We all need a hero in our life, even if it isn’t Spiderman or the Hulk from Marvel. Does cycling need a Helmet Hero?
I posted this more in jest than an actual representation of not needing helmets.
Recently the Womens Institute has been looking into backing mandatory helmet laws. As adults who have cycling experience, you are unlikely to fall of your bicycle by your self. You are more likely to be knocked off your bicycle by a hard moving vehicle. A collision which involves forces outside of the design parameters of a bicycle helmet.
Just look at the other countries which have mandatory helmet laws, cycling levels have dropped but a considerable amount.
It would be better to target the cause of bicycle accidents rather than try to force people to use protection which doesn’t actually protect you in all circumstances.
Cyclists across the globe have to deal with inconsiderate drivers that don’t understand our needs or that we are allowed to use the road. Many of us have taken to using cameras, a cyclist in Boston recently posted a video of a driver who was very impatient as he cycled down a busy road with lots of hazards, the driver could have easily changed lanes to pass the cyclists but instead choose to sound his horn and pass him with only inches to spare.
As always, the driver shortly stopped in traffic and got out of his car asking the cyclist if he wanted a fight. Quite rightly the cyclist didn’t want to get into a fight with someone who was more than likely several times the size of him.
When the cyclist went to the Police they where not interested in what happened, even when the cyclist stated that he had the whole incident on video. I’m sure most of us have experienced problems like this, lets just hope it changes as the grow of camera use in cyclists increases.
I posted before about the use of cameras on the road and the laws behind it. But i feel i missed a few things out that are worth noting. From before we know that the general use of a camera is perfectly legal. The information commissioner confirmed that recording for personal purposes on the road is perfectly fine and that uploading footage to websites like youtube is fine, even if it includes faces or VRNs (Vehicle Registration Number). The information commissioner also confirmed that this is not braking any part of the Data Protection Act.
What about article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Martin Porter wrote about just this, what is more important, the right to privacy or the right to live? Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights states
Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
People have tried to spin this argument against me but the European Convention on Human Rights only applies to a state and not an individual member of the public. Let’s also not forget that the roads are a public place and there should be no expectation of privacy on them.
The Human Rights Act in the UK applies the acts from the European Convention on Human Rights to all members of the public in the UK and not just the state. But again the question is what is more important, life or privacy? The Human Rights Act states
You have the responsibility to respect other people’s rights, and they must respect yours.
How much privacy is actually broken by posting a video online? I would say minimal, everything that is displayed is public information and only friends and relatives can identify the person by their face. There have been no cases so far that relate to this so it is hard to say what the outcome would be in a court of law.
There has been plenty of media coverage about helmet cameras this year already several court cases involving footage from cameras. So far there has not been even a hint from the Police, CPS or any other legal body that using cameras and posting footage of it online is against the law.
On Friday the 15th of April the AA (Automobile Association) gave out 5,000 branded helmets and 5,000 branded high visibility vests to cyclists in London. The cycling community was outraged by this and watching the twitter comments was quite funny. Especially afterI had already tweeted this the following day to the AA President, Edmund King.
why is the @aapresident giving free helmets to cyclists? So drivers can drive more dangerously around us?
The AA President was kind enough to reply to me to let me know that the AA does give out free training for dangerous young & older drivers and campaigns against drink/drug drivers. Which is fantastic!
What I don’t get is why a motoring group is getting involved in handing out ‘safety’ equipment to cyclists. Are they trying to make the motorists think that cycling is dangerous? Or that motorists can drive around us in a more dangerous manner because we now have helmets to protect our heads.
The AA’s basis for this free advertising gift where 2 polls. Around 16,000 AA members were asked if they think cyclists should wear helmets. 97% think we should. And a spot check done by the AA suggested that only 5% of Barclays Cycle Hire users wear helmets.
The AA president, Edmund King, said
You see some people on Boris bikes who are not proper cyclists. They need a helmet more than most. They’re weaving all over the place.
The helmet is a hot topic among cyclists, at the end of the day they are designed to reduce acceleration to the head at low speeds. Wikipedia states
A typical helmet is designed to absorb the energy of a head falling from a bicycle, hence an impact speed of around 12 mph or 20 km/h. This will only reduce the energy of a 30 mph or 50 km/h impact to the equivalent of 27.5 mph or 45 km/h, and even this will be compromised if the helmet fails.
Basically the helmet is only designed to protect a cyclist that falls over by them selves. Anyone that has cycled for a reasonable amount of time can manage to balance and is unlikely to fall over. The addition of a cycle helmet in a crash with a vehicle is debatable. It may or may not help you.
Is weaving a bad thing? I and many other cyclists do a little wobble or weave as a vehicle is approaching us, it gives the driver the perception that we are not in control and they are more likely to give us the space we require.
High visibility vests are also a hot topic. My personal opinion is they are next to useless in the city environment. So many people wear hi-viz that it doesn’t have the same effect that it used to. Out in the suburbs and the country side it’s a different story. But in the city where you can’t see much further than the rear of the car in front of you, hi viz isn’t going to help.
The CTC’s response was fantastic.
We believe that far bigger road safety gains can be made by tackling instances of bad driving.
And that is how most cyclists felt about it. The CTC turned up at the same locations as the AA and handed out copies of the highway code to drivers.
The AA have said they will repeat this branded give way in other UK cities but I suspect that this may do more damage than good to them, especially with regards to the cycling community.