Should bike helmets be compulsory?

As many of you know, my husband head-butted a transit van recently and sustained substantial head injuries; multiple-fractures to the skull and bleeding on the brain.  We’ve talked about it extensively and we both agree that in this case, a helmet would probably have helped due to the location of the injury and the speed at which the impact occurred.  For the record, he now owns a helmet.

Coincidently, when we were travelling into London to see the neurosurgeon, there was a heated debate in the editors section of the Metro about legislating bike helmets.  I personally don’t feel that the government should legislate this unless they can categorically link a reduction in injuries to wearing a helmet.

In countries, such as Holland, where everyone rides bikes and not many people wear helmets there isn’t an increase in head injuries.  Could this be down to better roads, more awareness of cyclists, dedicated cycle paths or cycling proficiency?  But in countries (Canada, Australia) that legislate wearing a helmet there hasn’t been a reduction in head injuries.

However, I would like to see more people opting to wear helmets on their own accord; especially in the UK where cyclists and motorists aggressively vie for space on our overcrowded narrow roads, with limited cycle paths.

Interestingly, the neurosurgeon said they never treat people for injuries who’ve been using Boris Bikes.  My mind boggles and I’d love to know the reason behind this, he didn’t know why either.  They go just as fast as other cyclists and rarely do you see people wearing helmets whilst riding them.  Do you think it’s because motorists assume that they aren’t as proficient and give them a wide birth or is it because traffic isn’t as free flowing in the city?

I appreciate, that there isn’t research to prove that bike helmets reduce the chance of head injuries, but I’ve never heard a good argument for not wearing one and I’ve also never heard of a helmet making it worse. So, why not wear one?  It seems like a no brainer to me and you can get one for less than £20.  I know many people are sceptical of the commercial forces behind such legislation.

I’d love your thoughts on this?  Do you wear a helmet?  If not, why?













How to Drive in the Snow!

I’m by no means an expert on driving in the snow.  However, I’m Canadian and started driving at 16 (23 years ago) so I have a few years driving in treacherous weather.  I once called the AA and they said they’d get to me in 3 days!  This post is tempting fate and I’m sure I’ll end up pranging the car in the next few days so you can all point and laugh.

The thought of driving in the snow here in the UK doesn’t faze me, it’s the other people that, frankly, terrify me.  I’m often surprised when schools are closed and people can’t make it to work.  I know it’s not fair to compare Canada to the UK as you don’t have the infrastructure in place for a few days of snow but these short periods of weather seem to be getting longer and longer every year.

“Too many motorists simply jump in their cars on chilly mornings and treat adverse weather conditions as an inconvenience. The reality is that without proper preparation and a change in driving style, the consequences of snow and ice can be fatal.” from the BBC.

So, here are a few of my own tips to keep you a bit safer.

1.)    If you’re not confident or the thought of driving in the snow makes your blood pressure race then for the love of god walk away from the car, go back inside and make yourself a nice warm cuppa.  If you’re a nervous driver you won’t be able to react in time and will end up doing something stupid.  No journey is worth it.

2.)    DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use your brakes unless you absolutely have to.  Yes, this means that you have to drive at Grandma Speed but at least you’ll be able to stop when you need to.  If you are driving a manual use your gears.  If it is an automatic transmission then use the lower gears…those are denoted by the D1 and D2 on the column shift.

3.)    Do not speed

4.)    Just because you have a 4X4 it doesn’t mean you’re invincible so slow the f*ck down.  I don’t know how many times in Canada I’ve driven (smugly) past SUVs in the ditch in my little town car.

5.)    This one is actually in the road code, but most people seem to have forgotten.  If you are coming down a hill (icy or not) the person coming up the hill has the right of way.  If the person coming up the hill has to stop on an icy slope the laws of physics makes it nearly impossible for them to get going again.  If you are coming down the hill and unable to stop then you’re going to fast!

6.)    Use second gear when pulling out from a stop; it will prevent the wheels from spinning.

7.)    Try not to change gears when going up a hill.

8.)    If the worst happens and you start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator, DO NOT brake and steer in the direction of the skid.

Hope you have a safe journey!


Baby on Board!

Hate is too strong of a word, but I really don’t like these signs:

Firstly, I find them insensitive.  Whoopee! Well done, we managed to procreate and are enjoying all that comes with being a parent but do we have to flaunt it.  Imagine driving home after your 3rd failed attempt at IVF and all you see is these damn things everywhere.

Secondly, they don’t make me drive any differently around you. In fact, I may get even more aggressive and heaven help you if you get distracted by your children in the backseat and do something stupid like brake suddenly, forget to indicate or miss a green light.  Don’t even get me started on those mirrors you can put in the back so you can spend the whole time looking in the rear view mirror!

As you can tell I suffer a bit from road rage.  I do a lot of driving for work and turn into a bit of an animal behind the wheel.  Somewhere along the line, I’ve decided that I own the road and the rest of you are in my way.  Yes, if you are in the fast lane going 70 mph I will fly up behind you at 90 mph and if you don’t get out of the way I will flash my lights.  I don’t care if you’re a burly builder and I won’t hesitate to flip you the bird.

Maybe I should get one of these:

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