Bike helmet laws

This article by fellow-MAMIL Michael O’Reilly makes an argument I’d been meaning to post. Whatever the merits of bike helmet laws in general, the costs clearly outweigh them in relation to bike-share schemes like CityCycle in Brisbane.

We clearly need a category of exemptions that lets people hire a slow bike for touring around our cities. Having done that, I’d extend it to anyone willing to take the trouble to apply for exemption, while maintaining the helmet rule as the default. I certainly wouldn’t seek an exemption – I like my head the way it is – but I can imagine there are people who would make the choice, and it’s not so obvious that their judgement should be over-ridden.

103 thoughts on “Bike helmet laws

  1. @Ikonoclast
    “I’ve been all of a regular pedestrian, car driver, motorcyclist, cyclist, light truck and heavy machinery driver on public roads.” Ditto for me, plus heavy trucks, so your attempt to deploy the (in any event fallacious) argument from authority won’t wash.

    “The statement presumes that it is only car drivers who do not know how to share the road in a reasonable manner.” I do not presume it is only car drivers – there are plenty of aggressive cyclists too. However, the lethality of cars is such that it is car drivers who must modify their behaviour as cycling becomes more ubiquitous. Aggressive and silly cyclists do not kill other road users. Those using the lethal equipment are the ones who must change. This principle is already enshrined in the lower speed limits applying outside schools and in the CBD and Valley – they should actually be lower, of course, but the principle is that car drivers must change their behaviour to protect more vulnerable road users. People do silly things with firearms and with tennis balls, but public safety requires firearm users to be more heavily regulated than tennis ball users, surely.

    “Busy, multi-lane traffic is simply not the place for cycles, full stop.” No. Cyclists are legitimate road users and in many instances busy, multi-lane roads are the only available route. In point of fact, reducing the speed limit to 30 or 40 on roads like Sir Fred Schonell drive would have little or no impact on average vehicle speeds, which are invariably far below speed limits as the three sets of traffic lights and the roundabout force traffic to slow or stop.

    “Cyclists require and deserve dedicated bikeways on all major city roads.” I absolutely agree. However, for that to happen, cars will have to put up with fewer available lanes and no on-street parking. I’m suspecting that driver behaviour modification and road sharing is going to be politically more palatable.

    “provided they pass tests, get licences and pay fees and insurance just like car drivers”. Mandatory tests, licences and insurance for car drivers stem from the plain fact that cars are lethal pieces of kit. The tests, licences, fees and insurance protect the innocent and vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, and indeed responsible car drivers, from the idiocy and aggression of car drivers. Bicycles are not lethal to other road users, and so the same considerations do not apply. Cyclists are however liable to be penalised for traffic offences, as are pedestrians.

  2. As it happens, I live on the alternate route to Fred Schonell Drive. I would certainly never ride on Fred Schonell, but the alternative has some problems including a winding hilly section made worse by the presence of parked cars. I wrote to the Council suggesting a parking ban would improve safety there, but they said there was no need.

  3. On a different matter, SJ was out of line in his/her attack on Terje, so I’m leaving the response to stand, but please, nothing more like this from either of you.

  4. So this is interesting. NYC has mandated wearing of bike helmets and they also have recorded fatalities and major injuries of bike riders. The overwhelming majority of deaths and trauma are from non helmet bike riders.

  5. I doubt the mandatory helmet law was ever a good idea, but I think the argument that it still suppresses cycling is way overdone.

    Much of the literature condemning the law relies to a great extent on the original 1980s/90s before-and-after studies done in Vic and NSW, claiming they show cycling fell sharply when the law came into effect. I read them recently and found mixed results – cycling by adults didn’t fall significantly, but cycling by children did, especially high school kids. I’ve linked to my analyses below.

    Teenagers are fashion conscious and the Rosebank Stackhat of the late 80s wasn’t attractive (someone mentioned in a previous comment that it was also expensive). But today helmets are a fashion item and worn by the likes of Cadel Evans.

    Subsequent generations of children don’t cycle for a range of reasons that offer a more convincing explanation than the helmet law. Many more kids get driven to school; more kids use public transport to get to distant private schools; parents are concerned about the dangers of cycling on busier roads.

    I can’t see most Australians agreeing to a change in the law or any government prepared to lead on it. The issue is a distraction that gets far more traction than it warrants. Cycling for both transport and recreation is in any event growing vigorously in our cities. The key impediment to faster growth isn’t the helmet law but the lack of safe cycling infrastructure and the institutionalised presumption that bicycles aren’t legitimate road users.

  6. @Ikonoclast
    Ikonoclast, it may or may not be silly, but there’s plenty of evidence that many people are deterred from cycling by mandatory helmet laws – at least, that’s what they tell researchers. There were also pronounced declines in cycling rates after mandatory helmet laws were rolled out in the early 1991.

    More generally, this thread seems to be a strange combination of furphy debates and real ones. Debates over whether or not bike helmets ‘work’ (i.e. actually protect a rider’s head from injury), or whether or not mandatory helmet laws deter people from cycling, are furphies because the answers to these questions are known with some certainty. The real debates are ones over genuinely contentious issues of fact and value, like whether or not mandatory helmet laws have a net public health benefit (the evidence seems to be conflicting), whether they are an unwarranted interference in individual liberty, or whether an exemption for bike share schemes can be justified. It would probably be more productive to drop the furphy debates and stick to the real ones.

  7. My kids climbed a large tree in the garden yesterday. No helmet. Could have died if they fell. Next week it’s skiing with no helmet. Might even let them go walking without a helmet and cross the road without a helmet even though crossing the road with a helmet would be safer. Lowering the speed limit will always save lives but how low is low enough. How safe is safe enough? Safety is an easy excuse for endless petty tyrannies.

  8. In rare cases bicycles have been lethal to pedestrians. Just google it.

    In the big picture, the battle of private automobiles versus bicycles and public transport is going to resolve inevitably in favour of bicycles and public transport. Peak oil will see to that. As petrol, distillates and gas become rarer and more expensive commodities, the efficiencies of public transport (mass transit), bicycles and plain walking will be the main answers. Essential services and essential industry vehicles will get the civilian lion’s share of the remaining hydrocarbon fuels (after the military gets first dibs of course). Private automobiles will become smaller, less numerous and mainly electric powered.

    Then arguments will revolve around issues like whether electric-mopeds belong on the dedicated cycle path or the vehicular roadway. Everyone can remain assured that we humans will continue to find things to bicker about.

  9. I’m currently living in Copenhagen, often called the worlds best cycling city. Helmets are not compulsory, but probably about 20 per cent of people wear them, and many more kids.

    The most notable safety feature is the any bike lanes separated from roads. I suspect that this has the largest impact on safety and injuries. See for example: (pay-walled unfortunately).

    You certainly feel much safer on the bike lanes, and so does everyone else, so the major danger is cyclist rage if you stray in front of one of the other thousands of cyclists!

    Better cycling infrastructure needs far more attention in Australia, but this is a long term proposition – Copenhagen, for example, started in the 1970’s, to get to where it is now. And helmets do seem to reduce head injuries so lets keep them.

    As for the argument that helmet laws reduce cycling, this seems to suggest not:

  10. @Tim Macknay

    Well, it all depends how far foward I project trends. I’m not saying that a world of mass transit, bicycles and electric vehicles is the end game. It’s just a stage on the way. But, I agree, pointing out that earth’s orbit decays, the sun will die, the universe ends in maximum entropy and all human hopes and wishes are ultimately vain and futile does tend to be a party mood killer.

  11. @Stephen Ziguras

    Yes, I pointed out earlier that it is a total furphy that having to buy a piece of apparel (a helmet is safety apparel) or other safety equipment will stop people doing things.

    If this were true, we could expect people to stop swimming at the beach because they have to buy swimming costumes, sun-block, and u-v protection garments. Last time I looked, the beaches were as crowded as ever.

  12. @Ikonoclast

    It isn’t a total furphy in relation to bike hire schemes. Tourists aren’t going to pack helmets before going on holidays, so if they need a helmet to hire a bike, they won’t do it.

  13. And I think the same is true for casual hirers in general. The whole point is that, anytime you need a bike, there’s one nearby. If that requires carrying a helmet at all times, it isn’t going to happen.

  14. @Stephen Ziguras
    I’ve also read that article and I don’t agree that it says what you think it does. It says that, contrary to some claims, the cycling participartion rate has increased in recent years. This is certainly true. But it doesn’t mean that helmet laws don’t deter cycling – there’s plenty of evidence that they do. As I mentioned before, there were significant drops in the cycling participation rate immediately after helmet laws were introduced in the early 1990’s.

    The information in the article you cite indicates that the participation rate has since recovered, possibly for a combination of reasons including higher fuel prices, environmental awareness, improved cycling infrastructure, and the fact the cycling is fashionable among young people thanks to the fixie and retro/vintage bike trends. However, the fact that surveys repeatedly show that a portion of respondents report that helmet laws deter them from cycling suggests that this is a genuine factor.

    One reasonable interpretation of this information is that it suggests cycling participation rates, while rising, would rise still further if helmet laws were relaxed.

    An anecdotal observation of my own is that, as the cycling participation rate has increased, so has the apparent level of civil disobedience regarding the helmet laws (i.e. the number of people riding without helmets). I wonder if anyone else has noticed this.

    Yes, I pointed out earlier that it is a total furphy that having to buy a piece of apparel (a helmet is safety apparel) or other safety equipment will stop people doing things.

    If this were true, we could expect people to stop swimming at the beach because they have to buy swimming costumes, sun-block, and u-v protection garments. Last time I looked, the beaches were as crowded as ever.

    Ikonoclast, this is a dumb analogy – none of the swimming items you mention are mandatory, and as I said before, there is actual evidence, in the form of cycling participation data and survey response data, that supports the view that mandatory helmet laws do deter cycling. A bad analogy doesn’t refute that.

  15. I often swim opportunistically in street wear (ie not a swimming costume). Sometimes you find yourself near a beach or stream and you want a dip. If a formal swimming costume or a floatation device was mandatory I would still swim but less often.

    That said the participation rate and safety issues are a side show. The crux of the argument in my book is that it is none of your god damn business if I want to ride with no helmet or swim in my shorts. Get a life and leave people be.

  16. I’m with Terje. Though I wonder if some of the recently discovered ambiguity about this particular piece of nanny state regulation isn’t more due to the fact that the city cycle scheme is an abysmal failure financially (and mandatory helmets are a BIG part of this) more than a fair dinkum libertarian streak.
    Many suspects have recently made similar mumblings to those of our blog host, none of them have any previous form for libertarianism.

  17. If you choose to set out on the road with a pushbike helmet on on your head you have a 50/50 chance that it with either help you in an accident or cripple you in that accident. Why? It is a property of polystyrene that it “binds” to an abrasive surface when it approaches at an angle of between 10 degrees and 40 degrees andat a speed of 30 kph and above. It is to do with the way that the material compresses under load then becomes quite rigid at a certain point. So if you come off your bike and hit the ground head first, there is a very good chance that the helmet will bind to the rough road surface and rip your head sideways as your body coninues to travel thereby breaking your kneck. I have a Quadraplegic friend due to this very unfortuneate property of the materials from which most of these helmets are made. This is, of course, no interest to the safety authorities as they have covered their but with the safety bandaid that we are all compelled to use due to their muddled analysis of the incident statics, and complaining by a body of safety fetishists most of whom do not ride bicycles. So due to their incompetence we all wear these awkward ugly things on our heads and it is left to the police with their tickbox approach to incident repporting to maintain the illusion that bicycle helmets actually protect us. A disputed claim.

    We know that the safety authorities are incompetent because the allow ourselves and our children to venture out on the roads on slow vehicles without rear vision mirrors. Ever seen a registered car without at least one rear vision mirror? Ever seen a truck, ute or motorbike without rear vision mirrors? No.

    So we set out on the roads on the slowest vehicles on those roads, vehicles for which there is a constant procession of danger approaching form the rear, the cyclists principle blind spot (blind zone). If you ask the racing cyslists they will say that they can hear what is coming from behind. usually that is true bu they cannot possibly know how close that following traffic is, until it has gone past without hitting them. And as our roads carry more electric vehicles this personal safety feature will become over more useless.

    The fact is that a cyclist without a bicycle helmet but with a rear vision mirror is far safer than a cyclist with a helmet but without rear vision mirrors (or other devices). naturally a cyclist with both is by far the safest.

    When I set forth on the road on my push bike I wear a construction safety helmet as these are made from a rigid material, more akin to the construction of motor bike helmets, which does not have the road binding (cogging) problem.

    Summary: if you are going to ride fast and in traffic a helmet is adviseable, but a motorbike helmet would be the safest.

    If you are gong to ride at “family” speeds, on cycle ways and in parkland or off road helmets are unnecessary.

    If you ride in mixed traffic then you should have a rear vision mirror on your vehicle, and a bell to warn pedestrians (slower again) who will certainly never have rear vision mirrors affixed to their heads.

  18. Tim Macknay

    No, there weren’t “significant drops in the cycling participation rate immediately after helmet laws were introduced in the early 1990?s.” It’s more complex. Cycling by adults wasn’t significantly affected. The big falls were among children, especially teenagers. I’ve linked to the explanation in my post above, 18:58, 26 Sep (which you probably didn’t see because it was held up in moderation for a day, no doubt due to the links in it).

  19. @TerjeP
    Terje – suppose there was a nanny-state type regulation that we all agreed would unambiguously improve social welfare. Would you support it or not?

    I am not trying to mischaracterize your argument – just wondering if your opposition is philosophical (i.e. rejection of the principle of regulating positive freedoms) or practical (i.e. belief that the costs of such regulations would outweigh the benefits)?

  20. @Alan Davies
    You’re right, I didn’t see your comment until after I put mine up. I’ve since read the info at your blog. It is quite informative, and clearly there is a lot of nuance to the changes in participation rates in the 1990’s that wasn’t evident in the sources I perused – thanks.

  21. @BilB
    I’m not at all sure that having a rear vision mirror does anything for bicycle safety. I had one but got rid of it – there is nothing a rider can do if a following vehicle appears to be approaching dangerously, other than ride into a kerb, power pole or parked car on the left. If they’re going to hit you, they’re going to hit you and a rear vision mirror won’t make any difference.

    Bicycle helmets vary considerably in their surface materials. Mine is covered with a hard plastic a bit like ABS that seems fairly immune to abrasion. The Australian Standard, however, is pretty vague on that issue.

    FWIW, the best safety device I’ve found is a prominent camera, worn on the helmet. It makes car drivers much more careful, knowing that if they cause an accident they will suffer. I’ve ridden on 3km of Moggill Road from the Kenmore Roundabout to the Western Freeway bike track at Indooroopilly pretty much every working day for over 20 years without serious incident, and the number of near-death experiences caused by testosterone-fuelled idiots has gone down considerably since I mounted the camera.

    Also FWIW, the hierarchy of idiots has at its apex the tradies in their utes, particularly if there is more than one of them in the cab, with BMWs a close second. Why BMWs? I can’t say.

  22. Hal9000 :
    Also FWIW, the hierarchy of idiots has at its apex the tradies in their utes, particularly if there is more than one of them in the cab, with BMWs a close second. Why BMWs? I can’t say.

    I’m not convinced with your previous suggestion of 30km/h zones on some main streets, but strongly agree with the above statement concerning ute drivers in particular. I can see why some might admire their skills to weave in & out of lanes in rapid machine gun succession, but I certainly don’t appreciate it.

  23. I’d like to see the mandatory helmet, nanny state nonsense gone, ideally to be replaced by a modest publicity campaign promoting more considerate car driving and the merits of cycle helmets. Carrots more than sticks, really.

  24. NickR – this is not a case of regulating for a positive freedom. There are some positive freedoms I think we should regulate for. Basic literacy and numeracy education for children is one. However mandating bicycle helmets is not a positive freedom or positive right. It is simply interfering with basic lifestyle choices and imposing a judgement on others regarding what risks they may take. I know people who go rock climbing and we don’t regulate that choice. Some people play competition sport like soccer and rugby and there are risks involved. My brother unlawful was a boxer. Some people grow tall trees near their houses. People take all manner of risks in life and I don’t interfere with their freedom to do so. Somehow riding a bike became a special exception and we have to get all protective about it. It is completely stupid. It is something we ought to be ashamed of.

  25. NickR – me not breaking my head is a case of personal welfare not social welfare. I have far more stake in my head than society at large.

  26. Bike hirers in the US (I’m thinking S/F) provide helmets and ask that users wear them. Tourists don’t seem to be put off by the idea.

  27. @rog

    I’m assuming this means you hire the bike from a person who gives you a helmet. But with the bike share schemes, you take the bike from a locked stand. Unfortunately, securing helmets is a bit harder.

  28. Hal 9000, your comment on mirrors is rhetorical claptrap. I’ve personally witnessed a cyclist being hit from behind on Glebe Point Road and a 15 year old girl being crushed under the wheels of a quarry truck. I know of 2 other teen agers being killed by trucks that were travelling near enough for their air disturbances caused the cyclists to fall into the wheels, and 2 of the competitive cyclists who argue profusely against cycle mirrors both had car hits from behind. In all of those instances the only thing that would have made a difference is a rear vision mirror., and their helmets did nothing to prevent the accidents or protect them.

    My quadraplegic friend went head first over the bonnet of a car at 40 kph, his helmet possibly protected his skull but broke his neck in the process. A rear vision mirror would not have helped here other than that there was a suggestion that he was looking backwards over his shoulder at the exact instant that a car emerged at speed from a driveway.

    So Hal 9000, demonstrate your strength of conviction and remove all of the mirrors form your car, and see how safe you feel on the roadways in traffic.

  29. JQ, it is possible to design an effective helmet using expanded polyethylene foam that, being flexible, can be folded flat to fit into a pouch under the cycle seat, and also being fully closed celled is fully water proof and easily washable. This helmet would look similar to the current ghastly creations but would be tighter to the head. Polyethylene foam is an excellent impact barrier and would be about 20mm thick in this application.

    I say this by way of demonstrating that there is a workable solution if if we really want there to be one. Also I am sure that safety authorities are immune to common sense an will never rescind a safety regulation such as this once it has been installed, particularly as this would suggest that they were wrong in the first place.

  30. The drop in numbers of children cycling has happened in a context of children being protected by parents and society from all sorts of dangers. In the good old days of my youth, letting children go feral was far more the norm. I suppose the thinking was back then that, in case of a mishap, cheap enough to “bang out another one”. I can remember, pre-school age, regularly dragging my little brother out for a multi-block Walkabout adventure. Nowadays that sort of “lax” parenting would not be allowed. In Economists jargon, kids have become luxury goods, so parents are less cavalier with their safety. The little critters are now so expensive that they are no longer expendable!!

  31. @BilB
    This is a false dichotomy. Rear vision mirrors in cars do not prevent rear-end collisions. They allow car drivers to change lanes with safety. There is nothing a cyclist can do, nor a car driver, to prevent a rear end collision caused by an inattentive or aggressive driver. There is simply nowhere to go to get out of the way. I find that not having a rear vision mirror on my bicycle prevents constant flinching. I am sorry for your friend and the victims of the horrific accidents you witnessed, but I seriously doubt whether having a mirror would have done them any good. Meanwhile, your policy prescriptions sound like the standard anti-cyclist claptrap peddled (pun intended) by the usual msm trolls on the subject. As you say, cycling is the way of the future. Car drivers must become better able to deal with that fact in the meantime.

    Back OT, it’s the number of cyclists on the road that will force a change to driver behaviour more than any prescriptive laws. If helmet laws prevent the number of cyclists reaching a critical mass, then helmet laws IMO have a net negative impact on safety.

    Last, I am perfectly aware there have been a small number of pedestrian fatalities caused by cyclists. I trust the offenders have been dealt with appropriately. There is no doubt a smaller number of fatalities caused by joggers running into frail pedestrians. These incidents do not invalidate my policy prescription: right of way should always favour the more vulnerable aginst the idiot behaving dangerously. And they are far outweighed by motor vehicle-cyclist or pedestrian fatalities. Cars have been given far too much preference and its about time the imbalance was corrected.

  32. BTW, of my four serious (stitches, broken bones and dislocated joints) cycling accidents in 40 years of cycling, mostly on roads, at about 10,000km/year, one was caused by my own stupidity, one by poor road maintenance, one by a fellow cyclist overtaking and clipping my front wheel, and one by a pedestrian suddenly deciding to cross the Corro Drive bike path in front of me (I avoided hitting the pedestrian but vaulted the handlebars). In the one caused by poor road maintenance, I have no doubt whatever that my helmet (not then compulsory) saved my life. The helmet was split in two, but my skull (although not the skin covering it) remained intact and I remained conscious.

  33. I also had one non-serious but painful accident caused by police jumping out from behind bushes at the Oxley’s restaurant – now derelict – to apprehend the cyclist I was overtaking for not wearing a helmet. Ironic, hey?

  34. @Hal9000

    Rear vision mirrors can reduce the number of collisions where a driver “rear ends” another. If a driver is following too closely (as observed in the rear view mirror) you pull over and let them pass. If their activities are too aggressive, after pulling over you phone the cops inform them about the driver. That’s how the rear vision mirror can be used to reduce crashes and save lives.

  35. @Freelander
    Fair call regarding cars where an aggressive driver is tailgating. Passing however is not something that cyclists can prevent, other than by occupying the whole lane. Which btw I do at two points on my daily 24km bicycle commute, where I’m going downhill, doing 55km/h plus in a 60km/h zone, and cuttings or traffic islands mean that overtaking even a bicycle safely is not possible. I have occasionally copped horn-blowing and verbal abuse from drivers wishing to exceed the speed limit, but it’s safer to have them behind yelling abuse rather than overtaking to my cost.

  36. Hal9000 :
    I also had one non-serious but painful accident caused by police jumping out from behind bushes at the Oxley’s restaurant – now derelict – to apprehend the cyclist I was overtaking for not wearing a helmet. Ironic, hey?

    Hee, that’s a ripper!

  37. Yes, I wrote to the minister to complain about it. I broke a flasher in the crash, which wasn’t as bad as it might have been because I came down on the timber of the bridge and not on the asphalt. They gave me a cheque (a cheque drawn on the police service!) for the cost of a replacement unit, and a written if a little grudging apology. I should have framed it, but I cashed it.

  38. @John Quiggin
    This is a serous comment? I don’t believe Smeed’s Law, which seems fairly robust is invariant in the face of social or technological change.

    Reduction of drunk driving or better braking systems may account for some of the Australian results but I fail to see how it actually invalidates Smeed’s Law. A bit more evidence might be useful.

    BTW has the blog been hacked? This and two other replies to my submission do not read like Prof. Quiggin’s usual style.

    RE: Adams, some good emeriti scientists commenting far outside their area of expertise (Dyson perhaps? ) are known for some AGW denial. However I don’t seem much evidence except an unpublished 2010 letter to Nature. There is more?

  39. @John Quiggin
    but, in thinking about the question, I’d start by looking at actual accidents, and checking whether helmets work to reduce the severity of head injuries.

    Uh, it’s been done, many times and in many countries. See for a start on the research. As mentioned, it is not totally neutral– but it is a good start to locating the literature.

    The evidence for helmets is either negative or very equivocal. Nothing convincingly suggests that helmets prevent serious injury. They ‘may’ reduce minor ones, I know of some anti-manditory helmet people who suggest that they do but I am not convinced by the research evidence I have seen.

  40. @Tim Macknay

    Tim, you say, “Ikonoclast, this is a dumb analogy – none of the swimming items you mention are mandatory, and as I said before, there is actual evidence, in the form of cycling participation data and survey response data, that supports the view that mandatory helmet laws do deter cycling. A bad analogy doesn’t refute that.”

    1. In fact, some of the swimming items I mention are mandatory. Try swimming on a busy Gold Coast beach without a bathing costume (i.e. in your birthday suit). I think you will very quickly find said bathing costume is mandatory.

    2. This “actual evidence” you refer to comes, I suspect, from surveys with skewed “leading” questions designed to elicit the response the loopy libertarian surveyers want. If people’s desire to cycle is so weak that they are deterred by taking $20 to buy a helmet and 5 seconds to put it on, then I suggest their motivation is extremely weak. These are the sort of people who would also be deterred by having to keep tyres pumped up and chains oiled. Fair dinkum, if their motivation is that weak, I doubt they could even drag themselves out of bed.

  41. Hal9000, you say; “Rear vision mirrors in cars do not prevent rear-end collisions.”

    Generally, you are probably right on that and I was glad to see you say a bike helmet saved your life.

    However, there are rare cases where a rearview mirror can help prevent a mild rear-end accident. I recently stopped firmly but not excessively in my car to avoid running a yellow light. The large van behind me clearly had pre-decided I was going to run the yellow light and he was going to run the red light. As I heard him screeching up behind me and obviously going to hit me, I used my rearview mirror to guage the distance and kept my car rolling forward into the intersection (even rear wheels well over the stop bar) to extend his stopping space. It worked and he stopped about 20 cms from my back bumper. Luckily the conformation of the intersection (a bit offset) meant I was still not actually in the way of the cross traffic as it started up.

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