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?