Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

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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Philip Benstead
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Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby Philip Benstead » 18 Aug 2016, 1:50pm

Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet


http://www.howiechong.com/journal/2014/2/bike-helmets
Philip Benstead | CTC London and FORMER CTC Councillor SE
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malcolmlauder
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby malcolmlauder » 19 Aug 2016, 3:33pm

This is an old interesting one. Like most things, there are strong arguments on both sides for wearing a helmet or not. Statistics can be subjective. I tend to wear a helmet in the winter months when visibility and road conditions are poorer but in the summer I ditch the helmet. Maybe i'm being silly not wearing it all year, but one of the reasons I cycle is to feel the wind in my hair!

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mjr
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby mjr » 19 Aug 2016, 4:15pm

Aha, someone on Facebook telling me that I'm an idiot for not wearing a helmet mentioned Howie Chong, saying "Knuckle heads like Howie Chong first admit that helmets save lives and then go on to say they won't wear a helmet because statistically they are less likely to get a head injury than a pedestrian."

I didn't know who he meant, but I did explain that I think "the best bet for good health is not to wear a helmet. Not because a cyclist is less likely to get a head injury than a pedestrian, but because it seems a cyclist is slightly less likely to suffer a reduction in Quality-Adjusted Life Years than a similar helmet user."

I can see what he means. The linked article references the long-discredited 88% figure. A year before that, the US federal government had to stop using it, but it staggers on, the ultimate zombie statistic. Someone more eloquent than me wrote something along the lines of "when someone still uses that statistic, they're either clueless or deliberately misleading cyclists" but I can't find it now - anyone else remember that?

He does offer better arguments - helmet use correlated with increased injury rates in the USA and closer overtakes in the University of Bath research, helmets making neck injuries worse (my main reason for not wearing), risk compensation and discouraging cycling - but he does lead with what I feel may be the weakest point, that other things are more likely to cause head injury. A missed opportunity.

The weakness of sites like that is why I put my own reasons into http://mjr.towers.org.uk/proj/cyclynn/helmets
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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malcolmlauder
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby malcolmlauder » 20 Aug 2016, 4:08pm

It seems there are very strong arguments for not wearing a helmet. It's nice we have the choice. The dilemma I face at the moment is whether to force my 6 year old daughter, who learned to ride in the spring wear a helmet. She's just playing around on paths where we live, waiting for the ice cream man, cycling figure of eights and just hanging out on her bike like we all did as kids. She's one of a couple of local kids who don't wear a helmet and I feel i'm looked upon as a negligent parent for not forcing helmet use. At least I can make the decision for myself, i'd never forgive myself if she hit her head.
My neighbour called on my house recently to tell me he'd seen my daughter on her bike without a helmet. When I told him I was aware and comfortable about this, he told me how strongly he stressed helmet use to both his teenage children when they were young. Neither of his children now even own a bike. I hope only hope he never chaps my door to tell me "I told you so!"

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broadway
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby broadway » 20 Aug 2016, 5:58pm

malcolmlauder wrote:. At least I can make the decision for myself, i'd never forgive myself if she hit her head.


But would you be able to forgive yourself if she hit her head while not riding a cycle?

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bikes4two
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby bikes4two » 20 Aug 2016, 6:10pm

malcolmlauder wrote:This is an old interesting one. Like most things, there are strong arguments on both sides for wearing a helmet or not. Statistics can be subjective. I tend to wear a helmet in the winter months when visibility and road conditions are poorer but in the summer I ditch the helmet. Maybe i'm being silly not wearing it all year, but one of the reasons I cycle is to feel the wind in my hair!



+1, or at least what hair I have left :(

The other reason I do not wear a helmet is that by not do so helps portray that just riding a bike for everyday purposes such as shopping, running errands, visiting friends etc., is not a dangerous activity (as opposed to more robust sporting activities where a helmet makes a bit more sense).

Standing by for the flame mail.............
Without my stoker, every trip would only be half a journey

Steady rider
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby Steady rider » 20 Aug 2016, 8:03pm

Robinson DL; Head injuries and bicycle helmet laws; Accid Anal Prev, 28, 4: p 463-475, 1996
http://www.cycle-helmets.com/robinson-head-injuries.pdf

Table 2 of Robinson 1996 clearly indicates an increase in the accident rate for children.

CycleSafe (PDF 487 KB) details;
http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Bus ... ubmissions
page 21 , Submission 411
H) Increased risk of injury per cyclist since helmet laws were introduced
Several analyses have compared numbers of injuries with the numbers of cyclists. They all suggest that injuries per cyclist have increased from what would have been expected without helmet laws.
In New Zealand, from 1989 to 2011, average time spent cycling (on roads and footpaths) fell by 79% for children aged 5-12 (from 28 to 6 minutes per person per week) and 81% for 13-17 year olds (52 to 10 mins/person/week).
Adult cycling declined from 8 to 5 minutes/person/week then trended back up to 8 minutes. Graphs of cycle use over time provide strong evidence that the requirement to wear a helmet discouraged cycling.12
The reductions in cycling were accompanied by increased injury rates. Between 1989 and 2012, fatal or serious injuries per million hours of cycling increased by 86% for children (from 49 to 91), 181% for teenagers (from 18 to 51) and 64% for adults (from 23 to 38).12

Submission No 4 also has detailed information.

The available evidence from both Australia and New Zealand shows that the accident rate per km of travel and by comparison to the number riding has increased since helmet laws were imposed.
A 6 year old will probably have fewer falls without wearing a helmet,
http://crag.asn.au/helmet-fanatics-misl ... e-inquiry/

Mike Sales
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby Mike Sales » 20 Aug 2016, 8:14pm

A graph of the effects of mandating helmets in New Zealand.

Image

Mike Sales
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby Mike Sales » 20 Aug 2016, 8:20pm

Malcolm Lowder wrote
Statistics can be subjective.


The point about statistics is that they should be able to be verified objectively. Like the graph I post above.

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horizon
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby horizon » 20 Aug 2016, 9:09pm

malcolmlauder wrote: i'd never forgive myself if she hit her head.
My neighbour called on my house recently to tell me he'd seen my daughter on her bike without a helmet. When I told him I was aware and comfortable about this, he told me how strongly he stressed helmet use to both his teenage children when they were young. Neither of his children now even own a bike. I hope only hope he never chaps my door to tell me "I told you so!"



The trouble is, it could be you. Same as winning the lottery - you're mad if you don't buy a ticket because it could be you. Same as flying - planes do crash. But we fail to buy a lottery ticket and we continue flying (anyone who buys a lottery ticket and flies really needs their head examined, helmet or not).
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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mjr
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby mjr » 20 Aug 2016, 9:41pm

malcolmlauder wrote:My neighbour called on my house recently to tell me he'd seen my daughter on her bike without a helmet. When I told him I was aware and comfortable about this, he told me how strongly he stressed helmet use to both his teenage children when they were young. Neither of his children now even own a bike. I hope only hope he never chaps my door to tell me "I told you so!"

And this is the underlying helmet problem: he probably would see nothing wrong with doing so, just as he decided it worth telling you she was riding traditionally. And you were entirely too reasonable and polite in reply. I think you should have told him he was a sad self-gratification artist who had already put his own kids off cycling and should shut the fornicate up before he puts any more children in the fast lane to the fat lane and an early grave and if he doesn't like it, he can just micturate off! ;)

Giving facts is good for a few people but we also need to fight fire with fire and fight the emotion and outrage of the plastic fetishists with our own celebration of the joys of cycling and outrage at their exploitation of crashes and injuries to harm cycling.

So rejoice that your daughter is happy and even if she bumps her head, a helmet could well have made it worse - crashed more (possibly seriously injuring bits not covered by a hat) or stopped cycling and gotten unhealthy in more subtle, insidious and long-term harmful ways.
Last edited by mjr on 21 Aug 2016, 8:59am, edited 1 time in total.
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malcolmlauder
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby malcolmlauder » 20 Aug 2016, 9:58pm

thanks for that mrj, you've made my night. If he calls again i'll send him your way!

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Cunobelin
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby Cunobelin » 21 Aug 2016, 9:19am

malcolmlauder wrote:It seems there are very strong arguments for not wearing a helmet. It's nice we have the choice. The dilemma I face at the moment is whether to force my 6 year old daughter, who learned to ride in the spring wear a helmet. She's just playing around on paths where we live, waiting for the ice cream man, cycling figure of eights and just hanging out on her bike like we all did as kids. She's one of a couple of local kids who don't wear a helmet and I feel i'm looked upon as a negligent parent for not forcing helmet use. At least I can make the decision for myself, i'd never forgive myself if she hit her head.
My neighbour called on my house recently to tell me he'd seen my daughter on her bike without a helmet. When I told him I was aware and comfortable about this, he told me how strongly he stressed helmet use to both his teenage children when they were young. Neither of his children now even own a bike. I hope only hope he never chaps my door to tell me "I told you so!"

I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my SM-G360F using Tapatalk



Just ask if his kids wore "Thudguards"

ALL the same arguments apply from claimed injury reduction, support from the medical profession, safety organisations, and the occasional emotional blackmail of "Thudguard saved my child's life"

Yet somehow the suggestion is never well received


More seriously, children's skulls are more fragile, so there is some evidence that a helmet may make a bigger difference, however the downside is that unless worn correctly it can exacerbate injury, so if the child puts it on themselves...?

Only you can assess the risk, and only you can decide for your children

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Mick F
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby Mick F » 21 Aug 2016, 9:50am

Mike Sales wrote:The point about statistics is that they should be able to be verified objectively. Like the graph I post above.

Not being awkward here, just subjective.

Considering the numbers of cyclists before the helmet law, who was left cycling afterwards?
Could the cyclists left cycling be a more dangerous sort of cyclist?
Could the safe cyclists have been discouraged, and the racers and risk-takers carried on regardless?
Mick F. Cornwall

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mjr
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Re: Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

Postby mjr » 21 Aug 2016, 10:10am

Mick F wrote:Considering the numbers of cyclists before the helmet law, who was left cycling afterwards?
Could the cyclists left cycling be a more dangerous sort of cyclist?
Could the safe cyclists have been discouraged, and the racers and risk-takers carried on regardless?

I don't think we know in detail because no one has done the demographic surveys to find out, yes they could and yes they could.

Now a question for you: does any of that matter?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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