Thursday, 2 August 2012

HELMETS.....MP3 PLAYERS AND PHONES..

A HELMET FOR EACH BIKE...
Following Bradley Wiggins tremendous win in the TT yesterday a journalist asked Wiggo during a press conference later, what his thoughts were concerning a cyclist who was killed last night, after being hit by a bus on the A12 in Hackney East London. 
The bus was carrying members of the media away from the Olympic Park. 


During his reply Wiggo mentioned that he felt that it should be made compulsory to wear a helmet whilst riding a bike in the UK....he went on to say that cyclists shouldn't be listening to their MP3 players and using phones when out riding their bikes. 
He reckons that cyclists should take some responsibility for their own safety. 


The helmet issue is a contentious one...both British Cycling and the CTC (The Cyclists Touring Club also known as The National Cycling Charity) feel that is shouldn't be made law in the UK to wear one when riding your bike...they argue that cycling numbers will fall dramatically if it was made compulsory. 
They quote various statistics as well as the experiences of countries like New Zealand who have actually made it a compulsory requirement. 
On top of their opinions, there are the 'freedom' and 'human rights' groups who always seem ready to argue the point.... 


Now my point of view is that it wouldn't bother me one bit if it became an offence to ride a bike without one... 
Three years ago, following a ride along the length of France and returning to the UK by way of a ferry from Spain to Plymouth, I came off my bike after only being back in the UK for a couple of hours...


I don't remember anything at all concerning the half an hour before the accident or the crash itself, but according to friends who were riding with me, no other vehicles were involved and it seems likely that my front wheel hit a pot hole throwing me off the bike. 
The helmet I was wearing was split into a number of pieces when my head hit the tarmac...


Obviously the helmet could do nothing to protect me from the broken collarbone and five ribs that were smashed,  in the same way that if I had been side swiped by a car it wouldn't have stopped impact damage to my body....but...I am certain that it did help to reduce the damage to my skull. 


I still had head injuries...one which caused a temporary loss of my sight in one eye a couple of months later, but according to the surgeon who treated me, in his opinion the helmet probably saved my life...
My opinion... I love helmets!! 
I have three of them..a different one for each bike!!
 I realize that they will not stop me being hit by a car, but if my skull makes impact with something hard they might help prevent a bad accident turning into something more serious. 


As for the MP3 players and mobile phones....it is certainly something I would never do....
When riding my bikes I like to have my senses aware of everything that is going on around me....
I want to do as much as I can to help myself to stay safe.....closing myself off to the world with earbuds stuck in each ear is something I will only do when training on the static bike. 
When I'm out on the road I want to hear what's going on....


As for the mobile phone..well I have seen many cyclists cycling along with a mobile phone held to their ear and controlling the bike in traffic with the one free hand....
As a group cyclists are very quick to point the finger at motorists concerning their bad driving and intolerance of cyclists, but I do think that Wiggo is right, cyclists do need to help themselves to stay safe on the roads....just seems like commonsense to me.

10 comments:

Colleen said...

I completely agree with you Trevor! I used to work on a pediatric rehab unit. The kids I saw with head injuries resulting from a fall or collision while riding a bike sold me forever on helmet usage. In every case during my employment, the injuries sustained would have been, likely, greatly reduced or non-existent if the kid had been wearing a helmet. One 7 year old girl merely lost her footing and tipped over on her bike (she wasn't even moving). She hit her head on the curb, got up, and walked into her house. In the morning she was unresponsive and remained in a coma for 3 months (from a slow epidural bleed). When she came out of the coma, she had major deficits. All could have been prevented if she had been wearing a helmet.
I think the theory of numbers of cyclists decreasing if helmets are law is kind of bogus. If every bike sold included a helmet (just like all bikes are required to be outfitted with reflectors and all cars come outfitted with seatbelts) then people might be more inclined to wear one.

Jez Andrews said...

I'm also right there with you Trevor and I feel quite strongly about this. I see Helmets like seatbelts in cars, people may not like using them but they are there to save lives and eventually people would get used to wearing one.

The big question would be more whether it could be policed effectively.

Steve A said...

Wiggo's got ONE right - "take responsibility." I ride with earphones nearly every day and use same to listen to the news, weather, and traffic - not MP3. While I also wear a helmet, I'm not under the illusion that it works for more than the "oops" fall...

Steve A said...

Read this

http://www.howwedrive.com/2008/10/01/to-wear-or-not-to-wear-and-is-that-even-the-right-question-ian-walker-on-cycle-helmets/

Helmets are nothing like seatbelts in cars. I do wear one on my commute - along with earbuds tuned to the news and weather, but strongly agree they should NOT be mandatory given the weakness of the evidence they provide a benefit to any but those who,sell them. I think CTC has it right.

Pete Bradbury said...

I agree cyclists should protect themselves with helmets and not be distracted by phones and earphones in the interest of their own safetly, and would be happy if this was compulsory. Like with wearing seatbelts the costs of accidents to the public and one's family are high.
I also feel that cyclists wear high vis or bright clothing to make motorists more aware, but that should be up to the cyclist.
The main problem is motorists driving too fast and speed regulations not being enforced. Segregation of cyclists is good too, but in UK bike lanes are often shared with pedestrians on bumpy paths, then have to cross dual carriageways as dangerous crossings!

Chandra said...

Hi Trevor:
It is my belief that operating a bicycle, while talking on the phone, is NOT a good idea.

I am okay wearing a helmet and the two times I fell off a bike, my head did hit the asphalt. Luckily, I was wearing a helmet once and I bled a bunch and broke my glasses the other time, when I was not wearing one.

While breaking the glasses was a very expensive monetary loss, especially back then, when I was a student, the wounds from the gashes hurt worse.

I think I will wear the helmet, at least for now.

Peace :)

Marsha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marsha said...

Trevor, I agree with you that helmets should be worn while cycling. Some accidents can be avoided, some can't. I've ridden a lot of miles. I don't believe in tempting fate, so I wear one. Like Colleen I've worked in rehab with head injury victims. The ones that really gave me pause were the patients whose lives might have taken a much different path HAD they been wearing a helmet...(BTW, I had to remove my first comment attempt. I typed it on an itty-bitty keypad with an itty-bitty screen. What a disaster!)

Trevor said...

*Colleen*/*Jez Andrews*/*Steve A*
*Pete Bradbury*/*Chandra*/*Marsha*

Thanks everyone for your various views and comments...as I said in the post, this is certainly a contentious issue and one that will continue to roll and roll I think......

J_on_tour said...

MP3 players suggest that the owner finds the activity a little tedious. Nothing like listening the the sounds of nature out in the countryside in my opinion.