Two days ago, a child was struck by a car on a city street - the second time an accident involving a child on a bike and car was reported in less than one week. The boy was in critical condition on the day of the accident and we can only hope and pray that the young fellow will pull through.
The Spectator, in the second sentence of their report, tells us that "the boy ... was not wearing a helmet". We are told nothing about his injuries or the impact, nor of the possible relevance of his not wearing a helmet.
The article also quotes Hamilton Police Sgt. Terri-Lynn Collings:
"It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that any child under 16 is wearing a bicycle helmet," she said, adding police believe everyone who rides a bike should wear one.
Last week, when a child ran into a car (and was more-or-less okay), we were similarly told that the child wasn't wearing a helmet, though there was no indication that he had head injuries.
For some twenty years now, we have been hearing the loud and persistent (and in some cases legislated) mantra: "wear a bike helmet!" It seems that we have come to feel that wearing a helmet is the beginning and ending of cycling safety.
So when a cyclist is in an accident, the first thing we ask is: "was he wearing a helmet?" If he wasn't? Well, as absurd as it sounds at first blush, I believe we have been conditioned to conclude, "I guess it's his own fault, then."
If the police and the media are serious about cycling and cycling safety, they need to stop telling us about helmets unless it seems likely that not wearing a helmet contributed to an injury.
Otherwise, they are just perpetuating the *all that matters is that you wear a helmet* myth and implying that a helmet would have made a difference - and allowing us to draw the inevitable conclusion when the cyclist wasn't doing that sole, important thing.
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