Re: [messengers] Some scientific bloke has made it his business to repeal helmet laws in Aussieland.

Date: 22 Aug 2010 01:45:45 +0200
From: Michael Dodd <mikeydodds@xxxxxxxxx>

When Australia introduced mandatory helmet laws during the early 90's it was
heavily enforced. In Adelaide you'll be lucky to do a helmet less ride
without some random bloke on the street telling you off, if the cops see you
they'll make it their priority to catch you, give you a ticket and perhaps
even let your tyres down.

There was also a media scare campaign, they had television commercials
showing cyclists getting hit by cars and that sort of stuff. It really
seemed to kick start the perception that riding a bike was dangerous.

Australia has definitely turned a blind eye to the fact that the real danger
on our roads has and always will be Automobiles.

Cars are wonderful things when they are used intelligently and wisely, but
unnecessary motor vehicle use is the real problem on our roads that needs to
be addressed. Over 50% of Australian motor vehicle journeys are less than 5

We are a very lucky bunch living down here in Aussie land, most people can
afford to drive automobiles; that makes it easy for people to give up
cycling. Public transport in Sydney sucks.

Publicity about this topic is somewhat symbolic.

Its about making people understand that cyclists are not the danger on our

On Sun, Aug 22, 2010 at 2:22 AM, Vickie <velochica@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> I agree that mandating helmets is plain stupid, unnecessary, and absurdly
> authoritarian.
> HOWEVER, I have trouble believing that the helmet law is the reason so few
> people ride bikes. Perhaps the good professor should look into the
> prevalent
> car culture to find out why cyclists are scarce.
> If a helmet law was introduced here in the Washington DC region, I doubt
> very much that we would see any decrease whatsoever in what little
> bicycling
> we have. The recreational cyclists - the petty bourgeoisie - they wear
> helmets anyway to protect their precious selves, never mind they ride 7mph
> on dedicated trails where their pathetic lives are not in any danger. The
> hard core riders (including  commuters) - the majority of them wear helmets
> anyway. When you have 5000lb metallic monstrosities buzzing you within a
> few
> inches of your life all day long, you quickly learn to appreciate a helmet
> for whatever protection it may offer (most of which is psychological, I
> suspect).
> The only people I see riding overwhelmingly without helmets are poor
> people.
> They ride slow, on the sidewalk, and very carefully. Heck, most of them are
> "illegal" Latino immigrants who would never dare run stop signs and red
> lights (like we do) or even ride on the road - least they attract the
> attention of the police. I don't see them getting into accidents and I
> doubt
> helmets would make them any safer. A helmet law would only allow cops to
> harass those already harassed people some more, not save any lives.
> I have spoken.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: messengers-bounces@xxxxxxxxx [mailto:messengers-bounces@xxxxxxxxx]
> On
> Behalf Of Michael Dodd
> Sent: Saturday, August 21, 2010 8:13 AM
> To: messengers
> Subject: [messengers] Some scientific bloke has made it his business to
> repeal helmet laws in Aussieland.
> He released a study but i lost it. (this is one of his follow ups
> statements)
> *"Professor Chris Rissel on helmet laws*
> *I do not advocate for repealing seat-belt legislation, because the
> evidence
> is very, very strong that they reduced head injuries in the community.*
> *This is not the case with bicycle helmets. I agree that no one study
> answers all the questions one might have about the legislation, and my
> study
> did not attempt to do this.*
> *I agree helmets offer some protection to the head at an individual level,
> but the evidence indicates that the effects of legislation are not apparent
> at the community level over time. A policy that affects the entire
> community
> should show effects at that level. *
> *At the time Professor McDermott was with the Victorian Road Trauma
> Committee there were many serious problems with road injuries, and the
> desire to improve bicyclist safety was admirable. However, with hindsight,
> we can see that there were many other strategies and programs that improved
> the injury rates, but the helmet legislation was a negligible contribution.
> *
> *At that time we didn't have the enormous problems with obesity, diabetes
> and renal failure that we do now. We know that helmets represent a barrier
> to people cycling and the health effects of more people cycling and being
> active far outweigh the injury.*
> *One final point is about the way we talk about risk. The case-control
> studies that indicate that cyclists with head injuries admitted to hospital
> without helmets might have an increased-odds ratio of likelihood of injury
> of 20 or 30 per cent compared to wearing helmets make the risk seem higher
> than they really are. *
> *The absolute risk of any individual on a bicycle getting a head injury
> might be in the order of one in a million, and even doubling the risk (an
> odds ratio of 2.0) to two in a million, it is still tiny. The known risks
> of
> getting overweight or developing diabetes from inactivity are many times
> more significant that the injury risk.*
> *If helmet legislation was such a good idea, why hasn't the rest of the
> world followed suit? The fact is that in the countries with high cycling
> rates, Australia's helmet legislation is a joke."*
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