Ken Ohrn writes:

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Health-care dollars are in the news – this time, with twinning of one sickening and one wonderful twist.  And a strong sense that while people can change, accountability for public attacks is really all too rare (all is fair in politics and war, and memories are short, we seem to think).

First: By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver.

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A local study has shown the enormous cost of injuries to people in BC — some 456,000 injuries and $2.29 billion per year in 2010. But the article focuses on 5 percent of injuries that are recreational and, in theory, preventable (22,000 out of 456,000), and makes the absurd claim that bicycle helmet use saves health care dollars.

My opinion, and I’m not alone, is that helmet use discourages people from riding bikes (by roughly around 50 percent), and the health benefits (and ensuing lower costs of health care) exceed the risks of riding by a margin of 20:1. (See Klassen article below.)

Meanwhile, the other bogus nastiness in the article is the apparent opinion that the other 434,000 injuries are not preventable — and we all know that the largest part of these 434,000 injuries are most likely related to motor vehicle crashes.  It’s another example of the cultural blind spot we all have to the appalling death and injury toll from motor vehicle crashes. First — we just don’t “see” them; second — they’re not preventable.

So buckle up those helmets, people. And let’s just forget about road deaths and injuries altogether.

Second:  Mike Klassen writes in the Courier wanting more bike lanes, and increasing the active lifestyle, because of its large contribution to overall health, and thus to reduction of the huge medical care costs attributable to a sedentary lifestyle.

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Courier

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It marks, for me, a Wonderland-level change from the days when Mr. Klassen ran a scurrilous attack blog called City Caucus on behalf of the civic NPA.  In this now-defunct blog during the run-up to the bike-lane-heavy 2011 civic election, he published a vicious hatchet job on HUB, the non-profit advocacy organization for people who ride bikes. Because, ya know, the NPA was fundamentally against bike lanes and by extension, against people who ride bikes. HUB’s position, including the health benefits of an active life, were just a bunch of hooey. This position did not work in 2011 and in 2014, as the NPA lost both elections badly.

Now, it seems, Mr. Klassen understands that an active lifestyle is of huge importance to society as a whole, and as a result he advocates in favour of bike lanes, along with improvements for pedestrians.

He writes:  “While Vancouver abounds with runners, cyclists, paddlers and those taking a stroll on our cherished seawall pathways, we can do more. We could establish new jogging and walking routes, and combine them with safer traffic crossings right across the city. And notwithstanding the headaches they cause with opponents, the city should build more bike lanes, too.”

Comments

  1. Seems like Dr. Pike needs to read his sources more carefully. The health care savings of each children’s helmet is estimated at $34 by Miller and Levy (his source, I presume), for a retail cost of $25 — this paper is from 2000. That’s a ratio of 1.36, not 45. Ooops! A higher ratio (44) can be obtained by factoring in imputed costs (QALYs, VSLs, etc.), and using a wholesale helmet cost of $10.

  2. I think it’s great that Mr. Klassen (and others lately) are accepting that things can change. (Assuming of course that his anti-bike stance was sincere back then.)

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