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Nice article in the NY Times about helmets

Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 10,052
edited October 2012 in Commuting chat
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunda ... html?_r=3&
ONE spectacular Sunday in Paris last month, I decided to skip museums and shopping to partake of something even more captivating for an environment reporter: Vélib, arguably the most successful bike-sharing program in the world. In their short lives, Europe’s bike-sharing systems have delivered myriad benefits, notably reducing traffic and its carbon emissions. A number of American cities — including New York, where a bike-sharing program is to open next year — want to replicate that success.

So I bought a day pass online for about $2, entered my login information at one of the hundreds of docking stations that are scattered every few blocks around the city and selected one of Vélib’s nearly 20,000 stodgy gray bikes, with their basic gears, upright handlebars and practical baskets.

Then I did something extraordinary, something I’ve not done in a quarter-century of regular bike riding in the United States: I rode off without a helmet.

I rode all day at a modest clip, on both sides of the Seine, in the Latin Quarter, past the Louvre and along the Champs-Élysées, feeling exhilarated, not fearful. And I had tons of bareheaded bicycling company amid the Parisian traffic. One common denominator of successful bike programs around the world — from Paris to Barcelona to Guangzhou — is that almost no one wears a helmet, and there is no pressure to do so.

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And — Catch-22 — a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.

“Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits,” says Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. He studied the issue with mathematical modeling, and concludes that the benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.

He adds: “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.

Yet the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that “all cyclists wear helmets, no matter where they ride,” said Dr. Jeffrey Michael, an agency official.

Recent experience suggests that if a city wants bike-sharing to really take off, it may have to allow and accept helmet-free riding. A two-year-old bike-sharing program in Melbourne, Australia — where helmet use in mandatory — has only about 150 rides a day, despite the fact that Melbourne is flat, with broad roads and a temperate climate. On the other hand, helmet-lax Dublin — cold, cobbled and hilly — has more than 5,000 daily rides in its young bike-sharing scheme. Mexico City recently repealed a mandatory helmet law to get a bike-sharing scheme off the ground. But here in the United States, the politics are tricky.

SHAUN MURPHY, the bicycling coordinator of Minneapolis-St. Paul — which inaugurated its “Nice Ride” bike-sharing program this year — has been pilloried for riding about without a helmet. “I just want it to be seen as something that a normal person can do,” Mr. Murphy explained to the local press this past summer. “You don’t need special gear. You just get on a bike and you just go.”

(carries on for another page...)

I know, I know helmet debate and all that. I'm merely highlighting a rare balanced article.
Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
2011 Trek Madone 4.5
2012 Felt F65X
Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
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Posts

  • BlacktemplarBlacktemplar Posts: 713
    edited October 2012
    As you say KB, an interesting, informed and reasonably balanced examination of the issue... a rare thing it seems. Helmet wearing is a very polarised debate.

    There was an article recently (or possible a post in here) that talked about reseach showing how cyclists wearing helmets were regarded as more "expert" than those without, and drivers consequently passed closer and generally drove in a less cautious way around them.

    It'll run and run.
    "Get a bicycle. You won't regret it if you live"
    Mark Twain
  • pangolinpangolin Posts: 3,552
    edited October 2012
    Do you wear one KB? Just out of interest really. I don't.
    Genesis Croix de Fer
    Cube Attain
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    One of the other key points about these places is the physically (by a little wall/mini pavement) segregated cycle lanes, which UK does not have. Even in Paris I have noticed that there are channels, almost down the middle of pavements where cycles are designated.

    I would be interested to see USA vs UK stats as some Euro countries are not that comparable, due to how the infrastructure works - which I doubt we will ever see in the UK as our pavements are already so narrow as it is.
  • jay197jay197 Posts: 196
    The article is of course not referring to super fast paced road bike users, but rather it is referring to the leisure/commuter cyclist, and I always notice most commuter cyclist usually only do around 5-9mph maximum (usually in the wrong gear etc hehe) so I can see where the article is coming from.

    However, for the speed freaks on this forum, they need complete body armour, let alone just a helmet.

    I have stopped counting the broken collar bones, and leg bones etc from our beloved forum members who were doing 50mph downhill when it started to rain, and they hit a spot of diesel, and then............ :wink:

    Roll castelli jerseys with nano carbon fibre -collar bone-body armour built in :)
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    jay197 wrote:
    The article is of course not referring to super fast paced road bike users, but rather it is referring to the leisure/commuter cyclist, and I always notice most commuter cyclist usually only do around 5-9mph maximum (usually in the wrong gear etc hehe) so I can see where the article is coming from.

    However, for the speed freaks on this forum, they need complete body armour, let alone just a helmet.

    I have stopped counting the broken collar bones, and leg bones etc from our beloved forum members who were doing 50mph downhill when it started to rain, and they hit a spot of diesel, and then............ :wink:

    Roll castelli jerseys with nano carbon fibre -collar bone-body armour built in :)

    And it begins.

    I don't think speed is the issue. You could be riding at 7mph fall and hit your head or break a bone.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • I could probably do with hip armour I do seem to have a knack of falling off and giving my hip a wallop.

    Or i could just be sensible and when it's icy take the MTB which has tyres that can stick to sheet ice, but that would remove the thrill!
  • pangolinpangolin Posts: 3,552
    Yup, every fall where I've hurt myself I could have done with either elbow and knee pads, or something in the hip area. Wouldn't even need to be thick, I've never broken anything*. Just some big grazes. I guess it would be hard to make something that was sturdy enough, flexible enough, cheap enough and breathable enough, or someone would have.

    *breaks leg cycling home
    Genesis Croix de Fer
    Cube Attain
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 6,231
    This is old hat.




    Gets coat....
  • was recently shopping for a new backpack and briefly considered one with a built in back protector (like motorcyle riders have) like this http://www.evocsports.com/en/bike/protector-backpacks/fr-lite.html

    Decided against it in the end as they really only protect from direct impacts on the back rather than twists or over extension injuries which are far far more common. And i didn't want to carry the heavish sweaty thing around all day. And my bag is usually full of clothes and stuff which will provide a measure of protection anyway.
  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 10,052
    pangolin wrote:
    Do you were one KB? Just out of interest really. I don't.

    Check my helmet cam vids for the answer :wink:

    (and tbh - it's the only reason why I do)
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    pangolin wrote:
    Do you were one KB?
    I did was one too
  • pangolinpangolin Posts: 3,552
    bompington wrote:
    pangolin wrote:
    Do you were one KB?
    I did was one too

    Where?
    Genesis Croix de Fer
    Cube Attain
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    pangolin wrote:
    bompington wrote:
    pangolin wrote:
    Do you were one KB?
    I did was one too

    Where?

    Over their.
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    jay197 wrote:
    The article is of course not referring to super fast paced road bike users, but rather it is referring to the leisure/commuter cyclist, and I always notice most commuter cyclist usually only do around 5-9mph maximum (usually in the wrong gear etc hehe) so I can see where the article is coming from.

    However, for the speed freaks on this forum, they need complete body armour, let alone just a helmet.

    I have stopped counting the broken collar bones, and leg bones etc from our beloved forum members who were doing 50mph downhill when it started to rain, and they hit a spot of diesel, and then............ :wink:

    Roll castelli jerseys with nano carbon fibre -collar bone-body armour built in :)

    :roll:

    Before you go off on one about road bike users who actually want to go fast, maybe you should take the time to understand what helmets are designed to do and it what instances you can hope they'll be of help:

    Modern helmets must meet the European CE standard (12 mph) or the Snell B90/B95 standard (14 mph). So don't expect one to be a lot of good if you come off at 50 and somehow manage to land on your head.

    Dammit. Didn't want to reply to this.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • bails87 wrote:
    pangolin wrote:
    bompington wrote:
    pangolin wrote:
    Do you were one KB?
    I did was one too

    Where?

    Over their.

    I saw a little mouse with clogs on

    [/bizarre side track]
    Nobody told me we had a communication problem
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    bails87 wrote:
    pangolin wrote:
    bompington wrote:
    pangolin wrote:
    Do you were one KB?
    I did was one too

    Where?

    Over their.

    I saw a little mouse with clogs on

    [/bizarre side track]
    They're on the stare, write their?
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    Absolute rubbish il Prince.

    What if you're travelling at 20mph, fall off, slide down the road and the friction of the slide slows you down to 9mph where you finally hit something with your helmet covered head. You're head would technically be fine, your road grazed body might not, but your head would be fine.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • FOR GOD'S SAKE, WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN???!!!?!?

    Strap a small child to your head, and you should be OK in almost any accident.
  • pangolinpangolin Posts: 3,552
    But the total number of accidents would be much higher, due to having a small child blinding you regularly. Other than that, good idea.
    Genesis Croix de Fer
    Cube Attain
  • cyclingpropcyclingprop Posts: 2,426
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    Absolute rubbish il Prince.

    What if I'm travelling at 20mph, fall off, slide down the road and the friction of the slide slows me down to 9mph where I finally hit something with my helmet covered head. My head would technically be fine, my road grazed body might not, but my head would be fine.

    No DDD, I think you have it wrong. 20 mph is way faster than you go.

    Besides, what were you covering your head with helmets for anyway?
    What do you mean you think 64cm is a big frame?
  • FOR GOD'S SAKE, WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN???!!!?!?

    Strap a small child to your head, and you should be OK in almost any accident.

    No, no! You need to lasso a slice of toast to you head (butter side down). This makes falling on your head impossible. FACT
    Nobody told me we had a communication problem
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,121 Lives Here
    I was wearing a lid, wasn't speeding on a roadish bike. Lid didn't help, Fairly large child strapped to my right arm would have been useful though.
    I'm still singing about mice and clogs. Great painkillers I'm on.
  • So don't expect one to be a lot of good if you come off at 50 and somehow manage to land on your head.
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    What if you're travelling at 20mph, fall off, slide down the road and the friction of the slide slows you down to 9mph where you finally hit something with your helmet covered head

    Two different things there...

    I don't understand why people who do wear helmets are so keen for everyone else to wear them too.
    '12 CAAD 8 Tiagra
  • Veronese68 wrote:
    I'm still singing about mice and clogs. Great painkillers I'm on.

    A bit of a singer?
    Takes lots of drugs?
    Quite a hit with the doors?

    I put it to you Veronese, that you are in fact Jim Morrison :?:
    Nobody told me we had a communication problem
  • pangolinpangolin Posts: 3,552
    So don't expect one to be a lot of good if you come off at 50 and somehow manage to land on your head.
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    What if you're travelling at 20mph, fall off, slide down the road and the friction of the slide slows you down to 9mph where you finally hit something with your helmet covered head

    Two different things there...

    I don't understand why people who do wear helmets are so keen for everyone else to wear them too.

    But CC what if you fall off at 75mph and land on a spiked railing :shock:
    Genesis Croix de Fer
    Cube Attain
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    So don't expect one to be a lot of good if you come off at 50 and somehow manage to land on your head.
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    What if you're travelling at 20mph, fall off, slide down the road and the friction of the slide slows you down to 9mph where you finally hit something with your helmet covered head

    Two different things there...

    I don't understand why people who do wear helmets are so keen for everyone else to wear them too.
    Because it's silly not to. You are no less safer wearing a helemt. Not wearing one means you are less safe should you encounter a particular type of accident. It's like an airbag, they don't protect you from all kinds of collisions in a car, they do protect again some and having none means you are completely unprotected.

    There is also another analogy, change airbag to something beginning with C.

    There I've said it.

    And cyclingprop

    1399-challenge-accepted---gangs-of-new-york.jpg
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • DonDaddyD wrote:
    Because it's silly not to. You are no less safer wearing a helemt. Not wearing one means you are less safe should you encounter a particular type of accident.

    That seems like reasonable logic when chosing whether to wear one or not, but I still don't understand why so many cyclists are so keen for other cyclists to wear them.
    '12 CAAD 8 Tiagra
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    DonDaddyD wrote:

    Because it's silly not to. You are no less safer wearing a helemt. Not wearing one means you are less safe should you encounter a particular type of accident. It's like an airbag, they don't protect you from all kinds of collisions in a car, they do protect again some and having none means you are completely unprotected.

    Why don't runners wear helmets? Plenty of them go faster than 9 mph. What happens if they fall over?
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    DonDaddyD wrote:

    Because it's silly not to. You are no less safer wearing a helemt. Not wearing one means you are less safe should you encounter a particular type of accident. It's like an airbag, they don't protect you from all kinds of collisions in a car, they do protect again some and having none means you are completely unprotected.

    Why don't runners wear helmets? Plenty of them go faster than 9 mph. What happens if they fall over?

    They put their hands out and tend not to break their wrists. The dynamics of a fall from your feet are totally different. I don't mind people not wearing helmets but spurious comparisons to other activities (running, bathing, using the stairs) don't really add anything
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
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