The headlines from Safetytown

From the Safetytown News

A police chief has gone head-to-head with an MP after calling for compulsory pedestrian helmets.

Sir Graham Dense, Safetyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, wants a change in the law to force pedestrians to wear helmets. But Liberal Democrat Julian Evidence, Safetytown’s MP, a keen pedestrian who does not wear a helmet while walking in the city, says any law would backfire.

Conservative Sir Graham says the injuries caused by pedestrian accident head wounds seen by his doctor son helped convince him helmets should be compulsory. Sir Graham said: “I do think that wearing a pedestrian helmet should be compulsory. The damage that can be done if a pedestrian hits their head on a kerb can be terrible.

“My son has worked as an accident and emergency doctor and has seen the consequences of head injuries. When you think about it in those terms it seems obvious that a helmet should be worn. I certainly wear one when I am walking. It should be safety first all the time.”

Sir Graham’s commonsense-led policy-making is unequivocally backed up by several anecdotes about pedestrians getting hurt in the head. And it’s just obvious that the way to stop pedestrians damaging their heads is to fit them with pedestrian helmets, and to make them wear them all the time. Take these cases, from just the last few days.

In Crawley

A 59-year-old man suffered serious head injuries after he was in collision with a car while crossing College Road, Crawley, shortly after 11.30am on Saturday (9 November). The Kent, Surrey and Sussex air ambulance was called in and the road was closed while emergency services dealt with the incident.

In Hawkinge

A man in his 60s has suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a car in Hawkinge. Police were called just before 6.15pm on Friday to reports of a crash in Page Road. It is believed a green Toyota Yaris was negotiating a junction on a housing estate when it hit the pedestrian who was crossing the road. The man suffered serious head injuries and was taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

In West Knighton

Leicestershire Police are appealing for witnesses to an accident which has left a 29-year-old man with serious head injuries. The incident happened just before 2.30am on Sunday near the Aberdale Inn pub in Shackerdale Road, West Knighton, which is just off the A563 Asquith Way. It involved a man and a woman who were on foot and a black London-style taxi cab. The 29-year-old male pedestrian was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham with serious head injuries. He was in a critical but stable condition.

In Matlock

A 34–year–old woman is in hospital being treated for serious injuries after being hit by a vehicle in Matlock last night. The accident happened at 5.15pm yesterday at the junction of Church Street and the A615 at Matlock Green. The woman, of Matlock, sustained head injuries after being hit by a blue Range Rover. She is being treated at Queen’s Medical Centre, in Nottingham.

Do we not care about our pedestrians’ fragile skulls? Obviously too many pedestrians think it’s just not ‘cool’ to wear pedestrian helmets, or that it might mess up their hair. It’s time for a law.

Have you seen pedestrians walking about without helmets on? What do you think? Tell us now – vote in our poll.

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18 Responses to The headlines from Safetytown

  1. Chris says:

    I really struggle with whether or not cycle helmets should be compulsory.

    On the one hand, I always wear one, and have done ever since I put a dent in my skull which, the doctors told me, would’ve killed me if my skull hadn’t been significantly thicker than average – something reflected in the fact that my choice of helmets is limited to those which come in a 63cm size!!

    On the other hand, whilst I always wear one and make sure my kids always wear them too, I’m not sure the risk is really high enough to mandate them in law.

    Then again, if a cyclist is involved in an accident with someone else (regardless of fault, for the purposes of this discussion), what right do they have to choose whether or not to wear something which could potentially make the difference between life or death, especially given that it’s not much of an inconvenience. The other party can tell themselves as often as they like that it wasn’t their fault, or that the cyclist would’ve survived if they’d been wearing a helmet, but that’s still not going to change the fact that they’ll feel they’ve killed someone.

    Swinging back the other way, some say that making helmets mandatory would dramatically reduce the number of people choosing to cycle in the first place. Given that one of the things I feel keeps me safest on my urban commute is the sheer number of cyclists, making helmets mandatory would arguably make cycling riskier for me.

    As it is, I reckon at least 85% of people on my commute do wear helmets, so on balance of evidence, my vote at the moment would be to maintain the status quo.

    • Andy K says:

      Campaigners and government only have a finite amount of time and resources they can spend toward cycle safety – this is better spent training drivers and cyclists to be safer (and enforcement) rather than a debate, vote and law change around mandatory helmets which WILL reduce the number of cyclists and could make it more dangerous (as seen in Australia).

    • pm says:

      “As it is, I reckon at least 85% of people on my commute do wear helmets, so on balance of evidence, my vote at the moment would be to maintain the status quo.”

      I think that would be a mistaken assumption. I wear a helmet, but if it became compulsory to do so I think I would give up cycling, because I’d find such a law offensive and insulting (and because I’d _hugely_ resent facing a fine on the odd occasion I forget and set off without it, or mislay it when I’m in a hurry [you wouldn’t think one could mislay something the size of a bike helmet, but believe me, I’ve managed it!]).

      There’s not much room for doubt that the more such laws you pass the fewer people will chose to cycle.

      And this argumemt:

      ” if a cyclist is involved in an accident with someone else (regardless of fault, for the purposes of this discussion), what right do they have to choose whether or not to wear something which could potentially make the difference between life or death, ”

      Could just as easily be applied to driving helmets. Or to driving at any speed over 20mph. Indeed, I would ask, what right does a driver have to choose a mode of transport that could potentially make the difference between life or death? A great many car journeys are not really necessary – so if its unacceptable for a cyclist to chose not to wear a helmet (and risk themselves), why is it acceptable for a motorist to choose to drive a car (and risk both themselves _and_ others)?

  2. crank says:

    Chris, could you please tell us what were you doing when you dented your skull? Fast/slow, type of bike, on/off road, etc…

    • Chris says:

      I was on a road bike, going downhill. As far as I know, I went round a corner at speed, hit some loose earth on the road surface, went over the bars and landed head first on the corner of a kerb.

      The details are a little hazy, as it was 20+ years ago, and I knocked myself out for 3 hours, so most of the info I have is from the guy who witnessed it!

      Overall, I wasn’t riding particularly recklessly – I just got caught out by a completely unexpected change in road surface. I’ve been paranoid about loose road surfaces on country lanes ever since.

      • Jitensha Oni says:

        I hit the deck in not dissimilar circumstances but on a tourer and in a sudden rainstorm here:

        Didn’t hit my head, but cracked a couple of ribs and left a lot of skin in Italy. I wasn’t wearing a helmet. The panniers protected the bike. Maybe cycling clothes should have built-in airbags. However, like you I don’t try and do a Sagan on unknown blind bends and hairpins any more. That’s my anecdote.

        @hushlegs – great minds think alike??

      • crank says:

        Not nice, glad you are okay! I suspect there is merit to road cycling with a helmet, the speeds & risks taken may warrant it (although helmets are apparently not really rated for those speeds…)

        Would you be okay with being forced to wear a helmet for a 3 minute trip to the local store on a quiet, local road or bike path? How about a scenic round-the-river-route bike path with the kids? This is not a trick question, I am genuinely interested in the opinion of those who have gone through a ‘helmet saved my life’ moment.

        FWIW, I believe my Dutch bike, and newly adopted riding style that came with it, are far safer for me than my helmet on my old, enouragingly-fast and nimble bike. I think it’s a bit like the 30km/h (20mph) laws – speed is injurous whether in a motorized vehicle or human powered one. I have no doubt you can exceed 30km/h on your road bike 🙂

  3. rich257 says:

    The merits or otherwise of making helmets compulsory aside, making law based on anecdote and personal experience is always a bad idea.

    As far as I know Sir Graham Dense has not cycled in Safetytown but thinks it looks dangerous from behind the wheel and airbag of his car. Nor did the voters of Safetytown vote for Sir Graham Dense.

  4. Simon says:

    If I am about to hit you on the head with a hammer, would you rather put a helmet on first or not?

    Obviously you would rather wear a helmet. So it seems to me utterly logical that pedestrians should be made to wear helmets because of the danger from all those hammer-weilding maniacs out there who are targeting pedestrians.

    • Clark in Vancouver says:

      There was a guy here in Vancouver about five years ago who was going around with a hammer and hitting gay men on the head during Pride weekend. He was seen earlier muttering homophobic things.
      So yeah, the problem isn’t homophobia, the problem is not wearing helmets.

  5. pm says:

    Incidentally, yesterday I was kneeling down fixing something on the bike when my helmet fell off the coat-hook behind me and bashed me on the head!

    Maybe I should wear a helmet to protect me from falling helmets?

  6. “In a recent poll an overwhelmingly 100% of the voters, made clear they want a mandatory helmet law for pedestrians!”

  7. I gave myself a sickening blow when I forgot that a cupboard door was open in the kitchen and I stood up and cracked my head. But my helmet saved my life. Helmets in kitchens should be compulsory.

  8. jake says:

    New Zealand and Australia both have compulsory helmet laws and comically small modal share for cyclists.
    This is not a coincidence, if you look at the timing of Australia & New Zealand’s cycling collapse.

    Happily in NZ the law can be circumvented by cycling on the footpath, requiring only that one stuff a couple handfuls of junkmail into random mailboxes along the way or ride a clown bike with 12″ or smaller rims.

  9. lastwheel says:

    What tourist wanting to use a hire bike will have brought a cycling helmet with them? I’m pretty sure a good proportion of helmet advocates know exactly what they are doing because we have the evidence from other countries when similar laws are enforced: one way to suppressing cycling without being obvious is bullying cyclists with ridiculous fines for minor infractions and criminalising helmetless cycling.

  10. platinum says:

    Well, as my dear old grandma says, the majority of people die in their beds. Therefore, obviously, not wearing a helmet while asleep, even for a quick nap on a sofa, is just being reckless.

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