Helmet Law for Everybody (in NYC)
I’m still stickin’ to my original two premises: 1) You can’t legislate against stupidity and 2) If you don’t have anything to protect, you don’t need a helmet.
I recently had to replace a helmet that “died” for me. I was chugging uphill, on a wet grassy slope, and went over when I lost all traction. When I got home, I found a piece of tree branch embedded in the foam liner of my helmet. It was large enough and firmly embedded enough that I could not remove it. I cut the piece out and it was long enough to have done serious damage to me if it had struck my unprotected temple or other softer area of my head. I’ll gladly spend the price of a helmet to keep from becoming a piece of broccoli on a ventilator.
Oh yeah, despite the tag under my name that says “newbie”, I bought my first helmet some time around 1978. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden without a helmet since then.
Anonymous 06/06/2012 at 8:31pm #
“Anyone who wants the government to run every aspect of your life, please move to China already.”
We covered reductio ad absurdum on the previous page.
To reiterate, I think the proposed soda-ban is an unnecessary and absurd law. If we want businesses to stop selling large sodas, there are better ways to go about it than wasting time and resources on new legislation and enforcement. Furthermore, the principle of the proposed law is one that restricts individual liberty while also taking away personal responsibility and accountability. None of those things are in the best interest of our people.
So I don’t think anyone here is in disagreement right?
Saying soda makes people fat is like saying guns kill people and pencils mis-spell words.
It is people’s personal choices that result in all of those consequences.
Do I ride without a helmet sometimes, yup! Not very often though.
I’ve been in crashes with stones embedded into my helmet that I just left there for 3 years until they fell out, just because it looked cool (and showed that had I not been wearing a helmet those would be embedded in my skull).
I was in a mountain bike crash in high school that broke my helmet in half! We had it on display at the bike shop I worked at to entice people to buy helmets when they purchased a bike.
But then again, I was in a head-on collision with an automobile in high school where I was going about 45mph downhill and an 80 year old grandma swerved across the road so badly I hit the PASSENGER side fender and flew over the top of the car, landing about 20 feet from where I collided on my back, sliding another 10 feet or so in the grass (just happened to land on the soft shoulder instead of the road).
I wasn’t wearing a helmet THAT TIME and well — the people across the street called 911 because they thought a bicyclist had just been killed in front of their eyes, but then were saying “OH MAN YOU BETTER GET HERE QUICK!” when I jumped to my feet and full of adrenaline rushed to the woman’s car and started pounding on her window screaming all kinds of obscenities.
The woman lost her license for good over the event and was almost legally blind!
So it is a risk you take. I probably should have been laid to rest for good with that one, the point is you take a risk every time you wake up in the morning and go about your day. Trying to legislate everyone into being safe?
Well just look at how they need to fondle your dingleberries and take naked pictures of everyone to hop on a flying Greyhound bus now — all to keep us “safe”
The “terrorists” hate us for our freedoms, so I guess that is why they want to take all our freedoms away — so the terrorists won’t hate us anymore?
This entire thread has become somewhat trite.
We’re arguing about whether or not a city can restrict the size of sodas sold in restaurants.
Meanwhile, our President is personally bombing our own citizens, without a trial.
In Arizona, the State prohibited teachers from teaching ethic studies and banned books from classrooms.
And we’re debating soda sizes.
Anonymous 06/06/2012 at 9:14pm #
“This entire thread has become somewhat trite.”
it was a fun debate for a while, though
Anyway, in a comment that may possibly be back on topic, while I find the NYC proposal to be invasive and governmental overreach, I find equally annoying individuals who apparently wanted to be hall monitors, who harp on other fully grown adults that they should be wearing helmets. People who insist on telling consenting adults that they should be wearing helmets are on the same footing as drivers who try to instruct cyclists in traffic law and then say “I bike too”.
(Pulls pin, throws…)
I guess the good thing is on many accounts a broad spectrum of people do sort of agree.
The wierd this is that they could accomplish a great reduction of soda consumption just by removing costly government subsidies of high fructose corn syrup.
(Well,a ctually just corn itself is subsidized, but for practical purposes that lowers prices on Fritos and Pepsi Cola)
it’s really sad that we subsidize a plant. It’s admirable to try and help farmers ensure consistent income in a weather dependent profession that produces our food, but subsidizing a plant doesn’t benefit the farmers.
I really doubt the subsidies make much difference in the price of HF corn syrup (though I agree they’re a big waste of money). The stuff is cheap to produce, that’s all, and it just takes a lot more manual labor to grow, pick, process, ship and sell fruits and vegetables.
Anonymous 06/07/2012 at 5:27pm #
Well, I’m no expert, but last time I read up on this, my understanding was this:
The market price of a bushel of corn would definitely be below the production cost of a bushel of corn without the subsidies, but instead of letting that market force work, we subsidized it into overproduction. Companies then had this huge surplus of corn and had to figure out how to monetize it, and that’s why corn products like HFCS became popular. HFCS wouldn’t even be playing a significant role in the market in the first place if the subsidies hadn’t directly led to that massive surplus of corn that wasn’t needed for the production of actual food. So the subsidies definitely seemed to cause the problem and bring HFCS into existence. Who knows whether getting rid of the subsidies would necessarily fix anything now since our food system is so very, very broken, but it seems like a good place to start.
If HFCS were simply cheaper soda makers would be using it in other countries.
For what it’s worth, Bloomburg does not support a helmet law.
“Well, look, keep in mind that my foundation works on traffic safety and getting helmets to people that ride motorcycles and motor scooters more than bicycles, is something that we’re working on and spent a lot of money on around the world. It would be better if everybody wore a helmet. I think in a practical sense a lot of people won’t, and they’re better off taking a bike than driving or walking in the streets and getting pedestrian accidents (sic). The most important thing we can do is separate bicycles lanes from traffic, and that’s one of the things we’re really trying to do.”
US Corn subsidies 2010 = $3.5 billion (farm.ewg.org)
US Corn production 2010 = 14 billion bushels (usda.org)
Subsidy per bushel = 25 cents
Cost of a bushel of corn is around $2
EDIT: To be clear, I think this is a colossal waste of money. But I don’t think it has much impact on the cost of HF corn syrup. Since corn is grown as a feed grain in this country, vegetarianism, by lowering the price of meat, probably contributes to corn’s use as HFCS. (I am a vegetarian so guilty.)
Anonymous 06/07/2012 at 6:40pm #
This guy agrees with you (Quick summary: The subsidies were a bad idea to begin with, but at this point studies estimate getting rid of them would only raise corn prices by 5-7%, which wouldn’t make a noticeable difference for HFCS. But on the other hand maybe we could take that money and put it towards subsidizing actual food like fruits and vegetables to make them cheaper for consumers, which might not be totally pointless)
Edit to respond to your edit: I’m guilty too, but I guess vegetarianism + minimizing HFCS consumption can push in both directions? I dunno, I have to be careful not to read TOO much about this stuff or I start thinking I need to stop eating altogether because everything is bad
Farmers should be free to grow what the market wants, not what the government thinks it wants or what a particular industry wants.
This is getting pretty off topic, but my understanding is that we actually drive the cost of sugar up through tariffs on sugar imports as a way to prop up the American sugar industry. This results in HFCS being a cheaper alternative for soda and candy.
Yeah, but if there were no sugar tariffs we’d be sweetening our sodas with sucrose instead of HFCS. Not clear that’s an improvement in terms of health, though I understand it’s tastier.
I wouldn’t consider yourself guilty of anything, jon. I don’t quite equate not contributing to demand with subsidy. I haven’t bought into space tourism but that doesn’t mean I’m subsidizing it for others, at least in that sense.
Prioe of sugar: Not so much sugar tarriffs as boycotting Cuba. I recall my distress at the beginning of that embargo when popsicle prices went up 40%.
You don’t think a subsidy that by your own numbers pays for 12% of the base product that turns into HFCS is a significant contributor to cost?
That’s 3.5 billion dollars of subsidies.
Don’t feel too bad about being a vegetarian. The dairy cows and their male (and female) calves, which get turned into veal/beef consume that corn too. Same thing for hens and whatever other animals you use.
There’s a lot of contributions to the cost of corn, like our lovely biofuels for example.
What’s more interesting to look at is how the corn demand competes with the price of other grains and raises food prices world wide. It’s also interesting to look at how inefficient the consumption of meat is and how many more people could be fed with a plant based diet. (Based on math I did a while ago, 32 kids could be fed on the difference between the amount of corn that goes through the food pyramid of an average omnivore and a vegetarian)
the sad thing is that the corn subsidies get lumped into things like crop insurance for other types of farms in people’s minds and in legislation. fruit and vegetable farmers don’t get shit for subsidies the way grain farmers do, and the ceiling on what a “small” farm is for the subsidies is ridiculously high.
It’s too bad we don’t support America’s fruit basket. It seems like it’s mechanically more complicated to harvest fruits and vegetables too
If I had to throw out a wildass cynical guess, someone correct me, but I would guess it has to do with fruits and vegetables not being traded on the stock market as commodities futures the way corn and certain other products are. The subsidies actually have nothing to do with protecting farmers, that’s a nice smokescreen, they are in place to protect prices on the market. It’s all about the money interests.
Well, that’s the problem with America, isnt’ it? The filthy rich just don’t have enough money.
But we might get to fix that after the election. We’ll get the government OFF our backs (and put Goldman Sachs on there instead.)
@edmonds – I don’t think that’s it:
Also, the farmers ARE the money interest. Most agriculture these days isn’t done by small family farmers, it’s giant corporations, and this goes for fruits and vegetables as well as grains. As far as corn goes specifically, it’s not a coincidence that Iowa, the first primary (well, caucus actually) state is a massive corn producer.
@ willb Most agriculture these days isn’t done by small family farmers, it’s giant corporations
This is true. On the other hand the USDA’s Economic Research Service says ERS defines a “family farm” as any farm organized as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or family corporation.
Historically, the largest family farms in the original colonies have been somewhere north of 5 million acres. Out West, though, I guess they might get a bit larger.
Betcha if grampa owns a couple thousand square miles, you aren’t going to bed hungry. For a few of the richest of those guys, it might even be rational to vote Republican.
@ “paleo diet”
I used to be a neandertal, but I went back to school. Now, I’m a certified Hunter-Gatherer.
In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.
But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.
“Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits,” says Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. He studied the issue with mathematical modeling, and concludes that the benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.
He adds: “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.
[PITTSBURGH TAKE NOTE]
Recent experience suggests that if a city wants bike-sharing to really take off, it may have to allow and accept helmet-free riding. A two-year-old bike-sharing program in Melbourne, Australia — where helmet use in mandatory — has only about 150 rides a day, despite the fact that Melbourne is flat, with broad roads and a temperate climate. On the other hand, helmet-lax Dublin — cold, cobbled and hilly — has more than 5,000 daily rides in its young bike-sharing scheme. Mexico City recently repealed a mandatory helmet law to get a bike-sharing scheme off the ground. But here in the United States, the politics are tricky.
But bicycling advocates say that the problem with pushing helmets isn’t practicality but that helmets make a basically safe activity seem really dangerous.
In fact, many European researchers say the test of a mature bike-sharing program is when women outnumber men. In the Netherlands, 52 percent of riders are women.
Before you hit the comment button and tell me that you know someone whose life was probably saved by a bike helmet, I know someone, too. I also know someone who believes his life was saved by getting a blood test for prostate specific antigen, detecting prostate cancer. But is that sense of salvation actually justified, for the individual or society?
“In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke.”
I never wear a helmet and rarely get comments about it. I think they would do very little if I fell off my bike which I have done years ago and certainly never hit my head. It would be an odd enough crash, that if you are going to live in that kind of fear, you might as well just keep a helmet on daily, no matter what you are doing. The reasons helmets are such a big deal in the US is obvious. MONEY! The amount of advertising and fear mongering by companies to profit from them is similar to SUV advertising. You have one child, you MUST have an SUV! USA! USA! Money!
I always feel safer with a helmet, even more so with armor (shin/knee/elbow pads). Invincible even.
I guess the question is, am I really safer or do I just feel that way?
Well, since you ask, here’s the CDC’s view: “Head injury is the most common cause of death and serious disability in bicycle-related crashes; head injuries are involved in about 60 percent of the deaths, and 30 percent of the bicycle-related ED visits… Bicycle helmets are a proven intervention that reduce the risk of bicycle-related head injury by about 80 percent.”
I’m not an advocate for mandatory helmet laws, BTW; I think the benefit of biking, even without a helmet, outweighs the slight risk of head injury. But if you ride regularly you should wear a helmet, because it takes only one crash without one to seriously screw up the rest of your life.
The chance of such a life changing injury is heavily dependent on speed. By in large, bike share riders will be be treating biking as a faster way of walking and going maybe 12mph.
When more of a very low stress system is built out that type of cycling will become more dominant, and fractional helmet usage will decline further. But it probably won’t (and shouldn’t) decline as far here as it would in a place without hills.
Jon: “Ugh. Helmet wars.”
Yeah, sorry. As soon as I hear of MORE FEAR LAWS, it gets me going. The chance of death is just too remote. It is easy to make figures create fear. I looked at Copenhagen and Finland for some data. Finland is more pro helmet and fear driven and Copenhagen is for no helmets. The statistics are interesting because there are so few deaths, you really can’t come to a conclusion. Head injuries are of course a pretty big part of all the injuries, but injuries are so rare and life threatening ones are super rare. If I was running at 30mph all the time, I probably would wear a helmet. I don’t ride my fast road bike very often, but the speeds that thing can go is so much faster than my fat bike and fixed gear. I just don’t run over 20mph that much.
Anyway, I hope we don’t see more fear/laws. I don’t know how motorcyclists got to remove helmets to this day. It is hard to believe they pulled that off somehow. It is a reversal of the norm, because soon I feel we really won’t be allowed to leave our homes because there is too much danger. How did I live through the 70’s and 80’s?
I’ve always wondered how they got that mess in Australia passed. I just picture the Aussies as macho gator wrasslin’ badasses, not bicycle helmet law passin’ nancies.
Perhaps an outcome of seeing bicycling primarily as a “sport” activity.
The things I’ve recently read about Ireland cycling are fantastic.
Can we get out of talking about helmets and start talking about why anyone would need a helmet?
We need to prevent crashes from happening at all, and by that I mean collisions with moving motor vehicles. I don’t think there’s much we can do about people who wreck into stationary objects. Possibly we can reduce the number of holes, drain grates, rails and other pavement issues. But cars and trucks, that’s another matter.
Merely separating those three classifications from pointless and ad nauseam helmet theology would be an excellent start.
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