Helmet debate... new twist

Barry Heaven

Pedelecer
Sep 19, 2009
162
0
I don't think the parallel with drugs is very good because there a reasonable argument can be made that it is a protection-of-society-as-a-whole issue whereas a similar reasonable argument cannot be made in respect of bicycle helmets. In any case the direction drug laws seems to be taking at the moment is the opposite, with quasi legalisation of cannabis in some US states now.

The problem is the more you nanny people the less prepared they are to think and look out for themselves.

I'm afraid I am at the other end of the spectrum on this one, Barry Heaven.
On the contrary, illegality of drugs fuels crime. Make them legal and society benefits; the users may be damaged but that is their responsibility. If you really want to protect society as a whole then alcohol and tobacco should also be prohibited. Tobacco kills more people than all other drugs, legal and illegal, put together.

On your point about nannying people, for example, making seat belt use compulsory ensures that people look after themselves. They don't need to even think about it as it has become the norm.
 

Pete

Pedelecer
Oct 17, 2009
171
8
For leisure/utility cyclists, the evidence simply doesn't support this!
What evidence is that?
Personally, like most, I make my own judgement, when allowed, so on my motor bike I wear a helmet, and on my push bike I wear a helmet. Just 3 days ago a brush with some wet leaves propelled me towards the pavement and my helmeted head gave it a good whack. I ended up with some bruising and a headache but little else. Is anyone going to argue that the helmet didn't save me from worse? I think not. So I would like to know where is all this evidence that says helmets don't protect you? I don't care whether anyone else wears one or not, but a sweeping statement about evidence should be referenced, or maybe not made.
 

Barry Heaven

Pedelecer
Sep 19, 2009
162
0
There's just one flaw in your post:



For leisure/utility cyclists, the evidence simply doesn't support this!
I don't think the empirical evidence is definitive either way. I was using first principles of the functionality of a helmet. If a helmet absorbs some of the kinetic energy of a collision there must be less force transmitted to the user's head and hence less injury. How well it does this is related to the quality of the helmet of course.
 

Barry Heaven

Pedelecer
Sep 19, 2009
162
0
Plenty of contradictory evidence is presented here: Cycle helmets: A summary of research. An interesting factor mentioned is that using helmets may encourage wearers to take more risks which could negate the benefits of a helmet. Similar arguments have been made regarding air bags in cars which appears to encourage more reckless driving. I remember someone suggesting that it would be more effective to replace the air bag with a spike in the centre of the wheel as drivers would then take very great care!

Incidentally, I don't in fact advocate compulsory helmet use as I personally prefer to make my own mind up. However, governments have to take responsible decisions for everyone's benefit and not just to accommodate my poorly informed views on all of the risks surrounding me.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
50,683
28,529
The evidence isn't necessarily about whether a helmet provides effective protection.

For example, it can be shown that those who take protective precautions in many spheres take more risks in consequence, that evidence does exist and is very real. For example, the governments own Road Research Laboratory found that average driver speed increased appreciably once drivers were forced to wear seatbelts.

There's also individual's evidence. Repeatedly in here and elswhere, helmet wearing cyclists state how their head was saved from injury in an accident where their head was struck, and Pete has just become another of these.

Now I've been cycling for 63 years and have never worn a helmet and I've never at any time impacted my head in any way in a cycling accident, indeed I've never suffered any injury in a road accident in or on any road vehicle. That's primarily because I know just how vulnerable I am as a human animal so I take great care not to get hurt, nor to hurt any other creature.

I therefore question why the helmet wearers do have these accidents, many claiming to have had a number of them. The only conclusions can be either that they are intrinsically less safe cyclists or that the helmet wearing prompts them to take more risks due to a feeling of being protected.

N.B. Post crossed with Barry's.
.
 

Pete

Pedelecer
Oct 17, 2009
171
8
I therefore question why the helmet wearers do have these accidents, many claiming to have had a number of them. The only conclusions can be either that they are intrinsically less safe cyclists or that the helmet wearing prompts them to take more risks due to a feeling of being protected.
Well in my case I certainly don't take more risks, so I guess I am just intrinsically a less safe cyclist than some as my spill was poor judgement, self-inflicted, and avoidable; and I was glad of my helmet. To be honest, in my case, putting on a helmet seems to underline that I am going into an environment where it might be useful, and if anything may make me more careful, totally unquantifiable, so who knows.
 

Barry Heaven

Pedelecer
Sep 19, 2009
162
0
The evidence isn't necessarily about whether a helmet provides effective protection.

For example, it can be shown that those who take protective precautions in many spheres take more risks in consequence, that evidence does exist and is very real. For example, the governments own Road Research Laboratory found that average driver speed increased appreciably once drivers were forced to wear seatbelts.

There's also individual's evidence. Repeatedly in here and elswhere, helmet wearing cyclists state how their head was saved from injury in an accident where their head was struck, and Pete has just become another of these.

Now I've been cycling for 63 years and have never worn a helmet and I've never at any time impacted my head in any way in a cycling accident, indeed I've never suffered any injury in a road accident in or on any road vehicle. That's primarily because I know just how vulnerable I am as a human animal so I take great care not to get hurt, nor to hurt any other creature.

I therefore question why the helmet wearers do have these accidents, many claiming to have had a number of them. The only conclusions can be either that they are intrinsically less safe cyclists or that the helmet wearing prompts them to take more risks due to a feeling of being protected.

N.B. Post crossed with Barry's.
.
I agree with all of this Flecc. For myself, I always wear a helmet but I do not consequently take greater risks, thus, overall I am safer. I have never had a head injury on a bicycle but I have come off a motorbike three times in the distant past and know how easily I could have damaged my very fragile cranium. A friend of mine who became a maxillofacial surgeon spent many of his early professional years dealing with head injuries and strongly advocated crash helmet use (he was a motorcyclist himself).
 

Barry Heaven

Pedelecer
Sep 19, 2009
162
0
Well in my case I certainly don't take more risks, so I guess I am just intrinsically a less safe cyclist than some as my spill was poor judgement, self-inflicted, and avoidable; and I was glad of my helmet. To be honest, in my case, putting on a helmet seems to underline that I am going into an environment where it might be useful, and if anything may make me more careful, totally unquantifiable, so who knows.
Exactly. If you are fully aware of the hazards and risks then wearing a helmet protects you provided you do not take more risks because you delude yourself that you can get away with it by virtue of the helmet.
 

Barnowl

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 18, 2008
954
1
It's not an issue. There's one fanatical MP who has tried repeatedly to bring in this measure for youngsters over a number of years and governments of both persuasions have blocked it on every occasion and will continue to do so.
I wonder if he was ever a school prefect. I was a regular victim of of one of these evil entities, when I cycled to and from school, sneaking up behind me, pulling me over and awarding me another 500 lines for not wearing my school cap.:mad:
 

Orraman

Pedelecer
May 4, 2008
226
1
I was much impressed with the point that Phil the drill raised concerning rotational neck injuries in a previous thread.
The leverage afforded by the considerable extra width of a cycle helmet and the greater friction of the helmet material compared to hair and scalp leaves me in no doubt of the validity of this point.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Hi folks, I sense this one is hotting up a little....
I think one point that is worth raising here is that there is very little evidence that cycle helmets offer any significant protection.
Motorcycle helmets are subject to compulsory and relatively stringent testing, and this has recently been enhaced by the introduction of the 'SHARP' grading system. They do offer significant protection against trauma, but NOT against acceleration/deceleration internal injuries, or rotational neck injuries, which they can potentially exacerbate. These are the injuries which kill most, and helmet wearing can actually worsen these under certain circumstances. Cosmetically the victim looks much prettier than they would otherwise, but that is often more for the benefit of the trauma staff and the unfortunate relatives.

http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/electric-bicycles/2690-powered-pedal-cycle-collision-5.html?highlight=torcion+injury#post34904
 

Davall

Pedelecer
Oct 28, 2009
38
0
I therefore question why the helmet wearers do have these accidents, many claiming to have had a number of them. The only conclusions can be either that they are intrinsically less safe cyclists or that the helmet wearing prompts them to take more risks due to a feeling of being protected.
I believe this is the theory of risk homeostasis, that we all live to a certain level of risk with which we're comfortable. Don a helmet, feel slightly safer and consequently ride with slightly less care (according to the theory at least). Perhaps a sub-conscious reaction? I wouldn't know.

Personally I've never worn a cycling helmet, but wouldn't be particularly averse if I felt it was a definite advantage. I have read of a study somewhere, though, that found motorists tend to drive that bit closer to cyclists wearing a helmet. The thinking is that the cyclist would be okay if they were knocked off, whereas a non-helmeted cyclist looks more vulnerable so needs a wider berth. Assuming these things happen at a sub-conscious level, that and the whole risk homeostasis thing is enough for me not to wear one.
 

lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
If we wanted to make road use really safe, we would not legislate to protect people from the consequences of their actions, precisely the opposite.

How many accidents would there be if every car, motorcycle and bicyle had a large spike mounted centrally on the steering wheel/ handlebars?

One of the reasons that car drivers can be so careless of other people's welfare is that they themselves are cocooned with their air bags and seat belts. They are most unlikely to be hurt no matter what they do. They are protected from the consequences of their actions.

Some years ago, the bane of any motorcyclists life were Volvos. Safest cars on the road at the time - for the driver! Their mantle has been taken on today by those mechanical rottweillers the 4x4s, for the same reason.
 

themutiny

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 26, 2009
354
0
I don't advocate it, and I know I am breaking the law, but I don't personally wear a seatbelt. The only exception to this is when I am being driven by someone else who's driving gives me cause for concern. This is almost always drivers who drive too close to the vehicle in front.
I have always worn a helmet on a motorcycle. I wil never wear a helmet on a cycle, irrespective of the "evidence". I will continue to imbibe alcohol units to suit my frame/metabolism. I will not subscribe to arbitrary "safe" limits which were recently exposed as such. Don't get me started on daily calorie allowances, margarine being healthier than butter, etc etc.
Rant over ;-)
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
50,683
28,529
I don't advocate it, and I know I am breaking the law, but I don't personally wear a seatbelt. The only exception to this is when I am being driven by someone else who's driving gives me cause for concern. This is almost always drivers who drive too close to the vehicle in front.
I have always worn a helmet on a motorcycle. I wil never wear a helmet on a cycle, irrespective of the "evidence". I will continue to imbibe alcohol units to suit my frame/metabolism. I will not subscribe to arbitrary "safe" limits which were recently exposed as such. Don't get me started on daily calorie allowances, margarine being healthier than butter, etc etc.
Rant over ;-)
That's what I like to see and hear, an individual making decisions based upon their own unique needs and capabilities. Infinitely more sensible that the "one size fits all" of governmental laws applicable to everyone.
.
 

Barnowl

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 18, 2008
954
1
How many accidents would there be if every car, motorcycle and bicyle had a large spike mounted centrally on the steering wheel/ handlebars?

I'm thinking loads :D

Take your point though.
 

FatMog

Pedelecer
Mar 27, 2007
83
0
I find it odd that this topic never fails to inspire heated debate :) . In Britain, as things stand, wearing a cycle helmet is purely a matter of individual choice - I choose to wear one, you might not and that's entirely your business.

But I do wish that there was some sound scientific evidence setting out the benefits and disadvantages, and hence a properly designed and publicised standard that we could feel confident offered real protection. Then we could all make an informed choice based a personal risk assessment.

Because right now I keep looking at my lightweight (but multi-standard compliant) horse-riding hat and thinking I'd probably be better off in that. Or would I? Who knows?

At least in the horse world I know the major differences between the various helmet standards and I know why my hat fails to meet one standard - it's because the air-vents are too big and therefore there is a theoretical risk of impalement injury. This is a risk I choose to take for the sake of a cooler head - but my point is, at least it's an informed choice.
 

Pete

Pedelecer
Oct 17, 2009
171
8
But I do wish that there was some sound scientific evidence setting out the benefits and disadvantages, and hence a properly designed and publicised standard that we could feel confident offered real protection. Then we could all make an informed choice based a personal risk assessment.
All the stats and arguments you could want
Helmet standards and capabilities

Pete
 

FatMog

Pedelecer
Mar 27, 2007
83
0
Thanks for the link, Pete - I've read this before and I feel it's not completely objective. It is, after all, a digest prepared by one man and is coloured by his opinions, although he does strive to be fair. Which is not to say that it doesn't make for interesting and thought-provoking reading, however. And it's the moost comprehensive roundup I've seen so far.
 

lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
I shall settle this once and for all.

Tomorrow, I will don my helmet and ride at 12mph into the wall of my local Tesco store. I will note my injuries.

Then, I will remove my helmet and ride into the same wall at the same speed.
I will note my injuries again.

If St George's Hospital, Tooting, have a wifi connection I will post my results on arrival.