How many of you always wear a helmet?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
stoobs
Posts: 1307
Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 4:45am

Postby stoobs » 13 Mar 2008, 10:56am

hubgearfreak - I do like those rather fetching elbow-length gloves. I always wear them. They could also double up for evening wear at debutante balls for the ladies, don't you think?

To answer the questions, I always wear a helmet, and have done for the past 14 years (not continuously - just when I ride). I started cycling in earnest in 1975.

I concede that because they are different, they are uncomfortable at first and a bit of a distraction, but you get used to them quickly. It's the intermittent users who have the biggest problems, but things like that apply equally as to whether you get saddle sore, say, or not. From a heatloss point of view, your body does adjust rapidly, but I wouldn't want to suddenly start wearing one in the middle of a hot summer - I'd get acclimatised from spring onwards. Your body ends up losing heat in other ways. Also, they provide some shade to your head in the sun. So, while I wouldn't argue with non-wearers, I don't actually agree with the comfort line of argument.

Do they work? Well, I had a bad smash doing 30+ mph 12 years ago, and smashed my purple helmet (snarf). No really, it was purple. To be absolutely honest, I don't know whether it saved smacking the back of my head (hard), or whether the back of the helmet hit the road because it stuck out. However, it did mean that I could focus on the pain coming from my broken ribs and collapsed lung, without the additional worry of a sore head.

I also do a lot of off-road riding, and because of the greater variability of surfaces, and potential low-hanging branches, this is another factor. I try to avoid these things, but off-road going from light to dark in a wood can be tricky, even when you think you're being safe.

On road, given the nutty behaviour of a minority of drivers, with the potential for sudden barging in and sudden braking in front of you, I do actually prefer the idea of one extra layer between my skull and a towing ball, for example. Will it work at all speeds? No. If it reduces effects, then I'm content.

Should they be made compulsory? No, I don't think so, especially as some drivers may even think that they are entitled to drive more dangerously in the presence of a wearer. Wearing or not should definitely not be a case for contributory negligence.

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15035
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Postby Si » 13 Mar 2008, 11:34am

fatboy wrote:
Si wrote:I'd rather forget my helmet than my track mits.

So far:
helmet saved me from injuries 0 times.
helmet caused injuries: 2 times (although neither were on the road).



I'm intregued, how did the helmet cause and injury?


As mentioned, this was off road so won't appy to many on here.

One involved whacking my head on an over hanging branch which I would have gotten under if not for the helmet. Fair enough you might say that if I'd ridden with regard to wearing the helmet then I'd have avoided this, but then you might also say that if anyone rides with regard to not falling off then they won't need a helmet anyway - it's those slower, no-one-else-involved sort of silly accidents where helmets might seem most useful.

The second one: when riding through a narrow gap in bushes a small branch managed to snag in the helmet vent, snap my head back and damage my neck.

There is also anicdotal evidence from people who believe that the rotational force changes that helmets produce can cause excessive problems in road crashes. But that is anicdotal and thus of the same value as those that say "a helmet saved my life".

glueman
Posts: 4354
Joined: 16 Mar 2007, 1:22pm

Postby glueman » 13 Mar 2008, 12:19pm

Steve Climpson makes a good point and you can't argue with his experience. However climbing helmets are hard shell to protect from falling rocks, something they do pretty well (unless it's a biggun). Cycle helmets are less effective at what their supposed to do, imo. You could make them really good but I doubt anyone would wear them.
I'd never convince or even persuade anyone against wearing a hard hat but they've been influential in turning cycling from one kind of experience with a knock on effect to other road user's attitutude towards us.

Regieuk
Posts: 30
Joined: 19 Feb 2008, 3:12pm
Location: Cornwall

Postby Regieuk » 13 Mar 2008, 1:34pm

Always wear one and insist my son does as well.
Recently had a tumble and the helmet took a bump on the right side, if I had not been wearing it that contact would have been my skull. (Might have done some good!)

I work in the emergency services and amongst the many accidents I have dealt with one that sticks was a fatal accident involving a child who was cycling and not wearing a lid. Now I cannot say that childs life would have been saved but the main point of trauma was the head. It could have saved a life, that is good enough for me to wear one.

thirdcrank
Posts: 28677
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Mar 2008, 3:54pm

Can any pro-helmeteer say if they wear one when driving a car and if not, explain why not?

steve climpson
Posts: 83
Joined: 1 Oct 2007, 3:20pm

Postby steve climpson » 13 Mar 2008, 4:18pm

glueman wrote: However climbing helmets are hard shell to protect from falling rocks, something they do pretty well (unless it's a biggun). Cycle helmets are less effective at what their supposed to do, imo. You could make them really good but I doubt anyone would wear them.

I would never claim that they could save your life or even save you from serious injury as every accident is different but anything that reduces brain injury has to be a good idea.

At the physios is a guy who hit a tree whilst skiing without a helmet - he is far worse than I am at a similar time from the accident. I would have thought that his accident was similar to a bike one and his head trauma would have been lessened by wearing a lid.

With respect to the non helmet wearers, all the arguments against boil down to dislike and sweat plus the occasional bad experience in use. Not really good reasons IMO.

BTW if anyone thinks head traumas are rare, my physio goes to a long stay hospital where there are 50 younger people, all head trauma cases, none will ever recover enough to leave, most are "gaga". These hospitals are relatively common on the ground but society often doen't see them. Brain damage is forever, no one ever recovers 100%

I'm very lucky in that I've made and continue to make an outstanding recovery but I'm one of the few who do.

User avatar
squeaker
Posts: 3559
Joined: 12 Jan 2007, 11:43pm
Location: Sussex

Varies

Postby squeaker » 13 Mar 2008, 4:23pm

Usually on MTB (might help in low speed falls)
Usually on shopping bike (as above - short trips only)
Sometimes on recumbent bikes (mainly due to pressure from SWMBO)
Not on recumbent trike (what low speed falls....)
"42"

steve climpson
Posts: 83
Joined: 1 Oct 2007, 3:20pm

Postby steve climpson » 13 Mar 2008, 4:34pm

thirdcrank wrote:Can any pro-helmeteer say if they wear one when driving a car and if not, explain why not?

Simple. Cars are increasingly designed to protect the occupants and its unlikely that in an average accident much brain damage occurs as nothing touches your head. The only risk is from shaking the brain, which a helmet won't stop.
At the physios is a racing car driver who had a spin off on the circuit. Not a scratch on him, but his brain is trashed due to shaking.

High speed road accidents are another matter of course but its no surprise that racing car drivers wear them, not withstanding the above comment on shaking.

Conversely there is nothing between your head and the road on a bike, except luck of course.

stoobs
Posts: 1307
Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 4:45am

Postby stoobs » 13 Mar 2008, 4:44pm

With airbags and locking seatbelts, is the car not designed to be your protection? Of course, you can always take it one step further, and I suppose that applies to bike helmets, too, but that extra tin lid or roll bar gives a lot of extra protection that we cyclists do not have.

iaincullen
Posts: 153
Joined: 18 Aug 2007, 11:43am

Postby iaincullen » 13 Mar 2008, 4:55pm

[quote="steve climpson"]
"With respect to the non helmet wearers, all the arguments against boil down to dislike and sweat plus the occasional bad experience in use. Not really good reasons IMO."

No it is the fact helmets are uncomfortable AND ineffective Why should I wear something uncomfortable when it is giving little if any protection against a risk that is small enough that I don't worry about it. If helmets should be worn despite this to try and eliminate a bit more risk from our lives then why not pedestrian helmets?

To contrast with any "helmet saved my life" incidents here is an incident where the helmets didn't work.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/4592412.stm

That said I don't believe single incidents whichever argument they support are of much value in deciding whether helmets work. What convinced me that in the real world there is little benefit from helmets is the Australian stats

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/papers/c2022.pdf

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15035
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Postby Si » 13 Mar 2008, 5:03pm

With respect to the non helmet wearers, all the arguments against boil down to dislike and sweat plus the occasional bad experience in use. Not really good reasons IMO.


Erm, no. The arguments are that there is not sufficient proof to show that helmets will make a difference (or indeed, not make things worse). Thus some people decide that they are too uncomfortable to warrent wearing when there is no proof that they will make a reasonable difference. Others, like me, still wear them just in case.


BTW if anyone thinks head traumas are rare, my physio goes to a long stay hospital where there are 50 younger people, all head trauma cases, none will ever recover enough to leave, most are "gaga". These hospitals are relatively common on the ground but society often doen't see them.


Unless you are stating that there are long stay hospitals full of cyclists who weren't wearing helmets then I suggest that this point is quite irrelivent. I could just as well point out that my brother in law was brain damaged while in hospital so that is a good case for avoiding hospitals at all costs.

--

My other oft asked question to us helmet wearers (myself included) is....

Why do we only wear these top of the head helmets? If we are serious about protection why do we not go for the new bread of lightweigh, easy to see out, full face helmets as worn by DHers? Afterall, if you go over the bars, face first into the road, what's going to stop your jaw being pushed up into your brain? Is it not just the case of none of us really researching the pros and cons for our selves, but just following the herd and wearing (or not wearing) what everyone else is wearing (or not wearing)....assuming that if everyone is doing it then it must be OK? Answers on a post card!

aesmith
Posts: 548
Joined: 22 Feb 2008, 11:32am
Location: Aberdeenshire

Postby aesmith » 13 Mar 2008, 5:12pm

steve climpson wrote:With respect to the non helmet wearers, all the arguments against boil down to dislike and sweat plus the occasional bad experience in use. Not really good reasons IMO.

That may be all true. It sounds like you'd side with compulsion, if you feel that someone would need a "really good reason" not to wear a helmet,

glueman
Posts: 4354
Joined: 16 Mar 2007, 1:22pm

Postby glueman » 13 Mar 2008, 5:26pm

TBH, Steve's argument is a good reason not to cycle full stop. Or ski or climb. I'd never make light of head trauma but where do you stop? Full face bike helmets? There are so many things that could kill us we'd never go out.

steve climpson
Posts: 83
Joined: 1 Oct 2007, 3:20pm

Postby steve climpson » 13 Mar 2008, 5:50pm

iaincullen wrote:
No it is the fact helmets are uncomfortable AND ineffective Why should I wear something uncomfortable when it is giving little if any protection against a risk that is small enough that I don't worry about it. If helmets should be worn despite this to try and eliminate a bit more risk from our lives then why not pedestrian helmets?


sounds like the reasons stated against the compulsory wearing of seatbelts

To contrast with any "helmet saved my life" incidents here is an incident where the helmets didn't work.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/4592412.stm


I can't see how any helmet would have saved these people.

steve climpson
Posts: 83
Joined: 1 Oct 2007, 3:20pm

Postby steve climpson » 13 Mar 2008, 5:56pm

aesmith wrote:That may be all true. It sounds like you'd side with compulsion, if you feel that someone would need a "really good reason" not to wear a helmet,

oddly enough, no. I do feel however that people don't really understand what a catastrophic event a brain trauma is and I believe that wearing a helmet lessens that trauma if you experience it.