Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
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horizon
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby horizon » 1 Nov 2015, 11:01pm

gaz: that's really interesting. It shows (one might say) the effect of organised "sport" and how this influences people's behaviour and values.

I wish there could be (or I knew of) some research into helmet wearing decision-making. Going back top Milgram, he might have devised an experiment where cyclists turn up one by one to an event at which actors (pretending to be cycling participants) are already present, all wearing or not wearing helmets. The actors then remove (or not) their helmets and say that they won't bother with them. The study would then survey the number of cyclists who also decide not to wear their own helmet.
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Mick F » 2 Nov 2015, 7:15am

Good one!

Personally, I'm my "own person" and I never been a sheep. I don't follow the herd, but if I do, it must be inadvertently because there is many an occasion that I deliberately do not follow the herd.

I was wearing a helmet in the belief that they would help mitigate injury in the event of a crash. I've had a few crashes in my cycling life - some bad - some minor - and at no time have I ever had my head near the ground. This isn't to suggest that in the future it could be different.

However, wearing any PPE needs to be comfortable especially doing an energetic activity, and recently a helmet has ceased to be comfortable for me (in fact decidedly un-comfortable) so I won't be wearing one for the foreseeable future.
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby pjclinch » 2 Nov 2015, 9:10am

For turning up with a lid and finding nobody else wears them all you need to do is watch the Brits trundle off the ferry in IJmuiden, and for turning up without one and finding the locals in them, the Cloggies rolling off in Newcastle. I've not done anything like a rigorous survey or that often, but cursory observation suggests people will do what they've become used to, whatever the locals are doing, at least in the short term.

Similarly riding along the coastal paths in NL at holiday time there's a pretty close correspondence between helmet wearing families and German accents.

It was a trip to Amsterdam that finally nailed my helmet wearing coffin shut, but I was already at the point of having gone through the literature in some detail and found myself thoroughly unconvinced so I only needed to get past the "but I'll look a right muppet if I come off and bang my head and it turns out they are useful after all" FUD at that point.

Given the state of the evidence, helmet wearing seems to be a rationalised decision for most; in other words, people convince themselves they're a good idea (if everyone else is wearing one that's a pretty good start, of course). Yourself is usually a pretty tough nut to convince you've been wrong, quite possibly for a long time, and it's entirely natural to rationalise in support of the rationalising. People are remarkably good at inventing reasons why general evidence doesn't apply to them.

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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Vorpal » 2 Nov 2015, 9:27am

gaz wrote:I'll share my own opinions of the photo.

The photo (not mine) is on Bike Events facebook page, as part of the pre-event publicity for the "Tour de Tendring" event. A bit of google fu shows the "Tour de Tendring" has the support of Tendring District Council and has a 22 year history. It's clearly a photo of the event from a previous year but I can't say how old it is.

Pure supposition on my part but I'll hazard a guess that the event started small and local. Perhaps back in 1993 it was a sponsored ride of some kind attracting families, works' teams and local cycling enthusiasts. It was a success, gained momentum and support from the District Council. Enthusiasts started coming from further afield.

At some point the organisers decided they needed help to take the event to the next level. A deal was done with Bike Events (contract put out to tender?) to provide a professional service with on-line registration, goody bags, places sold to charity teams and all the other essential requirements of a sportive style event.

Whilst Bike Events do not make helmets mandatory, they do promote their use.

Do I have to wear a cycling helmet?
Bike Events strongly recommends that all riders wear a helmet. There is discussion about the use of cycle helmets and the wearing of helmets is not mandatory in law. However, we do advise all riders to wear one and will have helmets for the sale at the start of each event.


IMO the photos (available to purchase) from this year's event paint a different picture of the participants and the nature of the event.

In conclusion IMO this photo is of a community cycling event, with ordinary people who recognise that cycling is an ordinary thing to do even if they do not ordinarily do it.

These photos are of cycling enthusiasts taking part in a cyclists' sportive.

I've done Tour de Tendring in the past, though not in a while. When I did it, it was organised by local cycle campaigners, and had strong showing from the Colchester MG, though I have no idea who started it. I *heard* that they went with Bike Events because they didn't require helmets. I can't say that I recall seeing very many helmet on a Tour de Tendring. http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/tour_de_tend ... 1337547114 is more like what I remember of it :D
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby horizon » 2 Nov 2015, 11:21am

pjclinch wrote:
Given the state of the evidence, helmet wearing seems to be a rationalised decision for most; in other words, people convince themselves they're a good idea (if everyone else is wearing one that's a pretty good start, of course).


Although the Netherlands is probably the safest country in the world for cycling, helmet wearing among Dutch cyclists is rare. It has been estimated that only about 0.5 percent of cyclists in the Netherlands are helmeted.

I'm going to make a stab at a consensus on helmet wearing in the UK for utility and leisure riding (not racing) at 30% (personally I believe it to be about 60%).

So from the quote above and my own estimation we've got a significant difference in wearing levels between the UK and the Netherlands. AIUI one would normally expect much closer rates of wearing in the two countries should the decision be a personal one. Can it really be that the Dutch person picks up a cycle helmet, shakes his head and says "Not for me"; the British person picks up a cycle helmet and says "Yes! Just what I need!". I simply cannot believe that the Dutch and British are that different or that one nationality is genetically more stupid than the other. So the social/political environment must be part of their decision making - what is everyone else doing?

Which begs the question: if a forum member says that they have made their decision (to wear a helmet) on their own, are they deluding themselves?
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Vorpal » 2 Nov 2015, 12:51pm

It's somewhat different for those of us who understand the evidence (or lack thereof), but IMO, most people don't even think about it. They see helmets, think they are a good idea, and buy them for themselves and their kids. Although the idea of cycling as an organised sport may influence this, I don't think it's a big influence. At least, I don't think it's a big influence for most people. It certainly influences someone who goes out to buy a new bike for the first time in 20 years and comes away with a new road bike and all the kit. But the average person thinking to use a bike to go to the shops? I doubt it.

What does influence them is that everyone else around them is wearing helmets, including the seventy-year-old down the street who was knocked off her bike last year and told by the ambulance crew that she should have been wearing a helmet (so now she does). This is then reinforced by the Road Safety Officer who hands out little booklets that imply one must wear hi-viz and helmets in order to be safe; by the HC which recommends them; by Bikeability, which in many (but not all) areas require helmets; and by the many, many organised cycling events that require helmets.

Then, all of this is exacerbated by a small minority who seem to feel so strongly about the topic so as to accost anyone they see without a helmet, proselytise, or even verbally abuse people who don't wear them.

I don't know about the Netherlands, but in Denmark, people wouldn't dream of commenting about someone wearing a helmet (and they have rather higher proportions of helmet-wearers than the Dutch do). We also know that promotion of helmets actually resulted in a reduction in the number of people cycling. The Danes see cycling as a normal, everyday activity, akin to walking, and a nice alternative to driving, for distances of a few km, at least.
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Ron » 2 Nov 2015, 4:50pm

horizon wrote:So from the quote above and my own estimation we've got a significant difference in wearing levels between the UK and the Netherlands.

I'm not so sure we can learn much by trying to compare attitudes to helmets in two countries where cycle use is so different both in numbers and usage.
IMV the percentage of the UK population cycling on a regular basis is very low with the majority engaging in sport and recreation or leisure.
In NL a very much higher percentage cycle regularly and the vast majority of these are utility cyclists.

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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Vorpal » 2 Nov 2015, 5:05pm

Ron wrote:
horizon wrote:So from the quote above and my own estimation we've got a significant difference in wearing levels between the UK and the Netherlands.

I'm not so sure we can learn much by trying to compare attitudes to helmets in two countries where cycle use is so different both in numbers and usage.
IMV the percentage of the UK population cycling on a regular basis is very low with the majority engaging in sport and recreation or leisure.
In NL a very much higher percentage cycle regularly and the vast majority of these are utility cyclists.

Why not? If we want more people to cycle regularly, where should we look?

What if the social attitude towards helmets makes a difference in how likely people are to ride a bike instead of driving?
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Phil Fouracre » 2 Nov 2015, 5:55pm

That's the problem. People feeling 'safer' driving than cycling - and you really aren't going to change that. I've had so many conversations with people over the years about cycling, and safety and helmets always comes up. Don't bother to argue any more!
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby mjr » 2 Nov 2015, 6:23pm

Phil Fouracre wrote:That's the problem. People feeling 'safer' driving than cycling - and you really aren't going to change that. I've had so many conversations with people over the years about cycling, and safety and helmets always comes up. Don't bother to argue any more!

Please consider starting again. The tide seems to be turning. Don't get into blazing rows, but quietly remind people that cycling is safer than not cycling and helmets seem at best unproven for cycling.
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Ron » 2 Nov 2015, 9:25pm

Vorpal wrote:Why not? If we want more people to cycle regularly, where should we look?

I think we have to devise a UK solution for the UK situation but it may help to identify the differences and reason for the differences between the UK and NL. It appears to me that in the NL cyclists have taken their lead from their parents who were utility cyclists. In the UK newbies get restarted later in life seeing cycling as an aid to general fitness and entering through the club scene where "everyone" wears a sort of cycling uniform which includes a helmet.

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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby horizon » 2 Nov 2015, 9:30pm

Ron wrote:where "everyone" wears a sort of cycling uniform which includes a helmet.


Quite, my point exactly. Which means we can discount all those people who furrow their brows and say how they carefully weighed up the pros and cons and felt that on balance a cycling helmet would be beneficial - what tosh!
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby [XAP]Bob » 3 Nov 2015, 7:27am

horizon wrote:
Ron wrote:where "everyone" wears a sort of cycling uniform which includes a helmet.


Quite, my point exactly. Which means we can discount all those people who furrow their brows and say how they carefully weighed up the pros and cons and felt that on balance a cycling helmet would be beneficial - what tosh!



viewtopic.php?p=186411#p186411

MickF encouraged me to look at my early postings after I came across one of his from a few years back whilst looking for something else entirely.

My reasoning was fairly sound, although my knowledge of the research has now increased, and I make the opposite conclusion (but again not by far on a personal level).
My main objection is societal, and for that reason I do wear one to appease MrsBob, on some of my stable, not all...
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby Mick F » 3 Nov 2015, 8:13am

[XAP]Bob wrote: ................ I do wear one to appease MrsBob, on some of my stable, not all...
I was like that, and I fully empathise with you.

However, as I'm at that point where helmets are actually uncomfortable to wear on my bonce, I have to accept the wrath of Mrs Mick F by not wearing one. :cry:
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Re: Research on helmet effectiveness & collation of data

Postby bovlomov » 3 Nov 2015, 8:32am

pjclinch wrote:Similarly riding along the coastal paths in NL at holiday time there's a pretty close correspondence between helmet wearing families and German accents.

Conclusion: Helmet wearing causes German accents.