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Do you wear a helmet?

josamejosame Posts: 1,052
edited March 2012 in Campaign
I cannot understand the position this couple took, I feel that their attitude had as much a factor in the unfortunate ladies death as the pothole...

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/lat ... azard.html
'Do not compare your bike to others, for always there will be greater and lesser bikes'
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  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    You seem to be suggesting that had the lady been wearing a helmet she would now be alive and kicking? AFAIK there is no evidence to support this assertion.
    (lights blue touchpaper and runs really quickly from the room)
  • josamejosame Posts: 1,052
    Hang on...

    It's a device specifically designed to protect your head in the event of an impact, ie it is designed to ADD to the protective qualities of your skull... by definition it gives you 'more' chance of survival

    Surely it is all about stacking the odds in your favour
    'Do not compare your bike to others, for always there will be greater and lesser bikes'
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,358
    craker wrote:
    You seem to be suggesting that had the lady been wearing a helmet she would now be alive and kicking? AFAIK there is no evidence to support this assertion.
    (lights blue touchpaper and runs really quickly from the room)
    Errr, apart from the fact that she wasn't wearing a helmet, and she's dead? While this may not be conclusive evidence, you can hardly claim it's not evidence.

    The only observation I can make on the whole helmet debate, which seems to be bubbling up again according to its own weird biorhythms, is that for all the speculation, wishful thinking, and dubious statistics (from both sides of the debate) there still appears to be no research of the crash test dummy type - at all - that might genuinely begin to answer the question: in any given accident, what difference would a helmet make?
  • ToeKneeToeKnee Posts: 376
    I have smashed 2 helmets - both during races; once in the wet when I lost my front wheel on the way out of a corner and another when someone took out my front wheel getting ready for the sprint.

    On my commute I am more concerned with low speed blunt trauma injuries (e.g. curbstones).

    I happily wear a helmet as it's hard to see how wearing a helmet could increase the risk of serious injury, and I believe the opposite must be true to some degree.

    Also, where would I mount my Diablo?

    I would not dream of letting my son cycle without a helmet either.
    Seneca wrote:
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  • siamonsiamon Posts: 274
    Just read Wiki, which is a bit long winded as always. I had assumed the evidence would be unequivocally in favour of wearing a helmet, however it appears it isn't that cut and dried.

    I'll still wear mine though, without fail. I smacked my Specialised hard enough to crack the foam, yet my head is seemingly undamaged and I didn't even suffer any pain. Without the helmet I would have had a nasty gash, a big lump and a splitting headache at the very least.

    Cannot understand how anybody would conclude that not wearing a helmet is the right decision.
  • I'm fairly new here but I understand this topic has been done to death many times...but I've never joined in before so my take is that unless I see unequivocal proof that wearing a helmet increases my risk of serious head injury I'll continue to wear one.
  • Er yes I do wear a helmet, simple because us vulnerable road users need as much impact protection as we can get from the menaces in other SMIDGAF/DILLIGAF vehicles out there.

    It would also come in handy for giving irate "You Don't pay Road Tax" loudmouths a good liverpool kiss to!!!!!!

    I.e. something is better than nothing. Sure you can try and do anything with stats, but as Mr Twait said, there are lies, damned lies and stats!!!

    I WEAR ONE BECAUSE I VALUE MY LIFE AND TRUST NO ONE ELSE ON THE ROADS.
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  • teulkteulk Posts: 557
    I wear a helmet for the simple fact that if i did come off my bike and hit my head then it just may be the thing that saves my life. I understand that alot of people don't wear them and that is upto them. Im sure a lot will say that they have fell off numerous times and have never hit their head - true and as i understand it statistically most bike related injures are not to the head but legs, arms, wrist, hands and shoulders. I think perhaps there is the mentalilty that it "won't happen to me", you know perhaps it wont but then again it just might. Helmets are there to help prevent serious head injury, it may not stop you from seriously injuring your head and hell it may not even save your life but then again it just might. The "just might" is enough to convince me.
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  • Mike67Mike67 Posts: 585
    I wear a helmet...not because I think it would make any difference when pitted against a car or other 1 tonne plus vehicle but because I don't like the thought of my head bouncing on the ground WHEN I fall off.

    Falling off is a rare occurence but it does and has happened to me. The only time I've hit my head was offroad...a nice crack to the back of the helmet caused by a rock. Didn't know much about it until I inspected my helmet later.

    Strangely enough the first time I fell off a road bike I wasn't wearing a helmet. I'd forgotten to put it on as I had already put a hat on and it didn't 'feel' like it was missing. Luckily it was my arms, hip, knee and shoulder that took the impact. I did wonder after that crash though was it partly due to me being aware of not having a helmet, feeling vulnerable and tensing up on the fast bend which brought my downfall.

    I've been off three times since (not counting the x million times in cyclocross :? ), all due to ice and all on the same ride....nightmare day :( , and didn't once hit my head. Still wear a helmet though.

    Another question that springs to mind is what kind of speed does it require to cause more damage than the odd bump and scrape and is the head more or less likely to be damaged than any other part of the body given a similar impact?
    At what speed does a cycle helmet become useless? If I'm doing 40+ downhill would it save my head if I came off?
    Is there any research into this?

    Is the helmet the first step down the road to full body protection as any injury becomes socially unacceptable (rhetorical)?

    I'm of the opinion that it has to be left to the choice of the individual, given they know their riding habits and acceptable risk levels, with some influence from loved ones who like the way your head looks as it is (or not) :D
    Mike B

    Cannondale CAAD9
    Kinesis Pro 5 cross bike
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  • MattC59MattC59 Posts: 5,433
    I think there's a touch of 'Natural Selection' at work here.

    As for, 'At what speed does a helmet become useless', well it depends on the type of impact, not the speed.
    ie. if you hit a wall, head on at 40mph, there's a good chance that you're helmet isn't going to help much. If you slide out in a corner at 40mph and you have a glancing blow to the head, there's a good chance that your helmet is going to reduce the damage sufficiently so that you're not toast.
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed.
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved
  • nickwillnickwill Posts: 2,735
    I had a nasty accident early in the year. I am convinced that my helmet saved me from long term damage.
    http://lakescyclist.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/lessons-from-an-eventful-2011/
    Usually bike accidents involve sliding along the road rather than head on impacts. Most of the impacts during my crash would probably have been at less than 12 mph even though my road speed leading up to the crash is likely to have been significantly higher. For me it's all about loading the odds in my favour!
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    The 12mph claim (and I thought it was 15mph from memory) relates to the speed at which a person causing an injury to a cyclist cannot claim contributory negligence for the injuries due to lack of a helmet. It is an evolving part of PI law, but its fairly well established. i.e. you are doing 30mph, I pull out in front of you, you smash your head over the road. I cannot claim you are negligent due to the lack of a lid, because you did not contribute to your injuries due to not wearing a lid.

    The second issue is that of the difference between impact speed a free traveling speed. You could be progressing along at 25mph, see a car pull out, break hard, collide and hit the ground at 10mph fairly easily. Plenty of good stats that show that impact speed is rarely anywhere near free traveling speed.

    Lastly unlike a motorcycle helmet (which adds substantial weight to you skull, increasing the risk of a broken neck in a T-bone SMIDSY accident) there really isn't a similar argument on a cycle, that it can make things worse in certain common situations.

    I wear a helmet always, I think it should be law, can't see why anyone would object?
  • snorrisnorri Posts: 2,981
    diy wrote:
    I wear a helmet always, I think it should be law, can't see why anyone would object?
    Refer us to the research papers and statistical evidence that would silence those who would object.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    The statistical evidence I referred to was impact speed vs. free travel speed.

    Look at pedestrian fatalities at impact speed vs. the ratio of hit and injured vs. hit and KSI'd in any statistical year.
    A pedestrian has an 80% chance of fatal injury if hit at 40mph. In urban roads 50% of drivers drive at 35-40mph we could argue conservatively that 20% are doing 40mph and if the speed kills lobby can be believed are most likely to have a fatal accident. Yet less than 2% of pedestrians hit die. Why? Because something happens between the driver traveling at 40mph and the pedestrian being hit - they slow down.

    You can apply the same logic to cycling. A rider traveling at 25mph would in many cases have the opportunity to slow down before his head impacts the tarmac. Therefore the argument (implied by the cyclists in the news article) that its pointless wearing a helmet if you are riding above 12/15mph (the design speed of a helmet) is flawed. As there will be many, many crash scenarios where you could reduce your speed by more than 10mph from free travel speed to impact speed, not to mention all those where your free traveling speed is lower to start with.

    There is of course an argument that road bikes have poor stopping power and I for one am still getting used to the anchors on my road bike compared to the 203mm discs on my mtb (which are not far off the capability of my 300+mm discs on my motorbikes). However, there are still many scenarios where a pre-accident reduction of speed by 10mph is not unrealistic.

    I offer no evidence that cycle helmets reduce injury. I actually think they offer very limited benefit, similar to that of an open face motorbike helmet, which will roll off in many scenarios. I stated that unlike motorcycle helmets which can increase the risk of head injury due to the mass, speed and forces involved in certain accident scenarios - cycle helmets do not add to injury risk. Hence if they are designed and tested to reduce injury and there are no (or perhaps 1:10M) scenarios where they increase risk, there cannot be much of a logical argument against them.

    You are then left with the risk compensation angle. That being that we compensate the additional safety measures with an increase in risk taking, which more than equals the benefit, suggest the best approach is to make them mandatory, so that people wear them without thinking.

    Hence my opinion that making them law would mop up the few who haven't thought about it in as much detail. Though I accept that die hards ('xcuse the pun) would find it an infringement of their freedom.
  • snorrisnorri Posts: 2,981
    diy wrote:
    I offer no evidence that cycle helmets reduce injury.
    :roll: OK.
  • I do not wear a helmet and in about 70 years cycling I have never felt the need for one nor am I convinced by any of the "evidence". I am more concerned about breaking other parts of the body such as shoulders,arms etc which seem much more vulnerable and where no protection is offered. It seems ludicrous when you see people with helmets but practically nothing above the waist including women with bare arms and shoulders.It certainly makes me squirm when they are inevitably going to fall off probably on to gravel. If they are not going to fall off why are they wearing helmets? Helmet wearing presupposes that you must always fall off! My worst injuries came when I fell off my feet but I am not expected to wear a helmet then.
  • MarcBCMarcBC Posts: 333
    Yes, I do.
  • snorrisnorri Posts: 2,981
    by diy »
    I offer no evidence that cycle helmets reduce injury.
    by diy »
    I wear a helmet always, I think it should be law,

    Why do you favour compulsion?
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    Its all about risk compensation

    When I said "I offer no evidence that cycle helmets reduce injury", I was not referring to their protective properties. They clearly do offer some protective capabilities, as others have said, they increase the protective layer around the brain, which can by and large only be a good thing if your head is going to get a wallop. The reason I am neutral on their overall benefits is because there will always be an element of risk compensation if a person wears one to protect themselves in an accident by choice rather than in compliance with the law. Most people wear a seat belt because its law, it therefore has very little effect on their risk compensation.

    Why do I wear a lid - all sorts of reasons ranging from wanting to avoid contributory negligence claims to a belief that it will do me more good than harm.

    The reason I think it should be mandatory is to try to address the risk compensation. i.e. it becomes a subconscious act, but also so that we can increase the market place for helmets to encourage new ideas and designs. Just look how good motorcycle helmets got once they became almost mandatory world wide. Bigger market = more R&D = better product.
  • I do not wear a helmet and in about 70 years cycling I have never felt the need for one nor am I convinced by any of the "evidence". I am more concerned about breaking other parts of the body such as shoulders,arms etc which seem much more vulnerable and where no protection is offered. It seems ludicrous when you see people with helmets but practically nothing above the waist including women with bare arms and shoulders.It certainly makes me squirm when they are inevitably going to fall off probably on to gravel. If they are not going to fall off why are they wearing helmets? Helmet wearing presupposes that you must always fall off! My worst injuries came when I fell off my feet but I am not expected to wear a helmet then.

    So you do wear shoulder / elbow / knee protection I take it?
  • snorrisnorri Posts: 2,981
    by diy » 20 Dec 2011 16:10
    Its all about risk compensation

    You want to wear a helmet and have given your reasons, I do not feel similarly but would certainly not attempt to dissuade you from wearing a helmet it is a personal decision and should remain as such.
    However, although admitting to being neutral on the overall benefits you still advocate compulsory wear for all . You must be aware that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks, and that laws requiring helmet wear will reduce participation in this healthy activity, with negative effect on the health of the population, also the reduction in number of cyclists will result in higher accident rates as the 'safety in numbers' effect is reduced.
    The comparison with seat belt wear is somewhat obscure. The safety benefits to the wearers of seat belts in cars are proven, but as you say there is no statistical evidence of an overall safety benefit from cycle helmet wear. I don't agree with your assertion that seat belts have little effect on risk compensation, drivers adjust their driving style to accommodate the perceived risks and seat belt wear is factored in to the assessment, just as cycle helmet wearers adjust their behaviour... "there will always be an element of risk compensation" you say. It is not uncommon to hear regular helmet wearers expressing concerns for their vulnerability and saying they cycled more cautiously when for some reason they have had to cycle without a helmet. Non wearers are constantly aware of their vulnerability and cycle accordingly. Just as compulsory usage would make helmet wear a subconscious act, so would factoring in helmet wear to the risk assessment become a subconscious act.
    Mandatory helmet wear will not "address" the risk compensation effect, by your own admission, existing helmet wearers are already influenced. Will their cycling style change if compulsory helmet wear is introduced? I can't see it happen, but all of those new to helmet wearing will be added to the numbers already influenced by the risk compensation effect thus providing no overall saftey benefit.
    Let's just leave helmet wear to the individual, and not call for measures to introduce compulsory helmet wear for all cyclists.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    Snorri,

    I don't buy the argument that compulsory helmet use will reduce cycling. It certainly didn't for motorcycling. Voluntary helmet wearing among cyclists is much higher than it was for motorcycling when the laws were introduced. For some anecdotal evidence on my commute to work yesterday by motorbike in london, I only counted 5 or 6 cyclists without helmets out of probably 2 or 300 cyclists I passed. In fact I counted more that didn't have lights.

    If you look at the anti-helmet law sites like http://cyclehelmets.org their argument seems to be along the lines of.
    1 - helmets don't make much difference to injury and can exaggerate certain injuries
    2 - helmets will reduce participation

    1 - They seem to take the high impact low probability injuries and spin them out of proportion, while playing down the lower impact higher probability benefits that are evident. Anything attached to your head that increases the "gearing" (i.e. rotational forces) and mass of your head will cause greater risk of a broken neck under certain situations. They seem to apply the utmost scrutiny to others research and make sweeping claims, and tenuous links to support their own, with no scrutiny whatsoever. You see this kind of behavior from people campaigning for lower speed limits and more speed cameras. i.e. they cling to small facts which support their argument, group incompatible statistics and ignore those that don't.

    2 - I really don't see how anyone can claim compulsory helmet wearing would reduce participation. Not because it is wrong, but because it is totally unknown. You could easily have exemptions for things like Boris bikes to support occasional use. There are two questions which you'd need to ask:
    - would you give up cycling if wearing a helmet became law?
    - would you be less likely to take up cycling if wearing a helmet became law?

    The only way you can really know without having a law is to focus on the groups who don't wear a helmet and understand why.
  • FJSFJS Posts: 4,820
    I always wear a helmet when out training or racing on my road bike or otherwise out for a longer ride - basically any ride I put on lycra for
    I never wear a helmet for short rides around town (say 2 mile, most much less), go to the shops, small errands, to the pub, etc. Rides I wear normal clothes for and on a chunkier bike.
    diy wrote:
    The only way you can really know without having a law is to focus on the groups who don't wear a helmet and understand why.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_o3chL8phA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q-ej1eihoU
    diy wrote:
    You could easily have exemptions for things like Boris bikes to support occasional use. There are two questions which you'd need to ask:
    - would you give up cycling if wearing a helmet became law?
    - would you be less likely to take up cycling if wearing a helmet became law?
    What if using a Boris bike is no exception, or what if most riding you do is Boris-bike-style riding on a Boris-bike type bike you own yourself? How do you make that exemption? I wouldn't be hugely opposed to something like what Spain has done - helmets compulsory on the open roads but not in town (centres)/built-up areas, but haven't seen anyone suppport that here in the UK. My impression is that the argument to make helmets compulsory is mostly done with the kind of cycling you wear special clothes for and get somewhat sweaty in mind, the one that dominates here. Compulsory helmets would probably not influence participation in that kind of cycling, but it's more likely to be an inconvenience and deterrent for short-distance normal-clothes rides in town, especially for certain categories (for instance teenage girls), or prevent its future uptake.
  • DrKJMDrKJM Posts: 271
    Surely the question for this, and any other issue, is do you *need* a law? I don't know the stats for head injuries caused by cycling but don't perceive it to be such a great drain on the public purse that we should make it compulsory. (The only reason for making it compulsory being to protect the greater good which in this case could only be financial or to protect the vulnerable from themselves and others. Vulnerable here meaning those incapable of making their own informed decision). There are many more risky things we don't ban or significantly mitigate (smoking at home for example) and many we do because of risk to others (smoking in public buildings).

    For the record, I choose to wear a helmet most of the time.
  • snorrisnorri Posts: 2,981
    diy wrote:
    - I really don't see how anyone can claim compulsory helmet wearing would reduce participation. Not because it is wrong, but because it is totally unknown. You could easily have exemptions for things like Boris bikes to support occasional use. There are two questions which you'd need to ask:
    - would you give up cycling if wearing a helmet became law?
    - would you be less likely to take up cycling if wearing a helmet became law?
    The only way you can really know without having a law is to focus on the groups who don't wear a helmet and understand why.
    Regarding reduced participation, it is not totally unknown, it's there for all to see on the cyclehelmets website, the analysis is drawn from figures produce by the governments of the countries which have introduced compulsion laws, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. There has been reduced participation in these countries, what leads you to believe things would turn out differently if this country were to bring in compulsion?
    Regarding focusing on groups who don't wear helmets, the reason they don't wear helmets is quite clear. You were unable to come up with research data or evidence to prove the beneficial effects of helmet wearing, no one else can find data either, so in effect the jury is still out. Why should cyclists be required by law to wear safety equipment whose worth is unproven?
    You talk of possible exemptions for Boris Bikes, but why? The users of these bikes may not be regular cyclists, even if they are the hirers will not be used to the handling characteristics of the Boris Bike. They are cycling on the streets of the biggest city in the country and may well lack local knowledge. Boris Bikers must be at greater risk of accident than many cyclists in the UK and why you would suggest exemption for them whilst continuing to call for compulsory wearing by the less at risk cyclists I just cannot understand.
    Let us leave helmet wearing to individual choice and not call for compulsion, please.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    DrKJM wrote:
    Surely the question for this, and any other issue, is do you *need* a law? I don't know the stats for head injuries caused by cycling but don't perceive it to be such a great drain on the public purse that we should make it compulsory. (The only reason for making it compulsory being to protect the greater good which in this case could only be financial or to protect the vulnerable from themselves and others. Vulnerable here meaning those incapable of making their own informed decision). There are many more risky things we don't ban or significantly mitigate (smoking at home for example) and many we do because of risk to others (smoking in public buildings).

    For the record, I choose to wear a helmet most of the time.

    That is a convincing argument. It changes the question to - how many injuries could be avoided through compulsory helmet wearing. If that answer is unknown, then its the place to start.
  • skelkelly pads should be compulsory for all. More important than helmets!
  • weadmireweadmire Posts: 165
    dly, How much experience of coming off with and or without a helmet do you have? For the avoidance of doubt I am talking about personal experience here, not what you know of what did or didn't happen to someone else. I might as well ask the same question of all the other pro helmeteers here.
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  • weadmireweadmire Posts: 165
    dani_01, That's possible but very very unlikely. Are you sure you would have hit your head if you hadn't been wearing a helmet? In my quite extensive experience of falling/crashing both with and without a helmet (eight bone breakers to date four with and four without, I don't count just falling off) the best you can expect is to have the helmet save you from some cuts and bruises. But since your head is much more likely to hit the ground, or whatever else is in the way, if you are wearing one than otherwise, helmets in my experience only save you from the effects of the impacts they play a part in causing.

    If you add the small increases that risk compensation delivers: both in the behaviour of drivers in getting closer to cyclists who wear them when they are interacting with cyclists on the road; and similarly in the risks cyclists will take in the mistaken belief they are safer with them than without them; you will start to understand why the wearing of helmets has been done to death as an internet topic for the last 25 years or so. Put another way if there was a clear cut benefit to wearing a helmet other than to assuage anxiety among the insecure and/or inexperienced then we would know by now and this topic would be a non starter. Or put yet more clearly if helmets saved lives it would be obvious - the argument would be over. They don't and it isn't.
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