Thursday, October 24 2013 @ 02:21 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
BY Chris Bruntlett, Hush
The United States Postal Service caused an uproar earlier this month when they released a series of stamps designed to encourage physical fitness among their nation’s chronically inactive children. In the end, they were forced to destroy the entire run of fifteen stamps over outcry about some of the ‘unsafe’ activities that they depicted. These include the wild and irresponsible acts of performing a cannonball into a swimming pool, doing a headstand without head protection, and skateboarding without kneepads.
In reality, there is far more safety in numbers than Styrofoam, which is why cities around the world with the highest cycling rates are also the safest, irrespective of helmet usage. Furthermore, the mistaken sense of invincibility provided by safety gear drastically changes the dynamic between road users, and not in the favour of the cyclist. Armoured cyclists have been statistically documented to indulge in ‘overcompensation’, taking additional risks, riding quicker and more recklessly than they otherwise would. Similarly, in a scientifically proven phenomenon known as the Mary Poppins effect, motorists also conduct themselves differently around cyclists dressed in protective equipment, leaving less space when passing, and travelling notably faster around them.
Once, just once, I’d like to see a police or medical professional courageously call for the taming of the bull in society’s china shop, not just the bubble wrapping of our fine china.
Underlying each and every one of these issues is an obesity epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down. 93% of Canadian children do not get the recommended hour of daily physical activity. One in three are either overweight or obese, a vicious cycle that proves difficult to break as they enter adulthood. By 2040, almost three quarters of Canadian adults will be overweight, significantly increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and costing us over $100-billion per year in treatment and accommodation. Sadly, this generation of children will likely be the first in the history of Western Civilization to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents.
Despite all of this, the message from our so-called ‘health authorities’ is broadcast loud and clear: you are safer at home on the couch than exercising outdoors without the obligatory padding. The remote possibility of a traumatic injury trumps the overwhelming chance of a lifestyle disease, every single day of the week. They may mean well, but by fixating on the emergency room, these fear-mongering, headline-chasing ‘experts’ perpetuate a safety paradox, which makes matters much, much worse.