If the hel­met fits

New Zealand Listener - - LET­TERS -

I write to en­dorse and sup­port the Edi­to­rial on cy­cle hel­mets (March 31). Two years ago, I was cy­cling on the open road when I was hit from be­hind by a car. Had I not been wear­ing a cy­cle hel­met, I would have been killed or at the very least ended up in a wheel­chair.

As it was, I re­ceived a mod­er­ate to se­vere head in­jury, from which it has taken two long years to re­cover.

For my fam­ily, there have been some anxious times. Would my per­son­al­ity have changed? Would my mem­ory, which was ab­sent ini­tially, re­turn? Would I stop end­lessly re­peat­ing my­self?

With six months off nor­mal work and much ther­apy, help and sup­port, I am lucky enough to have al­most re­cov­ered. Thanks to my hel­met my in­juries were (mostly) able to even­tu­ally heal. I have since met many less for­tu­nate.

I do not know whether to feel anger or de­spair over the folly of the so-called Choice Bik­ing move­ment. It is naive to as­sume that we cy­clists are in con­trol of our own road safety, as I found to my cost. In ad­di­tion to the road risk, when I was taken to the Ac­quired Brain In­jury unit in Ranui, West Auckland (a won­der­ful place staffed by de­voted pro­fes­sion­als), I dis­cov­ered that more than half of the other pa­tients with cy­clin­gas­so­ci­ated brain in­juries had re­ceived them by fall­ing off their cy­cles in the ab­sence of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle. There seems to be an as­sump­tion by some that when cy­cling off-road, hel­mets are un­nec­es­sary.

Let us not turn back the clock and undo all the progress we have made in im­prov­ing cy­cling safety. Jonathan Spencer (New Plymouth) Sev­eral years ago, I was bik­ing along the old Rimu­taka In­cline when I hit a pot­hole in one of the tun­nels. My en­dur­ing mem­ory of the ac­ci­dent was not the three bro­ken ribs and col­lar­bone that I sus­tained, but the sen­sa­tion of my head strik­ing the ground. My hel­met was de­stroyed, but I am cer­tain that it saved me from a se­ri­ous head in­jury.

Those who ad­vo­cate chang­ing the hel­met law have prob­a­bly not ex­pe­ri­enced such an event and can­not ap­pre­ci­ate how quickly a leisurely ride can turn into a life-threat­en­ing ac­ci­dent.

If peo­ple are un­happy with the present law and want to opt out of wear­ing hel­mets, per­haps they should for­feit their right to ac­cess Ac­ci­dent Com­pen­sa­tion Cor­po­ra­tion sup­port in the event of any head in­jury sus­tained.

Kevin Strat­ton (Rau­mati) GEN­TER DOES IT

Bill Ral­ston’s col­umn ( Life, April 7) on the “Gen­ter” pay gap was a clas­sic. As an 80-plus-year-old-male, I ap­plaud pay par­ity, but feel a touch of an­noy­ance at some of the ar­gu­ments put for­ward by those de­ter­mined to close the pay gap by fair means or, as in this case, prej­u­diced think­ing. It only harms the cause, as Ral­ston de­light­fully out­lines. Mike Ham­mond (Paku­ranga, Auckland)

RULES FOR LIFE

Jor­dan Peter­son (“Cold­com­fort contrarian”, April 7) chal­lenges men to gain mean­ing­ful di­rec­tion in their lives. Be re­spon­si­ble for your­self and your ac­tions, he says. Tell the truth and sur­round your­self with peo­ple who want the best for you. Im­por­tantly, don’t be a vic­tim, and look for what pos­i­tive changes you can make be­fore crit­i­cis­ing the so­ci­ety in which you live.

New Zealand teenage boys and young men need to hear this mes­sage. As a coun­try, we have the high­est teen sui­cide rate in the de­vel­oped world. Men make up 93% of peo­ple in prison and 75% of com­pleted suicides. We live in an age where there is a cri­sis with males and mas­culin­ity. A ra­tio­nal, firm, en­cour­ag­ing male voice is what can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween long-term pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive life out­comes for boys and the men they be­come. Ray Calver (Grey Lynn, Auckland)

I SPY

I am of­fended to learn that Rus­sia has not based any spies

in New Zealand; it shows no re­spect for us. We have se­crets – pos­si­bly some pretty im­por­tant ones, too.

For a start, we know how to pro­duce world-class athletes without the need for state­spon­sored dop­ing. That would help im­prove Rus­sia’s na­tional im­age. And since New Zealand joined the space race with suc­cess­ful rocket launches from near a very nice beach, Rus­sian agents could work on their tan while await­ing the next count­down. How about some in­dus­trial es­pi­onage? There must be juicy morsels to be gleaned from the cow­shed.

Maybe a deficit of spies in­di­cates that Vladimir Putin doesn’t know of New Zealand’s ex­is­tence. He could al­ways col­lude – er, con­fer – with Don­ald Trump, who would prob­a­bly point him in the di­rec­tion of “Nam­bia”. An­thony Scott (Orewa, Auckland)

GET YOUR GOUT

Rheuma­tol­o­gist Lisa Stamp’s re­search into gout ( Health, March 31) goes a long way to re­duc­ing some of the stigma as­so­ci­ated with this pain­ful con­di­tion, but myths about gout still abound. Many peo­ple do not know that gout is the sec­ond-most-com­mon form of arthritis in New Zealand.

Jokes about beer and kai

moana can mask con­sid­er­able shame, es­pe­cially in Māori and Pasi­fika pop­u­la­tions, where gout is twice as com­mon as in other eth­nic groups, largely due to ge­netic fac­tors. Up to one-third of those aged over 65 are af­fected.

How­ever, Māori and Pasi­fika peo­ple are less likely to re­ceive the most ef­fec­tive pre­ven­tive medicine for gout. In­stead, they are treated for acute gout at­tacks and end up in hospi­tal at five times the rate of suf­fer­ers from other eth­nic groups.

Left un­treated, gout can lead to long-term joint dam­age and dis­abil­ity. Bet­ter treat­ment would there­fore help save health costs and in­crease work­place par­tic­i­pa­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity, be­sides re­duc­ing pain and suf­fer­ing for the es­ti­mated 160,000 peo­ple with the con­di­tion. Philip Kear­ney Chief ex­ec­u­tive, Arthritis New Zealand (Welling­ton)

BRIEF AS

Ge­of­frey Horne ( Let­ters,

April 7) cas­ti­gates those who lengthen state­ments with words that serve no pur­pose. He de­clares them “id­i­otic but com­mon ex­cesses”. May I point out his fi­nal para­graph, “One can only hope that fur­ther ef­forts to shorten …”, could well be re­placed with “I hope that …”? John Si­mons (Orewa)

EV DOES IT

The elec­tric-ve­hi­cles cover story (“Bat­tery charges”, March 31) raised the is­sue of their in­creas­ing de­mand on the na­tional grid.

Nu­clear power is demon­stra­bly the clean­est, safest and – given sen­si­ble leg­is­la­tion – cheap­est way to gen­er­ate base-load elec­tri­cal power. We should study and em­brace en­gi­neer­ing devel­op­ments that, within 10 years, will bring on line in­no­va­tive,

small, mod­u­lar units such as molten-salt re­ac­tors fu­elled by the Earth’s in­ex­haustible sup­ply of en­ergy-rich tho­rium.

If we gen­uinely value our en­vi­ron­ment, we should plan, by 2030, to have re­placed all hy­dro­car­bon-based fuel sources and sup­ple­mented our hy­dro and geo­ther­mal power plants with nu­clear power gen­er­a­tion.

The “nu­clear-free New Zealand” catch-cry is in­ac­cu­rate – ion­is­ing ra­di­a­tion is al­ready widely used here in medicine, in­dus­try and re­search – and sci­en­tif­i­cally un­achiev­able. Let’s say what we mean and use the full leg­isla­tively

ac­cu­rate and philo­soph­i­cally ad­mirable phrase “nu­cle­ar­weapons-free New Zealand”. Then we can as­sess the mer­its of nu­clear power gen­er­a­tion on its com­mer­cial, en­gi­neer­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds without ir­ra­tional su­per­sti­tions lim­it­ing our op­tions. Christo­pher Feltham (Nel­son) Surely the most press­ing ques­tion re­gard­ing EVs is whether they will help de­crease hu­man­ity’s car­bon diox­ide out­put? The rea­son they cost so much is the em­bed­ded en­ergy – car­bon – re­quired to pro­duce them, much of it in

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