and problematic. Some people have come up with ideas that may/may not seem feasible. All I can say is solving this one will make some individual very rich, if on the downside - somewhat unpopular.
Take a look at this article by Kadhim Shubber on wired.co.uk. The video shows construction of a paper helmet designed by former Royal College of Art students Thomas Gottelier, Bobby Petersen and Edward Thomas. Perhaps not a feasible solution, but the answer is out there somewhere!
Yes that's right, try and turn the tables and lay the blame on the cyclist in protective gear!
Risk compensation suggest that a sports person (not just a cyclist) takes greater risks and change their behaviour based on the fact that they are decked out in safety apparel. On your bike! This to me is nonsense, but hey think what you like.
If you want to read one cyclist's view on risk compensation, check out Grant Peterson's book titled Just Ride
This one really gets on my wick.
Children are more likely to become obese if they are made to wear a cycle helmet. What is happening to society? As Noel Brett said: "I hope that parents will lead by example". Monkey see monkey do really works. Children like to copy adult actions (hopefully just the good actions).
Obesity is often affiliated with many things, but children don't become obese when they are made to wear a helmet. If One Direction were seen to wear cycle helmets then half the population would follow.
In my opinion over reliance on fast/convenience food, lack of proper exercise and addiction to online gaming and social media, poor parenting decisions and also pure lazyness.
As I said earlier, I'm not sure where the line should be drawn, and perhaps children cycling around the garden topped with oversized 'cone head' helmets is an over reaction.
In an ideal world we shouldn't need a law to make us wear cycle helmets as we all have the brains to make the right decision. But come on people of Ireland, when cycling on our roads, use your brian and make the right decision.....because one day soon you might not be able.
Links of interest
cyclehelmets.org News, views and info on cycle helmets, problems with shared bike schemes and helmet related statistics.
Acquired Brain Injury Ireland Follow their ongoing campaigns to get Irish cyclists to wear helmets.
Cycle helmets a hard case to crack BBC News Magazine online by Charlotte Pritchard (2010) a look at helmet use in the UK.
There are so many more .....too many for inclusion here
Article in the Limerick Chronicle