Tuesday 20 September 2016

Obligatory Helmet Opinion Piece

There will be another more reasoned and less sweary post about bike helmets at a later time. In the mean time if you're offended by things like swear words then this post is not for you...

Of late I seem to be addressing several of the cycling issues that just will not die, like whether or not sport cycling influences mainstream riding behaviour, bike licenses, etc. And now it appears to be time to jump feet first into the one that pisses many cyclists off the most.

Fucking helmets and people who don't much cycle trying to force their fucking arguments on us. Don't expect this to be yet another well researched, reasoned, thoughtful and referenced demonstration of the bleeding obvious fact that bike helmets reduce the uptake of cycling while not particularly reducing injury rates, about risk compensation and brain stem injuries and all that bollocks. You want that? Just fucking google it, the internet is already full of articles that make that point, don't ask me to flog that dead horse for you. I'm not into that, go and satisfy your fetish elsewhere you kinky bastard. 

I don't care if you ride wearing a helmet. Or not. I don't. Seriously, its not my business so stop expecting me to have an opinion about it. Its an almost perfect example of your actions affecting you and not me or anyone else for that matter. If you feel the need to denigrate others for wearing a helmet or not, or otherwise doing shit that doesn't affect you, at all, you've got problems. Deal with them, don't bring them to me.

So, yes, I accept the argument that at an epidemiological level bike helmets offer little, and that at a personal level whether or not to wear one depends on a number of factors. And I accept that as such its really just a personal choice. If you want to wear a bike helmet, great. If you don't, fine. Its a handy platform for a helmet camera, and that alone is reason enough for me to wear one sometimes. I also wear one if I'm going properly off-road or in icy conditions where the most likely fall is a slow one of my own engineering.

But here's where the controversy really comes in to it - compulsion vs. opposing compulsion. No one, but no one argues its never ok to wear a helmet. I want to make that absolutely clear - this is a discussion that is often portrayed as pro-helmet vs. anti-helmet, but that is not true at all. No one is telling you that you must never wear a helmet. The entirety of the argument 'against' helmets is simply one in favour of choice to wear a helmet or not. There is no 'anti-helmet' movement. It does not exist - there is merely the desire not to be compelled to wear personal protective equipment of marginal worth and an understanding of the net negative impact of such across a wider society.

Conversely there's an active, insidious and genuinely demented pro-helmet lobby - and they frequently portray those who don't agree with them as anti-helmet. I'd like to say they're naive but really that seems needlessly generous to those responsible for what I believe to be a cynical and dishonest portrayal of the points put to them. For the most part their narrative is better served by pretending that those who disagree with them want to deprive you of your right to be safe and your right to wrap your child up safe. Its a lie. It is not erroneous, its a flat out lie. They know better, they're frequently told better, and they still come out with this lie.

When you're discussing an issue with people who will portray your opposition to compulsion as a desire to ban their personal preference, and such is the argument you'll invariably encounter, you're not in the kind of mutual respect territory conducive to reasonable discourse. Helmet bigots are not rational or reasonable and their argument is not based on an intelligent analysis of the available data - its an emotive, angry position based purely on anecdote reliant victim blame and othering of injured cyclists - one can easily blame those one sees as 'other' for anything bad that happens to them, whether it their fault or not. 

Don't keep tediously banging on about choice with these people - be honest with them that you know what they're doing. Don't keep demanding that they accept the published data, they won't. Published data doesn't trump dogma. Use your imagination for a nanosecond and you'll think of dozens of examples (religions, climate change denial, UKIP, Beliebers, Sunderland fans, etc.)

Roll around with pigs, get covered in shit. Its that simple. Tell them, tell them again, then tell them what they are. And thats it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment