...This overview for foreign visitors to the LHM Web is
Icelandic Cyclists' Federation
Landssamt÷k hjˇlreiamanna - LHM
Strategy and vision
for lack of less lofty words
- Work to increase and strengthen bicycling in Iceland. The Federation
should work to spread bicycling to a wider public as a competitive sport,
a family-friendly non-competitive sports activity, a healthy way of life
and a means of transport.
- Cooperate in Iceland with individuals, governmental
and non-governmental organisations and companies.
- LHM has one representative among roughly 22 in the
national board of traffic safety, which meets about ten times a year. The
board acts as a consultative organ for the Icelandic authorities in the
area of traffic, and first and foremost regarding the dangers of traffic.
- LHM has a loose affiliation with ═S═, the Icelandic
Sports- and Olympic Organisation, but the umbrella organisation of
competitive cyclists is a regular member and receives benefits that
originate as Lottery money.
- LHM seeks to cooperate internationally, especially
with other cyclist advocacy organisations.
( more to come )
To be added ...Cycling in Iceland ( Short notes on
competions, touring, cycling for transport, modal split etc )
phone: +354 6904801
- Icelandic Cyclists' Fed.
ICELAND - EUROPE
Non-official Comment from the LHM President on Traffic
Safety including Bicycle Helmet Compulsion
These days the stance on helmet compulsion is getting crucial as a wave of
helmet laws seems set to roll over Europe.
We in LHM were recently ( February 2005 ) woken up from near ignorance on
the matter, when the Association of Icelandic Insurance companies (S═S)
put forward a motion to the Ministry of Transport, urging them to extend
the law on helmet compulsion to adults. Yes, there already exists a law on
helmet compulsion for all cyclists younger than 15 years in Iceland, I'm
afraid, and at the time (1997) when the law was passed, the Cyclist
Organisations were not really awake. Or rather, because of the seemingly
self evident merit of helmets for reducing injuries, people seem to have
been mostly all for it. The lack of contact with international Bicycle
advocacy groups, like the CTC or The European Cyclists' Federation, meant
that the counterarguments practically did not surface.
In fact, the law grants the Ministry to set rules about helmet compulsion
at its own discretion. And seemingly it can be extended to adults, without
the Parliament ( Al■ing ) knowing, even. The rules making it illegal for
children to enjoy a healthy bike ride without a helmet came into effect in
1999, but have not been enforced. One of the strong arguments against
compulsion is that it will probably not be enforced, and very probably the
police can save many more lives by stopping cars with irresponsible
drivers. Traffic law enforcement is recognised to be way too lax, and if
the police were more visible in traffic, dealing with speeding and drunk
drivers, that has the potential to save many lives in itself.
The stance of the current president, is that the knowledge-base promoters
are suggesting that be used as grounds fro helmet compulsion is very
one-sided and seemingly of a poor scientific standard.
Much more evidence is needed before one can go to the step of making it
illegal to cycle without a helmet. In Iceland the statistics on the number
of people cycling and how _serious_ head injuries occur are virtually
non-present. Comparisons to head injury prevalence in pedestrians and
motor vehicle occupants ( from other countries ) has been shown to be very
sobering, but such a comparison is never done by promoters of helmet
Having read many reports on bicycle helmet efficacy, especially the
experience of Australia and New Zealand with helmet laws, critique of such
reports and articles published in peer-reviewed international journals, it
is my clear impression that the value of helmet compulsion is grossly
overestimated, and probably helmet compulsion is gravely negative, not
least in the larger context of public health. Suffice it to say that the
reduction in head injuries after the helmet law in AU and NZ seem after
statistical analysis, to have stemmed from 1) the reductions in cyclists
2) better law enforcement that lead to a safer general road environment.
Pedestrians and motor vehicle occcupants had similar reductions in head
injuries over the same period as did cyclists.
For helmet compulsion has a strong tendency to reduce the numbers of
cyclist very significantly, and research correlated from many countries
point to decreased safety for the individual cyclist when cyclist numbers
are reduced. Besides it has been showed that the health benefits of
cycling is many times more healthy ( on a population level, and in the
long run for cyclists ) that what traffic accidents on cyclists account
for, be they helmet users or not.
What cyclist really need and what societies really need is lower speed,
better skills and courtesy for drivers of cars and bicycles. Also we need
increased respect for existing laws we already have against speeding and
driving under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, sleep deprivation etc.
And we need competent planning and engineering that take the rights and
needs of pedestrians and cyclists into account. And because the
professional knowledge about what works to increase the safety of
pedestrians is very rare, local planners, law enforcement bodies and
politicians must seek to upgrade their knowledge. Why not ask bicycle
advocacy groups for help in finding relevant contacts among politicians
and engineers ? Look for instance to the Netherlands and Denmark. They
have the lowest casualty rates for bicyclists, but generally do not use
helmets. Instead they work with and for the "soft" traffic and put their
planning and lawmaking efforts in traffic safety for cyclists where it
really helps. The USA is on the other end of the scale in both respects.
Reykjavik, January 2006
One of many discussions on helmets efficacy in
promoting health that have taken place in the British Medical Journal can
be found online in the following issue BMJ 1997;314:69 (4 January) :