Mike Sales wrote:Risk homeostasis is essentially a balancing of risk against reward.
Not that simple. While there's an element of that there's also an element of people just run at a level they think is safe.
So, if a driver goes on The School Run pickup and leaves 15 minutes contingency for bad traffic, but traffic's much clearer than usual they'll still drive at the speed limit and arrive early, even though all they get to do is wait longer. They do that because they're confident and perceive themselves to be safe at the limit they're used to driving to, even though they could be safer by slowing down and not losing anything.
Mike Sales wrote:The risk of losing a race may be important to a professional cyclist, but the risk of a disabling head injury or death weighs rather more heavily.
That's more at the calculating end of it. Commenting on technical descents David Millar has noted that younger riders tend to show rather less fear than older ones, as Neil Peart's lyric to "Dreamline" suggests, "learning that we're only immortal for a limited time", so people do tend to become more risk averse with age, and also responsibility. I know a few folk who decided winter climbing wasn't such a good idea once they'd become parents, for example.
But at the sharp end the calculating aspect is more whether the risk-taker believes it will go or whether it won't. People have an inbuilt aversion to disaster and will not court it unless they have good reason to think they'll get away with it, but "safety gear", even if that's a St. Christopher medallion on a staunch catholic, will warp the idea of where the line is. Here is where the idiocies of helmet promotion culture really come up, in suggesting that "safety" and "wearing a helmet" are the same thing. They're not, but you could think otherwise looking around at UK perceptions, and the bigger the perception of safety the more warped the perception of the actual risk can be.
It's important that people understand the limits of their "safety equipment", and the degree of stupidity surrounding cycle helmets is huge. I read a post once of a cycle trainer who'd noticed a disconnected brake and reported it back to the parent who said they'd done that as the brake was rubbing but it was okay as the child had a helmet. Wasn't sure whether to believe that, but then came across exactly the same thing myself. But this is an information and culture problem, not so much a helmet problem.
American Football has some different issues to cycling because the helmet has been used to actively change the way the game is played. People started to use their heads as battering rams. There was nothing stopping us doing that back when I played rugby, only nobody did it much because it would really hurt! With a padded helmet on it doesn't really hurt, no obvious perception of self-harm, so people did it to score points. So cycle helmets are different in a way because although they can encourage pushing the risk envelope they don't encourage you to do it by deliberately banging your head in to things. So concussions, while a potential issue for cyclists, are not directly comparable to the gridiron football issue. Playing the game effectively encourages you to go out of your way to hit your head. In cycling, playing it to best advantage encourages you to get over the line without crashing.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...