Bike helmets and the road to fascism

I refuse to wear a bike helmet for many reasons, the first and best reason being that a man has his pride.

This will never be good enough in a city with a puritanical streak as long and wide as Vancouver’s, of course.

Here, the benefits of a decent hairstyle always have to be weighed against the probability of receiving yet another drive-by road safety lecture from a sanctimonious prick in a cancer-spewing death-machine. (“Where’s your helmet, idiot!?”)

Then there’s all that hand-wringing over “the burden on health care” and jerry-rigged statistics about traumatic head injury, all of it ridiculous when you consider how efficiently humans have been slaughtering each other in their gas-powered status symbols for the last six decades.

Speaking of slaughter, I was reading Joseph Howard Tyson’s The Surreal Reich to my eight-year-old last night when I came across an interesting passage. Reflector discs, it seems, were first patented by Anton Loibl, an officer of the SS, and then used to fatten the coffers of the Ahnenerbe when Himmler made them mandatory for all bikes in 1938.

“And this is how authoritarian bike safety by-laws lead to fascism,” I explained to my daughter. “Now, you sleep tight, my little one.”

It’s important to read to your kids.

Comments (24) Add New Comment
David
Go visit GF Strong Rehab Centre, in Vancouver. Not being able to walk for the rest of your days, or having limited speech capabilities, might make you think twice about your need to be 'fashionable'.
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ted
David, did you read the article? How many motorists have been in a similar state, or dead in GF Strong or other hospitals? Might make you think twice about using a motorized vehicle. Full stop.
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HellSlayerAndy
Yo David
Com'on...new rule.
If we are going to use people in traction wheels at GF Strong as props for our 'scared straight' morality, can we at least say the cut off should be old people in shower stalls and bike riders.
Let's save it for really good things like the idiots that will be jumping off of cliffs at Lynn Canyon tomorrow or long boards chumps tackling the majestic mountains of New Westminster's road system?
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Larry
Or, the need for safe cycling facilities.

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James Blatchford
Our nephew had the same attitude over seat belts...we still miss him.
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jj
yet, you would expect the healthcare system funded by everyone else to pay for any head injuries you receive?

One one hand you are saying its your choice, but on the other hand you are taking the choice away from those who dont want to pay healthcare bills for stupidity.
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Coiffure over Safety?
I hope the author is comfortable giving up any claim to a publicly-funded healthcare system should he (or his child) be head-injured in an accident.
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westcoastboi
Darwin award nominee...
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Jmh
"Heute Vancouver, morgen die Welt!"
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Cars
Ban cars. Problem solved.
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James Blatchford
Ban unforgiving surfaces and momentum. Problem solved.
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cathy
There are now inflatable bike helmets that inflate on impact for around $450.
Tried to post link but was blocked as spam so just look up Inflatable bike helmet or Holvig and you will get the info.
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Carmen Mills
Helmets save lives. Helmet laws stop people from riding bikes resulting in many more deaths due to obesity, heart disease, and lack of fun. Helmets good, helmet laws bad.
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blah
Carmen, your logic isn't logical. If people don't ride bikes because of helmet laws, then the problem isn't the law, the problem is the people who don't like helmet laws.
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out at night
@ JJ

Stop it! Other things humans do that send us to hospital and result in health care costs, lots of 'em:
eating rich food, driving cars, not exercising, smoking, drinking, running (!! very likely to result in knee/joint damage), unprotected sex, protected sex, stressing out over shit, over-eating, under-eating, taking any number of drugs, gymnastics, yoga, picking our noses and/or rubbing eyes, biting nails, kissing, eating at sketchy restaurants...

Do I need to go on, cuz I can?

Cycling without a helmet and with a modicum of common sense and restraint is way healthier than driving a car, okay?

Of course I wear a helmet religiously, just saying' .
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Jim
It's not about whether cars are more dangerous to us than bikes. It's about whether car-users do or do not wear seat belts and keep to speed limits; and whether cyclists do or do not wear helmets and obey traffic lights.
The point is: not wearing a seat belt (or not wearing a helmet) deliberately takes a less safe option when in a car (or on a bike).
Now ... erm ... why is that not daft?
(Because you can name some other more dangerous thing? Nah!)
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Holy S*
Does that mean we should get rid of every Law we don't "Like".

The Nazis had all kind of Laws similar to our own Good and Bad.

Very quickly we go back to the Wild West no real Laws just Six Shooters.

This is stupid to refuse to wear a Helmet you can pay the Fine repeatedly (if you can afford it unlikely).

Better yet move to Somalia or Sudan they don't have Bike Helmet Laws there.

If you don't like our Laws why do you live here? Leave it's a free choice.
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out at night
@ Holy S*

Yes, we should get rid of the laws we don't "like". Cannabis prohibition laws, laws permitting police access to personal online activity, laws governing prostitution, laws that allow people to evade paying taxes by moving wealth off-shore...it's a list, though I'm not sure it's a really long list.

The laws I'd like to see rescinded are the ones that actually do more harm than good. I believe that pot prohibition and bike helmet laws have been shown to be retrograde and have a negative net effect. Of course, that's all still debatable, so that's why we ARE DEBATING IT!

And speaking of using capital letters Holy S*, you'll notice I just did it for emphasis. You, on the other hand used the upper case for an assortment of random words like "Six", "Wild" and "Good". Can you, or anyone, explain to me the correlation between knee-jerk reactionary online commentators and the inability to fucking write?
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Alan Layton
Carmen - I know a lot of people who are very fit who do not ride bikes, at least not on a regular basis. There are many other ways to keep in shape and not everyone driving a car is a fat, diabetic slob.
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Bikerck
Helmet laws, since they are essentially unenforced, are useless. They are only used as a blunt instrument when the authorities wish to make a point or selectively choose who to punish.

The bizarre logic that failure to follow a rule that's rarely upheld should result in denial of medical treatment makes no sense. Imagine the outcry if we refused to treat someone who crashes their vehicle because they were 5 kph over the limit on an icy road, or someone who was drunk in a public place (section 43 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act) fell and hit their head.

It's all very well and good to demand personal responsibility and accountability, but it must be universal rather than targeting specific road users, esp. when the law has been repeatedly shown to have an overall negative impact on public health statistics and the rationale behind the law is best described as tenuous.

Our laws (and their enforcers) should concentrate on protecting the innocent rather than seeking ways to punish minor infractions. That means greater enforcement and more severe penalties for the offences that kill and injure people daily on our streets. These are for the most part committed by a powerful majority (motorists). Pedestrians, transit users, and cyclists end up as collateral damage because gov't lacks the fortitude to do its job and demand proportional allocation of resources where dangers are most obvious. That would cost votes.

The 'if you don't like it, leave' argument is perhaps the most idiotic. We live in a country where it's considered appropriate and civic-minded to challenge unfair or illogical decisions by government. Sometimes we even hail as heroes those who point up the folly of nonsensical laws and fight to see them repealed.

Do I wear a helmet? Of course. Have you seen the way people drive?
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