Putting People in Their Place

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Elizabeth Christian finds it "mind-boggling" that the League of Bicycling Voters would oppose a politically motivated, statistically invalid study whose data collection methodology was thoroughly discredited years ago [“Bicycle Helmet Headbutting Resumes,” News, Oct. 20]. That's interesting. Or not. Unlike Christian, Todd, Crocker, or Berkowitz, everyone in the LOBV is a transportation bicyclist, the only group which would be affected by an adult mandatory helmet law. And however unintuitive it might seem to the uninformed, we agree unanimously that a helmet law will decrease, not increase, bicycling safety in Austin (see, for example, www.lobv.org/15reasons.html). Christian puts us in our place, however, by wondering out loud what the LOBV could contribute to a study designed for a "peer-reviewed" journal. I don't know, expertise? Familiarity with the literature? Knowledge about statistics? Dr. Crocker, one of the physicians behind this study, is the imbecile who sent an e-mail to City Council summarizing data collected at Brackenridge which inadvertently implies that bicycle helmets are 90% effective at preventing leg injuries in minors (lobv.org/drcrocker.html). Crocker's e-mail, incidentally, reveals the flaw in their data collection methodology. If Crocker/Berkowitz had bothered to consult with actual bicyclists (or even studied the existing literature), they might have a study which could provide some useful, publishable information rather than another textbook example of how to lie with statistics. Finally, Christian informs us that "you must legislate behavior.” This statement defines fascism – think about it. For more fun quotes like this, see the sidebar here: www.lobv.org/statistics.html. Elizabeth, did it ever occur to you that the engineers, PhDs, public policy professionals, and commuter bicyclists with literally centuries of combined bicycling experience just might know more about this issue than you, Bruce, and the Laurel and Hardy physicians you've assembled to promote your political agenda? I continue to hold out hope that MHL proponents will eventually see the error in their ways.
Patrick Goetz
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