December 2, 2009

Girls on bikes

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:23 pm by Chris

Via Worldchanging:

The thing that struck me (as it has before) is that no-one in Europe wears a helmet.  I don’t use my bike for transport as often as I should, and one of the minor irritants behind that is what to do with the helmet when I get where I’m going.

It’s illegal to ride a bike in New Zealand without a helmet. Largely this stems from a campaign by a woman whose son was paralysed after being hit by a car, but in hindsight a campaign aimed at car drivers might have made more sense. I know of a trauma surgeon in Wellington hospital who refuses to wear a helmet. He claims to have seen too many cases where they did more harm that good. Wearing a helmet also makes cycling a much sweatier experience in New Zealand’s humid cities.

Having started young, I feel naked on a bike without a helmet. But I increasingly see the perceived danger as being from cars, rather than the likelihood of a fall. And you need something like a motorbike helmet to properly guard against those kinds of impacts. I don’t really know where this line of though leads, but it’s alive and well and living in my head.



  1. Guff said,

    The major difference between NZ and Australia, and European countries is the fact that the latter have adequate physical and legal infrastructure in place that protect cyclists. Unfortunately we do not placing the onus is on the cyclists to protect themselves. Hence helmets.

  2. Carol said,

    I was just in Portland and was struck by all the cyclists not wearing helmets. I guess my perspective is a bit different as I’m a mountain biker and you would have to be CRAZY to do this without a helmet, but I really cannot understand any objection to helmets. Fall off, break your arm, it will heal in six weeks. Get a head injury and you may have to re-learn the alphabet. So Chris I can’t agree with you here.

  3. Chris said,

    Carol, I’m not really sure that I even have an argument. Like I said, I feel naked on a bike without a helmet on (although a normal bike helmet is the bare minimum: BMX helmets are much heavier, and lots of mountain bike riders wear those full-face jobs).

    I guess it’s about different cultures of road use and safety. Ours patently isn’t very good.

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