When helmet advocacy gets really, really silly

A story from Kelowna, in the Central Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada –

RCMP gearing up for bicycle safety blitz

A warning to Kelowna bicyclists. Kelowna RCMP is getting ready to do a blitz in the downtown for unsafe bicycling practices. Constable Kris Clark says the common sites are people traveling on the wrong side of the road, on a sidewalk, or not wearing a helmet.

“That helmet is there for a reason. Without your brain you don’t function. That’s obviously the most important part of your body. The fine is only $29, it doesn’t really reflect the importance of that but it’s very important that you wear a helmet.”

Wearing a helmet is the law in British Columbia.

A reminder that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists under the Motor Vehicle Act which means they must obey stop signs, traffic lights, and traffic directions.

Already two cyclists in the Central Okanagan have died this year, neither of which were wearing a helmet.

Clark adds they’re not going to be going after kids. “It’s not like we’re going to be handing out fines to children. That’s really not the point, we want to educate. But if you’re a parent or guardian and allowing your child to ride without a helmet, then the onus is on you.”

One of these two cyclists to have died was Gordon Wilde, who was killed on March 17th. He was run over by the wheels of the trailer of a ‘semi truck’ – in other words, the trailer of an articulated lorry; something like this.

He suffered serious and fatal injuries to his torso, neck and head.

Police believe Wilde who was riding his bike,  was hit by the rear drive wheels of the semi as it was making a right hand turn onto Baron Road, at Leckie,  March 17  at about 9 p.m.

The same Constable Kris Clark helpfully points out the absence of helmet

“Witnesses say that the cyclist did not have any lights on his bicycle and there was no indication that he was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash,” said Const. Kris Clark.

A deformable polystyrene shell apparently being able to protect you while you are crushed under the wheels of an HGV.

The other cyclist to die in the Central Okanagan this year while not wearing a helmet was Arthur Allan Cottie. He was struck by a White Mack commercial truck on 16th February, a vehicle that probably looked something like this

Again, Constable Clark is on hand.

Kelowna RCMP say the death of a 62-year-old cyclist, while tragic, should serve as a warning to other cyclists. Cst. Kris Clark says the unidentified man was not wearing a helmet when he was hit by a vehicle about 6:30 a.m. last Thursday morning.

He also was attempting to cross Harvey Avenue at Pandosy Street against a red light. Clark says the man suffered serious head injuries when he was hit by a delivery truck and never recovered. “This was a tragedy that could have been avoided,” says Clark.

It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions about what happened in both cases from the reports, but it seems both men may have been partly at fault, the former for cycling on the wrong side of the road, the latter for trying to cycle across a busy road against a red light.

What can be said definitively, however, is that a cycle helmet would not have made the slightest bit of difference to the outcome in either case. Quite obviously, a bicycle helmet will not protect you when you are struck by a lorry travelling at high speed, or when you are run over by one. Polystyrene does not have the requisite properties, whatever Constable Clark appears to think.

Of course, if it does, maybe it’s about time the RCMP themselves starting wearing helmets, perhaps when out riding on horseback, for instance?

Thanks to Copenhagenize

This entry was posted in Helmets, Road safety. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to When helmet advocacy gets really, really silly

  1. monchberter says:

    Sad stories, but it was human error, not the lack of helmets that caused both these deaths. Cycle safety is about what you do with your head, not necessarily what you put on it.

  2. Kim says:

    Can anyone tell the difference between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Monty Python? Remember the Mounties are the ones that don’t wear helmets while riding horses but this that polystyrene hats can protect cyclist against motor vehicles.

  3. JonF says:

    To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, when you get run over by a truck, you are no longer wearing a helmet – the helmet is wearing you.

  4. Constable Clarke needs his head testing! Contrast this with an (at last) unbiased bit of reporting from BBC Wales http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-17696216 at tragic case but the poor chap was killed DESPITE wearing a helmet.

  5. Roger Geffen says:

    “the poor chap was killed DESPITE wearing a helmet”

    …as were all of these people:
    http://members.shaw.ca/jtubman/deadhelmet.html.

    (N.B. I had already forwarded details of the S Wales case to the guy who maintains this list).

  6. Har Davids says:

    I don’t think a helmet offers a cyclist the protection he sometimes needs in spite of all this scare-mongering. Claiming there’s a connection between a cyclist’s death and the absence of a helmet, without going into the details of the accident, means someone is soft in the head and should wear a helmet 24/7, or he is on the pay-roll of helmet-manufacturers! Dutch cyclists are not expected to wear a helmet, so most of us don’t and feel comfortable enough in traffic, even when meandering between cars and lorries. It’s the infrastructure that counts and the motorists’ attitude.

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