Monday, 24 October 2011

Cycling Campaigner in Accident

I was very sad to read of Lindsi Bluemel's cycling accident, which has reportedly left her with life-threatening injuries. It sounded needless, as it was caused by a "five-metre long piece of plastic" lying in her path, and it is particularly sad to read of this occurring to someone who had been promoting cycle safety; she is the chairman of the Southampton Cycling Campaign.

What struck me about the article was a point it made that Lindsi Bluemel's helmet had been stolen a few days before the accident, with the implication that she would have avoided life-threatening injuries had she been wearing a helmet. This is mirrored in comments underneath the article, such as "Mrs Bluemel should have known that if you're riding on the road you need your lid on, surely."

I think it is in pretty poor taste to start placing the blame on a cyclist for not immediately replacing a stolen helmet, when it is not even reported whether she had a head injury. Furthermore, the comments were made where an injured person's family are likely to read them. In fact, Lindsi Bluemel's son and daughter did read the article and both left comments, with one defending their mother for not wearing a helmet.

I think it is unlikely that a car passenger would be blamed for being severely injured had they not been wearing a safety belt, particularly where this had been stolen a few days prior, as in Lindsi Bluemel's case. This is despite the case, as far as I am aware, that the benefits of wearing a safety belt are not disputed, and passengers are legally obliged to wear them. However, the effectiveness of cycle helmets is widely debated and it is not a legal requirement to wear them. It is sad that cyclists are often blamed for accidents that are not their fault, and I believe it speaks a great deal on the way cyclists are viewed in our society.

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