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The Monday Roundup: Bike seizures, ‘black box camera’ & more

Posted by on September 16th, 2013 at 8:45 am

16/365. 09-25-09

Looks suspicious.
(Photo: Malloreigh)

Here are the news and stories that caught our eyes last week…

No helmet, no bike?: The police chief in Victoria, BC (one of the few North American cities where biking is more popular than in Portland) wants to let officers seize the bicycles of people repeatedly caught without a helmet.

Bike black box: There’s a Kickstarter on for a $119 “black box camera” for your bike that self-activates if it senses a crash.

The coming battle over e-bikes: “Few legal codes properly distinguish between “throttle” bikes, which operate like motorcycles, and “pedal assist” bikes, which send power to the wheels only when the cyclist pedals.”

Saudi bike movie: Wadjda, the first-ever Saudi Arabian feature film and reportedly the first directed by a Saudi woman, is about a girl who wants wheels; Slate’s Dana Stevens calls it one of her favorites of the year.

Kidman collision: A paparazzo rode his bike directly into Nicole Kidman Thursday, knocking her over while seemingly trying to get a photo. Guess which noun many outlets felt was most relevant to describe him.

Slower traffic payoff: “Drivers heading downtown from the east using Foster Road may indeed have to give up a minute in the future for livability, for improved traffic safety and for saving lives,” writes the transportation chairman of the Mt. Scott/Arleta Neighborhood Association in a Tribune op-ed.

Mixed-use skyscrapers: As more office buildings replace tracts of cubicles with collaborative public spaces that encourage chance meetings, it’s creating “acres of unused space in conventional office buildings may be transformed into hotel rooms, classrooms, theaters or retail uses, architects and urban planners say.”

Beer-specific bike: This “high-concept machine is designed to hold a traditional half-gallon growler and, frankly, nothing else other than the cyclist.”

College bike impoundment: Goofy mock newscasts written by and starring students are a creative way to convince UC-Santa Barbara students to lock to bike racks instead of fences, but you have to wonder if more bike racks might be more effective.

Despite the competition, there was really no contest for your video of the week:

This month’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by KPFF, the engineers and surveyors behind many Portland metro area bikeways, including the Eastbank Esplanade, the Vancouver Land Bridge, the Springwater Spur Trail, the South Waterfront and Fanno Creek Greenways and Graham Oaks Nature Park. You can follow them on Facebook here.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • Frank September 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Nice video. Could’ve used a helmet. Would have made it safer.

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    • Scott September 16, 2013 at 11:05 am


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      • pdxpaul September 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        Stay alert for those who don’t understand sarcasm. I have goggles for that.

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  • dan September 16, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Per the Kickstarter page, that black box is actually recording all the time, overwriting old footage with new footage, and if it senses a crash, it saves the current file so it won’t be overwritten. It’s a great idea, but there’s nothing to keep rain off the lens, so I wonder if it will capture usable video when it’s raining or just blur.

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    • Scott September 16, 2013 at 11:07 am

      2 zip ties, a cheap plastic three ring binder, and about 3 minutes should fix that.

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    • El Biciclero September 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Seems like it would be easy enough for any camera manufacturer to offer a “black box mode” of sorts that, when activated, would allow the camera to continuously recycle memory card space, rather than making the user manually delete old video files. Coupled with a shock detection apparatus of whatever type, it could continue recording after a detected shock until the user stopped it, it ran out of battery, or an older video file was about to be “recycled”.

      Most impressive thing about Rideye is the battery life. My GoPro lasts slightly over 2 hours on a full charge. As was mentioned by a poster a few weeks ago (who was involved in a right-hook collision), it is important to have some way of immediately showing video to LEOs at the scene, as it may influence their actions in the moment.

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      • gutterbunnybikes September 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm

        Wonder how well the shock sensors would work when BMXing a Citibike?

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      • Pete September 18, 2013 at 1:34 am

        Garmin’s new VIRB has a display screen so I assume you cna play back on it. Stay tuned for a new GoPro camera in mid-October BTW.

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  • dr2chase September 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

    “Graham said if cyclists don’t want to wear a helmet, then they should sign a document waiving their right to use “our medical system” if they suffer a brain injury while on a bike.”

    Ah, the irrational tribal nanny state. It would make more sense (not that it would make sense, merely that it would be slightly less awesomely stupid) to get those waivers from car commuters for heart attacks, diabetes, etc.

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    • John Lascurettes September 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Was also wondering if they seize the cars of drivers found not using their seat belts repeatedly. Y’know, just to keep things equitable.

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      • wilier September 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm

        There is a mechanism to seize the cars of seat belt violators – get too many tickets, lose your license, drive on suspended license, lose your car. Sounds pretty similar to the proposed penalties for bikes.

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        • dwainedibbly September 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

          The same penalty is there for people who ride bikes. Get too many tickets….

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        • GlowBoy September 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

          What are you talking about, wilier? There certainly isn’t any mechanism in Oregon for confiscating the cars of those who repeatedly drive without a license.

          Nor are there necessarily even substantial penalties for DWS. Depending on the original reason for suspension (and seat belt law violations would definitely be towards the milder end of the spectrum), it’s not even a misdemeanor, just a violation.

          A few years ago I read that something like 25% of Oregon drivers were unlicensed. (The percentage without insurance is even higher, and that offense is strictly a violation, never even a misdemeanor). There are very few things about living in this state that disgust me, but our laissez-faire legal attitude towards driving is one of them.

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        • Pete September 18, 2013 at 1:41 am

          Impounding and confiscating are two different beasts. Impounding does not cause the owner to relinquish title (at least not immediately, but impounded cars may be auctioned off after a period, though this is done for practical purposes not punitive).

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  • pdxpaul September 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    That video made me happy. Irreparably happy.

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  • PorterStout September 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Regarding the projected increase in e-bikes, in general I’m for it but I do differ from this quote in the article: “…there’s no evidence that e-bikes are more dangerous. Advocates point out that man-powered bikes routinely exceed the 20 mph limit of the e-bike.” While that may be true, short of going downhill, maintaining a speed of 20+ mph means an experienced rider. Someone on one of these e-bikes can hit and maintain this speed their first day out, going uphill. Passing other riders, say while crossing the Broadway Bridge or even in just a bike lane with surrounding traffic, requires some etiquette and care to do safely. I’ve been passed in a less than “experienced” manner a couple of times by someone who clearly is not a regular bike rider. I’m not completely sold on the idea of having them in the bike lane with me, any more than having a motorcycle in there even if he also was held to 20 mph. (Yeah, it’s not like all cyclists pass safely either, but at least the ones that do know what they’re doing.)

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    • Jon September 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      I have to agree with you on this one. There was a recumbent 3 wheel motorized electric bike that I used to have pass me in the SW area. He was going far faster than 20mph (I would estimate 30 on the flats) and was using the bike lane. He was low enough to the ground to be be nearly invisible to even bicycle riders.
      This weekend I saw a couple of electric motorized bicycles doing more than 20mph on Barbur.
      At some point these things are faster than scooters and should not be in the bike lane.

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      • wsbob September 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

        “…There was a recumbent 3 wheel motorized electric bike that I used to have pass me in the SW area. He was going far faster than 20mph (I would estimate 30 on the flats) and was using the bike lane. …” Jon

        Hot rod e-biking. I figure interest in that sort of thing will inevitably grow. Maybe e-bikes users, whatever their vehicles top speed capability is, should be legally limited to a top mph speed of 15 mph, when they choose to, or must use the bike lane whenever pedal powered bikes are nearby.

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  • dan September 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    100% agree. Someone passing me doing 20 mph on a “manual” bicycle will know what they’re doing, while someone passing me doing 20 on an e-bike most likely does not.

    Case in point: I had an e-bike zip around me in front of the Burgerville on SE Hawthorne, then brake sharply for the right turn into Ladd’s Addition because they didn’t have the handling ability to take that (quite gradual) turn at speed, leading to chain reaction braking behind them. An experienced cyclist doing that maneuver would either have waited to pass, or taken the turn without slowing.

    Putting a sedentary adult on an e-bike and letting them loose in the bike lanes is better than giving a 16-year old new driver the keys to a Ferrari, but there are some similarities in behavior between the two.

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  • Bjorn September 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Helmet laws are really just another excuse for cops to harass the homeless and occasionally ruin the average citizens day.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    As for a Black Box for bikes….perhaps a two camera outfit would be better next generation layout…similar to the Oregon Scientific ATC Chameleon but with features proposed.


    The chameleon is a nice idea but the reviews so far may doom its life on the marketplace. (Might be a good set up for bike commuters once it is discounted.)

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  • El Biciclero September 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Regarding Victoria, B.C. wanting to confiscate bikes for helmet law infractions, this is so galling to me I can’t put adequate polite words to it. If drivers running red lights can get a citation and are sent on their way, how does it make any kind of justice sense for cyclists to have their vehicles impounded even for repeated helmet violations?? My other big pet peeve? The assumption that all legal non-compliance by cyclists is a result of “arrogance”. How arrogant.

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  • wsbob September 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    B.C. chief constable Jamie Graham’s thoughts expressed about use of bike helmets in that city:

    Article says bike helmet use has been mandatory in B.C. since Sept 3, 1996. Coming up on 20 years ago. A brain injury prevention association is said to have helped to bring about this law. I wonder if today, to what extent, a majority of Victoria’s voting public still favors this law.

    Graham notes that Victoria’s bike helmet law ‘could’ be changed to allow police to seize bikes in responses to extreme examples of riders failing to wear helmets…not that the city’s law already allows this. In other words, there’s no suggestion on the chief constables’ part, that any person who doesn’t wear their helmet when riding a bike, should have their bike confiscated by the police.

    Relative to people biking that choose not to wear helmets while biking, Graham’s apparently personal view is clear about circumstances in which a waiver from national health insurance should address: situations in which the rider sustains a brain injury. “…Graham said if cyclists don’t want to wear a helmet, then they should sign a document waiving their right to use “our medical system” if they suffer a brain injury while on a bike. …” vancouver sun

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Police+chiefs+want+tougher+penalties+cyclists+wear+helmets/8880491/story.html#ixzz2f64wa1Yk

    Picture accompanying the Vancouver Sun article, depicts a common, fair reason some people would rather not wear helmets: long hair tied up in a pug to keep it off the rider’s neck. No helmets I know of, that are designed to easily accommodate long hair.

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    • wsbob September 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Let me make just a slight correction to the above comment: “…In other words, there’s no suggestion on the chief constables’ part, that any random person who doesn’t wear their helmet when riding a bike, should have their bike confiscated by the police. …”

      Again…the constables suggestion for possibly confiscating the bikes of people riding without a helmet, is directed towards extreme examples of people making such a choice in violation of the law.

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    • dr2chase September 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Of course, his logic about medical costs is utterly uninformed. Helmets on drivers would prevent far more head injuries and save far more money.

      Getting people out of cars and onto bikes what cut medical costs far more than that. His remarks, from a public health perspective, are both wrong and counterproductive, since they give the impression that helmetless biking is anywhere near the medical cost driver that just plain commuting in a car is. It’s an order of magnitude less, maybe two orders of magnitude.

      And it’s not just his personal opinion if his title appears in the article, and he is being interviewed about possible changes in the law, and he offers this as a possible motiviation. They did not interview some random Canadian (or heaven forbid, a public health expert). They interviewed a constable.

      I don’t know why you defend this idiocy. This guy was blathering on topics where he clearly knew little or nothing about actual risks and costs, and there’s statistics aplenty to prove it, without even descending into the mud of “do helmets help anyhow?” Helmets cannot prevent more than 100% of cycling crash deaths and head injuries, and that (compared to car crash head injuries and deaths, and lack-of-exercise health harm) is a tiny number of deaths and injuries.

      It’s simple statistics and comparing numbers. He cannot be even close to right, even if helmets were magical whole-body life-savers.

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      • wsbob September 16, 2013 at 10:48 pm

        “…And it’s not just his personal opinion if his title appears in the article, …” dr2chase

        Good chance that’s true. There’s a very good chance the majority of B.C.’s public supports their helmet use law. That this may be so, is why I posed in my earlier comment: “…I wonder if today, to what extent, a majority of Victoria’s voting public still favors this law. …”.

        Most likely, there’s also Canadians living in B.C., that don’t believe the law is good. Someone really interested in how some of them feel about the constable’s expressed views on bike helmet use, could probably find their viewpoints about that expressed in comments to the Van-Sun article, or articles in Canadian papers elsewhere.

        By the way, in my comments so far, I’ve chosen not to either defend or criticize the constables’ views about bike helmet use, Victoria’s policing with regards to bike helmet use, proposed laws in that province, or anything else he’s said. Rather, given the nature of some of the comments bikeportland’s Monday Roundup posting of the article’s headline seems to have brought forth, it seemed worthwhile to actually follow the link and read the article closely(which I’ve done…actually, it’s open on the browser right now…) to see if the responses expressed in those comments at least showed indication that people commenting here had read the article, making some effort to understand what the constable has said in the context of where he’s working.

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        • dr2chase September 17, 2013 at 4:16 am

          Oddly enough, I did read the article closely, so you can rest assured that once again, you guessed wrong. (Oh,you said “some of the comments”, you were not talking about mine, oh no, you had no intention to imply that, of course. My mistake, obviously.)

          Second, there’s no point in “chosen neither to defend nor criticize”. Good for you, the even-handed intentionally blank slate. I try hard not to remain ignorant, and the articles I read (medical studies, public health studies) all suggest that the safety benefits of helmet use are a mouse fart compared to the health costs of not riding a bicycle. To confiscate someone’s bicycle for not wearing a helmet is a net loss to public health, period. That act right there — if it deprives that bike rider of exercise, it’s a net cost. If you wish to remain intentionally ignorant so as to appear even-handed, that’s great. In my attempts to appear even-handed, I’m not even assuming that helmets are useless because that research does not reach the same level of club-you-over-the-head significance and size that the health-effect research does — but the helmets-are-good research is equally weak, if not weaker.

          And it’s *easy* to get a democracy to vote for minority-bashing tribal nonsense, so I don’t know where you’re going with that.

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          • wsbob September 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

            Actually, from people’s comments here, it’s hard to tell whether they’ve read the Vancouver Sun’s article(s) or not. They don’t say they have. Sounds like they’re simply reacting to the controversial nature of the mention in this edition of the Monday roundup, of the article’s subject. From your comments, even though you say you’ve read the article linked in the roundup, the tone of your remarks and your reasoning suggest you haven’t really them though.

            At any rate, you certainly seem to be of the opinion that bike helmet use laws aren’t a good idea. Apparently a majority of people in parts of Canada and the U.S. feel the opposite. As to your mention of it being “…*easy* to get a democracy to vote for minority-bashing tribal nonsense, …”, again, that’s apparently what you think bike helmet use laws are, and how they’ve come about. I wonder just what percent of the public may happen to think that about bike helmet laws, especially all-ages mandatory bike helmet laws.

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            • dr2chase September 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

              Bicycle helmet laws are not rational risk reduction, even if helmets are perfect safety devices (which they clearly are not). Helmets are a proven disincentive to bicycle use, and bicycle use is a proven net risk reduction (i.e. the health benefits exceed the crash risks, by far). Majority opinion does not change these facts, and it is precisely because majority opinion in some places is wrong that I think it is “minority-bashing tribal nonsense”. If cyclists were in a majority, it is doubtful that the majority would vote for helmet laws (feel free to point to a counterexample). The opinion is “nonsense” because it is actually counterproductive — the claim is that it is for safety, even though the majority behavior (not cycling) is far and away riskier than that which they claim to be helping.

              From your remarks, it’s hard to tell if you have ever clicked through any of the many links provided in reply to your comments, demonstrating either the proven unpopularity of helmet use, or demonstrating the clear health benefits of exercise in general and bicycle riding in particular.

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            • Chainwhipped September 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm

              ” . . . certainly seem to be of the opinion that bike helmet use laws aren’t a good idea. Apparently a majority of people in parts of Canada and the U.S. feel the opposite.”

              Yeah, bob. It’s easy to push over-regulation of a utility you don’t use. Voting to push something on someone else is something we do all the time in a democracy.

              “Sure, bike riders are dying when they get hit by our cars, but it’s because we don’t make them wear enough body armor! If we can do THAT . . . WE’LL be safe from THEIR injuries!”

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    • El Biciclero September 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      “extreme examples of riders failing to wear helmets”

      This just makes me chuckle. Sounds like a new entry for the X-Games: “Extreme Non-Helmet-Wearing”. Sounds about the same as “extreme examples of not locking doors.”

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  • Bjorn September 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    One thing that is interesting about the idea of confiscating the vehicle is that I don’t think it would be legal in the US. I base that on the fact that it was determined to be illegal for states to take motor vehicles in DUI cases, even in cases of repeat offenders.

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  • Alexis September 16, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Maybe if the constable in BC is so very very concerned, he should give the people helmets instead of wanting to take away their bikes. Because obviously the actual logic of safety escapes him, so let’s just go with something simple.

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    • wsbob September 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Article says the constable rides a bike to work 2-3 days a week wearing a helmet. Safety would seem to be at least part of the reason he would hope more people wear helmets while biking. For $29, the current amount of the citation (constable recommends it be raised) for not wearing a helmet while riding, people can afford a good helmet. They could work to change the law too, if they don’t like it.

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      • Bjorn September 16, 2013 at 11:31 pm

        If he says safety is his reason for wanting to strictly enforce a helmet law he is either ignoring the scientific evidence that these laws at best have no effect on safety, or he is lying. While there is still an argument to be made both ways as to if wearing a helmet makes you safer, it is clear that there is no benefit to either a helmet law or strict enforcement of a helmet law, and that these laws may actually decrease cyclist safety. This is why the comparison to a seat belt law is a total red herring, the data actually backs up significant safety gains from seat belt laws, the same can not be said for helmet laws.

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        • wsbob September 17, 2013 at 12:42 am

          “…While there is still an argument to be made both ways as to if wearing a helmet makes you safer, it is clear that there is no benefit to either a helmet law or strict enforcement of a helmet law, …” Bjorn

          To many people, apparently, it’s certainly not clear that there’s no benefit to bike helmet laws and strict enforcement of them. Vancouver B.C. still has its’ mandatory bike law. Seems that Vancouver, Washington, USA, Seattle and King County, still have theirs too. Much more than a tiny minority of the populations in the aforementioned areas must feel for various reasons, that mandatory bike helmet use laws are beneficial, and important still to keep in place.

          If you read the Van-Sun article, you’ll find that his comments imply without saying directly, that safety is ‘a’ reason for his expressed views on helmet use and laws encouraging their use, but not likely not the only reason. Being a police officer…a chief constable…more or less like it generally is for police officers everywhere, it would be his job to carry out the public’s wishes to enforce laws the public has enacted, including the bike helmet law. If the majority Vancouver public, or a substantial minority of that public doesn’t share his endorsement of and wish to actively bring about compliance with the province’s bike helmet law, obviously, he would be at odds with those people.

          At least currently, the right sidebar of the Vancouver Sun article this edition of the Monday Roundup provides a link to, offers links to a more stories with additional perspective on the bike helmet issue in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Here’s a couple of them:



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  • Opus the Poet September 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    The thing that gets my goat about the papparazo on the sidewalk is the celebrity walked away from the incident, while a few miles away and a couple of hours earlier a man drove an SUV onto a sidewalk and into a crowd of children walking to school and put 5 in hospital with one possibly maimed for life, and that driver didn’t even get a ticket until 3 days later when people started to storm NYPD HQ over the incident. Well they sent Ray Kelly a bunch of angry e-mails over it instead of actually confronting armed crazy NYPD, but you get the idea.

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  • BIKELEPTIC September 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

    BIKE SEIZURES!? I was highly led astray by the heading of this article. (/troll)

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  • Tom Hardy October 26, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Helmet laws are justified for cyclists and motorcyclists as well. If there was no helmet being worn then the patient needs to go back of the line at the trauma care unit, if they make it that far. Kind of like having no insurance and expecting first class service.

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    • dr2chase November 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I don’t think you can back your “justified” with data, because when data has been collected, it doesn’t show that helmet laws for bicyclists do any good at all. Recently: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bike-helmet-laws-have-little-effect-reducing-head-injuries-says-ubc-study-1.3308238?cmp=rss

      The per trip mortality risk for bicycles is much more like automobiles than it is like motorcycles. Motorcycles are 25x as dangerous as bicycles, which in turn are about twice as dangerous as cars (per trip). Given how many people drive and how often they drive, there’s a much better case for justifying helmet laws for car occupants than there is for bicycle riders. This is especially true when you consider the overall net risk which includes the consequences of (lack of) exercise — making driving more convenient at the expense of walking and biking as relatively dire public health consequences, with far more early deaths and/or years of life lost than you get from crashes.

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