If the helmet fits
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 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)
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