“Was the photo taken before you put your own helmet on? Stay safe!”
I saw a (private) facebook thread recently were someone had posted a photo of them dropping their child to creche by bike, and saying how much they enjoyed it. There were a lot of likes and a couple of comments in the same vein, but there were also a high proportion of comments pointing out that the parent in question appear to be helmet-less, and how they should ‘stay safe’.
Here is someone undertaking a perfectly normal activity, and it’s all suddenly about helmets. I’ve no idea if this parent does or does not cycle with one or without, but that’s not the issue.
Helmets are not essential to safety, and compulsory helmet use generally results in a decline in cycling uptake (which has a larger effect on general population health and quality of life).
Why is it that the activity of cycling a bike requires helmets? Walking does not, yet 31 pedestrians died on the roads in 2013 (RSA figures), compared to five cyclists. The remaining 159 deaths were either drivers (95) or passengers (32) in motorised vehicles, and 27 motorcyclists.
Why isn’t there a push for helmets in cars? Or while walking? We laugh at the suggestion, yet there is a fear around cycling and, at the same time a bizarre acceptance of car deaths as being par for the course. Cars kill, either directly or through sedentary diseases that reduce life expectancy and quality of life.