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  1. 1
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    Jahm Mitt

    Actually this is ignorance bordering on stupidity – sort of.

    OK. When we roamed the plains with the wilder beast, we had generally soft dirt underfoot and our speeds were low. Our brain cases are quite robust enough to withstand head to soft dirt collisions.

    But ramp it up to a decent cruisy cycling speed of 20 – 30Kmh for the average person, toss in the possible impacts with objects like other vehicles, poles, concrete gutters and the ever non compliant sealed road – and you can have really bad head injuries, really quickly.

    We are designed to survive assorted degress of impact with progressively worsening outcomes – being a simple ratio of the harder the object and the higher the speed equates with the worsening of the outcome.

    So I am absolutely and totally all for wearing bicycle helmets.

    But where I now live – in the middle of no where, the sealed roads are flat and straight and carry about 10 cars a day.

    The dirt roads carry about 1 car a week.

    In the hot weather I am far more likely to die of skin cancer than anything, and I’d much rather toodle along with a broad brimmed straw hat.

    So on one hand I absolutely insist on wearing a helmet – because head meets concrete kerb = dead; but I have the occasional times where it’s stinking hot with no traffic in the blazing sun on a dead flat road – and I think “Well you know”.

    But saying that helmets should not be required is just plain stupid. Our heads are not designed to hit HARD objects at 20 – 40 kmh..

    This is a fundamental fact of bio-engineering.

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  2. 2
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    Jahm Mitt

    Our heads crack open like nuts.

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  3. 3
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    Dan

    This kind of discussion seems to attract a lot of comments along the lines “Well, I once had an accident, and I’d be dead if I wasn’t wearing a helmet, so it’s crazy to suggest that we should repeal helmet laws.”

    That makes sense on the face of it. I’m a cyclist who will never ride without a helmet, and who thinks that it’s stupid to be more worried about helmet hair than brain damage. But the research that I’ve seen seems to point to a conclusion which is believable, even though it’s counterintuitive: even though I as a cyclist am certainly safer in a helmet, it doesn’t follow to suggest that helmet laws make cyclists, taken as an aggregate, safer.

    I know of one UK study concluding that motorists give unhelmeted cyclists more room when they pass. Perhaps the combination of helmet and riding glasses does invite the impatient motorist to see the cyclist as some sort of android who doesn’t warrant normal consideration as a human being? Given that motorists typically don’t maintain massive reserves of empathy for cyclists at the best of times, even that slight subconscious erosion might be enough to make a dangerous difference. And given that the overwhelming majority of cycling injuries are caused by motorists doing the wrong thing, a small difference in driver behaviour could translate into a big difference in injuries.

    More convincing, though, is the safety-in-numbers effect. As a cyclist riding around Melbourne, it’s clear to me that drivers tend to behave better towards cyclists in those areas where cycling is more common. (Beach Road may be an exception here, but that’s a special case). Not only that, but each person who climbs on a bike increases the political pressure for better, safer cycling infrastructure. If we could get more considerate (or at least less murderous) drivers, together with a road and trail network that took cycling seriously as a transport alternative, then perhaps the risks of going helmet-free would become acceptable.

    But even before that happens, if letting people ride without a helmet is going to get more people on bikes (and there’s pretty clear evidence that it will), then all of those helmetless, risk-taking riders could actually end up making the roads safer for all of us, particularly those of us who will continue to enjoy the safety benefits of a helmet. Yes, some of those helmetless people will end up with head injuries or worse, which could have been prevented if they were wearing a helmet. But the evidence seems to suggest that they would be offset by fewer accidents overall, so if someone is vain or lazy enough to take that risk, then who am I to stop them?

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  4. 4
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    Cajela

    As a regular wearer of a Real Helmet – one that is designed to keep my head from cracking if I have a motorcycle accident – I’ve never felt psychologically convinced that my flimsy bicycle helmet is going to be of much help. That said, if you want to wear a helmet, by all means wear one. There’s not going to be any law forbidding them!

    But the epidemiology does not support mandatory helmet laws. The rates of head injury among cyclists across different countries are completely and utterly uncorrelated with the rates of helmet use. Are Dutch and Danish heads somehow harder to crack than American and Australian ones?

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  5. 5
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    Lapchick

    At least let us get rid of the requirement for a helmet on the rental bikes in Melbourne, then people would use them, including myself. I live next to the Vic Market, there are at least two depots within three minutes walk of my house. It seems that the bikes are rarely used now.

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  6. 7
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    M A

    Hey guys, we’ve started a petition on Change.org to repeal the Mandatory Helmet Regulations.
    Would be awesome if you guys could please join/share our petition!

    http://www.change.org/petitions/repeal-mandatory-bicycle-helmet-legislation

    Cheers 🙂

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