"Don't forget to wear 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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mjr
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Re:

Postby mjr » 14 Aug 2017, 11:39pm

Wynne71 wrote:As a primary school teacher (several years ago) I always supported cycling training and always ensured that kids riding to school wore a helmet. Even on a sponsored ride around our tarmac sports area I made all participants wear a helmet. Possibly something to do with the risk factor of 4-11 year old children riding round under my care (as the HT) may have made me be a touch OCD with the health and safety rules....

I think it's rather sad that any teacher pushed their beliefs onto children outside the school (I would have thought that the parents' choice) when it has probably helped ensure that a generation views cycling as more dangerous than it is. Was this OCD reserved for cycling, or did the children have to wear body armour when running or climbing stairs too? (Two activities which have caused me broken bones, when the worst cycling has done is some bruising and gravel rash.)

Wynne71 wrote:You can imagine the type of cyclist I am: lights flashing front and back, helmet, red or hi-viz tops....

I used to be like that (well, the lights weren't flashing because they weren't yet legal IIRC) and then I realised that I was having more crashes and far more conflict with other road users than I used to when I was younger, so I stopped looking like a so-called "invisible gorilla" or "Somebody Else's Problem" (if you know Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy) and cycling went back to being easy and fun.

In this life there are many things that seem like obvious common-sense good ideas which turn out to be bad ones.

drossall wrote:Although I doubt that any negative effects of helmets are worth worrying about. The main risk seems to be distraction from measures that would work.

I think something is probably negating the provable, tested impact protection of helmets. I'm not sure whether it's poorer decision-making by the rider (due to risk compensation or possibly something simpler like the insulating effect or the weight) or changes in motorist attitudes or what.
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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby Cunobelin » 15 Aug 2017, 6:42am

drossall wrote:It's not so much that it's useless. Personally, if sliding along the road, I'd not object to some head protection. It's that it's probably not, as you rightly said, stopping any more than a headache. And that, set against that, there's the very complex mechanics of bouncing along a road.

From what I understand, serious head injuries are not so much about cracked skulls as about the brain bouncing around inside the skull (caused in turn by the rider bouncing along the ground, more than by direct impact). So, it's not in the least clear whether adding a helmet makes those better or worse. Which could go some way to explain the confusing statistics for helmet benefits; if you're really measuring prevention of abrasions, they probably do OK, but if you're measuring serious head injuries?

Perversely, of course, if you're trying to prevent abrasions, the old hair-nets begin to look a bit less daft than people now suggest. We knew they were only there to prevent abrasions on the first two bounces along the road, and then get dragged off. And they didn't make your head bigger to the same extent, so probably didn't increase the percentage of crashes in which your head makes contact with the ground, messing up the tuck and roll reflex in the process.


There is a pro-helmet site in the US - the BHSI

They discuss the fact that modern helmets with vents and sharper angles to increase aerodynamics has "snag points" which arrest the sliding and cause abrupt rotation or deceleration and can cause head injury

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Re: Re:

Postby Cunobelin » 15 Aug 2017, 6:46am

drossall wrote:Although I doubt that any negative effects of helmets are worth worrying about. The main risk seems to be distraction from measures that would work.


Meier Hillman came to the conclusion many years ago to support this

If only the money, interest, press time, enthusiasm, medical support, use of the courts counter claims by insurance,and pure dedication that is invested in supporting and enforcing helmet use was applied to educating drivers then the returns on those investments would be far greater

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Re:

Postby pjclinch » 15 Aug 2017, 11:08am

Wynne71 wrote:The idea of getting on a bike and NOT wearing a helmet is beyond my sphere of concept and imagination.


As Winton Professoor of Public Understanding of Risk David Spiegelhalter and science writer, epidemiologist and champion of evidence-based policy Ben Goldacre noted on their editorial on helmets in the BMJ back in 2013, "The enduring popularity of helmets as a proposed major intervention for increased road safety may therefore lie not with their direct benefits—which seem too modest to capture compared with other strategies—but more with the cultural, psychological, and political aspects of popular debate around risk".
So your sphere of concept is a cultural bubble. Step across to another cultural bubble (the obvious example is NL) and hardly anyone sees the need of a helmet for anyone who isn't racing, and even then it's quite possibly more a Looking The Part thing than the need for crash protection. Widespread perceptions are a primary shaper of opinions, and the widespread perception here is you're mad to ride without a helmet because cycling is dangerous. Cut back to my childhood, before cycle helmets existed, and nobody felt it was especially dangerous, though it was actually far more dangerous than it is now. Perception tends to trump reality for many.

Wynne71 wrote:In 1991 I wasn't wearing a helmet, touring down Pembroke Dock high street at a reasonable rate, and was hit by a car pulling out of a parking space. I spent 48 hours unconscious, awoke in the local hospital on the Sunday evening with no idea what had happened. The doctor who treated me stated clearly that had I worn a helmet I would have walked away with some bad abrasions on my shoulder and arm.


And what was the basis for that opinion? Quite possibly the '89 paper that really started the popularity of helmets as a supposed effective intervention, claiming 85% reduction in head injuries and 88% reduction in brain injuries. Those numbers have, in the intervening years, been shown to bear no resemblance to reality and very big problems have been identified with that paper's methodology, but it opened a can of worms and they can't be put back now.

Wynne71 wrote:As a primary school teacher (several years ago) I always supported cycling training and always ensured that kids riding to school wore a helmet. Even on a sponsored ride around our tarmac sports area I made all participants wear a helmet. Possibly something to do with the risk factor of 4-11 year old children riding round under my care (as the HT) may have made me be a touch OCD with the health and safety rules....


Perception and culture again. I'm a cycle trainer. If I'm teaching basic bike handling in the playground all the children wear helmets, because the local authority generic risk assessment for cycling requires them to. This is also easy to rationalise, e.g. the FAQ for Bikeability Scotland looks like this...

Do pupils need to wear helmets during the training?
Ultimately, the decision to wear helmets will depend on the delivery organisation’s policies and operating procedures. It is widely recognised that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk. However in the majority of cases, the delivery organisation's policies will require trainees to wear helmets during training. Organisations often choose to make this a requirement because trainees may still be developing their control of a bike while learning and consolidating their skills.


That sounds pretty sensible... but let's forget cycling for a moment and take the same approach to the same children playing intersecting games of chase, football, hopscotch etc. in the same place during their lunch break. The children will still be developing their control of themselves and learning and consolidating their skills, but they very often fall over and it's not too unusual to hit their heads. In the primary school where I do the cycling (and where my children attended) they do have a special procedure for head injuries that happen during play time: as well as an "I've been brave!" sticker you also get an "I banged my head!" sticker and a form letter goes home to carers saying they banged their head. So for a similar class of accident hitting the same part of their body at similar energies, if it's a fall from their own feet they get stickers and TLC but if it's from a bike it's essential they wear helmets.
Australian figures from the 80s (before widespread helmet use) had football causing about an order of magnitude more hospital visits per hour of activity than cycling, but it's cycling that has the "need" for helmets. So agan we see it's perception and culture rather than reality that guides standard reactions and procedures.

Wynne71 wrote:Just my personal thoughts and being able to speak from the wrong end of experience I thought this may add something to this thread.


The issue here is you have an anecdote or two, and as Ben Goldacre says, "the plural of anecdote is not data". Anecdotes may usefully inform personal decisions (though if you have a doctor extrapolating wildly about the supposed benefits of a helmet they may not), but you need data from a bigger population (all of the anecdotes collated) to underpin policy and general advice.

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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby Wynne71 » 15 Aug 2017, 11:46am

Wow. I didn't expect such a vigorous and personal attack after passing on my own experiences in this area.
Clearly I have stumbled across a true hornets nest of opinion v fact v perceived fact.
I truly respect your opinions, and your interpretation of the reported facts. If you feel no need for a helmet, then I will be the last person to cast doubt over your character or sanity.
However, the real world of education today does follow a very strict line of H and S guidelines, most of which is gibberish, but I personally don't want to be the one in court should a parent feel that I or the school haven't taken the appropriate risk factors into account. Unfortunate but true, litigation is as much of a risk factor as the actual, or perceived, risk.
We are all free ( well, before the state decides otherwise) to make our choices. I chose to wear a helmet after experiencing not wearing one. One bitten and all that.
To call my physical and continuing memory fall out an "anecdote" is rather insulting and uncalled for. Simply because my opinion and experience doesn't match your own, or that of the evidence you choose to refer to, doesn't make it wrong.

As I say, I entered this as an interesting alternative to my own thoughts. I am more than open to having these thoughts altered, and shall continue to take information into account when forming such thoughts and opinions.

Enjoy your cycling, after all, that's we are all in such a forum to discuss?

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Re:

Postby pjclinch » 15 Aug 2017, 12:03pm

Wynne71 wrote:Wow. I didn't expect such a vigorous and personal attack <snip>
To call my physical and continuing memory fall out an "anecdote" is rather insulting and uncalled for.


An anecdote is a personal, singular account. Your continuing memory issue after an accident is a singular, personal account, as opposed to some general case befalling significant numbers that choose not to wear crash helmets. I don't doubt it's true, but it doesn't necessarily have any bearing on general policy or advice about whether to wear a helmet. "Anecdote" isn't of itself a belittling term, it is a plain description.

Sorry if you're offended, but no offence meant and if you read over what I've written again I hope you'll see that there isn't actually anything offensive there.

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Re:

Postby horizon » 15 Aug 2017, 12:07pm

Wynne71 wrote:To call my physical and continuing memory fall out an "anecdote" is rather insulting and uncalled for.


Don't feel insulted (it wasn't meant as an insult). Anecdote is often both called and called into question in a discussion about helmets: it is the use of anecdote (which, as I said, is very prevalent) that is questioned, not your own views or veracity. The use of anecdote is quite central to the discussion about helmets and a tricky one to counter.

BTW I've enjoyed reading your well-explained experiences and views.
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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby Phil Fouracre » 15 Aug 2017, 12:34pm

Just picked up this thread again, become quite interesting! There must be something about helmet discussions, that views can be quite so entrenched! What appeared to be quite reasonable discussion and comment, suddenly 'degenerates' into 'causing offence?' I find it very interesting that, in this, and many other situations these days, nobody is allowed to put forward any contrary opinion, on any subject. A bit like discussions on religion, Oooops! Runs for cover :-)
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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby horizon » 15 Aug 2017, 12:56pm

Phil Fouracre wrote: There must be something about helmet discussions


There is :D .

Helmets carry a lot of deep-seated perceptual and social meaning, Challenge the wearing of a helmet and you are challenging someone's basic perception of the world and their place in it. No wonder it gets heated!
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:

Postby mjr » 15 Aug 2017, 3:36pm

Wynne71 wrote:However, the real world of education today does follow a very strict line of H and S guidelines, most of which is gibberish, but I personally don't want to be the one in court should a parent feel that I or the school haven't taken the appropriate risk factors into account. Unfortunate but true, litigation is as much of a risk factor as the actual, or perceived, risk.

Yep. Anything for a quiet life. A sadly-unsurprising triumph of marketing by helmet manufacturers and zealots (and I am not including Wynne71 in that) over marketing by public health departments.

Wynne71 wrote:We are all free ( well, before the state decides otherwise) to make our choices. I chose to wear a helmet after experiencing not wearing one. One bitten and all that.

So what happens if your helmet hurts you I believe like mine did (shoulder injury)? You'll have two contradictory experiences to choose between.

Wynne71 wrote:Enjoy your cycling, after all, that's we are all in such a forum to discuss?

Indeed. Lovely ride this morning with a stop in a Grade 2 Listed park to eat a cake while others cycled past...

Part of the reason this can get heated is that helmet-forcing by authority figures is something that can actually stop people from enjoying cycling. I was never prevented from cycling by a helmet-demanding teacher (most of my schooling predates modern helmets!) but there are now some local charity rides which I am no longer allowed to take part in, thanks mainly to HSBCUKBC's forcing.
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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby Phil Fouracre » 15 Aug 2017, 4:35pm

All of my schooling predates helmets!! Think the wearing of said is very much a generational thing, or, maybe just grumpy old men syndrome :-) similarly, I dropped out of British Cycling ride leader programme for the same reason. Completed the course on the understanding that there would be no requirement to wear one, then was told that 'it would set a bad example' if I didn't. So, a complete waste of time on everyone's part.
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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby Wynne71 » 15 Aug 2017, 4:57pm

Again, some very interesting commentary and thoughts on this subject, all taken in a digested by myself over the course of the day. I will still choose to wear my helmet though.... :wink:
For reference, the children who were actively encouraged (or made) to wear helmets on their cycle to work had their helmets purchased by the school, it was a pretty poor area, so I couldn't expect them to stump up for them. It was a very exciting way of getting the kids to join in cycling activities, they saw me (the HT) cycle to school and around the estate and wanted to join in. Some fabulous times watching previously sofa ridden kids getting active. Did all of those children go on to wear a helmet around the estate after school and in the holidays? Nope, I saw loads of them without. I didn't tut or give them a lecture, as they were still cycling and enjoying themselves. All I had done was open the debate as to how to stay safe. The most important part of the process was the training and safety talks from local Police and the Bham Cycling Proficiency folk.

It would be a sad day if legislation came out enforcing the wearing of helmets on the road, but then people said that about banning smoking and wearing seat belts in cars.....(I'm joking incase anyone takes offence at this).

Happy and safe cycling all!

PS: I'm off on the turbo trainer now, no helmet required there....! :D

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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby pjclinch » 15 Aug 2017, 8:00pm

For the wisdom of seatbelt legislation, see "Risk" by John Adams. Even though we know that in A Notional Car Crash you'd be better off with a seatbelt when the excrement hits the air conditioning, it turns out that requiring them is not the Great Idea many assume they are, as their use correlates well with increased incidences of excrement/air conditioning interface (and pedestrian and cyclist casualties increased in the wake of seatbelt laws)...
Risk is a good read, lots of insight in to risk compensation and cultural attitudes to risk.

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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby Graham » 29 Nov 2017, 11:59am

pjclinch wrote:Risk is a good read, lots of insight in to risk compensation and cultural attitudes to risk.

A further strong recommendation from me. Reading this work has greatly increased my awareness of the subject matter.
Previously, I placed reasonable credibility in official : Safety Procedures : Cost/Benefit Analysis : and their underlying probabilities, statistics and the attempts to express everything in money values.

Now I'm more than "not-so-sure" - More like aghast as to how I have been taken-in.

It seems pretty certain that the same frameworks & mechanisms are still in place and that so-called evidence-based judgements can be simple post-facto rationalisation of that which is desired by the decision makers.

My paraphrase : ( When I find the exact quotation I will correct it. )
"The experts may well not have a full picture of the situation, but they have to act as though they do."

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Re: "Don't forget to wear a helmet"

Postby squeaker » 29 Nov 2017, 12:51pm

Graham wrote:My paraphrase : ( When I find the exact quotation I will correct it. )
"The experts may well not have a full picture of the situation, but they have to act as though they do."
Quite: need to give the clients value for money ;) (Speaking as a retired 'expert'.) And a +1 for 'Risk' :)

PS: but it is refreshing to see probabilities used in UK weather forecasts now :lol:
"42"