If society is truly concerned about reducing head injuries, it shouldn’t worry so much about cyclists but find ways to reduce the enormous number of head injuries in cars, in bars, and falling down stairs [“Helmet debate won’t abate”, January 9-16].
Should we mandate helmets for using stairs or going out for a night on the town? Simple falls make up the vast majority of head-injury hospitalizations (45 percent), followed by motor-vehicle crashes (36 percent) and assaults (9 percent). That bicycle helmets were ever made mandatory and that enforcement rates so much ink are made possible only by the complete ignorance that cycling head injuries make up just half a percent of head-injury hospitalizations in Canada. The ratio makes it approximately equivalent to the head-injury risk in a car, but nobody is acknowledging the relative failure of seat belts and air bags and demanding that motor-vehicle occupants wear helmets too.
Helmet laws have failed to make a dent in serious head injuries in the few jurisdictions that have them. What legislation does is take a safe and beneficial activity and make it appear dangerous, while society loses all the benefits of those who are thus discouraged from riding.
> Ron van der Eerden / Vancouver