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Selfie cyclist died from heart attack linked to head injury

"If she was wearing a helmet she would still be alive" said grieving husband of Carmen Greenway...

A woman who died falling from her bicycle seconds after taking a selfie suffered a heart attack as a rare complication of a head injury, a court has heard.

 New Zealand born Carmen Greenway was cycling home from a pub in west London last August with her mother Sherry Bennett and two friends when her bike hit a “rough” patch in the road.

The mother of two had drunk two cocktails and four glasses of wine.

Her husband, Rufus, said: “She’d been taking selfies and had one hand on the bars. It was bumpy and she just jack-knifed the bars, threw herself off the bike and fractured her skull. It wasn’t the cycling that killed her, it was a tragic mistake. She was close to home, relaxed and having a lovely time.”

As we reported at the time, she was rushed to intensive care at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington where she died six days later after going into cardiac arrest. Her funeral was held last month.

Southwark Coroner’s Court was told her head injury caused her to suffer an epileptic seizure and heart attack in hospital.

Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: "A CT scan confirmed the injuries. She had two fractures and significant contusion and bruising to the right side, affecting the temporal and frontal lobe.”

As reported by Stuff, she added: "At the end of the day we have to come down to the view that the death of Carmen Greenway was as a result of a tragic accident.

"The fact that she sustained a fall from her bike on August 18, that it caused a brain injury and she has suffered a complication, a very rare complication, of that injury, which is an epileptic seizure.”

Her husband has repeatedly made the point that had she been wearing a helmet, Carmen might have survived the fall.

Rufus said: "She had been taking some selfies on the main road, she did that regularly. She was not taking it at the moment of the accident.

"She was 100 metres from our house, one hand on the bars, quite relaxed, and probably had had a drink.

"She cycled that way every weekend and perhaps it was familiarity breeding contempt.

"It's unfortunately an unfortunate accident. If she was wearing a helmet she would still be alive."

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43 comments

Avatar
Helmut D. Bate | 6 years ago
3 likes

When I was a young lad, I got mullered in a park with some mates and rode home, alone, along a canal towpath, in the pitch black.

Reader, I fell in.

Luckily, where I fell in was about waist deep, so I lived to blame the canal and campaign ever since to have canals paved over. Don't want the devious bastards sneaking up on unsuspecting, trollied 15 year-olds again.

Unfortunately that hasn't been very successful, because 'boats' and 'fish', so I'm pleased to announce my latest campaign: scuba gear for cyclists. Had my almost-tragic accident gone differently, I might have been OK if it was the drowning that threatened to do me in, as long as I was wearing scuba gear. You never know when cider, dark, bike, and a canal might combine to be a drowning hazard. No, you really don't. Shut up: you don't.

I like to think that had I died a hero's death that day, my parents would have jumped to exactly the same conclusions.

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hawkinspeter replied to Helmut D. Bate | 6 years ago
0 likes
Helmut D. Bate wrote:

When I was a young lad, I got mullered in a park with some mates and rode home, alone, along a canal towpath, in the pitch black. Reader, I fell in. Luckily, where I fell in was about waist deep, so I lived to blame the canal and campaign ever since to have canals paved over. Don't want the devious bastards sneaking up on unsuspecting, trollied 15 year-olds again. Unfortunately that hasn't been very successful, because 'boats' and 'fish', so I'm pleased to announce my latest campaign: scuba gear for cyclists. Had my almost-tragic accident gone differently, I might have been OK if it was the drowning that threatened to do me in, as long as I was wearing scuba gear. You never know when cider, dark, bike, and a canal might combine to be a drowning hazard. No, you really don't. Shut up: you don't. I like to think that had I died a hero's death that day, my parents would have jumped to exactly the same conclusions.

I used to wear scuba gear whilst cycling for that very reason, but then found that loose regulators can get caught up in your wheels if you're not careful (always secure your regulators).

Also, why is no-one making fins with SPD cleats?

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Dunkeldog | 6 years ago
0 likes

Bad falls happen to all cyclists and can't always be explained away easily. I recently hit the tarmac head first at 37mph downhill after hitting a sunken drain. My stitches and scars will always be there, but I'm around to see them thanks to my helmet. A huge crack and a two inch depression on the right temple took the force of the fall. Frankly helmets are a personal choice, but I'd never even pootle up to the shops without wearing mine.

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StewartB | 6 years ago
2 likes

Two months ago I had a low speed impact off my bike while cycling gently with my wife and daughter. I have no idea what happened but suffered head injuries that apparently may have killed me. My family and I for that matter are still dealing with the consequences which are many. Without a helicopter trip to Zurich hospital it would probably have been fatal.

Given the severity I do know that the helmet saved my life - no doubt. My advice to anyone is wear one all of the time.

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beezus fufoon replied to StewartB | 6 years ago
2 likes
StewartB wrote:

... My advice to anyone is wear one all of the time.

but... how do you wash your hair in the shower? do you have a specially designed pillow for sleeping? how does you wife feel about you making love to her wearing a cycle hat? does she also wear one all the time?

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wycombewheeler | 6 years ago
2 likes

Underlying cause of this was alcohol which impaired both coordination and judgement.

Strangely no calls to ban alcohol
No calls for compulsory helmet use in cars or even on stairs both if which lead to more head injuries at a population level than cycling.

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Karbon Kev | 6 years ago
0 likes

I don't understand why anyone would want to take a selfie after drinking and whilst riding a bike, but very sad RIP ..

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burtthebike replied to Karbon Kev | 6 years ago
2 likes
Karbon Kev wrote:

I don't understand why anyone would want to take a selfie after drinking and whilst riding a bike, but very sad RIP ..

Yes it is very sad, but the lesson being drawn by the media is not that you shouldn't drink and ride, but that you should wear a helmet, which is totally, utterly and completely absurd.

The advice is that women should not consume more than three units of alcohol if they are driving.  Assuming the wine to have been 75ml, the smallest measure served in pubs, four glasses would have put her over the limit.  If it was the rather more common 125ml, two glasses would have put her over; many pubs serve larger glasses than that.  Then there were the two cocktails, of unknown alcoholic content, but usually at least one shot of spirits which is one unit of alcohol, but sometimes two.

So she had somewhere between six and 16 units of alcohol, at least double the drink drive limit and possibly four or more times it.  The problem wasn't the lack of a helmet.

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burtthebike | 6 years ago
8 likes

The most interesting thing about this case is that none of the msm reports correctly assign the cause; two cocktails and four glasses of wine.  None of them mention that she would have been too intoxicated to drive, but all of them repeat the husband's assertion that lack of a helmet was the cause of her death.

You might expect this extraordinary failure of logic in the Star or the Sun, but all the msm say the same thing.  It isn't as if the cause is anything hidden or difficult to divine, it's there staring them in the face, but like the herd of wooly mammoths in the corner of the room, it is ignored.  This isn't journalism, it's just repeating the views of the bereaved, who may be entitled to their opinions, but the media's job is to report the facts.

After the Alliston case, I'm seriously thinking of campaining for a law preventing relatives commenting on deaths.

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davel replied to burtthebike | 6 years ago
5 likes
burtthebike wrote:

The most interesting thing about this case is that none of the msm reports correctly assign the cause; two cocktails and four glasses of wine.  None of them mention that she would have been too intoxicated to drive, but all of them repeat the husband's assertion that lack of a helmet was the cause of her death.

You might expect this extraordinary failure of logic in the Star or the Sun, but all the msm say the same thing.  It isn't as if the cause is anything hidden or difficult to divine, it's there staring them in the face, but like the herd of wooly mammoths in the corner of the room, it is ignored.  This isn't journalism, it's just repeating the views of the bereaved, who may be entitled to their opinions, but the media's job is to report the facts.

After the Alliston case, I'm seriously thinking of campaining for a law preventing relatives commenting on deaths.

Hear, hear.

Helmets are pushed and accepted as cycling gear primarily because cycling is seen as dangerous. It really isn't any more dangerous than countless activities that don't have any association with PPE.

Bias and ignorance perpetuate that association.

If she'd fallen over while walking home it would have been seen as what it is: a tragic accident with SFA to do with helmets.

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goggy | 6 years ago
1 like

Funny how this article appeared over a year after the accident. The funeral was also over a year ago.

I suspect Rufus is trying to say, simply "no matter what the cause, wearing a helmet if you hit your head on the pavement may make a difference."

In Carmen's case, she wouldn't have fractured her skull, and as a result, the injury would not have been fatal.

It's not a debate on whether taking selfies is a good idea (it's not) and whether a helmet should be mandatory (it's not and down to choice - it's saved me a few times with 2 backwards falls onto the road, and 1 sideways one).

As said earlier in the comments, a number of contributing factors casued her tragic death. The most avoidable one is riding with one hand on the bars, whatever the reasons for doing that. Many of us have done this, and if you're on a club run, will do it frequently when signalling for holes etc.

Take this in the way it's intended. It's not politics.

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Ush replied to goggy | 6 years ago
7 likes
goggy wrote:

In Carmen's case, she wouldn't have fractured her skull, and as a result, the injury would not have been fatal.

Says who on either count?

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Bluebug replied to Ush | 6 years ago
2 likes
Ush wrote:
goggy wrote:

In Carmen's case, she wouldn't have fractured her skull, and as a result, the injury would not have been fatal.

Says who on either count?

Quite - she would have still hit her head while wearing one and instead of dying ended up with permanent serious brain damage. 

The message of the sorry tale is don't cycle drunk.  It is not only a criminal offence,  but you could end up with a serious injury or at worst dead.

 

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BehindTheBikesheds replied to goggy | 6 years ago
1 like
goggy wrote:

Funny how this article appeared over a year after the accident. The funeral was also over a year ago.

I suspect Rufus is trying to say, simply "no matter what the cause, wearing a helmet if you hit your head on the pavement may make a difference."

In Carmen's case, she wouldn't have fractured her skull, and as a result, the injury would not have been fatal.

It's not a debate on whether taking selfies is a good idea (it's not) and whether a helmet should be mandatory (it's not and down to choice - it's saved me a few times with 2 backwards falls onto the road, and 1 sideways one).

As said earlier in the comments, a number of contributing factors casued her tragic death. The most avoidable one is riding with one hand on the bars, whatever the reasons for doing that. Many of us have done this, and if you're on a club run, will do it frequently when signalling for holes etc.

Take this in the way it's intended. It's not politics.

-an in lab joule reduction of 75-90 (max threshold) IF hitting the top most part of the helmet AND foam compresses fully isn't enough to prevent a serious TBI nor death. Most helmet wearers are likely to hit stuff with their hats non wearers miss completely.

 

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Rich_cb replied to BehindTheBikesheds | 6 years ago
1 like
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

-an in lab joule reduction of 75-90 (max threshold) IF hitting the top most part of the helmet AND foam compresses fully isn't enough to prevent a serious TBI nor death. Most helmet wearers are likely to hit stuff with their hats non wearers miss completely.

 

You've misunderstood the issue. Again.

If a helmet absorbs any energy at all then it can prevent TBI.

If a helmet can absorb 75J and the energy required to cause a TBI is xJ then in any impact where the energy involved is less than x + 75J the helmet can prevent TBI.

If the energy involved is greater than x + 75J then the helmet won't prevent TBI.

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BehindTheBikesheds replied to Rich_cb | 6 years ago
0 likes
Rich_cb wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

-an in lab joule reduction of 75-90 (max threshold) IF hitting the top most part of the helmet AND foam compresses fully isn't enough to prevent a serious TBI nor death. Most helmet wearers are likely to hit stuff with their hats non wearers miss completely.

 

You've misunderstood the issue. Again. If a helmet absorbs any energy at all then it can prevent TBI. If a helmet can absorb 75J and the energy required to cause a TBI is xJ then in any impact where the energy involved is less than x + 75J the helmet can prevent TBI. If the energy involved is greater than x + 75J then the helmet won't prevent TBI.

Okay, whatever, maybe you need to speak to neuro surgeons and materials experts, the latter which have stood up in court and catergorically stated under oath that that max reduction of joules as offered by a helmet will not prevent serious brain injury.

C'mon, prove that that statement is not true. Given that we see negative affects on injuries/head injuries within countries with MHL all the whilst with other interventions including better designed cars and reductions in other modes it must be true. What other explanations are you going to conjure that no other organisation has managed to explain away that helmets are fucking useless?

If it were true that cycle helmets offer enough protection/reduction in energy to the brain to prevent serious TBI then we would not see all the head injuries that still occur despite wearing helmets, you're in cloud cuckoo land sonshine, just like the tin foil hat deniers!

I bet you still beleive the cack that Thompson and Riviera prodcued in 1994 stating 80+% of head injuries would be prevented, you're a dangerous loon!

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to BehindTheBikesheds | 6 years ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

 Most helmet wearers are likely to hit stuff with their hats non wearers miss completely.

 

I love how this point is so often glossed over, ignored. But what a brilliant marketing exercise the cycling helmet is! Nothing will ensure you will hit your head more than increasing the volume of your head with a helmet. 

As I've said before, I've fallen off my bike plenty over the years, sometimes wearing a helmet, sometimes not. every time I've gone down in a helmet, I've hit my head, where as I have only hit my head once falling off helmetless. 

It could be that I've been incredibly lucky every time I've gone down without the helmet, but I believe that the more likely situation is that the helmet was the cause of the impact itself. 

Now, don't get me wrong, that aint going to stop me wearing one for MTB riding, racing etc. but it ain't all as straight forward as some people seem to think.

Sadly I think our current freedom of choice will soon be a distant memory.

But back on point... the gentleman is right. If helmets were mandatory his wife would be alive. Because she wouldn't have ridden her bike to the pub, full stop. 

 

 

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alansmurphy replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 6 years ago
0 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

 Most helmet wearers are likely to hit stuff with their hats non wearers miss completely.

 

I love how this point is so often glossed over, ignored. But what a brilliant marketing exercise the cycling helmet is! Nothing will ensure you will hit your head more than increasing the volume of your head with a helmet. 

As I've said before, I've fallen off my bike plenty over the years, sometimes wearing a helmet, sometimes not. every time I've gone down in a helmet, I've hit my head, where as I have only hit my head once falling off helmetless. 

It could be that I've been incredibly lucky every time I've gone down without the helmet, but I believe that the more likely situation is that the helmet was the cause of the impact itself. 

 

 

 

It really isn't a marketing ploy, yes it's a blame game elsewhere but the numbers guys know people are buying helmets. The marketeers simply play with the colours, shape, adding wifi in etc.

 

My 'helmet saved my life' story involved hitting a metal pole at 30mph, when you see what it did to said shoulder and helmet there is 'evidence'. On the other hand it may have been glancing, the few cm of polystyrene may have mad my circumference bigger, but have no doubt, I was hitting that thing one way or the other.

 

For £40/£50 I'd prefer not to find out what might have been!

 

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Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
3 likes

I can never understand the logic of the 'pub' bike. Unless you're off to the pub to NOT drink, then don't bother taking your bike unless you plan to leave it there.

We don't need drunk drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians or cyclists on the roads.

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stonojnr replied to Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
1 like
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

I can never understand the logic of the 'pub' bike. Unless you're off to the pub to NOT drink, then don't bother taking your bike unless you plan to leave it there.

We don't need drunk drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians or cyclists on the roads.

The logic of a pub bike is its less desirable for those that might want to steal it,pubs rarely provide decent or secure cycle parking facilities. so take a tattier bike and you are happy to leave it out of sight,overnight if need be,though pubs are just social hubs for meeting people, you aren't required to drink alcohol at all, let alone to excess.

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Alan Williams | 6 years ago
0 likes

Very sad and tragic event, perhaps a learning for some reading the article, my sincere thoughts to the family xx

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clayfit | 6 years ago
4 likes

She died:

- as a result of head injuries 

- as a result of losing control of her bike while riding distracted and one-handed

- as a result of impaired judgement after consuming alcohol

- while riding along a badly-maintained road

Take away any one of these nested root causes and the victim does not die.  

That's how safety (e.g. in factories) works, by having multiple layers of protection, so that one or more can fail without injuring or killing someone.  In industry, the only acceptable rate of accidents is zero.

At the bottom of this was the poor road surface.  We accept terrible infrastructure in the UK.  A helmet is not the answer- it just mitigates the result of an incident that has already happened and that  could/should have been prevented.

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Zebulebu replied to clayfit | 6 years ago
1 like
clayfit wrote:

She died:

- as a result of head injuries 

- as a result of losing control of her bike while riding distracted and one-handed

- as a result of impaired judgement after consuming alcohol

- while riding along a badly-maintained road

Take away any one of these nested root causes and the victim does not die.  

That's how safety (e.g. in factories) works, by having multiple layers of protection, so that one or more can fail without injuring or killing someone.  In industry, the only acceptable rate of accidents is zero.

At the bottom of this was the poor road surface.  We accept terrible infrastructure in the UK.  A helmet is not the answer- it just mitigates the result of an incident that has already happened and that  could/should have been prevented.

Probably not the appropriate place to make this comment, but that's a pretty silly response. You list some (probably not all) of the contributing factors, state (correctly) that they all combined to result in her death, then seek to single out one of those factors as the root cause? You might as well say that at the bottom of it was the fact she wasn't wearing a helmet (slow speed crash, she might not have died if the helmet took the brunt of the impact), or that she was drunk (imparied response to an unexpected event) or she was taking selfies (lack of concentration on operating the bike) etc etc

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hawkinspeter replied to Zebulebu | 6 years ago
3 likes
Zebulebu wrote:
clayfit wrote:

She died:

- as a result of head injuries 

- as a result of losing control of her bike while riding distracted and one-handed

- as a result of impaired judgement after consuming alcohol

- while riding along a badly-maintained road

Take away any one of these nested root causes and the victim does not die.  

That's how safety (e.g. in factories) works, by having multiple layers of protection, so that one or more can fail without injuring or killing someone.  In industry, the only acceptable rate of accidents is zero.

At the bottom of this was the poor road surface.  We accept terrible infrastructure in the UK.  A helmet is not the answer- it just mitigates the result of an incident that has already happened and that  could/should have been prevented.

Probably not the appropriate place to make this comment, but that's a pretty silly response. You list some (probably not all) of the contributing factors, state (correctly) that they all combined to result in her death, then seek to single out one of those factors as the root cause? You might as well say that at the bottom of it was the fact she wasn't wearing a helmet (slow speed crash, she might not have died if the helmet took the brunt of the impact), or that she was drunk (imparied response to an unexpected event) or she was taking selfies (lack of concentration on operating the bike) etc etc

I fail to see how not wearing a helmet had any bearing on whether or not the accident happened - it just possibly had an effect on the results of the accident.

I agree that the poor road surface isn't the root cause - I'd be more likely to assign that to a cyclist not being fully in control of their bike whilst also not paying attention to controlling it. That's what caused the accident and unfortunately was completely preventable. (I doubt that alcohol made much difference to her ability to control the bike, but it probably was instrumental in the bad choices she made).

Avatar
Zebulebu replied to hawkinspeter | 6 years ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
Zebulebu wrote:
clayfit wrote:

She died:

- as a result of head injuries 

- as a result of losing control of her bike while riding distracted and one-handed

- as a result of impaired judgement after consuming alcohol

- while riding along a badly-maintained road

Take away any one of these nested root causes and the victim does not die.  

That's how safety (e.g. in factories) works, by having multiple layers of protection, so that one or more can fail without injuring or killing someone.  In industry, the only acceptable rate of accidents is zero.

At the bottom of this was the poor road surface.  We accept terrible infrastructure in the UK.  A helmet is not the answer- it just mitigates the result of an incident that has already happened and that  could/should have been prevented.

Probably not the appropriate place to make this comment, but that's a pretty silly response. You list some (probably not all) of the contributing factors, state (correctly) that they all combined to result in her death, then seek to single out one of those factors as the root cause? You might as well say that at the bottom of it was the fact she wasn't wearing a helmet (slow speed crash, she might not have died if the helmet took the brunt of the impact), or that she was drunk (imparied response to an unexpected event) or she was taking selfies (lack of concentration on operating the bike) etc etc

I fail to see how not wearing a helmet had any bearing on whether or not the accident happened - it just possibly had an effect on the results of the accident.

I agree that the poor road surface isn't the root cause - I'd be more likely to assign that to a cyclist not being fully in control of their bike whilst also not paying attention to controlling it. That's what caused the accident and unfortunately was completely preventable. (I doubt that alcohol made much difference to her ability to control the bike, but it probably was instrumental in the bad choices she made).

Pay attention. I said 'combined to result in her death', not 'combined to cause the accident'. There's no way to know that wearing a helmet, specifically, would have prevented her death. But it's left in there for illustrative purposes - same as leaving in the bit about road surface, her being inebriated and her taking selfies is. The whole sad tale isn't an argument for or against the mandatory use of helmets (though, in true Road.cc style, it inevitably will become so in the comments section). It's a cautionary warning that lots and lots of things combined can lead to an increased risk of either an accident, or a more serious injury arising as a result of said accident. My post was highlighting the incompatibility between making a statement that alludes to this combination being responsible, then completely disregarding that logical statement in favour of (what is presumably) the poster's own particular bugbear.

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OldRidgeback | 6 years ago
4 likes

If she'd not been under the influence of alcohol, she perhaps would've had more sense than to take a selfie while cycling. I can understand he's traumatised by her death, but he's looking at this incident from the wrong perspective. Does he assume it's ok to be under the influence of alcohol while cycling along taking selfies?

 

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TriTaxMan | 6 years ago
8 likes

As much as I have sympathy for the families loss..... the cause of death was not the lack of a helmet.  It was the stupidity of the cyclist.... and you can't legislate for stupidity.

Legislating for the effects of an accident is not dealing with the cause.  The cause was recklessness and stupidity on behalf of the cyclist which is what should be being addressed.

If this had been "Drink driver crashed their car into a tree whilst taking selfie, and dies of a heart attack brought on by their head injury" what would the husband say?  That car drivers should wear helmets too?

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handlebarcam | 6 years ago
4 likes

People who are drunk and taking selfies while riding a bike should definitely wear helmets. I'd even go as far as supporting the introduction of legislation requiring it for those particular set of circumstances. Just like I'd support a law compelling people wandering around the African savannah alone having smeared themselves with gazelle blood to carry a tranquillizer gun. Or people playing hopscotch on broken glass while barefoot... not doing that.

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Canyon48 | 6 years ago
9 likes

"The mother of two had drunk two cocktails and four glasses of wine"

"She’d been taking selfies and had one hand on the bars. It was bumpy and she just jack-knifed the bars"

Yeah, not wearing a helmet was the issue here.

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hawkinspeter | 6 years ago
2 likes

I think he's right, but had the focus wrong. What we need is a nationwide campaign to force compulsory helmet wearing for taking selfies. People aren't paying attention to their surroundings whilst taking selfies and need the extra protection. The fact that she was cycling is irrelevant as she could just as easily have fallen over whilst trying to strike a pose.

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