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Ehime enacts law instructing cyclists to wear a helmet

55 Comments

Westerners who come to Japan may be taken aback by the sheer numbers of bicycles in use in cities. Equally impressive is the degree to which people load their bicycles with shopping bags, children, boyfriends, and/or garbage bags full of aluminum cans for recycling. And yet, with all this, it’s a rare sight to see anyone besides tiny kids wearing a helmet.

Ehime Prefecture, known for its scenic bike paths and wide use of bicycles for commuting, is hoping to change that by enacting a law instructing cyclists of all ages to wear a helmet, or else.

Last week across Ehime Prefecture, police and prefectural workers took to the streets to remind residents that the new Bicycle Safety Ordinance requires bicycle riders of all ages to wear a helmet. No penalties have been laid out for violating this ordinance, but Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura is hoping that citizens will gradually learn to love headgear while they ride regardless.

The prefecture is also at work to curb bike traffic on sidewalks, which is bad news for pedestrians who enjoy taking shoulders to the face at 15km/h.

Japanese public news outlet NHK covered the new ordinance in Matsuyama City. Going to a local business, they found one worker making his commute by bike but not wearing a helmet. When asked why he had forgone the his headgear, the man said, “I didn’t know about the regulations. I don’t have a helmet so I’m not sure what to do.”

They then headed over to the prefectural office where they found some of the staff there also riding in without helmets. Catching one 55-year-old employee they asked why he wasn’t obeying the new law, to which he said, “I knew about the ordinance, but I left my helmet at home.”

Source: NHK

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Japan Gets Tough on Cyclists Violating Traffic Laws -- Tokyo Police Issue 855 Warnings to Bike Riders Wearing Headphones -- Japan’s futuristic underground bicycle parking vaults

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55 Comments
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"Ehime Prefecture, known for its scenic bike paths and wide use of bicycles for commuting"

Oh sure. We talk about that all the time at dinner. I'm sure they'll gradually love this as they gradually love wearing seatbelts. Right, grandpa!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Good move, Ehime! I always wear a helmet when I ride my bike. It's not just the law, it's a safety measure!

6 ( +10 / -5 )

I wore a helmet in Tokyo a few times but school girls kept pointing and laughing so I stopped. It's still an anomaly here to wear a helmet on the streets and most people are reticent to don one.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

boyfriends, and/or garbage bags full of aluminum cans for recycling.

This made me laugh ! Any connection between the boyfriends and the aluminium cans ??? All intended for recycling ? (Such an appropriate word in this context !)

the new Bicycle Safety Ordinance requires bicycle riders of all ages to wear a helmet.

I thought that WAS ALREADY a law ? Better late than never however, NO PENALTIES ?

The prefecture is also at work to curb bike traffic on sidewalks

If only they could curb it on all the "curbs" all over Japan, that would be progress ! (I know the bicycle riders are going to hate me ! They always do !)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I wore a helmet in Tokyo a few times but school girls kept pointing and laughing so I stopped. It's still an anomaly here to wear a helmet on the streets and most people are reticent to don one.

Yup, I mean... what's serious brain damage over a bit of humiliation from "schoolgirls"?

If they're going to enforce "no sidewalk riding", I hope there's a measure of education for car drivers as well.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I always wear a helmet. The rare helmeted Japanese cyclists coming the other way sometimes give me a nod, like we're part of a secret society.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

"which is bad news for pedestrians who enjoy taking shoulders to the face at 15km/h."

Sorry, what does that phrase mean....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It became mandatory here (aust) about 20 years ago but also with a $50 fine if you were caught without one. It's now strange not to see riders without helmets.

People will argue the right to ride without one of course but at the end if the day if it saves your life then it's worth it. As a matter of fact I saw a prang last night between a cyclist and a car, no helmet either...

Good move Ehime

4 ( +8 / -4 )

They need to convince people that a helmet is part of the "uniform" that cyclists wear.

I had a Japanese friend tell me when we were cycling - "You can wear a helmet because you're a foreigner." I guess the unspoken part of that comment was that foreigners can get away with all manner of strange behaviour.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Stupid law. If somebody is out on a trail or commuting in traffic they certainly should be wearing a helmet and children should always wear a helmet but requiring people running errands or going 1 block to the station to wear a helmet will just discourage people from cycling. Mothers will drive their daughters to the station instead. The result will be more cars on the roads.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

"You can wear a helmet because you're a foreigner." I guess the unspoken part of that comment was that foreigners can get away with all manner of strange behaviour."

No, it means that foreigners enjoy a range of social freedoms that Japanese society denies to its own citizens.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sorry, what does that phrase mean....

Paul: it was sarcasm.

Stupid law. If somebody is out on a trail or commuting in traffic they certainly should be wearing a helmet and children should always wear a helmet but requiring people running errands or going 1 block to the station to wear a helmet will just discourage people from cycling. Mothers will drive their daughters to the station instead. The result will be more cars on the roads.

Aaaah... because accidents don't happen a block from your house, and if you're a Mother with a kid on a cycle, you're somehow invincible. Stupid law? Stupid argument. If you won't wear a helmet whilst riding because "it's inconvenient", then you shouldn't be riding a bicycle in the first place.

Almost daily I see hundreds of junior high/high school students going to school on their bicycles. Almost daily I see one narrowly avoid death. Bicycle helmets should be compulsory.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle is common sense.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

@AustPaul The benefits of Australia's helmet laws are nonexistent. After 20 years and many academic studies the debate has swung against bicycle helmet laws. If anything the well-documented Australian failure is exactly why Japan should not make the same mistakes.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Accidents happen even from the driveway. Don't compromise safety for inconvenience. Anyone who thinks that most certainly do not treasure their lives.

There need to be more safety program for people of japan. In addition, laws need to be enforce to ensure complacency.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

its been proven that wearing a helmet while riding a bike or motorbike greatly reduces your chances of serious head injury and death in a accident. especially in children, any parent that lets there children ride without a helmet is plain ignorant or stupid. unfortunatley public education in this country in road safety is pathetic. helmets are the same as seatbelts in cars, THEY SAVE LIVES!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@ wtfjapan

B.S. Estimates are that 16 000 people die prematurely in Australia because of decreased exercise after helmet laws were introduced vs. 40 who died in bicycle collisions before helmet laws and the majority of them were wearing helmets.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The jury is out on helmets http://bicyclesafe.com/helmets.html http://tinyurl.com/k786ob4 I wear one but, I don't think they should be compulsory. I may be safer wearing a wig.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

B.S. Estimates are that 16 000 people die prematurely in Australia because of decreased exercise after helmet laws were introduced vs. 40 who died in bicycle collisions before helmet laws and the majority of them were wearing helmets.

16000 people die because they don't exercise because of helmet laws? I think that number requires a little more validation as to how it was arrived at don't you think? What about the people who became disabled in accidents with out helmets? I think that statement is a little too general to really draw a conclusion on.

I am a cyclist and I noticed that after I started to ride in my area, more people started to wear a helmet also so I believe an individual can have an effect and I never ever ride with out a helmet. However, it could be a real drama for say an OL to don the helmet to nick to the convenience store to get a bento and then have the drama of redoing her hair to the bosses required standard so while in say Australia it may be more appropriate to enforce the helmet wearing due to the way we use bikes, it may not be the same for Japan.

Its all a bit of mess here with regards to riding on the road or the footpath. Ride on the foot path and its safe from cars but you can't ride at touring speed but equally a pain are the oldies who meander all over the road on their mamachyari screwing up the traffic flow.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's quite odd that people have to be told to wear a helmet when cycling. One would think an intelligent person would do it for their own safety. However, Every day I still see the mamma-chary bikes laden with little kids, and shopping bags, but no bloody helmets!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan just got a little safer... and lamer

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The prefecture is also at work to curb bike traffic on sidewalks, which is bad news for pedestrians who enjoy taking shoulders to the face at 15km/h.

What? Is that sarcasm/humor?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not to worry, the young mamas who always complain about bicycle safety laws will come out and complain about inconvenience, and the law will be repealed. Convenience is paramount -- the safety of one's self, one's children, and others is a mere second, if at all a consideration.

proxy: "If somebody is out on a trail or commuting in traffic they certainly should be wearing a helmet and children should always wear a helmet but requiring people running errands or going 1 block to the station to wear a helmet will just discourage people from cycling."

Good -- the more 70kg battery powered bikes with two seats for kids, umbrella stand, and place for putting sun visor and gloves after you take them off that are off the road, the safer it will be for everyone. As for your 16,000 dead since helmet laws vs. 40 before they were introduced in Australia, where are you links to the stats? More than 2000 people are hospitalized a year for bike related incidents in Japan, and thousands more accidents occur besides, with most being people who do not follow laws already in existence (ex. riding on sidewalks less than three-meters wide, riding on the wrong side of the road, riding with things hanging from the handles, riding with an umbrella open, riding while holding on to something, riding with brakes that are not maintained, riding without a light at night, riding with two or more people on the bike that are not children, and those are only a few). More than once I have seen a mother mounting or dismounting her bike during or after the 'keri-keri-nori' and wiping out on the overloaded bike, only to see a kid's melon bounce off the pavement. Helmets would prevent most if not all damage in such situations.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jan/10/japan.transport

There are heaps of other articles on the subject, with more than one being from JT itself detailing how unaware even police are of the laws of this nation. But again, don't worry -- even IF the law is not immediately repealed due to a lack of popularity, like pretty much every other bike law in the books it's not likely to be enforced.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

wtfjapan: its been proven that wearing a helmet while riding a bike or motorbike greatly reduces your chances of serious head injury and death in a accident.

That is true to a certain extent but the effectiveness of helmets in preventing injuries has been overblown. In fact, two U.S. federal agencies recently withdrew their longstanding claims that helmets reduced head injuries by 85%:

If you consider the entire body of research rather than just one study, and look at both head and neck injuries, helmets only reduce the risk of injury by about 15% to 45% .

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19036/feds-will-stop-hyping-effectiveness-of-bike-helmets/

I wear a helmet and will continue to do so but I think that for adults, at least, it should be their choice. And really, when it comes to bicyclists in Japan, whether or not they wear helmets is the least of my concerns. Until bicyclists learn how to ride properly on the roads, where they should be, they will continue to be a menace to pedestrians, cars and other cyclists. All I imagine this new helmet law doing is giving people a false sense of security so that they can ride like even bigger jackasses. Not that it matters anyway because it's not like the police are going to enforce it.

Even most opponents of mandatory helmet laws advocate helmet use, but they say that the negative consequences of helmet laws outweigh the benefits. One of the first things that mandatory helmet laws do is decrease ridership, says WABA board member Jim Titus. "If you're not allowed to ride a bike without a helmet, often that means you won't ride a bike."

Titus says that mandatory helmet laws make it more difficult for people to use public bicycles through programs such as Capital Bikeshare because potential riders would need a helmet handy every time they want to jump on a bike.

Opponents also worry that mandatory helmet laws send a false message — that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity - when, in fact, it's an activity with well-known health benefits. A study, of 1,504 people, found that those most likely to stop bicycling in response to helmet laws are the ones least likely to be hurt in the first place. Helmet laws, the authors conclude, "disproportionately discourage the safest cyclists."

Meanwhile, it seems that bicyclists wearing helmets may encourage riskier driving by motorists. Traffic psychologist Ian Walker from the University of Bath equipped a bike with a sensor to record the distance between him and passing vehicles. He took more than 2,300 measurements and found that motorists passed him more closely when he wore a helmet. (He was also struck twice, by a bus and a truck, during the study - both times while wearing a helmet.)

The ability of bike helmets to reduce injury has been overblown, Titus says. Helmets are sometimes said to reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent, but that statistic comes from a 1989 study that has not been replicated. "Studies in the last 20 years have calculated that helmets prevent 10 to 40 percent of head injuries," says Titus, who compiled the statistics in his testimony against Maryland's helmet law. Overstating the effectiveness of helmets sends a message that current helmets are good enough, Titus says.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-06-03/national/39708755_1_mandatory-helmet-laws-rates-pediatrics

0 ( +4 / -4 )

B.S. Estimates are that 16 000 people die prematurely in Australia because of decreased exercise after helmet laws were introduced vs. 40 who died in bicycle collisions before helmet laws and the majority of them were wearing helmets.

Wow, that is the number one goofy, from your backside quote I have seen on JT in 12 years. Congratulations. You have defeated so many many others to take the crown.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's a good idea but before this there needs to be serious education of all cyclists and drivers. Number one the difference between left and right!! It's shocking how many apparently educated individuals don't know left from right. Ketai usage!! Cars,bikes and trucks!! Umbrellas!! Japan is honestly too humid for a helmet too so there needs to be water made available to all cyclists. in 30yrs of cycling and 12yrs in Tokyo I have only worn a helmet for offload.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

smithinjapan: As for your 16,000 dead since helmet laws vs. 40 before they were introduced in Australia, where are you links to the stats?

zucronium: Wow, that is the number one goofy, from your backside quote I have seen on JT in 12 years. Congratulations. You have defeated so many many others to take the crown.

http://the-riotact.com/australias-helmet-law-disaster/103266

By any measure, health problems associated with a lack of exercise are a far greater problem than cycling head injuries in Australia. According to the Heart Foundation, lack of physical activity causes 16,000 premature deaths each year, swamping the 40 or so cycling fatalities.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Yuk. The rise of the nanny society in Japan. Hate it. Kids? Maybe. Adults, forget it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

ambrosia: "By any measure, health problems associated with a lack of exercise are a far greater problem than cycling head injuries in Australia."

So, should we allow people to drive drunk because smoking kills? Is that non-sequitor enough for you? Even in the Washington Post article you cite they still show that helmets reduce injuries and fatalities up to 40%, so I fail to see how you justify that as being a valid reason for not introducing helmet laws. If helmets save lives, how on earth is that related to people not exercising?

Talk about grasping at straws!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Proxy, you are obviously in the anti helmet brigade, that's fine with me.

This topic is bound to have a lot of people arguing on both sides of the fence and I understand that. I am also aware that the research isn't conclusive either.

And I think we have moved on from the 'It's not cool' era too. My point was in my mind it is better to have something protecting your head, especially when on the road (footpath not too much of an issue) than nothing at all.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wearing a helmet is an individual choice. I think it's a good idea, and I wear one by choice. Mandating it is what I can't agree with.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

JeanValJean: "I think it's a good idea, and I wear one by choice. Mandating it is what I can't agree with."

For all those who argue it should be left to choice (at least for adults), would you be for lifting laws which require motorcycle and scooter riders to wear a helmet? if not, why not?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

But again, don't worry -- even IF the law is not immediately repealed due to a lack of popularity, like pretty much every other bike law in the books it's not likely to be enforced.

Smithinjapan : Unfortunately, so true !

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Let's hope other prefectures don't follow Ehime's lead. I support requiring lights at night because it makes the roads safer for other people. Helmets only protect the rider. It shouldn't be mandatory. Let the adult rider decide for themselves.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

poppler: "Helmets only protect the rider. It shouldn't be mandatory. Let the adult rider decide for themselves."

Again, I ask, should helmets then be made an option for motorcycle riders? and perhaps seat-belts not mandatory for drivers/passengers if they are adults?

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

helmets, seatbelts, sunscreen, shoes = optional

lights, eyeglasses, insurance, not driving drunk = mandatory

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Helmets have been mandatory in many countries (NZ, Australia, UK etc.) for a generation. The problem with safety laws like this in Japan is few people obey them because they are unenforced by the police (remember it is illegal to ride a cycle on the footpath in Japan). I was visiting a friend in Australia 10 years ago and he lent me his bike but I neglected to put the helmet on. I was pulled over, not once but twice by different cops on the same day. (yes, I know, I should have put the helmet on the second time - reckless youth.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ehime Prefecture, known for its scenic bike paths and wide use of bicycles for commuting, is hoping to change

Exactly. So they will be known to be those places in the sticks with mammoth traffic jam. And the next batch of demagogues will ask money to Tokyo to build highways between all the villages and cover the coast with concrete so they can park the cars.

The result will be more cars on the roads.

That's what has happened in many places in "the West". Like my hometown. One case that I seen in 100 places in Europe and the US. That was very cycle-friendly up to the 80's, each family had a car to go to places out of town, but for a few hundred meters they walked or cycled. Last time I stayed there a month (year 2000), I told my Mum : "Yes, put my bicycle to the garbage. I'm a hitch-hiker now. I can't ride anywhere". Over the years, the roads have been redesigned to form like a big trap for 2-wheels, as at most cross-roads, you now have to turn around and change of line together with huge trucks with wagons.... Or access has been cut : to go to the shopping mall, you have to pass on the highway, over the years, many services (shoe repair, doctors, hairdresser etc) have been encouraged to relocate to those malls "as there, your customers and patients can park their car" and none are left in town "as there, the customers would get a parking ticket within 10 minutes" . So now, 100% of people aged 18 to 75 go around by car. While I walked to school holding my grandparents hands, then my younger siblings' hands, and later cycled to high school, uni and first job place (8~15 km away ), youth have to be driven to all places. They can no longer be pedestrians as, walking along the road having become suicide attempt too. Kids walking to school is an image of the past. They use tax money for a school bus, to pick up kids 1 km away. The over 75, if they never were drivers or used their common sense to voluntarily renounce , they are classified as "population suffering of reduced mobility". The town hires helpers that bring them groceries and medications, while that's not even the case they couldn't cycle and/or walk the distance to the shops. Some can even run... they just needs someone giving them a lift to reach one of the jogging paths and the starting place of the marathon (yes, real case).

Even in the Washington Post article you cite they still show that helmets reduce injuries and fatalities up to 40%,

The studies are biased if they only show the reduction in fatalities among cyclists... Even for small kiddos, do they get kids having less head injuries while cycling with helmets ? Or do they find that the total number of kids head injury decreases ? I mean as toddlers and kids don't wear helmets to walk, run, use stairs, swings, slides, climb on chairs, beds and couches... they can get worse and more frequent accidents when they are refrained from cycling. See this :

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1250.html

And adults... Do they take into account the cyclists that get killed and kill others while driving a car (after renouncing to the charinko ?). And deaths by asthma due to more pollution by cars ? In some places, they have done the contrary : relaxed the rules for cyclists, allow them to cycle everywhere (and push the car away, outside cities...) so they got an increase of accidents of the type cycle-colliding with tramway. double cycle collision. cycle riding into walkers...but the global figures for injuries due to traffic (cars + public transp + cycles + walkers) is much lower. Even for the bachan that gets a bad time if a bicycle makes her fall, that's less serious than if she fell under the wheels of a car forgetting to stop the traffic light. I'm not advocating ruthless cycling (punish the hooligans !) but it's a lesser calamity than ruthless car driving. Like bicycle parking blocking the way (build them cycle storage) is a lesser calamity than a 10 hour a day traffic jam and its fumes.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

About time! The number of injuries and deaths are astounding due to people not wearing helmets, but, this said, the number of car accidents caused by cyclists are astounding, as well! People here should learn how to ride bikes, follow the rules of the road and stop carting children around on the front and backs of bikes! They banned people using phones and head-sets (thank God) but, still doesn't stop them from riding, recklessly! And, for God's sake, oil your dang breaks!!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

JT must really love it any time they publish one of these articles; they know we commenters will be out in force!

Count me in with the people who support cyclists voluntarily wearing helmets (particularly when riding at high speeds) but who oppose making them mandatory.

The toddler in a child seat wobbling about at the mercy of her mother's questionable riding skills? That kid should have a helmet on. The high school kid pedaling a kilometer or two to the train station or to school, at a speed not much different from that of a pedestrian, and who will technically be breaking the law if some prankster classmate steals his helmet during the school day and he rides home? Completely unnecessary.

I often wonder why the safety-über-alles crowd is so obsessed with helmets to the exclusion of other ways to increase safety. At slow speeds, your body is in an upright position (as opposed to the bullet-like pose of a Tour de France pro) so when you fall off your bike you're not going to hit the top or sides of your head... but most of your other body parts could use some protection.

Nobody ever mentions knee pads, and I wouldn't mind having padded gloves to soften the impact when I use my hand to break my fall. Either would make as much sense as mandating helmets; gloves in particular are a lot easier to carry around with you once you get to your destination.

And of course the biggest and most important way to stay safe is to devote 100% of your attention to your surroundings, which means looking around you, not listening to music on headphones, and certainly not ever picking up your phone while your bicycle is moving.

If I'm going to average more than about 20 km/h (certainly 25-30, which is fast enough that your natural reaction time might not be enough), I want to wear a helmet. If I'm staying in my own neighborhood and riding slower than that -- about the same speed as a jogger -- the helmet is more trouble than it's worth.

And do we really want the National Police Agency koban cops having another reason to stop cyclists and question them? You just know that they'll go right for the slam-dunk unhelmeted cyclists and ignore the hard-to-prove, but more-dangerous, fools who cycle while talking and texting on their phones.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I never wore a helmet cycling in Japan - I would have been laughed at. Also, the average speed of cyclists is so slow that a helmets are not always necessary, except of busy city roads.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

smithinjapan: So, should we allow people to drive drunk because smoking kills? Is that non-sequitor enough for you? Even in the Washington Post article you cite they still show that helmets reduce injuries and fatalities up to 40%, so I fail to see how you justify that as being a valid reason for not introducing helmet laws. If helmets save lives, how on earth is that related to people not exercising? Talk about grasping at straws!

First, I put the link up in response to a request for it. The request was made by you to proxy. The connection to people not exercising was that helmet laws were being shown to act as a deterrent from getting people to cycle regularly. People who didn't have helmets or who didn't want to wear them would not cycle thereby taking cars or public transport more often and exercising less.

Second, what's drunk driving got to do with helmet laws? That's just a poor analogy. Drunk driving laws protect other people on the road from drunks. Helmet laws protect no one but the cyclist and as has been indicated by a few studies, they can actually do more harm than good. As counterintuitive as that may seem to you, that is the way a number of experts are leaning. If you don't agree with the information they've come up with, do your own research and take it up with them.

Yes, helmets save lives though how many exactly is up for debate. As I've already stated, I wear a helmet when I cycle, even if just to the grocery store. I support helmet laws for children but do not favor them for adults. As they only protect the rider, I believe it should be up to the rider to decide whether or not they want that protection.

As for whether or not I support mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclist, no I don't. I would wear one if I were a motorcyclist but, again, I think it should be your choice whether or not you want bugs smacking against you on the freeway. The only thing I would say for motorcyclists is that their insurance should be higher if the ride without a helmet in the event that they crash and need catastrophic medical care due to a head injury.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

ambrosia: By any measure, health problems associated with a lack of exercise are a far greater problem than cycling head injuries in Australia. According to the Heart Foundation, lack of physical activity causes 16,000 premature deaths each year, swamping the 40 or so cycling fatalities.

Talk about a quantum leap. So... no helmets would equate to those 16,000 lives saved? Newsflash: the vast majority of them probably never rode a bike before or after the helmet laws were created.

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where laws need to be created to save people from themselves. In a perfect world, people wouldn't need to be told "Don't drive drunk" "Wear a seatbelt, and make sure your kids are belted in" "Don't text and drive" "Don't eat yellow snow"

Yet here we are...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

don-in-japan: alk about a quantum leap. So... no helmets would equate to those 16,000 lives saved? Newsflash: the vast majority of them probably never rode a bike before or after the helmet laws were created.

New flash! I neither did the research, nor came up with the numbers, nor wrote the article. I simply posted it in response to a request for it by smithinjapan. He / she asked proxy to cite his / her source, which I was easily able to find and post. Take it up with the researchers if you have issue with it. And, yeah, they likely didn't cycle after the laws were created. That's the crux of the study's argument had you actually bothered to read the it.

For all of those calling for mandatory helmet laws, I have three questions:

1) Why? Seriously. Helmet laws protect no one but the rider. They aren't even like seatbelt laws whereby wearing a seatbelt can potentially protect people besides the driver who, if hit from behind and belted up, may still be able to keep the car under control in a way that they couldn't if they weren't belted up. If you can legitimately show me how helmet laws can do something similar, I'm all ears.

2) If you are so keen on protecting people from themselves, do you also support proposed laws, such as the one Mayor Bloomberg proposed to ban non-diet sodas and other sugary drinks in cups, bottles or pitchers bigger than 16 ounces (453 grams)?

3) Is it enough to say that a law protects a person from himself? Shouldn't it be more important that the law protects other people from the law's target? (In other words, with drunk driving laws, the driver is the target and other people on the road are the ones being protected. The driver may be protected as a consequence but is not the actual target of the law's protection.) If not, do people have any responsibility for their own well-being? If there is no law in place to protect them from every potential danger are they free from personal responsibility? (I'm talking about adults who have free will - in case it needs to be explained.) Where do laws protecting people from themselves stop?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

letsberealistic: "remember it is illegal to ride a cycle on the footpath in Japan"

Actually, to be fair, that's not entirely correct. Until last year it was not illegal to ride on many sidewalks so long as those sidewalks had a sign, on a pole or painted on the sidewalk, stating that it was legal on THAT sidewalk. Now it is illegal to ride on any sidewalk less than three meters in diameter (unless you are a young child or an elderly person, which is somewhat ironic given they are amongst the worst of the worst in terms of riders).

ambrosia: "First, I put the link up in response to a request for it. The request was made by you to proxy. The connection to people not exercising was that helmet laws were being shown to act as a deterrent from getting people to cycle regularly. People who didn't have helmets or who didn't want to wear them would not cycle thereby taking cars or public transport more often and exercising less."

What a crock. Who says they wouldn't walk? When I don't ride my bike I hike to work.

"Second, what's drunk driving got to do with helmet laws? That's just a poor analogy."

It was intentional in pointing out how absolutely ludicrous a comparison and suggestion it is that helmets should not be worn because 16,000 people per year die from lack of exercise. But on this and many other threads you bring up downright bizarre analogies, so I'm not surprised.

"Yes, helmets save lives though how many exactly is up for debate."

You agree they save lives, so why on earth is there any debate at all? It seems the people against it are against it for one of two reasons: like Ah_so and CapnSinbad some people are afraid they'll look goofy and be laughed at by school girls. The second is that a helmet won't necessarily help them, but again I don't see anyone suggesting we repeal the laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets or car drivers seatbelts. Do you?

"The only thing I would say for motorcyclists is that their insurance should be higher if the ride without a helmet in the event that they crash and need catastrophic medical care due to a head injury."

That goes for bicyclists as well. Or heck, why do motorcyclists require insurance?

"New flash! I neither did the research, nor came up with the numbers, nor wrote the article. I simply posted it in response to a request for it by smithinjapan."

Yes, in defending one of the worst non-sequitors this thread had to offer.

"1) Why? Seriously. Helmet laws protect no one but the rider."

Here's but one reason. If a car hits a cyclist, be it the cyclists fault or the car driver's, the driver of the car takes the brunt of the blame. Let's say the cyclist would have lived had they worn a helmet, but died because they did not. The charges against the driver will be much more severe and may go up even to manslaughter. Now, given your example of a radical scenario in which a seatbelt helps ensure others' safety, a helmet here would not only have kept the cyclist alive, but would have resulted in better protecting the driver of the car from worse charges. You wanted a reason, that's one. Don't say it's a stretch, either, while providing a bunch of bizarre comparisons and hypothetical situations of your own.

"If you can legitimately show me how helmet laws can do something similar, I'm all ears."

Just did. Or how about if something falls on or is thrown at a person riding without a helmet and hits them on the head -- a helmet might keep them from losing control and crashing into others, and hundreds die each year in bike related accidents if you think crashing is not serious.

"2) If you are so keen on protecting people from themselves, do you also support proposed laws, such as the one Mayor Bloomberg proposed to ban non-diet sodas and other sugary drinks in cups, bottles or pitchers bigger than 16 ounces (453 grams)?"

Uh-oh!! What was it you were saying about bad analogies? Especially since diabetes and other illnesses related to the obesity epidemic hitting the US more than other nations puts a MASSIVE burden on Health Care and the tax payer, not to mention frivolous lawsuits. But to answer your question, I absolutely support it, same as -- I'll retort with a non-sequitor of my own -- I support making cigarettes illegal, or at least taxing them to the point where they cannot be afforded, even if the smoker only wishes to smoke in the privacy of their own home and not subject anyone to second-hand smoke.

"3) Is it enough to say that a law protects a person from himself? If not, do people have any responsibility for their own well-being?"

That's part of the point. People don't TAKE said responsibility seriously, and it DOES affect others despite the close-mindedness of people who think it only affects the cyclist in question. The little boy you and others hypothetically talk about heading a mere two kms from home to station by bike on the way to school gets hit and dies from a concussion he got that could have been avoided had he had a helmet. Are you saying this does not affect anyone but him? How about the family? How about if it was a car he was hit by? You guys talk about 'adults who have free will', then give examples of kids riding to a nearby station. You admit helmets save lives, then suggest it should be debated how many.

"Where do laws protecting people from themselves stop?"

When they are not common sense, as helmets are.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

smithinjapan: What a crock. Who says they wouldn't walk?

The study did.

When I don't ride my bike I hike to work.

Good for you.

You agree they save lives, so why on earth is there any debate at all?

Not eating too many potato chips saves lives. Not drinking too much coffee saves lives. Not swimming in the ocean saves lives. Not going outside saves lives. Not staying inside too much saves lives. There are plenty of things that save lives. I simply don't agree that they should all be mandatory or prohibited.

Uh-oh!! What was it you were saying about bad analogies? Especially since diabetes and other illnesses related to the obesity epidemic hitting the US more than other nations puts a MASSIVE burden on Health Care and the tax payer, not to mention frivolous lawsuits.

The point was how far a nanny state should go in protecting you from yourself. Bloomberg's law didn't propose a prohibition on the selling of such drinks outright or that fast food restaurants be closed or that stores only be allowed to sell healthy food, which was, in part why it failed, with the judge hearing it calling it “arbitrary and capricious,"

Yes, in defending one of the worst non-sequitors this thread had to offer.

Although I don't support mandatory helmet laws for adults it is not for the reasons listed in the link to the article I put up at your request so I'm not sure why you keep insisting I'm defending that particular point.

That goes for bicyclists as well. Or heck, why do motorcyclists require insurance?

Cyclists in Japan are not required to carry insurance specific to cycling, though it wouldn't be a bad idea.

but to answer your question, I absolutely support it, same as....

Go on. Don't be so hard on yourself. It's not a non-sequiter and I understand your point. I simply disagree with it. If you want to smoke, go ahead and do so, just keep it away from me. If you want to ride a bike without a helmet, go ahead and do so, just don't try and stop me from wearing a helmet if I want to. We all do things that are dangerous, risky and just generally bad for our health and well-being, I'd rather allow people the freedom to make their own decisions in so far as they don't hurt others.

Here's but one reason. If a car hits a cyclist, be it the cyclists fault or the car driver's, the driver of the car takes the brunt of the blame.

The problem there is with Japanese road laws that place too much blame on the drivers and not enough on cyclists. I'd completely be in support of cyclists being held liable for damage that they cause and not being allowed to collect any damages beyond what their insurance covers if they are the ones responsible for the accident.

Just did.

No, you just showed me how stupid the liability laws are.

.... a helmet might keep them from losing control and crashing into others, and hundreds die each year in bike related accidents if you think crashing is not serious.

Hundreds? Where, in the world? In Japan? Do hundreds die because things fell on them? What if these falling objects fell on the handlebars or tires and the cyclist lost control, as you would? Did those helmets help them maintain control? Really, don't feel you need to answer that.

That's part of the point. People don't TAKE said responsibility seriously, and it DOES affect others despite the close-mindedness of people who think it only affects the cyclist in question.

No, they don't. They stay up too late, watch too much television and don't get enough sleep, at least I do -- and now that I've told you that I really hope you don't propose a law with a mandatory bedtime! They drink too much in the privacy of their own homes. They live in dangerous neighborhoods and forget to lock their doors and windows. They eat too much shepherd's pie and chips. They forget or just choose not to floss. They do any number of stupid, irresponsible and dangerous things, things that will hurt them and may well end up costing other people who have to help cover their health care. Yes, I'm okay with people doing these things because they don't hurt me directly and I don't live a perfect life either.

The little boy you and others hypothetically talk about heading a mere two kms from home to station by bike on the way to school gets hit and dies from a concussion he got that could have been avoided had he had a helmet. Are you saying this does not affect anyone but him?

I don't know who this hypothetical little boy is, but did I not say two or three times already that I don't support mandatory helmet laws for adults but do for kids?

When they are not common sense, as helmets are.

To the mind of someone who thinks a government should have its hand in every detail of a person's life, I suppose any law protecting a person from himself is common sense. And no, I'm not some conservative who thinks unions are ruining the workplace or that environmentalists are stopping capitalism from steaming ahead or that we should all go and hunker down in our survivalist bunkers. I just don't think a cycling adult should be forced to wear a helmet if they don't want to. And as I've said before, there are plenty of other cycling issues Japan could do well to tackle to insure a little more safety on the pavement and roads before this one.

Just an interesting little side note: In the Netherlands, where it is estimated that only 0.05 percent of people wear bicycle helmets, 16 million people own 18 million bikes, about half the population rides a bike once a day. The average distance traveled by bike per person per day was 2.5km in 2006. The bicycle is used for almost a quarter of all journeys, and 35 percent of journeys below 7.5km. Overall traffic safety in the Netherlands is the best in Europe with 45 deaths per million inhabitants per year. Maybe we should be looking at what they're doing before proposing more laws that won't be enforced anyway.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Blah, blah, blah. Simple solution. Bicycles riders must follow the same rules of the road as vehicles. Proceed on the same side of the road, stop at stop signs or red lights, and cross at the intersection. Right now a rider seems to think that he/she is the only one in universe and will be protected by the ancestors.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

To each their own, but...

Wearing helmets does not make riding bikes more secure[1]. What happens is people get an added sense of security (from bikers but also from other traffic) so they bike a little less carefully (or automobiles take more risks), so they get into bigger accidents and this leads to just about the same rate of major injuries.

All in all it's a 'feel-good' measure, but in the end there is little to indicate it decreases the incidence of injuries to bicyclists.

[1]http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-06-03/national/39708755_1_mandatory-helmet-laws-rates-pediatrics

2 ( +3 / -1 )

police and prefectural workers took to the streets to remind residents that the new Bicycle Safety Ordinance requires bicycle riders of all ages to wear a helmet

I'm sure they will obey these laws..........pretty much the same way that they obey the making your child wear a seatbelt law and not driving through the red light law. I wrote here a while back about how I witnessed a police car (in Matsuyama) pull up along side a mother with her 2 children jumping around the car like dogs on a trampoline, at a set of lights. The window wound down and the kids, virtually hanging out of the window waved frantically at the policeman like he was a rock star. The policeman waved back with a smile and drove away when the light turned green. Laws in this country are written but hardly ever enforced....sadly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

m5c32: You're saying exactly what the studies have said but for some reason the pro-helmet brigade seems to have given up the dog on that one. They must have other fights to attend to at the moment.

ratpack: True, true.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

New flash! I neither did the research, nor came up with the numbers, nor wrote the article. I simply posted it in response to a request for it by smithinjapan. He / she asked proxy to cite his / her source, which I was easily able to find and post. Take it up with the researchers if you have issue with it. And, yeah, they likely didn't cycle after the laws were created.

Err... really? Come on, trying to make the assertion that the total number of deaths caused by lack of physical activity can ALL be attributed to people not riding their bicycles post the helmet laws were introduced in Australia, is irrevocably a quantum leap. That's more than a bit ridiculous.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Asked and answered but since you seem to have missed it: I posted the link in response to a question by another poster (wtfjapan) about an assertion made by someone else (proxy) who was referring to an Australian study, the link to which I provided. I didn't make the assertion. Can you follow that or is it too complicated for you? I don't agree with helmet laws but not for the reasons given in the study. If you have a problem with that take it up with the organization that did the study, or just go ahead and keep insisting that I'm the one who proposed this idea and that you're right, regardless of the lack of evidence, citations, etc. on your part. Or, just go ahead and have the last word, since that seems to be your goal or why else would you bring up a point that has already been answered more than once?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sigh.... again, the link I put up was in response to a question posed by wtfjapan regarding a study cited by proxy. It was an easy link to find and putting it up seemed like it would answer some of the questions being asked. Apparently not. My linking it doesn't mean I endorse the study. That said, I do oppose helmet laws for the reasons I've already stated numerous times, none of which have anything to do with the study. If you can't understand that then there's nothing much I can say to help you with that. If you have an issue with the study take it up with the Australian organization who conducted it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Pffft... cease the ad hominem. You put up the information because it furthered your argument (or you dimly thought it might). If any particular article were positive, you'd not post them. And "last word"? Well, right back atcha. Watch the space below for an ambrosia post.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its a stupid law for the reasons proxy pointed out.

But it'll hardly be enforced at all. I saw a guy riding a bike past a koban at night, he had no lights, was riding on the wrong side of the road whilst drinking a can of chu-hi. So if nobody cares about that why would they care about helmets?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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