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Helmets Are Not Body Armour

I was pissed off at the TV this morning, because television reporters were being irresponsible again.

Since I’m someone who likes to educate people, I thought I’d write them a nice letter to let them know where they went wrong.

Dear Breakfast Television,

(This letter was emailed to the general BT email address, as well as the two main hosts, Kevin Frankish and Liza Fromer)

As I was leaving for work this morning I was pleased to see that you were doing a story on the memorial rides being held today for University of Toronto Professor Hubert van Tol (who was killed by a right-turning dump truck at Avenue & Cortleigh) and the 16 year-old North York resident known as Bianca (who was killed by a right-turning dump truck at Keele & Finch).

I wasn’t so pleased though, when your reporter started talking about how only 1 of 4 cyclists she had seen that morning had been wearing helmets, and seemed (along with Kevin Frankish) to imply that if cyclists are riding on the streets of Toronto (which we have to, since it’s illegal for any cyclist but children to ride on the sidewalk) without a helmet, they should be at fault for getting killed by a truck.

This is irresponsible coverage of the cyclist safety issue, and disrespectful to the memory of Hubert and Bianca, as well as their families.

A cyclist in Toronto can do everything right – wear a helmet, have lights, a bell, and abide by every single part of the Highway Traffic Act regarding cyclists, but if a driver (even of a small economy car) is inattentive for one second, that cyclist can easily be killed. Is that the fault of the cyclist?

It’s been reported that Hubert van Tol was wearing a helmet when the dump truck ran him over, so I am mystified as to why your reporter would imply that cyclists are inviting fatal accidents if they don’t wear a helmet. It’s the behaviour of car and truck drivers that cause cyclist deaths, not if a cyclist is wearing a piece of styrofoam and plastic on their heads to avoid serious head injuries.

Until I see a study that proves that a helmet will save someone when they are being squashed by a dump truck, I will assume that several tons of steel is no match for the human body, with or without a helmet.

  • Andrew

    I saw this piece this morning but missed the comments afterward. I thought Darren Stehr’s comment that helmets are a personal choice was correct, except perhaps that he should have mentioned that for people 17 and under helmets are mandatory. I did think the reaction of the reporter was a bit strange (raised eyebrows and all).

  • Anonymous

    City TV sucks

  • joe

    I wouldn’t say City TV sucks… it just has a certain viewpoint.

  • Teri

    I always feel so vulnerable on a bike. The helmet really doesn’t even come close to making me fell any better about the risks we take to be “green.” It takes a lot of the pleasure away.

  • joe

    Hi Teri… I know what you mean…. I felt the same way when I started. It gets easier… it just takes some experience out there… keep riding and it will come. :)


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