Vancouver Challenge

In Vancouver, British Columbia, a man is fighting their 15 year old mandatory bicycle helmet law. British Columbia is one of only a few provinces in Canada with such law. His position is quite clear:

“Helmet legislation is the problem, not the helmets themselves. People don’t wear them in Holland and it’s the safest place in the world to ride a bike,” he argued.

We couldn’t agree more.

It is frustrating to see so many people unable to disconnect the bicycle helmet legislation from the actual use and promotion of the bicycle helmet – they are independent but supporters of the law (and many supporting researchers) deliberately mix the two to increase confusion.

This makes supporters of choice the subject of abuse for no good reason, as van der Eerden “has been called a moron and idiot after challenging B.C.’s mandatory helmet law in court.” Why so hostile?

The article is balanced but disappointingly they drag out the nonsensical and irrelevent ‘85% reduction in head injuries’ from the now well known – and well discredited – Thompson, Rivara & Thompson study and their subsequent meta-analysis (of mostly their own data!).

The reality is that the science of bicycle helmet efficacy and helmet laws particularly is far from convincing. The disagreement isn’t coming from a minority of published researchers either… another method helmet law supporters use to make opponants appear to be a fringe minority. Have a look at the helmet law map and decide who really is the fringe minority:

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So, back to the story. The president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, Tess Kitchen (who always wears a bicycle helmet), agrees with his position on the helmet law.

Kitchen said the coalition supports the use of helmets, but believes adults should have the right not to wear them.

Unfortunately in Australia (unlike everywhere else in the world), our cycling advocacy organisations either say nothing on the subject, patronisingly dismiss valid arguments or are full support of the law. They are probably not as independent from Government as they’d like us to believe. That’s a shame and will result in slow progress for cycling in this country – not just on issues such as this. It has wider implications.

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