Monday, July 2, 2012

...oh, & velo city!

Disappointingly the 'H' word in Vanvouver turned out to be the dirty word that it is in Australia!!!! - sigh!! - and the last thing keynote & plenary boffins wanted to do was to get into any form of helmety chit-chat - apparently Velo City wasn't & isn't the forum - ????

...geez, where is then?

So just like Sydney Cyclist where 'helmeteer-elephant-in-the-room' spotters have been banished to another kingdom, so it was with Velo City that its 'helmeteer-elephant-in-the-room' spotters were corralled into back rooms & concurrent sessions designed to muffle and avoid interrupting delegates who actually ought to be interrupted with this subject (aka mayors, councillors politicians et al).

...but wait, there's more!! - I met a couple of impossibly tall athletic-looking Belgium lads who went to great lengths justifying the merits of helmet law, proclaiming somewhat outrageously that eggs and human heads shared similar properties in terms of fragility! Consequently, their corollary concluded, heads smash in situations where eggs smash, so therefore it is necessary that our egg-heads are cloaked in mandatory polystyrene...

"Long live helmet laws," they declared, loudly refuting my claim that my head was nothing like an egg, "cycling is extremely dangerous and we need all the protection we can get: you should be glad of helmet laws for your egg-head!!!!"

"Don't be ridiculous!" I protested (frizzy hairy eggs, anyone?!)

"Yes" declared one of them, a self-proclaimed doctor, "if I threw you against that wall, your head would smash just like an egg!!!"

WTF - why does using a bicycle attract so many timid men who are full of cycling bravado and livers made of lilies?!!!


  1. Sue, I feel your frustration. As I type this from my office I can see a full rack of unused Brisbane City bikes with a couple of morbidly obese people chain-smoking themselves to death standing beside them.
    Why are helmet zealots so interested in the "if it saves just one life" mantra and yet are happy to watch thousands die prematurely from smoking and obesity each year!
    Thankfully I am off to Europe for a 2 month holiday next week. I think I need a long break from nanny-state helmet overload.

  2. Did you not ask these Belgium lads if they have a helmet-like contraption straped to their fragile testicles in case they are kicked by some frizzy heads? The Belgium types have nothing to contribute to the debate, except maybe chocolates, war and colonialism.

  3. It is remarkable the number of doctors who claim the helmets save lives, do they base their assessments of drug treatments on such poor research? Well there was thalidomide...

  4. There were some docs trying to push for under-18 foam hat compulsion here (that will deter teens in droves, especially girls, who see a sharp decline in physical exercise already, from puberty...)

    Nobody seems to question that most MDs, being wealthy, drive everywhere, not just to hospital on shifts when there is little public transport. They are part of the real problem, and don't even think to question their murderous and toxic transport choice.

    I really hope Velo-City will be an impetus for change!

    1. Medical definition of an alcoholic: "Someone who drinks even more than his doctor".

      When I was a child back in the 1950s it was pretty well impossible for British children to escape having their tonsils removed. "Medical Opinion" [pause for genuflection] had decided that the procedure was necessary to prevent recurrent throat infections later in life ("nothing but a pair of disease-sinks inside the child's throat") and - more to the point - it was a nice little earner for the hospitals under the new National Health Service: the government prepared to stump up for unlimited numbers of 90-second production-line tonsilectomies which could easily be assigned to the hospital's more "moderate" surgeons: the ones too incompetent to be allowed near anything more demanding. It was not until the late 1950s that the whole thing began to be questioned as it was realised that the number of children killed by botched tonsilectomies (my own sister nearly one of them) was far greater than the number who would ever have died from throat infections.

      Studying medical history over the years I've often been tempted to think that prior to about 1950 medicine might justly have been called "The Stupid Profession". Some of the things which medics once preached as incontrovertible truth - e.g. the effects of masturbation - nowadays look so absurd and so totally devoid of any supporting evidence that you wonder how anyone could ever have believed them. Well into the 20th century medical textbooks in some European countries ascribed hysteria in women to the uterus detaching itself and wandering around inside the body...

  5. Comparing a head to an egg is just about the least apposite comparison it is possible to make. A head is designed to protect a brain. An egg is designed to be broken open by the non-powerful beak-tapping of a baby bird.

    1. ...Therefore, by analogy, the best way of preventing brain injuries is to hard-boil your head.

      We seem to have become very old-maidish about head injuries in recent decades: as though the smallest knock will infallibly have us spending the rest of our days gorked out in a wheelchair with someone spooning liquidised rice pudding into our mouth. Actually, the human brain is already quite well protected by nature, otherwise we'd have died out as a species long ago.

      Past ages were not so mimsy about whacks to the head. Thomas Hardy mentions the 19th-century rustic sport of singlestick (or backsword) fighting in which two farm labourers would beat one another about the head and shoulders with cudgels until blood was drawn. It was an Olympic sport until 1904, and President Theodore Roosevelt would sometimes fight a round or two for relaxation; nevertheless reaching the end of his term a great deal more mentally acute than George W.Bush when he began the job.

      I'm not advocating a return of singlestick fighting: it does sound just a tiny bit risky. But it shows you how far we've gone down Milktoast Road these past thirty years or so.

  6. Better to compare an egg to a helmet. Both break very easily.