Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Incentives matter: cycling file

This from Eamonn Butler at the blog for the Adam Smith Institute,
UK transport minister Norman Baker this week refused to apologise for saying that cyclists may be safer not wearing helmets. Baker, whose role includes responsibilities for cycling, cited research that drivers tend to go closer to cyclists who are wearing helmets, but give a wider berth to those who are not. Indeed, the national cyclists' organisation itself argues that those who wear helmets are 14% more likely to have a collision than those who don't. Perhaps drivers take more risks because they believe that helmet-wearing cyclists are well protected; or perhaps they think that cyclists without helmets are more amateur and likely to cycle more erratically, making it best to keep well out of their way.
The basic point is simple, and widely applicable: if people believe they are safer, they will take more risks. The strangest thing here is that a politician is saying something so sensible.

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