Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Civil liberties & helmet laws don't gel

My body's nobody's body but mine
You run your own body
Let me run mine

...this cute little ditty from the 80s was created to empower children. Sadly today, now that we've acquiesced so docilely to the bully tactics of our nanny state, we adults need to get a grip on ourselves and start 'running our own bodies' again.

How did we ever let government convince us that it was worth our while giving up our civil liberties so that (i) they could renege on their obligations to provide safe cycling infrastructure and (ii) they could pass on the cost of safety to the bicycle riders?

We should be outraged that the helmet lobby has been enabled to make a fortune with this groundless legislation and that we have been robbed of cycling infrastructure that could have made such a difference over the last eighteen years.

Now it's timely to take that freedom of choice back and to remember Jean-Paul Sartre's wise words that "once freedom lights its beacon in a man's heart, the gods are powerless against him".


  1. Sue sans -

    No helmets would be fine if the (non)user would agree to prepay for any medical treatment they might receive as a result of going without. That is, what we are seeing is one of the many results of government taking over large parts of the economy. If government pays for your health care, as it does for almost half of us now even before the Health "Reform" passes, then government believes it has the right to mitigate its exposure to medical payments with things such as helmet laws.

    We must be careful what we ask for. We might receive it...

    Jim Hirshfield

  2. Jim,

    Your comment contains one unproven assumption. That is, that imposing mandatory bicycle helmet laws actually does "mitigate ... exposure to medical payments". I'd say the opposite is the case.

    In some areas of Australia, the introduction of helmet laws reduced cycling by up to 40%. That has never fully recovered. While numbers have increased in recent years, they are a result in the main of male sport riders cycling for fitness. A tiny proportion of the population actually uses their bike for everyday transport like shopping, giong to the theatre and visiting friends.

    At the same time, we are one of the fattest nations on earth. The cost of obesity and corresponding heart disease and depression is massive. If the Government really wanted to "mitigate its exposure to medical payments" it would do something about that. Discouraging cycling, which is the principal consequence of helmet laws, does the exact opposite.

  3. This news article illustrates the ridiculousness of helmet laws:,22606,26520393-5005962,00.html

    I cannot believe the police officer did not notice the irony.

  4. Yes, I saw that article too, talk about stupid! And Jim, that is complete rubbish. There is no evidence that cycle helmets work, and they can actually make injuries worse! You are also more likely to be hit by a car if you are wearing a helmet, as drivers pass closer (as they assume a) you are more competent and b) your cycle helmet means you would be fine even if they hit you. Here's a link where you might learn something: