Angry New Yorker

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
An Insult to Nannies

A week ago I wondered when New York State would take the next step in its ongoing march to the all-encompassing nanny state (see "NY Passes Law Requiring Young Skateboarders To Wear Helmets" here). Little did I know, however, that Canada was determined to surpass its neighbor to the south. This in via Tim Blair, via the incomparable Mark Steyn:

"For years, Mark Steyn has been using "federal bicycling-helmet regulations" as a mocking nanny-state gag. Little did he know that helmet regulators were so insanely serious:

I should have known better. The other day, a private member's bill was introduced in the Ontario legislature requiring every grown-up, before mounting a bicycle anywhere in the province, from Niagara Falls to Hudson's Bay, to strap him or herself into a helmet. Needless to say, the bill was approved on its second reading unanimously ...

To call this a "nanny state" is an insult to nannies. When Baron von Trapp hired Maria to look after all the little von Trapps, he didn't object to her and the kids riding their bicycles down the lane while singing "Do-Re-Mi" unhelmeted. Forty years on, the gal who was 16 going on 17 and the telegraph boy who was 17 going on 18 are 56 going on 57 and 57 going on 58, but in Ontario they're still not old enough to ride a bicycle without government supervision ...

Chris Gilham, who runs the website, has analyzed the impact of similar laws in Australia. One consequence is that fewer people bicycle and thus what was meant to be a public health benefit is, in fact, a public health disaster--"mass discouragement of society's most popular exercise at a time of soaring obesity."

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