I’m Considering a U-Turn
If you come here often, you’ll probably know that I’m far from pro-helmet, and absolutely 100% anti helmet compulsion. Basically, the protection offered by bicycle helmets is fairly marginal in situations other than static falls (which is how they’re tested), and I’m a firm believer that compulsion does more to paint an image of riding a bike as a Dangerous Thing than anything else. Everywhere that helmets are made mandatory, cycling rates drop.
As a result of this thinking, I generally don’t wear a helmet. The exception is for racing (because the rules say that I must) or out & out training for racing (because we never do anything new on race day).
However, I’m considering changing all this, because it seems that the British legal system, magistrates, and I suppose, defence lawyers representing motorists are using bike helmets as their Get Out Of Jail Card.
A few months ago, there was the case of Smith V Finch, where the judge agreed that although Finch knocked Smith off his bike by overtaking too close, Smith could have been held partially responsible for his injuries, as he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Then today, we have this in our local paper, the Newcastle Journal:
A MOTORIST who had driven for eight years without ever passing a test escaped jail after killing a cyclist . . .
. . . Moore, who became the first defendant at Durham Crown Court to admit the relatively new charge of causing death by careless driving, was told by Judge Richard Lowden that Mr Jorgensen’s failure to wear a helmet was a “mitigating factor”.
The punishment for the motorist, who didn’t even have a full f*cking driving license, and was driving a vehicle that he was uninsured to drive? A suspended prison sentence of 24 weeks, banned from driving for two years, and put under a night time curfew. The owner of the car who’d let him drive it (even though she knew he wasn’t qualified & was uninsured) didn’t get off Scot-free though.
Nope - she was fined £93, ordered to pay court costs of £43, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of . . . . .£15.
I try to remain calm and reasonable here, but this is lunacy.
But as a result, I’m thinking about revising my helmet-wearing. Not because I believe that in the event of >1300kg of steel hitting me at anything more than a walking pace, that it would do anything whatsoever to protect me from near certain death.
No, I may start wearing a helmet, because if I am killed while out on my bike, I want to make sure that the bastard driver’s legal team have to work just that little bit harder to wriggle him / her off the hook.