No sun intended: it’s the visor we’re after, not the helmet
Let's be absolutely clear about what we're asking for here. We are not calling for an outright ban on helmets with tinted visors. Nor are we calling for a ban on full-faced helmets. What we want is to rid the streets of the dark-tinted visors and those that otherwise conceal the identities of the users — the vanity helmet/visor that doubles as an essential aid in the modus operandi of the criminal on two wheels.
It is established that full-faced helmets provide far greater protection for our motorists. And given our road safety record over the years, Lord knows we desperately need whatever additional protection we can get.
But there is clearly zero need for a visor with a tint that goes beyond the 50 per cent threshold. No need whatsoever. Otherwise, everyone would have them. Everyone.
Yet the majority of riders do not. They have either a clear visor with the option of wearing sunglasses, a peak visor that covers or partially covers the eyes, or a visor of 50 per cent tint or less that adequately protects against the sun's “blinding” light.
“Fifty per cent” is at the crux of this argument. That is the limit to which motorcyclists in Britain can apply tint to their visors. It is not a law in that country designed to isolate criminals, as the introduction of it in Bermuda would do; it is one that takes into consideration safety and how much tint is required adequately to protect against times when the sun is a factor.
On the plus side for us in Bermuda, where crime still does pay, such a tint allows for facial recognition. We, the public and the police, need that and any other possible aid to combat the rise in crime, especially gun-related crime.
It is not until you are looking down the barrel of a gun that the seriousness of this can be properly appreciated. Ask the poor ladies and other staff in the St George's branch of Butterfield Bank or the attendants at Mr Chicken, or those who had their lives altered last weekend at MoneyShop or Maximart.
To those in the What About? Crew — “If you ban tinted helmets, what next?” “Criminals will find some other way to cover their faces” — we say, be part of the solution, not the problem. We cannot continue to kick this can down the road; we have been doing this since violent crime set up shop in Bermuda in a big way at the turn of the millennium.
If we are all intent on getting criminals off the streets and into rehabilitation, we all have to be on board. Criminals will still be criminals. Last weekend's armed robbers did not suit up on Monday and take their places pushing pencils in an office environment; nor did they show up for work at a construction or landscaping site.
Their type are among the unemployed, dare we say unemployable. Their “job” is to disrupt and break down our social fabric through wanton acts of cruelty mixed with desperation. What they have in their favour is the element of surprise. They look like us until just before they pull the gun or the knife.
With the offensive helmet construction restricted to them alone, or if they pop up with, say, a ski mask in the summer — for, relatively, it is always summer in this semi-tropical paradise — they would look out of place, thus losing the element of surprise and giving their intended victims that vital fraction of a second of readiness.
Then not only would the criminal element be isolated, police would become empowered to make pre-emptive strikes when these people are in public with helmets/visors that they shouldn't have. Save for the odd case where the non-compliant but otherwise law-abiding citizen is nabbed, crime will be seen to be tackled.
We often in this office gnash our teeth over the deliberate nature of government responses to questions. Bureaucracy at work. But perhaps, in this instance, Michael Dunkley and/or his advisers might have given themselves more pause before rushing out yesterday's statement, which appears more kneejerk than well thought out and argues a point that seems to miss the point.
Save for a selfish few, Bermuda residents want these helmets/visors gone. Yet the Premier states that Bermuda residents historically have been divided over the use of these visors — and by that we mean those well above the 50 per cent threshold and those that present the mirror effect.
Mr Dunkley, that is no longer the case, as our independent poll has revealed. Three out of every four residents are in favour of a ban. That is not “divided” but a clear sign that a change is welcomed and should be acted on, much as would a political leader if suddenly he found that his approval rating had plunged to a similar 25 per cent.
Finally, given that the sun cannot speak for itself, but whose name has been trotted out to defend the continued use of dark-tinted visors for supposed safety reasons, does anyone ever thoughtfully consider the effects of looking into the sun while driving?
It forces you to slow down and concentrate more intently on the road. Hmm. We could certainly do with a bit more of that.