Interview Prep – Mandatory Helmets won’t change the fact we’re still cycling in society’s gutters

I’m pretty pumped about a live interview I have coming up on the local Rogers community station tonight (June 25) between 7 and 8pm. It’s on the coroner’s report on cycling deaths with a focus on the proposed mandatory helmet legislation.

My previous interview on the 570’s Jeff Allan Show, I was nervous I was going to get roasted and so I took a conservative approach. The interview was cordial and I thought I came across quite boring.

My first reaction this time round was that I wanted to come across more edgy akin to: ‘I’m only going to wear the proposed mandatory attire’. But the between the line’s advice from Mike Boos reminded me that it’s not about me :)

I spent a lot of time trying out my ‘views’ in conversations and discussions with friends and colleagues and I’ve been quite surprised by the average person’s response. Most think I’m a ‘dumb ass’ to think helmet’s are a detriment to our safety and really don’t hear my arguments. They react with emotion of protecting their kids, having had serious concussions themselves or having been in an accident where a helmet saved their noodle.

It’s taken me a while to land here, but I’m pretty content with it. The gist is mandatory helmets won’t change the fact we’re still cycling in society’s gutters. Here are some links I’ve used to shape my views over the last few days:

Interview Questions:

I understand that you agree with some recommendations, but not all: Firstly, what are you in favour of and why?

* Education, 1 meter rule, Complete streets approach (segregated bike lanes), paved shoulders, truck side guards,

Cycling is a way of life in many parts of Europe – do attitudes need to shift here in Canada?

It’s a way of life in many areas other than europe as well. But we do need an attitude shift and we’re seeing it. Last year I cycled to Jack Layton’s funeral and it helped me realize what a great place Waterloo Region is to be a cyclist. We have the beginnings of superb bicycle infrastructure and guess what it’s only going to get better. We have to protect it’s future against negative influences and mandatory bike helmets has the potential to be detrimental to cycling as a form of alternative transportation.

You are skeptical about the benefits of wearing a helmet; why?

Even the question misses the mark with the problem with the coroner’s report with respect to the mandatory helmet legislation recommendation. I have no issue with helmets, but mandatory helmet legislation stands to be one of the greatest threats to cycling as an alternative transportation mode.

In every jurisdiction where this has been attempted the result has been fewer cyclists and increased head injuries. The story is in the data regardless of the fact it feels counter intuitive. I can give you stats but they’re all the same.

Do you believe that a helmet is better than no helmet?

Again, it’s the wrong question. The issue is one of shortsightedness – fix the real problem don’t put a band aid on it. Helmets have their place. Some people feel they can’t ride without one, others feel safer without one. You travel to the netherlands and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone wearing a helmet. Cycling isn’t dangerous, just as we wouldn’t typify walking as dangerous or playing soccer as dangerous. Sure accidents happen.

Are the way helmets are made part of the issue, then? Would stronger helmets be worth the wear?

Yes but cycling shouldn’t be dangerous.

What do you see as being part of the solution when it comes to cycling fatalities?

Cyclist protection via the law

Do you wear a helmet when you cycle; what are some of your main concerns when you’re out on the road?

* Yes and No – If I can trails, traffic calmed streets, it’s a short distance then I probably won’t wear a helmet. If I’m navigating a longer distance at higher speeds on busier roads then yes. And definitely if I’m mountain biking or road biking. Again the issue in the Coroner’s report isn’t about helmets, it’s about making them mandatory.


9 thoughts on “Interview Prep – Mandatory Helmets won’t change the fact we’re still cycling in society’s gutters

  1. One thing that wasn’t in the corner’s report (and admittedly a tough sell) that I would like to see is lower speed limits.
    I’m fortunate that within St. Catharines speed limits are 50km/hr. I believe in Kitchener and many other cities in Ontario, some roads are 60 & 70km/hr, which IMO is too fast for a city road.

    I was interviewed twice (years ago) by the local newspaper…I don’t count on that happening again as I’ve probably burned too many bridges with how vocal I’ve been against Sun media owning them…Of course I was interviewed by the “Green reporter” who moved on to Hamilton anyways and being Sun media they dumped anything that would be deemed “left”.

    Best of luck with the interview…Do you know if it will be posted online? (we have Cogeco in Niagara so I won’t see it otherwise :p )

    1. Unfortunately the show is not posted online. This means I can’t watch it either. Too bad – another friend will be on the show as well.

  2. I think the lower speed limits would be buried in the complete street design :)
    If a serious push is made to reduce car usage, then we’ll have to design our cities such that over a distance of 5 km it’s faster to go by bicycle.

  3. 5 questions about bike helmets. Almost nothing about the other more important parts of the report. Don’t fall into that trap.

    1. That’s my goal. There’s some fantastic recommendations, fantastic not new, and one crappy recommendation that won’t fix anything and has only done harm to cycling’s adoption as an alternative transportation in other jurisdications.

    1. That’s the a good argument for helmets, we have force bicycles riders to use dangerous infrastructure day in, day out. However I still stand by the fact that helmets don’t do a lick to create safe infrastructure :)

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