Helmet debate... new twist

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,295
27,007
What about the rest of you Lemmy? Broken arm, dislocated shoulder, shattered ankle etc? It's not just heads that are vulnerable.

What matters most is choosing not to ride into walls in the first place, and I've preferred that course through my 63 cycling years. Primary safety is the wise persons choice, secondary safety is of most use to the careless.
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frank9755

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 19, 2007
1,228
2
London
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.
Surely the burden of proof lies with those who advocate a measure as having a positive impact on safety - be it a helmet, a suit of armour, lucky charm or whatever, not one who happens to be passing and highlights the fatal flaw? The emperor has to prove he is wearing clothes if he appears naked!

However, as you ask, the evidence is well known to those who have looked into it. It includes the extensive research of John Franklin, the experiments with helmet wearers being given less room than bare headed cyclists (or those wearing blonde wigs) and the impact on cycling participation of compulsion (in Australia and New Zealand where it was introduced, many people stopped cycling and either took to their cars or reduced their exercise levels with negative environmental and public health consequences)

The points about helmets having a protective effect in the event of impact could equally be applied to pedestrians, passengers in cars, even aircraft passengers and people who live in houses in earthquake zones.

What is the logic for picking on cyclists in particular for helmetisation?
 

lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
What matters most is choosing not to ride into walls in the first place, and I've preferred that course through my 63 cycling years. Primary safety is the wise persons choice, secondary safety is of most use to the careless.
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I was actually making a joke rather than a serious point!

In real life an accident is not something we choose so I'm not sure 'choosing comes in to it. When my son was knocked flying on his bike in Hackney, it was not his choice. He was going round a small roundabout and as he passed one exit a car came across without stopping and hit him.

Ditto on my motorcycle in Chelsea when a car next to me changed lanes from inside to outside at traffic lights without looking. In both cases they were 'sorry, didn't see you, mate'.

The notion that you can always avoid accidents is not true. Neither is the notion that they always happen to other people.

For myself, I believe that helmets can in certain cases lessen injury but I don't wear one because it spoils my enjoyment of cycling.
 

Mussels

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 17, 2008
3,208
8
Crowborough
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.
Afterwards try one of these, then you will be lobbying for them to be fitted to all bikes. :)
 

lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
Air bags! Fantastic! I've been in touch with my MP already.

With air bags front, back and sides, a new full face helmet, knee and elbow padding and sturdy leather boots my cycling will be much safer than it is now.

Plus, when all this is compulsory, cycle use will drop by 99%, cutting the death toll dramatically and proving that the measures work.

If it saves just one life it is worth it.
 

john

Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 1, 2007
531
0
Manchester
I was actually making a joke rather than a serious point!

In real life an accident is not something we choose so I'm not sure 'choosing comes in to it.
When I first read Flecc putting this point I was sceptical. However, although he may overstate it slightly, I broadly agree with him now. I believe that many 'unavoidable' accidents can be avoided with defensive riding, although it does require constant concentration.

Although Flecc's experiences are anecdotal, I do think there is a correlation between his accident free cycling life and his riding style. I for one listen carfully to his advice.

P.S. Flecc, I hope I don't offend by referring to you directly.
 

Patrick

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 9, 2009
303
1
Air bags! Fantastic! I've been in touch with my MP already.
How about one of these:



While your MP's drafting legislation maybe he could write a bill to make the wearing of protective headgear and padded clothing compulsory for any pedestrian whose blood alcohol level is over the drink drive limit. That would certainly lighten the load on A&E departments at the weekend. :p
 

Pete

Pedelecer
Oct 17, 2009
171
8
Yes, wouldn't mind one of them on my motor bike.
Just to come back to helmets. Not wanting to get into the debate again of wear/not wear I saw some snowboard helmets in Lidl yesterday - £16 odd. I don't know what the comparison of standards for these versus bike helmets would show, going to research it later, but they looked and felt more substantial than bike helmets I have seen. Another advantage, maybe, is that they don't have the 'lycra look' If they turn out to be suitable I just thought that people who don't like the boy racer look of bike helmets might be interested. In silver and black. Conforms to EN1077 standards (class B) (which I will check later) and as usual for Lidl/Aldi, 3 year manufacturer's warranty.
If anyone does get/has got could you consider a short report?

Pete
 

lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
. I believe that many 'unavoidable' accidents can be avoided with defensive riding, although it does require constant concentration.
The problem is that you don't have to avoid 'many' unavoidable accidents to escape injury, you have to avoid all of them. It only takes one!

I've cycled on public roads since I was 7, going a couple of miles each way to school and back then and I'm now 65. Cycling has been a major part of my life, for recreation and day to day transport rather than sport. I have never had an accident on a cycle. I don't ride in any particular way, I just ride.

On my motorcycle I was stationary in an outside lane at lights when a car coming along the inside lane decided he would change lanes without bothering to look. I was occupying the space he turned into. The first I knew was seeing a car in my mirror proceeding perfectly normally along the inside lane. Adjacent to me, he swerved right. I do not see how I could have avoided this no matter what my riding style.

I was just unlucky but in my view this was an unavoidable accident for my part.
 

john

Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 1, 2007
531
0
Manchester
The problem is that you don't have to avoid 'many' unavoidable accidents to escape injury, you have to avoid all of them. It only takes one!
It's not about eliminating risk, that is impossible, it is about reducing it effectively, and at a cost which is acceptable. For me, I believe that riding style is an effective way to reduce that risk.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,295
27,007
I was actually making a joke rather than a serious point!

In real life an accident is not something we choose
I was also joking, upon your joke. :). Sorry it wasn't apparent.

Accidents are largely something we choose though, they don't always just "happen" and John's points are valid (no offence taken from your quoting me John).

I once ran a fleet of some 140 sales and engineer cars in Southern England and my driver's accident rates were consistently one per three years per driver average, while mine as ever was nil as it had been even when I was doing up to 35,000 miles of car driving a year at one time. Their accident rate appalled me, but I understood from insurance companies that it was perfectly normal.

You might deduce that I am a slow driver, but nothing could be further from the truth, I'm no stranger to 70 mph averages driving cross country on mixed roads, two hours for the 139 miles to my brother's place in Dorset for example.

The secret John has alluded to, attentiveness at all times. I don't drink alcohol at all. I never drive tired. I never tackle a run too long for my attention to be maintained at a high level. I won't have any form of in-car adornment, danglers, window stickers etc. I try to avoid having passengers for runs of any length. I think all in-car entertainment is the invention of the devil, never even using a car radio and I think all ICE should be banned, as should all forms of in-car telephones and radio. One thing I believe is a good addition and I use it to the full, GPS on voice commands, since it's far safer to take a voice instruction than drive along peering at inadequate signage.

The only thing a driver should ever attend to is what is the other side of the glass, and they should do that all of the time without fail. Driving or riding is a deadly business and should always be treated as such, using the same care as we would when handling guns and live ammunition.

As for secondary safety like helmets, seat belts, crash protection etc, it should have little of our attention, all of our emphasis should be on primary safety, not having the accident in the first place. Rather than cars having crash protection, it would be better to save the extra weight and fuel and mount the driver in a separate glass box on the front. That would do wonders for the accident rates.
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Mussels

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 17, 2008
3,208
8
Crowborough
On my motorcycle I was stationary in an outside lane at lights when a car coming along the inside lane decided he would change lanes without bothering to look. I was occupying the space he turned into. The first I knew was seeing a car in my mirror proceeding perfectly normally along the inside lane. Adjacent to me, he swerved right. I do not see how I could have avoided this no matter what my riding style.

I was just unlucky but in my view this was an unavoidable accident for my part.
I've had a couple of accidents like that where I've been waiting in a queue or at the lights and someone has run into the back of me. It's happened to me in the car and on the motorbike so it's not that they can't see me, some people just don't pay attention. One time I was in a queue with cars behind me and a motorbike crashed in the next lane, it slid on it's side neatly into the gap I was waiting in and took out my back wheel.
My other problem on two wheels is frost, ice and snow, some are lucky enough not to have to ride in bad conditions but my bike disappeared from under me a few times last winter. Winter tyres help but they aren't ideal.
It's for those types of accidents that I wear a helmet, I know banging my head on the tarmac (or windscreen) will hurt and I know it is likely so I take steps to reduce the risk.
I also know lots of people don't ride like me and there is much less chance of the unexpected happening so I'd never advocate compulsory wearing.
 

Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
Well said Flecc!! I just wish the majority of drivers took it so seriously. Mitigating factors aside, I blame my recent high speed embrace with the tarmac on a momentary lapse of my own attention, and know from past experience that my subconcious will now be on the alert for this in future. For example, several years ago in London, my front wheel caught the edge of a manhole cover that was actualy raised above the road surface, causing me and my bike to do an almost complete somersault. Ever since, I've found myself avoiding them like the plague instictively.

I do feel that driver training should include lessons in loss of control and awareness, along the lines of Finland where it is mandatory to have lessons on a skidpan. Only by making mistakes I think do people truly understand the nature of the ever present danger that is only a heartbeat away.

As an aside, I also think that modern cars are just too damn comfortable, more like rolling sitting rooms than simply tools for getting from A to B, it's my oppinion that this leads to further complacency.
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,295
27,007
I do feel that driver training should include lessons in loss of control and awareness, along the lines of Finland where it is mandatory to have lessons on a skidpan. Only by making mistakes I think do people truly understand the nature of the ever present danger that is only a heartbeat away.
I fully agree and I've driven and ridden in competition in the past which is an excellent way to hone skills. I've also privately trained young drivers on odd occasions and always take them up to advanced skills like anti-ambush skid "J" turns at speed, plus rear slide control on turns (On private or restricted land of course). That way I know they are much safer for the future through instinctively reacting correctly in an emergency.
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lemmy

Esteemed Pedelecer
I was also joking, upon your joke. :). Sorry it wasn't apparent.
You might deduce that I am a slow driver, but nothing could be further from the truth, I'm no stranger to 70 mph averages driving cross country on mixed roads, two hours for the 139 miles to my brother's place in Dorset for example.
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Not that it wasn't apparent - mea culpa.

Are you sure you mean a 70mph average?

It either entails your vehicle attaining 70mph in seconds of leaving your home and then never slowing down during the entire journey or you travel at highly illegal speeds;) I'd hazard a guess that for a 70mph average over such a journey, you'd need to be hitting 140mph at times!

If it is so, no wonder you can't have any distraction!
 

Barnowl

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 18, 2008
954
1
As an aside, I also think that modern cars are just too damn comfortable, more like rolling sitting rooms than simply tools for getting from A to B, it's my oppinion that this leads to further complacency.

That's very true. One of the main reasons I enjoy cycling is it's in the moment. You have to pay attention. You're not day dreaming, You're not listening to the radio or chatting to a passenger or dozing off. I personally find car driving boring and that can't be good.
I don't mind whether people wear helmets or not. I do find some people go a bit over the top with the safety stuff though. I've seen people sporting enough kit to fill my council wheely bin. My christmas tree has less flashing lights than a cyclist I came accross recently.
Maybe that was the 15% free safety kit they got on the Halfords Cycling scheme though:D
 

Beeping-Sleauty

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 12, 2006
410
5
Colchester, Essex
Caution - No hand signals...

Air bags! Fantastic! I've been in touch with my MP already.

With air bags front, back and sides, a new full face helmet, knee and elbow padding and sturdy leather boots my cycling will be much safer than it is now.

.......
All round airbags.... splendid idea, how about this.....?



probably wouldn't need a helmet,

beeps
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,295
27,007
Are you sure you mean a 70mph average?

It either entails your vehicle attaining 70mph in seconds of leaving your home and then never slowing down during the entire journey or you travel at highly illegal speeds;) I'd hazard a guess that for a 70mph average over such a journey, you'd need to be hitting 140mph at times!
Quite sure, done two hours and even a couple of minutes below on that run a number of times. It doesn't need anything like 140 though, just maintaining around 95 to 100 consistently where possible and trying to stay well over 60/70 at other times. Speeds used to be higher on my motorbike though, cruising at 115/120 for long periods.
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