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Letters to the editor, June 12,2014

These are the letters and comments from the print edition


Cycle thoughts

I've never heard anyone regret wearing a helmet, but on top of that there are two main reasons I support mandatory helmets ("Brains matter," Bike Week feature by Erica Butler, June 5).

1. It reduces the risk that taxpayers will have to pay for someone to be kept in a vegetative state should something happen to them.

2. It gives the cyclist at least the minimum due diligence to protect his or herself. If they were struck by a car, and sustained a brain injury, it would greatly help determine who is responsible for what damages should it go to litigation and insurance.

I know these are only financial concerns, and when it comes to the brain, money is nowhere near as important, but as a non-cyclist–and a tax- and insurance-payer–this helps ease my mind. —posted by Bernie Langille

I have ridden my bike 12 months a year for the over 30 years I have lived in Halifax. My daily rides to work cover over 4,000 urban kilometres per year.

Helmets? You've got to be crazy not to wear one.

But my most important safety equipment by orders of magnitude is my mirror. The cars in front of me are not a big worry. It's the vehicles behind me that are the dangerous ones–and my mirror allows me to follow their every move. No doubt that my mirror has saved my life more than once over the past decades.

Legislating helmet use is easy. Requiring mirrors on bicycles is a lot more complicated, but it's worth the conversation.

Having said this, regardless of how much safety equipment we cyclist have and how we follow the rules of the road, we are ultimately at the mercy of the car drivers. —dbikeman, via email

In the USA, one person a day falls and dies in a bathtub, yet one person a year is killed by a shark. If you ask random people on the street–are they more scared of sharks or bathtubs, what will their answer be?

Our health authorities and government taskmasters also have a very bad understanding of risk, and this helmet law exemplifies it.

So we've "prevented" head injuries, maybe, but also ensured 75 percent of potential bicyclists never get on a bike. It's dangerous, didn't you know? You need a helmet, by law.

What are the health implications of a sedentary population driving cars instead of a bicycle because the government mandates it be more dangerous than it really is? More significant than you'd think–and an order of magnitude above the beneficial health outcomes that supposedly come as a result of the helmet law.

What science says and what passes for public policy in Nova Scotia are usually two different things. Nova Scotia very rarely informs itself of the facts before its need for moral authority steps in. These helmet laws are a perfect example.

If they wanted to kill cycling in this province, the provincial government has done a good job. A helmet law is always the first step to make sure people prefer their auto to a bicycle. As helmet laws have everywhere they've been implemented. That's the plan, apparently.

Speaking of automobiles, more than half of all serious head injuries happen inside motor vehicles, regardless of seatbelt use. If you drive a car, wear a helmet! Make it a law! Help protect automobile drivers from themselves!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get some head injuries the old-fashioned and still socially acceptable way: football. —posted by Michael Murphy


The online version of last week's story "Celebrating Johanna Dean" has been revised to fix a couple of errors. For example, we said the route Johanna was biking when she was hit by the truck was her standard route to work, when it wasn't. And an editing error caused Johanna's sister Jackie Dean to be identified as her mother. We sincerely apologize to the Dean family for the mistakes.

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