Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Truly Paralytic

London mayor Boris Johnson on bike helmets:

Here, then, is the political position. In my efforts to do the right thing, I have ended up giving offence to both opposing factions. As soon as I started to wear a helmet, I was denounced as a wimp, a milquetoast, a sell-out to the elf and safety lobby, a man so cravenly attached to his own survival that he was willing to wear this undignified plastic hat.

As soon as I was pictured not wearing a helmet, I was attacked for "sending out the wrong signal" and generally poisoning the minds of the young with my own reckless behaviour.

The situation, my friends, is a mess. I have been convicted beyond all reasonable doubt of complete incoherence on the question of cycle helmets--and complete incoherence, therefore, is what I propose to defend.

When I was recently in The Netherlands, I was again reminded of the vast numbers of Dutch who use bikes for regular transportation. In several visits to the country, I don't recall ever seeing a single Dutch man, woman, or child wear a bicycle helmet.

A online comment on Johnson's piece at the Telegraph identifies the real problem with bike helmets:

But after all's said and done there's a most compulsive reason for not wearing a cycle helmet:


A helmet wouldn't have helped in the least in my last cycling accident: I cycled into a cow coming back from the pub whilst truly paralytic. No, really. A Cow. I think it was in the road.

The British reputation for subtle wit lives on.