Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bicycle helmet laws

It looks like Kyoto is coming out with the first bicycle helmet law in the country. They will make it mandatory for children who are riding with an adult in a child seat on the bicycle to wear a helmet. The local government is also encouraging bicycle sellers to emphasize safety and periodic safety checks at point of purchase. The goal, according to the NHK radio news this morning, is to make cycling safer. There are arguments for and against helmets for cyclists, just as there are arguments over helmets for motorcyclists. I have seen no conclusive evidence that wearing helmets is safer than no helmet, and I'm in favor of keeping the lawmakers out of our lives as much as possible.

If Kyoto really wants to make the place safer for people, they should make sure that cyclists have a safe place to ride, pedestrians a safe place to walk, and automobiles a safe place to drive. As it stands, in the downtown areas cars have huge amounts of space for their use only, and pedestrians and cyclists are forced to share the same crowded spaces. In many of the areas that tourists frequent, everyone shares the same space. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

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