According to the Cycling Promotion Fund, in conjunction with the National Heart Foundation conducted a survey of 1000 Australian adults in relation to whether or not they ride a bike for transport. The survey here is useful for understanding why people do not use bicycle as their means of conveyance.
- Unsafe road conditions: 46.4%
- Speed/volume of traffic: 41.8%
- Don’t feel safe riding: 41.4%
- Lack of bicycle lanes/trails: 34.6%
- Destinations too far away: 29.9%
- No place to park/store bike: 23.5%
- Do not own a bike: 22.5%
- Weather conditions: 22.1%
- Not fit enough: 21.8%
- Too hilly: 19.6%
- Don’t feel confident riding: 18.6%
- Not enough time: 16.7%
- Don’t like wearing a helmet: 15.7%
- No place to change/shower: 14.6%
- Health problems: 14.4%
The first four factors are all about traffic and road conditions, which means people do not feel safe riding while sharing the lane with automobiles. The lack of specific lanes and pathways for bicycle is an important factor that contributed to the issues around Mandatory Helmet Laws in Australia. Since the number of cyclists are increasing each year, the traffic and path way can not sustain the surge of cyclists. As a result, this is one factor that contributed to other researcher’s argument for not wearing a helmets. Helmets failed to reduce the injury rates. This is not true, they have to consider the increasing number of people cycling.
By targeting to improve road conditions, the number of people cycling is likely to go up. However, since the traffic condition remained the same, the Mandatory Helmet Law is there to protect and ensure everyone’s safety.
American academic quoted : “the most hostile city(Sydney) to cyclists in the developed world.”
As discussed earlier, New Zealand and Australia are the two countries that required people of all age to wear a bicycle helmet at all time. There is no federal law in the U.S requiring bicycle helmets. The states are localities began adopting laws in 1987. Most are limited to children under 18. Some states have passed the law regarding to MHL but are repealed later. Israel experimented with national legislation, but repealed the law in 2011 after a four year trial. Here are some of the objectives against MHL:
- They do not improve injury rates
- Discourage regular recreation exercise in an era of high obesity
- Intrusion of individual freedom
There are studies that have proven that the Mandatory Helmet Laws has not reduced head injury rates. Dr Dorothy Robinson from the University of New England, who found ‘enforced helmet laws discourage cycling but produce no obvious response in percentage of head injuries’.
MHLs change people’s behavior and perception of risk. Some cyclists take more risks while riding with a helmet than they would without, while studies have shown that some motorists drive closer to helmeted cyclists, than unhelmeted ones. This tendency for individuals to react to a perceived increase in safety by taking more risk is known as risk compensation.
I am not encouraging people not to wear a bicycle helmet but rather to provide an insight on why some countries do not require MHL, and why people hated MHL. What are your thoughts on this? Below is a collection of tweets that included #helmet laws
Long before in the history, “helmet” has been used for protective reasons, helmet in this context can be the protective gears and armors that that soldiers wore during the Medieval Age. Tracing back in 900BC, the oldest known use of helmet was by Assyrian soldiers. They wore thick leather on their heads to protect the head from sword blows and flying arrows in combat.
The word helmet is diminutive from helm, a Medieval word for protective combat headgear. The Medieval great helm covers the whole head and often is accompanied with camail protecting throat and neck as well. Originally a helmet was a helm which covered the head partly.
Over the course of human history, many different types of helmet have developed. Most early helmets had military uses especially in combat-related purposes, some helmets held ceremonial purposes as well. Two important types of helmets are Corinthian helmet and Roman galea.
Later on the protective gears took different forms and were composed with different materials. The materials including a wide range of substances such as metal, plastic, rubber, leather, and plant fiber. No matter what materials the helmets are made up of, the primary function of helmets is to protect the most important part of human body. As in contemporary society, wearing a helmet became a common practice in recreational activities and sport purposes such as football, water polo, hotkey, baseball, and bicycle. For each specific helmets, it is designed with different intentions. Take bicycle helmet and rock climbing helmet for comparison, one is designed to be particularly against blunt impact forces from the wearer’s head striking the road, another is designed to endure heavy impact from above.
Now that we have provided a clear historical and background information of helmets, what do you think helmets are for? And what are the reasons for people not wearing a helmet in different occasions?