By Kenneth Moyle
Published June 24, 2011
So an eight-year old runs a stop sign and T-bones a van - he's ok, thank the heavens. And what's the take-away message to parents from the police? Teach your kids how to ride a bike safely? Obey traffic laws?
...the incident serves as a reminder to parents they must "always make sure your kids are wearing helmets."
Although adults are not required to wear a helmet on a bicycle, it is best for children if parents "lead by example" and use one.
The boy didn't hurt his head. That fact that he wasn't wearing a helmet is not relevant in this accident. He ran a stop sign - that's why he hit the van. Yet that's not the message which either the police or the reporter chose to convey.
Instead of a relevant message about the importance of obeying traffic laws and acting predictably, they repeat the automatic, thoughtless "cyclists must wear helmets to be safe" mantra.
Anti-helmet-law activists often claim that one of the problems with helmet laws is that they make people believe that cycling safety is all about protective equipment. I sometimes wonder if that's really the case, but this incident is a good example: having repeated the mantra about helmets, both police and press feel there's nothing more they need to say. Job done.
I'm not arguing against wearing helmets here, only against how much we rely on the practice for safety.
Predictable, lawful behaviour by cyclists, combined with a greater number of cyclists on our streets, will do more for cyclist safety than helmets on the heads of each and every darting, sidewalk-riding, stop-sign running bicycle rider.