Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Dutch cyclists talk about helmets and bicycles
Paul van Bellen, who organised the Australian study tour earlier in the year, made this video on his last day in Amsterdam.
These reactions are similar to that of the waitress who we interviewed in an Assen restaurant during their tour:
Dutch people typically can't see a need to wear a helmet for everyday cycling. Cycling is seen as an inherently safe activity and the whole population takes part every day. Cycling is not associated with danger. It shouldn't be, because even here where people cycle so much, cycling is not nearly the most risky activity that most people are involved with on a daily basis.
The fact is that in this country, where there are more cyclists than any other and where cycling is common amongst a wider demographic than any other country (which means it includes more of those who are more vulnerable. i.e. the very old and the very young), the average person can expect to live several thousand lifetimes between fatal head injuries while cycling. i.e. other causes of death are thousands of times more significant than are head injuries while cycling.
If you're thinking of campaigning for helmets, keep these facts in mind. It's not cycling which is dangerous, it is the motor car. If you live in a country where cycling is more dangerous than it is here (and that's every country outside of the Netherlands) and you wish to make cycling safer, then you should address the danger at source, following best practice from the Netherlands. That will achieve far greater health benefits for your population than will imposing rules which will make cycling less popular and thereby undoing many of the great health benefits which come due to cycling.
Rather than looking at this in a one-dimensional way and missing the big picture altogether, doctors in the Netherlands take a rational approach. They prescribe cycling to keep people healthy because the huge benefits outweigh the small risks.
To discover more, book a study tour. Paul is the Gazelle importer in Australia