Labrat wrote:We seem to be sucking ourselves down a nasty path whereby instead of making an argument against compulsion (as it has effects on participation etc), people are now trying to justify an argument that *for an existing cyclist* not wearing a helmet is safer than wearing a helmet.
Given the remarkably uncertain game that this is, caused by having far too many variables to isolate that affect the available data, I don't think it's safe to argue much more than "the overall effect of helmets on serious injury is around zero, plus or minus error bars". However, I haven't seen anything to suggest that isn't just as applicable to existing cyclists as newbies.
Newbies (particularly children learning for the first time) are often brought up as examples of a group that are more likely to fall, and thus potentially benefit, but this is "common sense" rather than real evidence-based protocol. The same "common sense" about children falling applies to them learning to walk, and although you can get a Thudguard (Google it...) for your toddler their use hasn't exploded because there hasn't ever been a period when parents have lost faith in the safety of established methods to get crawlers to being toddlers. Tim Gill's excellent analysis in Cycling and Children and Young People (well worth a download and read) concludes that the case for promoting helmets for children hadn't been made when he wrote it in 2005, and it's only got muddier in the decade since.
While it is entirely possible that we have an ecological fallacy in our data (that meaning that just because the effect on a large group is something, it doesn't follow that all sub groups are affected in the same manner), what we don't have is any real evidence-backed info on what subgroups might actually reduce their serious injury rate through helmet wearing. And until you know that it's disingenuous to suggest that existing cyclists
might somehow be different in their need for a helmet to prevent serious injury (if they need it for something else, like conforming to racing rules, or sticking a camera on, or whatever, is a different question: always make sure you understand what the question being asked means before answering!).
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...