Training messgae on helmets

For discussions within the Cycle Training profession.
Andy Tallis

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Andy Tallis » 8 Jan 2006, 1:55pm

I'd agre children may have the best use for helmets at low speeds and still learning but they also tend not to be expert at fitting them and the parents (if like mine were) are useless too. I bashed my head once falling off a bike as a kid (I won't say the number of times I bashed it doing something else but it is a lot more) which made me wear a helmet pretty much universally for many years. However, my parents only ever wanted to buy the very cheapest one and if it still existed (however bashed up and worn out and hoewever badly it fitted) that was all that mattered - most of the time they would probabaly have been of no benefit in a crash. Yet my mum insisted they were a great idea. I was also only allowed the very cheapest lights, given next to no allowance to maintain my bike for the daily ride to school etc and made to wear a dark blue jacket to match my uniform. Helmets may have some role in safety, but they are promoted as the most essential thing - over and above all else you must wear a helmet! This is simply not the case.

I stopped wearing a helmet about 8 weeks ago because I for one REALLY noticed it waas there. It cost £30 and I had a buff (£10), skullcap (£12) and goretex cover (£18). I felt it often looked silly and I could only just tolerate the helmet when wearing it on its own in weather cool but not cool enough to need a hat. I now use a wooly hat (probably about £10 when bought several years ago), cotton cap (£8 for a really nice one) and the buff and am infinitely more comfortable and probably more alert aas a result. A helmet stinging your forehead for 12 hours gets very irritating.

I am in no way anti helmet and would probably wear one off road but am against the tide of often misguided orthodoxy. It is far more important to use appropriate equipment, common sense and ride carefully. That is what needs promoting most.

Andy (back at uni :-))

rob

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby rob » 8 Mar 2006, 10:23pm

hi

my back wheel buckled and jamed at 45 mph on a slight downhill, the bike rolled me over like a somersault 5 times before sliding to a halt, I was able to instinctly tuck down in my head, I owe my life to NOT wearing a helmet. All of my clothing including my shoes were destroyed my only injury was a cut on my elbow and a small scrape on my back.if I were to of have had a helemet on the way it sits out at the back I would of had my neck broke.SO A WARNING TO EVERYONE DONT WEAR A HELMET.

Pete

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Pete » 9 Mar 2006, 9:30am

Rob, though your incident is a nice demonstration of when a helment might do more harm than good, it still boils down to anecdotal evidence, which of itself is no better than the "a helmet saved my life!!!" anecdotes used to promote helmet use.

The fact is that if you look at meaningful sample sizes there's not much difference between wearing one or not. The message isn't "They will save your life!", but nor is it "they will get you killed"; it's "they don't have much effect really, you shouldn't be making such a fuss about them".

Pete.

Andy Tallis

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Andy Tallis » 11 Mar 2006, 9:35pm

Wel said Pete

I will be severely upset should compulsion come in, forcing me to return to having a polystyrene lump choking my brains.
It is worth bearing in mind risk compensation as always - if they have no real effect on the outcome of a crash yet increase the likelihood of one that has to be bad! (also distraction if you find one uncomfy.)

Also that they can make you look like some wierd space alioen from Doctor Who - and I thionk drivers are likely to take less care with a wierd space alien than a human being!

Andy :-) not :-(

Andy Tallis

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Andy Tallis » 14 Mar 2006, 1:39pm

The road safety campaing group Brake seem to have some extremely one sided and downright stupid material regarding helmets and general cycling safety on their website. This includes a suggestion that being in a cycle lane will help drivers leave you enough room - which certainly is not the case when the lane is narrower than your handlebars! They also use the fact that Chris Boardman survived a crash when he feathered the wheel of another rider in the Tour de France while helmeted, and in a totally different crash on the Tour Fabio Casartelli came off at high speed on a hairpin, smashed his head in on a concrete block and died while unhelmeted as evidence for compulsion. That is not only anecdotal - but revoltingly unscienti8fic as the circumstances were so wildly different!
I am in the process of sending a complaint and would be grateful if others could too.

Andy :-)

neil-partridge

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby neil-partridge » 16 Mar 2006, 3:44am

Lots of people refer to "current evidence" and "official statistics" - can anyone point me to these on the web? I'd love to see how the numbers tally up for accidents with/without helmets.

Smudger

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Smudger » 16 Mar 2006, 1:02pm

Personally I wouldn't cycle ten yards without a helmet, but that's my choice, and it is a choice which I know saved me from (possibly serious) injury a few years back when I was hit by a car at a roundabout. I rolled over the top of the car and ended up whacking the back of my head on the tarmac. The Giro on my head was written off, but at least there was nothing on the road for the magpies to peck at aftewards.

Now I don't expect anyone reading this to be swayed by my own experience one way or the other - in the end it's (still) down to personal choice. I would wager that a lot of cycling fatalities would have occurred whether the rider was wearing a helmet or not, but there will always be the occasional instance - such as mine - where a helmet certainly comes in useful!

jb

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby jb » 16 Mar 2006, 5:03pm

Whether or not helmets are effective should be irrelevant to the case of compulsory wearing of them. We live in a supposedly free country so forcing people to do something should only happen when it can be shown that a great saving to the public purse/benifit can be made.

Such as the seatbelt or motorcycle helmet issue.

But unlike the seatbelt issue most people as I see it do wear a cycle helmet, voluntary, so the percentage of people who don’t is quite small.
Of this percentage a smaller percentage will have a serious accident,
Of this percentage a very small percentage will have a serious accident where a helmet would have been of any use.

So

The net saving to the public purse is negligible. So its none of the governments business to be interfering.

Andy Tallis

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Andy Tallis » 19 Mar 2006, 7:59am

I don't wear a helmet but:
-I have a high poiwer headlamp running off the schmidt dynamo hub, a back up LED lamp 7 headtorch, 3 LED rear lamps (of which I generally use 2 together and keep one as a back up), reflective material on my bike and clothes and almost always brightly coloured clothing too.
-My bicycle is extremely well maintained with very good brakes and I always have the tools to fix any problems that may occur at the roadside.
-I ride very carefully and do not fly recklessly down hills.
-I always carry plenty of warm clothing as well as some food and water as I go a long way from home and on quite remote roads over very big hills.
-I always carry luggage sensibly and wear appropriate clothing.
-There are plenty of other things too.

Now is it better to do all this or to wear a piece of polystyrene on my head? The discomfort from which can be most sdistracting and the weight is worth considering.

On Bwlch-y-Groes yesterday I passed 2 cyclists on road bikes with just little seat packs and I didn't nocie any lights. I wouldn't dream of going over a passs like that (especially when it was icy and a bitterly cold and windy day) without spare layers, lights in case of mist etc. But they were both wearing helmets.

Andy :-)

Pete

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Pete » 21 Mar 2006, 2:57pm

Neil, you can get the figures from the government direct: have a look at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=4031, for example.

Smudger, you're using unsound anecdotal evidence that quite simply doesn't usefully scale. See http://www.cyclehelmets.org/mf.html?1019 for further explanation.

JB, contrary to popular belief, seatbelts haven't had much positive effect on accidents. While cyclist and pedestrian casualties rose in the wake of legislation, drivers kept on injuring themselves at the same rate thanks to driving worse with their "safe" seatbelts on! That a seatbelt is probably an advantage in any given accident is only half the story. But in the case of cycle helmets there is no clear evidence that they reduce serious injuries in any situation.

Andy, you really need to fly down hills more often, it's tremendous fun! And people have been doing it for decades, many of those decades where cycle helmets didn't exist and roads and brakes were far worse, and there has never been an undue carnage problem associated with it!

Pete.

jb

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby jb » 21 Mar 2006, 10:20pm

Pete
What effect seat belts actually have is not the point, the figures at the time showed that seat belts would reduce health care costs considerably 'if' people drove in the same manner. Giving them reasonable excuse to make it compulsory.

I agree, making people safer simply ups the stakes for a lot of people. Placing a large compulsory spike in the middle of all steering wheels would do more for road safety than anything else.

keepontriking

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby keepontriking » 22 Mar 2006, 12:35am

Sometimes something simple like taking responsibility for your child's bike maintenance, or teaching them not to ride on the pavement makes much better sense than wearing a plastic hat:

http://www.velotree.co.uk/parentsforhelmet.html

John B

Andy Tallis

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Andy Tallis » 23 Mar 2006, 9:32pm

Yes, I'm a cowardly cowardly custard when it comes to hills. I go fast sometimes but I am often a bit pathetic, especially on the minor roads. Open, well surfaced roads can see me going quite respectably, especially with a tailwind (Llanberis Pass today was quite swift), but I know full well others I know would be going faster.

The link is upsetting - a call for compulsory helmets, but surely the lack of a helmet was not what caused the tragedy - it was the kids head being hit! Why oh why do people not understand that just not coming off makes a lot more difference? If I had had better bike lights, a bit more allowance for and help with maintanance and some good cycle training I would probably have suffered far fewer falls in my riding to school etc days.

By the way, I was taken to hospital for a (actually superficial) head injury once - I walked into a glass door in a hotel!

Andy :-)

Wendy

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Wendy » 30 Mar 2006, 5:34pm

There is one thing that glancing through quickly I didn't see at all - if you are going to wear a helmet, make sure it is A. the right size for you and B. correctly fitted., a helmet which is too big/small for you and/or is the right size but you haven't done the strap up so it is secure is more dangerous than no helmet at all ...

Page 191-193 in the latest edition of Cyclecraft., John Franklin puts together a very fair, balanced and accurate piece about helmets. At the end of the day, good cycling skills are the real key and if anyone has seen the article 'How not to get hit by cars' it correctly states that 'WEARING A HELMET WILL DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO PREVENT YOU FROM GETTING HIT BY A CAR'. Going on to say that 'Your #1 goal should be to try and avoid being hit in the first instance'.

Andy Tallis

Re:Training messgae on helmets

Postby Andy Tallis » 31 Mar 2006, 10:10am

Absoultely right!

But a BMA guy has been recorder as saying there is incontrovesiable and overwhelming evidence that hemets reduce cycling injuries *and accidents*!!! Yes, a doctor really can be that dim! Another one has reported numerous "serious injuries caused by not wearing a helmet" - no - serious injuries are caused by impacts. These are the people who want compulsion - hardly putting forward clear, scientific and reasonned arguments are they?

Andy :-)