Saturday, 5 April 2008

Bicycle Culture 3

I’m a regular reader of Copenhagenize. Recently I posted a comment in a debate in that blog about the use of bike helmets. Here’s what I wrote:

I am from Portugal, a country known for its petty prohibitions and regulations. In Salazar and Caetano times (before the “Carnation Revolution” of 25th April 1974) there were silly prohibitions like drinking Coca Cola and bringing it into the country, use a lighter in public without a proper official license (the license could be bought and its price in 1970 was enough to buy 60 newspapers or almost 200 pieces of bread – but it was only good for your personal use, a friend couldn’t borrow your lighter to light his cigar or he would be fined and the lighter apprehended), etc… For a long time it was also mandatory to have a license to ride a bicycle and when I was a kid (I’m 35 now) our bicycles were required to have a license plate. And I had to go to the city hall when I was around ten to get my “rider’s license” – a card with a photo in it stating that the bearer was legally authorized to ride a bike. No one talked about helmets for bicycles in those times. But there was some debate about it a few years ago, even if it was only for a short time. Nowadays people are still riding bikes without helmets in my home town, the exception being bike racers training and one or two goofy individuals who probably moved here from Lisbon. Personally I agree with the guy who says that "helmet legislation is harmful to bike culture and society". You use it if you want, but don't try to make others use it.


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