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Natasha Richardson, head injuries, and helmets

The tragic death of Natasha Richardson has, predictably, given rise to illogical demands for cyclists to wear helmets. On the Today programme this morning we had Peter McCabe, the chief executive of Headway, a charity that supports people with head injury and their carers, arguing in this way. There are several non sequiturs in what he said.

1. We don't know the nature of Natasha Richardson's injury or whether wearing a helmet would have prevented it.

2. The fact that a well-known person has an accident has a disproportionate impact on public opinion.

3. McCabe says that skiiers wear helmets so cyclists should too. But you cannot extrapolate from skiing injuries to cycling injuries. I don't know anything about skiing or what the arguments for head protection in that sport are, but I do know that the case for cyclists is fairly evenly balanced. While I have no wish to dissuade cyclists from using helmets if they want to, I am entirely against legal compulsion to do so.

4. There are plenty of occasions when both pedestrians and motorists suffer head injuries. Why does Mr McCabe not suggest that we should wear helmets for driving and walking as well as cycling?


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