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Another little nugget for the helmet debate!

AguilaAguila Posts: 622
edited September 2011 in Commuting chat
Just seen this from a guy on our local news, not far from where I live. I think the commute might be on Kieren Burn's route to work. Lets not re-start the helmet debate but there is some irony in his profession and what happened, whatever you believe!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-no ... e-13559740
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  • Nik CubeNik Cube Posts: 311
    If he had been on a real road bike he would have goin faster and therefore not there for the nutty woman to drive into. I conclude that real road bikes are a major contribution to road safety ;)


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  • deptfordmarmosetdeptfordmarmoset Posts: 3,118
    The University of Nottingham academic suffered three neck fractures, a lower back fracture and three cracked ribs.

    He is encouraging all cyclists to wear helmets and high visibility clothing.

    I can't help thinking that encouraging drivers to look where they're going might have saved his life (without the spinal injuries) much less painfully.
  • AguilaAguila Posts: 622
    The University of Nottingham academic suffered three neck fractures, a lower back fracture and three cracked ribs.

    He is encouraging all cyclists to wear helmets and high visibility clothing.

    I can't help thinking that encouraging drivers to look where they're going might have saved his life (without the spinal injuries) much less painfully.

    Yes no doubt about that, can't help being depressed by the lenient punishment too.
  • asquitheaasquithea Posts: 145
    I think it's probably a good example of where helmets can help during an impact with a car.

    During the various helmet debates, people often say that a helmet won't help if you're hit by a vehicle, particularly at speed. I'm sure that's often true, but as in this case, it could help when your head strikes the windscreen, bodywork or ground... even if your other limbs are being mangled and crushed :P

    Sounds like this bloke was quite lucky, though.
  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 9,757
    Yup - I go through Bradmore every time I cycle in to work.

    The section they're showing on the film is stretch down from Ruddington where I work and the route I go up and down every time I cycle in. (in fact it's featured lots in my youtube videos)

    There are a series of pinch points along there and the 1st one is always the worry - the cars coming down the hill are meant to be doing 50 (yeah right) and often squeeze past at the last minute as they are slowing to 40 entering Bradmore.

    It's this bit here: http://youtu.be/aeO2NBHfkb4?hd=1 (at 30 odd seconds in) going the other way.

    I always shoulder check that one and get ready to dive off onto the grass (just in case)
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  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    So he reckons the helmet saved him even though he didn't actually get a head injury and that the amount of energy absorbed by his helmet as against his entire body + bike was significant in reducing the amount of his injuries? Hmm. :roll:
  • ndrundru Posts: 382
    This is pointless - the aim should be to create such conditions for cycling, where no one would think of wearing a lid. The dutch cycle tracks seem to be a good solution... oh I forgot - they are more dangerous then riding on road, they are slow and force cyclists off road, we will loose our right to mix with the motor traffic, there's no room for it, and no political will. That's sorted then.
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,161
    I'm struggling to see how that could be pro helmets? nasty crash by sounds of things backs don't tend to fix totally.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    thelawnet wrote:
    So he reckons the helmet saved him even though he didn't actually get a head injury and that the amount of energy absorbed by his helmet as against his entire body + bike was significant in reducing the amount of his injuries? Hmm. :roll:

    I sometimes wonder if people have any understanding of how bike helmets work. One minute they are too soft to be of any use - next they're claimed to not absorb energy. Which is it? And a lack of head injuries indicates his helmet didn't work how? :roll: :?

    Now we have a professor who understands all of this stuff saying his helmet prevented worse injuries and a bunch of folks who know very little about the incident or his injuries want to question it. There comes a point when nothing is going to sway some people.

    As for the visibility bit - it's just common sense to improve your chances of being seen. Again, I think that's all he's saying. We should all expect not to be hit but, back in the real world, it happens. Choosing visible rather than camouflage will improve your chances.
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  • jeremyrundlejeremyrundle Posts: 1,091
    I believe front and rear cyclecams should be compulsory so that there is no argument over blame which would make a conviction and compensation simple.

    Also front and rear cycle air bags, crumple zones and bumpers for :roll: a start
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  • graham.graham. Posts: 862
    I would like to sujest removeing all drivers airbags and replaceing them with a great big rusty spike! I suspect that speed related incidents would be reduced to zero over night.
    Graham. :twisted:
  • greg66_tri_v2.0greg66_tri_v2.0 Posts: 7,172
    thelawnet wrote:
    So he reckons the helmet saved him even though he didn't actually get a head injury and that the amount of energy absorbed by his helmet as against his entire body + bike was significant in reducing the amount of his injuries? Hmm. :roll:

    He's a professor who
    simulates accidents and looks at how the human skeleton reacts to stress.

    So perhaps he is better qualified to comment on the collision that he was involved in than a a random internet poster might be.

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  • EKE_38BPMEKE_38BPM Posts: 5,821
    I believe front and rear cyclecams should be compulsory so that there is no argument over blame which would make a conviction and compensation simple.

    Another stupid idea from Mr Rundle. Should HIV tests be compuslory before two people shag? Or compulsory individual health and safety assessments and professional training before you go ice skating?
    You like your million and one cameras, we all know that, but don't try to force them on all cyclists.

    And I do have a camera myself. I also nearly always wear a helmet but I don't think either should be compulsory.
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  • jeremyrundlejeremyrundle Posts: 1,091
    Another naive response from EKE_38BPM who obviously failed to read ALL of the tongue in cheek post I made, and would rather chose a part of the post rather than all, come on, if you are going to comment at least "read" and "understand" all that someone has written, did the "air bags, crumple zones" etc not give your low IQ some idea that it was a joke or do you simply "rush in where .........." :idea:
    Peds with ipods, natures little speed humps

    Banish unwanted fur - immac a squirrel
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... heads.html
  • SimonAHSimonAH Posts: 3,730
    Fact 1. There is no known way of falling.off a bicycle where your injuries will be made worse by wearing a helmet.

    Fact 2. I don't wear one except at the velodrome (because I have to) or when taking my progeny out (because I have to set an example)

    Out of interest has anyone compiled head injury stats for cyclists?
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  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    SimonAH wrote:
    Out of interest has anyone compiled head injury stats for cyclists?

    Part of the issue in this debate is the lack of reliable data on which to perform stats.

    Personally I'm content with the ad hoc evidence that appears on here: loads of folk with stories saying how their lid helped protect them and not one that said their lid made their injuries worse. This guy certainly seems content that his lid helped him. Even if half of them would have been no worse off without a lid, that's still good enough for me.

    I don't much care whether other people wear a lid or not - except for my kids.
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  • snailracersnailracer Posts: 968
    EKE_38BPM wrote:
    I believe front and rear cyclecams should be compulsory so that there is no argument over blame which would make a conviction and compensation simple.

    Another stupid idea from Mr Rundle. Should HIV tests be compuslory before two people shag? Or compulsory individual health and safety assessments and professional training before you go ice skating?
    You like your million and one cameras, we all know that, but don't try to force them on all cyclists.

    And I do have a camera myself. I also nearly always wear a helmet but I don't think either should be compulsory.
    The cameras should be made compulsory on cars, not bikes.
  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    SimonAH wrote:
    Out of interest has anyone compiled head injury stats for cyclists?

    Part of the issue in this debate is the lack of reliable data on which to perform stats.

    Indeed
    Personally I'm content with the ad hoc evidence that appears on here: loads of folk with stories saying how their lid helped protect them and not one that said their lid made their injuries worse. This guy certainly seems content that his lid helped him. Even if half of them would have been no worse off without a lid, that's still good enough for me.

    The mystery for me is how many folk who say their helmets saved their lives, when cycle helmet rates peak at 1 in 3 on major roads, and are only 1 in 6 on minor roads (http://www.trl.co.uk/online_store/repor ... n_2008.htm), so logically speaking there should be another 4 cyclists killed by head injuries for each 'my helmet saved my life' type, which I rather doubt.
    I don't much care whether other people wear a lid or not - except for my kids.

    I don't care whether my kids wear a helmet. Cycling is not objectively dangerous, and life is risky in many other ways than cycling, the main reason to wear cycle helmets except that an awful lot of money has been spent marketing them, and the public has been successfully brainwashed (literally!) that cycling is a dangerous activity undertaken by funny-looking men with ridiculous hats and superhero tights.
  • jamescojamesco Posts: 687
    thelawnet wrote:
    I don't care whether my kids wear a helmet. Cycling is not objectively dangerous, and life is risky in many other ways than cycling, the main reason to wear cycle helmets except that an awful lot of money has been spent marketing them, and the public has been successfully brainwashed (literally!) that cycling is a dangerous activity undertaken by funny-looking men with ridiculous hats and superhero tights.

    On Monday my girlfriend had a bike accident (locked the front and low-sided) and struck her head on the ground. Luckily, she was wearing a helmet. How you judge cycling as being dangerous or not is subjective, but it does carry its risks and helmets help mitigate them. I'm very happy she was wearing a helmet.
  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    Greg66 wrote:
    He's a professor who
    simulates accidents and looks at how the human skeleton reacts to stress.

    So perhaps he is better qualified to comment on the collision that he was involved in than a a random internet poster might be.

    All we have to go on is the quotes in the article.
    "I was phenomenally lucky from the moment the car hit my bike. It was a high energy impact," he said.

    Professor McNally has been conducting research into spinal mechanics for more than two decades.

    "It was the ultimate ironic injury. Strength of vertebrae and vertical fractures are two of the things I do a lot of," he said.

    "Had my body had that extra bit of energy taken by the helmet it could have been much, much worse."

    He seems to be suggesting that his back was saved from catastrophe by the amount of energy absorbed by his helmet. It's an interesting idea but forgive me if I don't rush out and buy a helmet on the basis of this self-validating and unclear anecdote.

    Personally I think he would be doing us all a favour if he shut up about the helmet, which deflects attention onto the victim, and concentrates his energy on the aggressor, the dangerous driver who gave him such terrible injuries and should really be locked up as a result of it.

    I also think that the BBC's coverage of cyclists killed or injured by motorists is shameful - they frequently don't even report them, and if they do there is little follow-up or reporting of the pitiful sentences handed out.

    People are quite able, by this point, to decide whether or not to buy cycle helmets, and frankly the continued lecturing by those who do wear helmets (or in many cases those who don't, because they don't even ride a bike) is damaging to all cyclists.
  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    jamesco wrote:
    thelawnet wrote:
    I don't care whether my kids wear a helmet. Cycling is not objectively dangerous, and life is risky in many other ways than cycling, the main reason to wear cycle helmets except that an awful lot of money has been spent marketing them, and the public has been successfully brainwashed (literally!) that cycling is a dangerous activity undertaken by funny-looking men with ridiculous hats and superhero tights.

    On Monday my girlfriend had a bike accident (locked the front and low-sided) and struck her head on the ground. Luckily, she was wearing a helmet. How you judge cycling as being dangerous or not is subjective, but it does carry its risks and helmets help mitigate them. I'm very happy she was wearing a helmet.

    I did that a while back, and didn't strike my head on the ground. A helmet head is twice the size of a non-helmeted one, and one study showed that helmet-wearing cyclists were 7 times more likely to hit their heads in the case of an accident.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Having cycled into the back of a lorry ( :lol: yes please laugh) I can tell you from my tales, a helmet makes a difference and on this occasion the difference between laughing and going to hospital no doubt.

    Do I wear one all the time? No.

    Can someone please lock this now :lol:
  • greg66_tri_v2.0greg66_tri_v2.0 Posts: 7,172
    thelawnet wrote:
    Personally I think he would be doing us all a favour if he shut up about the helmet, which deflects attention onto the victim, and concentrates his energy on the aggressor, the dangerous driver who gave him such terrible injuries and should really be locked up as a result of it.

    Standing on a soapbox castigating drivers isn't his area of expertise though.

    He's a professor who
    simulates accidents and looks at how the human skeleton reacts to stress.

    which is a quote from the article. So, putting it bluntly, there is a very good chance that he knows what he talking about, having had a few months lying in a hospital bed to think about it, and you're choosing to stick your fingers in your ears and shout "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
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  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    Greg66 wrote:
    thelawnet wrote:
    Personally I think he would be doing us all a favour if he shut up about the helmet, which deflects attention onto the victim, and concentrates his energy on the aggressor, the dangerous driver who gave him such terrible injuries and should really be locked up as a result of it.

    Standing on a soapbox castigating drivers isn't his area of expertise though.

    Having been hit by a dangerous driver and spent months in hospital I think he's amply qualified.

    Further, I'm disgusted that the driver managed to plead 'memory loss' for leaving the scene, claiming to have no recollection of the accident. Highlighting this is far more important than his thoughts about his helmet.
    He's a professor who
    simulates accidents and looks at how the human skeleton reacts to stress.

    which is a quote from the article. So, putting it bluntly, there is a very good chance that he knows what he talking about, having had a few months lying in a hospital bed to think about it, and you're choosing to stick your fingers in your ears and shout "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

    Once again I reserve the right not to make decisions based on tabloid-style articles on teh interweb.

    I did however find the full interview with him on youtube, which I have now watched

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BA8feS53IE (helmet bit sometime after 5:00)

    He basically says what everyone knew all along - in some accidents, a helmet will protect your head,

    You can't deduce from that that you should wear a helmet without considering whether:

    * the risk is sufficiently large cf. walking home from the pub/other non-helmeted activities
    * whether the helmet increases your risk of getting in an accident in the first place because it makes you take that slippery downhill that bit faster because subconsciously 'the helmet will save me' whereas the non-helmet-wearing cyclist thinks 'if I fall here I'm in trouble'; or because drivers give you less space (as shown in multiple studies)

    In his report he says he was hit from behind at 10:30pm on a main road, that he had a 'flashing light', and that the driver just 'didn't see'. I find this impossibly vague. A basic flashing rear light is not bright enough for a main road, I use a 3W rear with additional dynamo pedal lights and reflective patches/panniers. Why doesn't he consider whether he could have turned 'SMIDSY' into 'I can see that cyclist a mile away, I'll give him a wide berth'. Presumably he would have heard the car coming, had he had a mirror fitted to his bicycle he might have been able to get out of the way when he saw the car coming straight for him. What about his road positioning? How does he cycle, what were the road conditions at the time?

    Again, I'm confused why he pats himself on the back for wearing a helmet and doesn't consider any of the many measures he could have taken to avoid the accident. Is the road he was cycling on dangerous? Was it in fact substantially risky to be cycling along it at 10:30pm? Why do we always hear the self-congratulatory 'helmet saved my life' stories rather than 'right, that's the last SMIDSY I'm going to suffer, I'm fitting these: http://www.monkeylectric.com/ to my bike'.

    'Go and wear a helmet' is just about the worse advice you can give an inexperienced cyclist - I see 11-year-old kids on the road on their own with terrible road positioning and highway code knowledge, but the parents think 'Little Johnny is wearing a helmet, I've done all I can, he's safe' - it's absolutely WRONG. Children and adults should do their cycling proficiency or similar training, safe cycling is about skills and awareness, not a silly plastic hat.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,757
    Sorry but that post makes you sound like a condescending prat. You don't know any of the other facts (ege he may have been lit up like a Christmas tree) yet you feel you can use the possible lack to condemn his views on Helmets - grow up and use reasononed arguments against Helmets rather than diversionary tactics just because you can't.

    Simon
  • greg66_tri_v2.0greg66_tri_v2.0 Posts: 7,172
    thelawnet wrote:
    In his report he says he was hit from behind at 10:30pm on a main road, that he had a 'flashing light', and that the driver just 'didn't see'. I find this impossibly vague. A basic flashing rear light is not bright enough for a main road, I use a 3W rear with additional dynamo pedal lights and reflective patches/panniers. Why doesn't he consider whether he could have turned 'SMIDSY' into 'I can see that cyclist a mile away, I'll give him a wide berth'. Presumably he would have heard the car coming, had he had a mirror fitted to his bicycle he might have been able to get out of the way when he saw the car coming straight for him. What about his road positioning? How does he cycle, what were the road conditions at the time?

    Again, I'm confused why he pats himself on the back for wearing a helmet and doesn't consider any of the many measures he could have taken to avoid the accident. Is the road he was cycling on dangerous? Was it in fact substantially risky to be cycling along it at 10:30pm? Why do we always hear the self-congratulatory 'helmet saved my life' stories rather than 'right, that's the last SMIDSY I'm going to suffer, I'm fitting these: http://www.monkeylectric.com/ to my bike'.

    Oh, so it was the cyclist's fault after all. I hadn't realised. He was cycling too late, and not using the light you use. He was almost asking for it, gagging for it, if you will, when you think about it.

    Still, that explains why the "dangerous driver" who should have been "locked up" got off so lightly. Got it.
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  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    The whole point of the story, lawnet, is the irony of a guy who specialises in skeletal injuries had himself been injured in that way. Had he been a specialist in SMIDSY accidents or HiViz then that would have been the story.

    What I do find disingenuous though is your hunting around to deflect everything from the helmet being central to this story. I also find it a bit weird that you acknowledge that there's a lack of data on this whole topic then introduce lots of bits of unreferenced data (4x as many non-helmet wearing cyclists, 7x as likely to hit your head (or helmet?) etc) to support your position. Either there's clear data or there isn't. I don't think there is clear data. I personally don't care because I think there's plenty of evidence to suggest that, on the balance of probabilities, it's the right thing to do. So does the good prof.
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  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    Sorry but that post makes you sound like a condescending prat. You don't know any of the other facts (ege he may have been lit up like a Christmas tree) yet you feel you can use the possible lack to condemn his views on Helmets - grow up and use reasononed arguments against Helmets rather than diversionary tactics just because you can't.

    I can't?

    The fact is these helmet stories are absolutely toxic for cycling, his campaign is counterproductive. It might be that a few people hear his story and go out and buy a helmet. But far more people are going to read it and not say 'huh, I better wear a helmet, so that when I get hit by 60mph and suffer horrendous injuries I won't die', nope, they will think 'Cycling is really dangerous, these lycra warriors must have a death wish'.

    A few years ago I commented to a London cycle commuting colleague 'How can you cycle in London, it's so dangerous'. Obivously I've changed my mind now, but that's the public perception of cycling, and stories about crushed vertebrae and being hit from behind just reinforce that.

    Cyclists get safety in numbers, injuries went up after Australia brought in its helmet law because the numbers of cyclists fell, and scaring cyclists into wearing a helmet with tales about high-speed crashes are simply not productive.

    His lecturing people about helmets is what's condescending. Why not tell drivers of small cars to get a bigger one, tell pedestrians to wear helmets, or car drivers? All these measures would improve safety, and without doubt if substantial numbers of pedestrians did wear helmets you would get identical stories to this 'I was hit by a car and only survived because of my walking helmet'.

    The arguments for and against helmet wearing haven't changed because this bloke got hit by a car and survived, there are good reasons for and against, where the balance lies is questioned.

    If you wear a helmet it might help in the event of an accident, but that doesn't mean the risk of (say) being hit by a car from behind while cycling is substantial enough to justify it, just as the risk of being hit by a car while crossing the road or on the pavement (a substantial number of pedestrians are killed on the pavement) is not judged high enough to wear one while walking.

    The victim in this case was a SMIDSY on what sounds like a fast rural road the case for helmet wearing there is different from commuters filtering through stop-start traffic in London. It's absolutely absurd and ridiculous, even if the helmet did save this man's life, something that he isn't certain of, to say that this means helmets are an automatic 'must wear' for all cyclists. People drown in the sea, but you don't see surfers or swimmers wearing lifejackets.

    And again even if helmets are absolutely wonderful life-saving devices with no downsides, I still abhor the ridiculous 'get a bike wear a helmet' culture that we have in this country. What happened to common sense and cycling proficiency? Get a bike, learn to ride safely, get some good lights, learn how to ride in traffic, THEN get your helmet.
  • thelawnetthelawnet Posts: 719
    The whole point of the story, lawnet, is the irony of a guy who specialises in skeletal injuries had himself been injured in that way. Had he been a specialist in SMIDSY accidents or HiViz then that would have been the story.

    What I do find disingenuous though is your hunting around to deflect everything from the helmet being central to this story. I also find it a bit weird that you acknowledge that there's a lack of data on this whole topic then introduce lots of bits of unreferenced data (4x as many non-helmet wearing cyclists, 7x as likely to hit your head (or helmet?) etc) to support your position. Either there's clear data or there isn't. I don't think there is clear data. I personally don't care because I think there's plenty of evidence to suggest that, on the balance of probabilities, it's the right thing to do. So does the good prof.

    There is clear data on helmet wearing as it's a matter of simple observation, and studies have been done by the government. Statistics on hitting your head, helmets in accidents are of course a matter of interpretation and are as relevant as endless 'helmet saved my life' anecdotes.

    I don't see that the helmet is central to the story at all. You can't repeat these accidents, they don't test helmets in this manner, there is no Euro Cycle CAP with robotic cyclist dummies, for me the takeaway is that you can leave a cyclist for dead, leave the scene and get off with a driving ban and some community service on the basis of a psychologist's report, and perhaps a winsome smile (http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Katharine-Choonara/504990156). Now that's not news, similar stories are in the papers weekly, but it's no less wrong for it.

    The study wear the helmet-wearing cyclist was passed dangerously close more often than the non-helmet-wearing cyclist seems just as relevant to me but again this may vary depending on where and when you cycle.

    And again, I think that having been hit by a car it's just as worthwhile to say 'is there anything I/another cyclist in the same situation could have done to avoid that', as 'thank God I had a helmet on, let's make sure others do the same'. Why is there this obsession with helmets? He's only playing into the hands of the victim-blaming lawyers who will say 'but he wasn't wearing a helmet' the next time a cyclist is hit by a dangerous driver.
  • AguilaAguila Posts: 622
    Aguila wrote:
    Lets not re-start the helmet debate


    Did you lot not read this bit of my initial post!
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