The nanny state strikes again, this time two strikes here in Canada and one South of the border in the USA.
On recommendations from the Coroner, the Ontario government has decided that adult cyclists can no longer be trusted to assess the risks of cycling themselves and must be forced to wear helmets when riding bicycles. Legislation is to be introduced to enforce this latest restriction of individual rights. Whilst having sympathy for the families of the 126 cyclists killed in Ontario in the 5 years to 2010, it is yet more evidence of the knee jerk reaction by big brother government to deny the rights of millions based on a comparatively small number of events.
It follows the ban on Pit bull type dog ownership, smoking in cars, using cell phones in cars, confiscating cars and licences even if under the blood alcohol limit, giving the police the power to confiscate vehicles (irrespective of ownership) and decree that drivers were “racing” or “stunt driving” when no other vehicles, timing devices or stunt performing equipment are in evidence. The attempt to prevent under 18-year-old drivers carrying passengers was only foiled by the huge outcry in social media.
I am completely against people driving distractedly while using cell phones, speeding and driving dangerously, they deserve high fines, as far as I am aware there are, and have been for many years, adequate laws to prosecute offenders. Smoking in cars or anywhere on private property, while tobacco smoking is legal, is a matter for education not legislation. Cycling helmets might make good sense for cyclists in city centres, competitive racing and for unskilled riders
No matter what laws are enacted, cyclists and motor vehicles using the same road create a recipe for disaster in which cyclists will always come off second best, with or without helmets. The only way to reduce conflict between the two is to create cycle lanes, suburban and rural roads with wider shoulders and dedicated cycle paths. It is a disgrace that many supposed 3 rd world countries have roads with wider hard shoulders and more cycle paths than we do here in Canada.
It is for that reason, the unsuitability of our roads for cyclists, that I choose to restrict my cycling to quiet country gravel roads or private land, I have ridden horses all my life, only using a helmet during competition – because that seems a sensible precaution. As a skin cancer patient, a big hat is far better protection for my over-all well-being than a bicycle helmet for the type of cycling that I do. Above all it is my decision, my choice and my “right” to decide, not some bureaucrat who may never have been on a bicycle or horse in his or her life.
Everything we do in life entails some risk, there is inherent danger in practically everything we do from the time we get out of bed in the morning – and even if we choose not to get out of bed. That is life. No legislation can ever prevent all risks, that is what education and personal choice are for.
Exact figures for Canada are difficult to determine, but in the USA, there are 40 000 injuries a year associated with toilets. In the UK 250 young boys are injured each year by toilet seats falling on their genitals. Royalty and celebrities have been victims of death in the toilet. Some fascinating accounts on this infographic.
What next for Ontario? Mandatory use of seat belts while seated on the toilet?
The second and equally concerning piece of legislation is the governments plan to monitor our movements and conversations in airports and at land border crossings by hidden cameras and microphones. Yes I can understand the need for heightened security in the times we live in, but this seems to me to be one more way in which big brother can track our movements and accumulate information to use against us in the future, even if we are completely innocent of any crime.
Lastly and perhaps the most worrying of all, at this stage just for USA citizens but too tempting for other Big Brother governments to ignore for long, a new bill – Senate Bill 1813 – that can allow the authorities to cancel your passport or refuse to issue one if you are accused (not convicted or even charged ) of owing the IRS over $50 000 in unpaid taxes. Effectively, if one of their people make a mistake or, more sinisterly, if some one you have upset, tips off the IRS with false information, they can have your passport confiscated and prevent you leaving the country. Nice.
These are all things that Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and various North Korean Kims practiced and perfected. Seems like our leaders have been reading their text books on manipulation, subjugation and control of the populace at all costs rather than those on responsible government, free enterprise and individual rights that democracy is supposed to stand for.
Let’s hope for the future of Western civilization that the pendulum starts swinging back towards common sense soon.
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.
p.s. In case you fall off your bicycle or your job goes down the toilet, start creating your plan B
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Original Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net adapted by author.