Banned from the photo for my views on helmets

Yesterday we were invited to Duthie Park for a COP26 photoshoot. My contact with Aberdeen Climate Action invited me along as a representative of Aberdeen Cycle Forum so I took my cargo bike because it always looks good in photos.

When we got there the photographer took exception to the fact that I wasn’t wearing a helmet and said I wouldn’t be allowed in the photos. Apparently, their client, the government, would reject photos of cyclists without helmets. I found this a little odd since it’s not a legal requirement to wear a helmet and I’ve frequently been in cycling-related photos sans helmet including for Sustrans, a government charity.

However, I didn’t argue and stood back while all the others posed around my bike for a photo. What struck me as particularly odd is none of the others, with the exception of Daniel, had a helmet on, including the child sitting in my bike. Why couldn’t I just have stood next to my bike rather than on it? It was as though I was being punished for my views on helmets which is simply that they shouldn’t be mandatory.

When I pointed out that none of the other adults in the photo were wearing helmets he decided to take a separate photo of me with Daniel and Elizabeth. I guess it’ll end up in the trash. But the star of the show was Elizabeth anyway who had a lovely portrait taken of just her. I took this photo at the end. The “0” is meant to represent zero emissions and cycling will need to be a big part of getting us there.

10 Replies to “Banned from the photo for my views on helmets”

  1. I can understand the principle of why, it’s just not worth the hassle to deal with the people who want to find something to moan about, which they would leap on. However what follows from the photographer seems totally inconsistent. I think it;s good to point these things out though, It’s good to show our kids that we shouldn’t let people push us around. (Not that I was always brave enough to do that.)
    It’s wrong to make helmets compulsory or even to assume that you’re safer with them on – the science doesn’t support that view.

    1. Yes, I agree. I do mostly wear a helmet but not if I’m cycling at the park or on the bike path which I was yesterday. I was having a bad hair day anyway so it’s probably a good thing I avoided the photo 😀

  2. As someone who’s come off both a motorbike and a bicycle, I can say emphatically that helmets saved my head from who-knows-what. Both times I was able to get up, and although my bikes were a bit munted, I didn’t need emergency services to come to me, nor did I tie up hospital resources for something that was avoidable, nor did I need to claim ACC (an accident benefit) while I took time off work to recover. I guess you could say that my experiences put me firmly on the side of compulsory helmet use 😊
    However, I have to admit that your treatment at the hands of the photographer at the photo shoot was very strange.

    1. I’ve had too many helmet discussions in the past about helmet legislation and don’t want to repeat myself so will just link to one of my old posts on the topic. https://rachel.blog/2015/06/06/bicycle-helmet-legislation-and-hovding/

      Note that I’m not saying helmets are bad – although there’s some evidence that motorists give a wider berth to cyclists not wearing helmets – my point is that compulsory helmet legislation is bad for the health of the population as a whole. If you ever go to the Netherlands you’ll see practically no one is wearing a helmet and yet it’s the safest place for a cyclist with fewer cycling-related deaths than anyone else.

      1. And just to add that I’m sorry if I sounded dismissive. It’s one of those conversations I’m tired of – a bit like climate change 🙂 I do agree that if I’m going to bang my head against the pavement that I’m better off having a bit of padding there. But the debate is more complex than that.

      2. I do get that about conversations that are exhausting. In both my instances a car wasn’t involved, but there are still interesting points in your blog.

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