Your bike helmet law is stupid and pointless, study concludes

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      Adding fuel to an argument that will never, ever end, the Journal of British Medicine has published a Canadian study this week concluding that bike helmet laws do roughly fuck all to reduce head injuries.

      That’s not to say that the helmet itself doesn’t reduce the risk of head injury, as noted by researchers at the University of Toronto.

      But, they conclude:

      “…  in the Canadian context of existing safety campaigns, improvements to the cycling infrastructure, and the passive uptake of helmets, the incremental contribution of provincial helmet legislation to reduce hospital admissions for head injuries seems to have been minimal.”

      Researchers looked at over 66,000 hospital admissions across Canada from 1994-2008. There are seven provinces with mandatory helmet laws, with B.C. jumping on board in ’96.

      As of right now, drivers are still not required to wear helmets. 

      Is it me, or is there something irrational and discriminatory about that? 


      We're now using Facebook for comments.



      May 15, 2013 at 4:58pm

      A bike helmet saved my life in 2002, but that doesn't mean I think they should be mandated by law. I feel the same way about seatbelts but I would guess that seatbelt legislation probably has reduced the number of hospitalizations for car accidents. Helmet laws are rarely enforced and this may be one reason the stats haven't changed - people who don't want to wear them, simply won't. I do, though.


      May 15, 2013 at 5:24pm

      "...the rate of head injuries decreased by 26.0% (16.0% to 36.3%) in provinces with legislation but remained constant in provinces and territories without legislation."
      So, how is that not related to the legislation? If the rate of head injury was already going down as the researcher states, then wouldn't the rate of decrease be constant across the board? Without sufficient explanation why the rate did not decrease as much in the provinces & territories without the helmet legislation, it just seems the researchers are ignoring their own findings...

      Nonetheless, indeed this is a law that is rarely followed, and seldom enforced.


      May 15, 2013 at 7:47pm

      I'm a cyclist who always wears a helmet. The likelihood of suffering a head impact is simply higher if you're on a bike than if you're in a car. That said, I don't have a problem with stupid people being allowed to fulfill their Darwinian destiny.


      May 15, 2013 at 9:53pm

      wearing a helmet is a good idea unless you are cruising the seawall or on some other leisure ride. Legislating mandatory use of helmets is silly. There are numerous activities that are dangerous or bad for your health and we are permitted to do them if we choose - why is it different with a bike helmet?

      Freedom Fighter

      May 15, 2013 at 11:20pm

      Why is it that the Nanny State crowd always ignore the unintended consequences of their interventions? These helmet laws reduce cycling which has negative health implications such as obesity and diabetes, as well as air quality related problems due to more cars. Instead, they use the worst case and unlikely outcome of a head injury to justify their assault on personal freedom.

      Let's repeal the BC bicycle helmet law.

      Martin Dunphy

      May 15, 2013 at 11:41pm


      So helmet laws cause air pollution?
      The Fraser Institute claims that organic produce actually kills people because it is too expensive, thereby causing the impoverished among us to avoid fruits and vegetables and be susceptible to diet-related cancers.

      Maybe you guys should get together?
      Just sayin'.


      May 16, 2013 at 6:02am

      Umm, how about while we have publicly funded healthcare, we have laws on the books keeping people from being idiots and hurting themselves. The bikers in this city are the worst, because they suck at riding. Take it from someone with real skill on a bike. You hipster douchelords should rock lids....

      Sara Dean

      May 16, 2013 at 6:56am

      J.T.: The analysts looked at the incremental effects of helmet use in the context of other major possible contributing factors and found that they could not attribute the decrease ('due to') to the use of helmets in and of themselves. The decreases would not be even across the board (e.g. for instance due to differences in terrain, weather seasonality and daylight, traffic patterns and driver habits, temperature, infrastructure across the different provincial settings. e.g. Vancouver has cyclists all 12 months and when it is dark and rainy whereas Toronto has snow for several 'darkest' months). So apples and oranges. It could well be, for instance, that a province that mandates wearing head protection also just happens to be 'safer' in general so that is what could have led to the improvement in rates, and not the helmets, per se, in and of themselves, notwithstanding the obvious protection function they serve against abrasions and wounds, but not against severe concussion or trauma. 'Head injury' is a broad term. Vancouver mountain bikers go on real mountains unlike Toronto or Regina for instance.

      Need to understand each provinces profile of cycle injuries (not just 'hospitalzations'): severity, frequency, road vs off road mnt biking, age, etc.

      For the purposes of the issue in question, the correct parameters or values were selected and it was found uncertain as to whether helmet laws could be conclusively credited with injury rate reduction causitively.

      I don't bike...but I study 'mandatory life jacket-wearing by boaters' legislation proposals! Some countries e.g. New Zealand have enacted legislation something like 10 years ago so the effects and impacts of life jacket wearing laws are yet to be fully and thoroughly understood. Some unfortunate people in fact do die accidently even while wearing a life preserver. But that is NOT a sound reason not to wear one!

      Nanny over the Nanny Staters.

      Bilbo Baggins

      May 16, 2013 at 10:34am

      It's you....we don't need another intolerant car-hater. Ride your bike, but shut the fuck up about it............

      Michael Watkins

      May 16, 2013 at 10:42am

      I've been riding with a helmet since long before legislation was put in place or enforced and won't ever stop. I'm a very experienced cyclist.

      I used to commute to work in Kits from Port Coquitlam daily. A helmet saved my life when a car veered into me, forcing my body and head into a collision with lamp pole. I walked away with severe bruising and a damaged helmet because it did what it was supposed to - protect my grey matter.

      Frankly I could care less if people want to risk brain injury. Go for it dudes.

      Me? I like my noggin.