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.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...