Posts by Moz

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling, in reply to linger,

    Kevin has been vociferous in picking apart the wording of the "cranks" he disagrees with. If that's not what he meant, he shouldn't have said it.

    Also, what I've siad is true: mandatory helmets would save lives. I expect he agrees. So far he's been vigorously arguing that, anyway, and I agree, and the stats I've seen back it up. So if you or him are willing to let people choose death and serious injury except when they ride a bike, I want to know why.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Also, you continue, as does Media Watch, to mis-read the arguments being made. There's a big gap between Todd "if you have a serious accident the helmet won't help much" and Cochrane's very careful leap from "Head injuries are responsible for around three-quarters of deaths among bicyclists involved in crashes" to the unrelated "reduced the risk of head or brain injury by approximately two-thirds". Either talk about deaths, or injuries, but switching from one to the other mid-sentence is unfortunate. I expect you'd say "the definitive authority is being deliberately misleading" and conclude that they are therefore cranks, if they weren't agreeing with you.

    I think you're doing the traditional "balanced media" thing of finding two sets of experts who disagree and siding with the one your gut says is right.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    My conclusion is still that we should all wear helmets and that legislation should back that up.

    Speaking of unhinged, that is frankly improbable. Normally "everyone must wear helmets" is brought up it's as a strawman, but then here you are saying it with a straight face. I think you're right that it would save lives, but I have this vision of a bus full of commuters all wearing their safety helmets and writing angry letters to their MP. And the idea of forcing people to wear helmets in the shower is ludicrous. I mean, yes, it would save lives, more lives than almost any other requirement, but it's ridiculously intrusive to legislate that requirement.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    I already said that. And I think it's perfectly reasonable to follow up a long article describing the problems with bike hire schemes and helmets with a short note that "the expected outcome has occurred again".

    But when they are the only people covering the topic, what else can we do? Should I not mention evidence that doesn't meet your extremely high standards?

    Looking at Chris Rissel is instructive - he was vigorously criticised for modelling errors but also for not accounting for corrections to data he relied on that were made after he published. When he fixed that he couldn't get the paper published.

    But then other research has found that most "peer reviewed" papers have major errors and then we get into the more general reproducability crisis. It may well be that if a determined critic looks at *any* paper they will be able to make it look suspect. I'm not saying that science is pointless, just that if you don't want to accept a given conclusion you can always find a reason.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling,

    It is important to note that both sides can be right. Making helmets mandatory does reduce population head injury rates. Making helmets mandatory also raises death rates and reduces QALYs, but with a significant lag. It's win-win :)

    We can argue about the mechanism (protecting heads vs discouraging cycling - but note that helmet law advocates accept reduced cycling as a fair price for the reduction in head injuries), and likewise the lag makes small changes very easy to argue about (sadly for academics individuals don't stop cycling and immediately become obese and sedentary, and sadly for everyone starting to exercise doesn't immediately make someone trim and fit).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    whether there were other concurrent societal factors that may have played a role.

    That's hard, because the laws were a result of a very public campaign to emphasise the gory dangers of cycling. Untangling the two might be best done by removing the law and just carrying on regardless, but you're likely to get a similar media campaign encouraging people to cycle if you do change the law (or at least a renewed media focus on those campaigns).

    One thing you can look at if you're interested is bike hire schemes. The "public bikes" all over the world have been very successful... except where mandatory helmet laws apply. But again, much of the attention paid to this subject comes from people campaigning against bike helmets so it's often hard to untangle.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Access: Privacy and the right to consent…, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    much talk about the importance of consent, ... Yet with this policy the Government denies and disregards the right to consent.

    I think you need to be careful here, because the government is using the language of consent and providing the appearance of it. So when you say "disregards the right to consent", Pullya Benefit can turn round and say "not true, here is where people using the service provide consent".

    The problem was that this ignores the possibility that a citizen might want to withhold consent. That is a very different thing.

    Without the right to not consent the government is just going through the motions and the "consent" they get is meaningless. They are very directly saying "government provides these life-saving services, but the price is your privacy". It's the cliche used in law lectures to explain consent, in fact: "your money or your life". The consent obtained is not meaningful, and the process of extracting it is a crime.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling,

    Let me say: I would fail to wear a helmet quite often if I had that option. But the fine here is now $500 and there is active enforcement as part of an anti-cycling push by the state government. It gets really expensive, really quickly.

    I often ride a four wheeled recumbent, and there's very little a helmet can do for me on that bike. The helmet has all the disadvantages experienced by wedgie riders but none of the benefits. Why should I suffer so that 5-15 year olds can arguably benefit from seeing my good example? The epidemiological justifications of mandating helmets work really well for that age group, but the soft social argument that "if adults have to do it too..." is much weaker.

    Likewise, as suggested by many people above, if I'm riding on an off-road shared path at a nice slow 10kph-ish speed, the helmet doesn't help me any more than it would help a jogger travelling the same speed. Why should only the cyclist be discouraged by law? "administrative convenience" is a perfectly adequate reason, but it needs to be balanced against the cost. And just as we don't execute criminals to save the cost of imprisoning them, we shouldn't make people sick as unto death so cops don't have to ask for ID before issuing a ticket. Wait, does that even make sense? Maybe administrative convenience doesn't work. Hmm. What is the reason, then?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fear of Cycling, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Moz you seem to be misquoting the wikipedia article. It states: "Research on the helmet law's effects in New Zealand has produced mixed outcomes."

    I thought that's what I said. What it does say, and what I actually said, was that the time ordering of mandating helmets followed by a drop in number of cyclists is widely accepted. It's worth noting that even the most pro-helmet researchers don't say "MHLs don't discourage cycling", they avoid the question or just take it as read and focus on net benefits.

    So, to quote:

    Australian journalist Chris Gillham [20] compiled an analysis of data from Otago University and the Ministry of Transport, showing a marked decline in cycling participation immediately following the helmet law introduction in 1994.

    You seem to think that fewer cyclists can be a beneficial outcome, and I'd like to know why.

    At the same time as the number of cyclists aged over 5 years approximately halved, the injury rate approximately doubled.

    That sounds bad to me. Half as many cyclists, getting injured almost twice as often. But at least there's a slight drop in the total number of injuries... but that was happening before the helmet laws came in.

    my mind is still open on the issue and I'm happy to read the one study you claim clinches your case.

    You keep saying "I think you're wrong", which doesn't sound very open minded. "prove it" is only open minded before the evidence is offered. Say, by reading the links from the wikipedia article. After that it sounds like "lalalala I can't hear you".

    We all agree that helmets perform their designed function.

    But at a societal level (which is where laws operate), turning "dies immediately" into "dies of a debilitating illness after a long period of suffering" does not sound like a win to me. Both in the general sense, and personally. I'd rather die from being run over than die of gangrene brought on by obesity-induced diabetes, thanks.

    But the latter is what helmet laws produce. The question being asked by other people is "do more people die of being unfit than are saved by helmet laws" and the answers are at best discouraging. The "at worst" answers are conclusive, but you don't seem to accept them. Why not?

    Note that no-one is stopping you from wearing a helmet, or even suggesting that you should be prevented from wearing one. We're not even suggesting that any of us would stop doing so. But...

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: What the wastewater tells us…, in reply to Ian Dalziel,


    Lift imitates art: I wonder if they chose that because it's bright green and fluoresces under UV, so it looks good as a movie prop liquid?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 925 posts Report Reply

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