Portlanders are raging against a new piece of proposed Oregon legislation that would ban the transportation of children younger than six on bikes or in bicycle trailers. Engaging this kind of prot0-fascist Nanny State thinking with reason is a waste of time, so I won’t bother doing so. Instead I ask the question, haven’t we brought this on ourselves?
Anglo cyclists opened the door to the all out banning of kids on bikes on the day they bought into the culture of fear and bike helmets. One of the most innocent and healthy activities ever devised, cycling, has been made dangerous and fringe in the eyes of the public. Why? Because cycling advocates in the USA and Britain push helmets harder than anybody. The very standard bearers and champions of cycling have encased the heads of their families in foam. The precedent is set. Cycling is very dangerous. ‘You only get one brain” and other pithy simplifications spew forth from the lips of the “friends of cycling.”
It’s not hard to understand how a misguided legislator who is unfamiliar with cycling, one who is “for the children,” could reach the conclusion that young kids might as well just be banned from bikes and trailers, when virtually all cyclists wear the mark of an extreme risk taker: a cycling helmet. Look at the picture above from Oregon Live and ask yourself if this looks like a family out for a leisurely ride, or a family that is about to take part in some bizarre new sport called bike-chariot roller derby?
Also cited in the Oregon Live article is a spokesperson for Burley Design who, while obviously opposed to the legislation, sees it as an opportunity to strengthen the company’s market share by, instead of baning kids on bikes, mandating a regulatory safety standard for trailers that you can bet Burley’s products measure up to. Similar to Bell’s support of mandatory helmet legislation in Australia, this proves that every unneeded regulation from the public sector will attract whorish bedfellows from the private sector in pursuit of profit.
I was warming to the idea of helmets as a choice and lowering my guard on the issue. Now it appears that those of us who have not bought into the culture of fear must wake up. Pandora’s box has been opened. Cycling advocates that use fear and emotion to push a dangerous picture of cycling must be talked into a different tactic. The future of a car free lifestyle for families with kids depends on it.