Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Better to look naff than be killed

Aaron Keown. Photo / Pam Johnson
Aaron Keown. Photo / Pam Johnson

Christchurch city councillor Aaron Keown's comments this week - that more people would take up cycling if the compulsory helmet law were repealed - is nothing new. He said people weren't taking up cycling because wearing helmets wasn't cool.

Many academic articles have been published in which the authors assert that the compulsory wearing of helmets has reduced the numbers of people who take up cycling by 20 to 50 per cent, depending on which article you read.

Colin Clarke, the author of research in the New Zealand Medical Journal, estimated that the 1994 law had translated to about 53 premature deaths a year through the adverse health effects of NOT cycling. I don't know how you know the unknowable or whether Clarke subtracted the deaths that would have occurred had a helmet not been worn by a cyclist, but there we go.

Surely, when you're a cyclist in the city, you're a sitting duck. Wouldn't you want to reduce the risk as much as you possibly could?

Keown may be right - helmets probably do make you look a bit nerdy.

But it's way cooler to have your brains inside your head, rather than splattered all over the road.

- Herald on Sunday

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