Well he was asking for it wasn’t he?

Last weekend I was told how irresponsible I was being for riding without a cycle helmet. I reacted to the berating I received. I did not put my position across well. I was a bit taken aback by the scathing vehemence in the other persons view and responded in kind.

I have since mulled things over. I am no less convinced now of the redundancy of cycle helmets and the false reassurance they provide any more now than I was then. The case for and against cycle helmets has been all over the internet for years. I’m not going to go into any of them in this post.

What did occur to me this morning was what would be included in the responses if I did get knocked of my bike and suffer a head injury. Something like, “he should have been wearing a helmet”, “might not have happened if he was wearing a helmet”. Whether I had been without blame may be commented on later if at all.

Blaming the victim for their misfortunes is nothing new. It’s certainly not unique to cyclists. Cyclist who have been injured or killed by bad driving. Cyclists who are expected and in varying ways must compensate for the inbuilt risks of the car centric transport infrastructure in the UK.

So as I rode along recently I thought to myself, if the worst came to worst, would I be judged to have been asking for it? Should I not be surprised if I am came to harm at another’s hands. After all I should have known that being on the roads on a bike is a risky business. Especially after dark. Should I have “covered up” to lessen the risk. Would I be judged to have contributed to my misfortune because of the way I was dressed? Would those who know better than me utter the words, “well he was asking for trouble going out dressed like that”, with reference to my bare head?

4 Comments

  1. Well, yes. I agree with you that helmets provide limited, if any, protection. Having been knocked off my bike, both the police and the hospital staff asked if I was wearing a helmet. There is a clear inference that you take some of the blame for head injuries if you don’t. Whether that works out to be liability in a civil case I haven’t any experience. I landed on my side and broke a rib, but no one asked if I was wearing body protections.

  2. Thanks for your comment Karl. The attitude is endemic. It’s all about absolving responsibility from the motor centric culture and shifting focus from the cause to what the victim could have done more of to “protect” themselves.

  3. Totally. I was wearing a bright red top, with lights in the middle on a bright day, in a cycle lane, so I was probably asking for it ;o) I did feel like saying something but didn’t. Probably best not.

  4. Bright red top you say and showing a bit of light. What did you expect for being so provocative! Definitely asking for it.

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