Archive for September 4th, 2010

Tomorrow when the government began

September 4, 2010

Apparently we are going to get a government this weekend. And purely by coincidence the heaviest rain of the year and gales and thunderstorms. I suspect that there is a God and s/he has an evil sense of humor.

The helmet law that has foredoomed the bluebike hire scheme in Melbourne city has finally come into open discussion. In fact what moved me to comment was this thread on BV forums. Its just another of the endless helmet threads that usually are only fought out by those who have long established their position. But over the years a noticeable shift has occurred, few now are overwhelmingly in favor of compulsion, nearly all accept that less people cycle because of helmet laws and their is some derision, not entirely all down to me, when someone claims that their helmet saved their lives, leaving them with not a hair out of place or a scratch. We have even seen crashes on BV forums in recent weeks where bones were broken without the words “my helmet saved my life” appearing at all. And now TV and news stories questioning the helmet law. And some well known personalities

However this post by taka

    ( demonstrates that some people totally lack empathy and the ability to think)

demonstrates that some people still don’t understand the argument that a good idea (wearing a helmet in case you fall off) can be a bad bit of legislation.

Dear Sue, I am sorry you feel so strongly about helmet. But if you want my rego’s TAC money to cover your head injury, well … that is so unfair.

Yes I totally agree that you should have your freedom of choice, as long as I don’t friking pay for it at the end.

I am no saint. I don’t care if u die. I just don’t want to be worse off in my pocket. Not to mention you have created more work for a pathologist who has to do your autopsy.

The argument that the helmet law is a bad thing goes like this. Firstly the helmet law dooms bike hire schemes like the Melbourne scene. Secondly the evidence that bicycle helmets actually save lives (as opposed to stitches, mild concussions and the odd ear) is far from totally convincing. The statistical studies that claim to prove it are clearly crap when you actually look at how the data was obtained. All the ones that see no such proof appear far better designed And the fact that motorcycle helmets, seatbelts, airbags, and the like actually work is perfectly clear from similar studies. And at best arguably not so in this case. So if the evidence is not clear why legislate? Its nanny state nuttiness.

But its the third argument that is totally convincing. To even the most callous pragmatist such as taka. Provided they are capable of clear thinking at any rate. And that is the economic argument

I,ll keep this really simple and let my readers do the research. Or not I guess, depending on how interested they are. But essentially this argument goes like this. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are huge killers. Therefore they cost the health system a packet

Cycle commuting and cycling generally are both environmentally nice and an effective defense against these issues A helmet law clearly decreases cycling use. Lots of pro helmet people say not by very much.. but personally I think the evidence is hugely against them in this. The failure of the bike hire scheme, the only place in the world such a scheme has failed, seems a pointer to me. However lets concede the point.. absurd to do so but for the sake of the exercise lets. Even a few % discouragement is still discouragement

On average IF bicycle helmets cut fatal accidents by half (of which their is no evidence) and if helmets discourage cycling by only 10 % or so of people then on any possible set of figures more of these people will die from disease bought on by the lack of exercise than will die by accident on a bicycle due to not wearing a helmet. That is to say that the best case you can make for a helmet law still has more people dying because of it than are saved by it.

And that is ignoring completely some of the more subtle issues of a helmet law.. for example the UK studies that show that motorists give helmet less riders more space, maybe you are more likely to be hit wearing a helmet. Risk compensation theory says you are more likely to take risks wearing a helmet. Its widely accepted that the more cyclists that are on the roads, the more likely car drivers are to behave sensibly around cyclists and the less risk per cyclist. The public perception of cycling as dangerous only seems to actually exist in countries with high rates of helmet use. These sort of effects are likely to more than negate any beneficial effects of a helmet law in themselves.

And of course repealing a helmet law does not make it illegal to use a helmet. It just means one can hire a blue bike to get across town without having to go and buy a helmet.

Australia has one of the lowest commuter cycling rates in the world. And we have helmet laws. Good laws travel. Practically no one else has helmet laws. Seems pretty obvious to me. I find the economic argument to be totally convincing. Its a bad law.

But maybe I don,t understand economics. Was a story on the news this morning. In the US many people are defaulting on their house mortgages. Apparently many mortgages are far more than the property is worth. And apparently if someone walks away from a mortgage, then the moment it is reclaimed by the bank its worth 10% of what it was worth hours before. So why does this not push the mortgage rates down? Why are people not giving loans to people who have defaulted on a house loan to buy their house back for 10 cents on the dollar?. What am I missing?

The movie Tomorrow when the war began, which I have previously discussed on this blog, is now showing. Its going to be a smash. I shall go and see it in the next few days and report on it

We have two web sites probably going live this weekend. which is Dromana mowers… Gozzo from BV forums, and which is a joint venture between us at PerfectNotes and our occasional staffer Mark Condron. Don’t buy anything on the plantsupplies site just at the moment.. the shopping cart stuff is in final testing.