Response to Hon. Kathy Corrigan
I was disheartened to read your primitive and contradictory response to Kyle Zheng. You cite arguments in favour of helmet usage, which would apply to any mode of transport, from walking to driving, to horseback riding, to skating. Your error is common, but sadly fallacious: arguments for helmet usage are not arguments for helmet laws.
Helmet laws do not entail 100% compliance, just as the absence of a helmet law does not mean a total ban on helmets. The two do not go hand in hand. Wearing a helmet is an independent variable vis-a-vis helmet laws. Portland, with no law, has higher usage than Vancouver.
When you enact a helmet law, everybody does not carry on as before but with helmets donned. There is up to 10% of the population that will ride a bike no matter what the law. That will vary based on infrastructure. Beyond 10% you’re into the realm of normal people who - yes - do care about the inconvenience, the overheating, the hat-hair that comes with carrying a helmet everywhere. They know full well that behavior is what counts, that riding a big slow comfortable Bixi-style sit-up bicycle, slowing when they’re unsure, avoiding car-full streets, stopping at stop signs and all that good stuff will put them in no more danger than a pedestrian. And so, just as a pedestrian would, they feel ridiculous in a helmet. Calling them names, telling them “you never know!”, isn’t going to get them cycling with helmets. It’s going to get them not cycling.
It is disingenuous and naive to claim support for bike share programs and increased cyclist numbers, while at the same time supporting the adult bicycle helmet law.
For reasons of congestion, pollution, health, wealth and overall societal happiness I dream of a Vancouver with complete streets and high cycling modal share. Public bike share has been called the ultimate gateway drug to utility cycling, and I believe it. I’m just really worried we’re Melbourne-bound with the helmet law left uncorrected.
For the future of Vancouver, I ask that you support adult helmet choice, and vote to amend the Motor Vehicle Act.