"Decide for yourself"

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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Cugel
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"Decide for yourself"

Postby Cugel » 26 Mar 2018, 12:58pm

In the intro to this helmet forum, the following statement is made to describe the CTC official attitude:

".... the CTC view is not anti-helmet (despite what some would have you believe). It is anti-compulsion. It believes that each individual should have the right to weigh up the pros and cons for themselves and then decide whether or not to use a helmet".

The various helmet debates and referenced data sources studying cycling helmet-improved safety (or lack of it) illustrate that it's very difficult to decide for yourself. In effect, we choose one opinion from a contradictory range offered by experts or (more likely) by fashion. Our "choice" is often a construct of our social situation, including peer pressure and the tremendous weight of advertising. We didn't decide; a mob (mass media)or a syndicate (the manufacturer advertisers) did.

Even the CTC/Cycling UK organisation is ambivalent. It is not for or against helmets ... but the general weight of the photos employed show a huge "choice" by various pictured cyclists "for" helmets. This too is a peer-pressure on others to buy one and wear it in the expectation that it will make them "safe".

Cycling UK itself references various studies and meta-analyses that indicate that helmets (and high viz clothing) seem not to offer any overall safety benefit. If this is so, why does Cycling UK sit on the fence concerning these things? If Cycling UK policy of non-compulsion is based in an agreement with, or acceptance of, those studies that show that helmets (and perhaps high-viz) contribute to a greater number of (head) injuries in the wearers, surely Cycling UK policy should not be just anti-compulsion but anti-helmet (and perhaps anti-high viz).....?

Discuss. :-)

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horizon
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby horizon » 26 Mar 2018, 1:08pm

My thoughts entirely.
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: "Decide for yourself"

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Mar 2018, 1:47pm

Being against compulsion is no more than that.

AFAIK, Part of the reason that policy was adopted lies in the fact that the CTC was a club (clue in the name) whose members held a wide spectrum of views which the leadership had to respect. On helmets, this may have been "common sense" -v- scientific study, but it's how democracy works. Sort of.

A charity is quite different, of course, in that the trustees must act in the best interests of the charity. I suspect that CyclingUK has never been tested on this, either by pressure from the government or £££ from an interested party.

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horizon
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby horizon » 26 Mar 2018, 1:57pm

What the OP us saying (and I agree with) is that a "you choose" policy is nonsensical. It isn't a case of choice - either the helmet protects and one wears one accordingly or it/one doesn't. Legal compulsion is another matter which the OP isn't referring to - that's why the post is interesting. It would be far better if Cycling UK were clearer and went for one side or the other. I have a feeling that they will at some point get off the fence and recommend wearing (I agree with your £££). That is different from supporting choice in a legal sense. It isn't a case of "it's your head, do as you wish" - it's a case of "it's my head, please tell me what to do".
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: "Decide for yourself"

Postby mjr » 26 Mar 2018, 2:24pm

horizon wrote:What the OP us saying (and I agree with) is that a "you choose" policy is nonsensical. It isn't a case of choice - either the helmet protects and one wears one accordingly or it/one doesn't.

False dichotomy. It's possible helmet use doesn't protect for everyday typical cycling including touring and that it does for crash-prone stuff like BMX, which would make CUK's policy of informed sceptical freedom of choice about right.

The photo messages are wrong though. Far too many hard hats on the website and in the mag now.
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Re:

Postby leftpoole » 26 Mar 2018, 2:27pm

mjr wrote:
horizon wrote:What the OP us saying (and I agree with) is that a "you choose" policy is nonsensical. It isn't a case of choice - either the helmet protects and one wears one accordingly or it/one doesn't.

False dichotomy. It's possible helmet use doesn't protect for everyday typical cycling including touring and that it does for crash-prone stuff like BMX, which would make CUK's policy of informed sceptical freedom of choice about right.

The photo messages are wrong though. Far too many hard hats on the website and in the mag now.

Good!


I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my stupid phone.
Last edited by Vorpal on 27 Mar 2018, 4:36pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mick F
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Mick F » 26 Mar 2018, 3:12pm

mjr wrote:................. which would make CUK's policy of informed sceptical freedom of choice about right.
I think you are only right-ish.

Sitting on the fence is all well and good, but you need a specific policy.
Choice is fine, but advice is another.

BMX and off-road MTB you would think needs helmets and knee pads and gloves etc. Do the CTC/CUK advise on this but sit on the fence for other cycle activities?
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Mar 2018, 5:07pm

horizon wrote:What the OP us saying (and I agree with) is that a "you choose" policy is nonsensical. It isn't a case of choice - either the helmet protects and one wears one accordingly or it/one doesn't. Legal compulsion is another matter which the OP isn't referring to - that's why the post is interesting. It would be far better if Cycling UK were clearer and went for one side or the other. I have a feeling that they will at some point get off the fence and recommend wearing (I agree with your £££). That is different from supporting choice in a legal sense. It isn't a case of "it's your head, do as you wish" - it's a case of "it's my head, please tell me what to do".


Thanks for your kind explanation.

".... the CTC view is not anti-helmet (despite what some would have you believe). It is anti-compulsion. It believes that each individual should have the right to weigh up the pros and cons for themselves and then decide whether or not to use a helmet". ...
(My emphasis.)


I was only trying to explain how we got here, based on that, which I've quoted from the OP. FWIW, I could make a cogent case for prohibiting the advertising, sale, wearing or even ownership of cycle helmets but as a policy it's politically impossible and almost certainly one Cycling UK will never espouse. (I am beginning to sysmpathise with the view - one that led to the creation of this sub-forum - that's there's a case for prohibiting helmet threads, unless something totally new is raised.)

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Wanlock Dod » 26 Mar 2018, 7:47pm

mjr wrote:...It's possible helmet use doesn't protect for everyday typical cycling including touring and that it does for crash-prone stuff like BMX, which would make CUK's policy of informed sceptical freedom of choice about right...

In cases like this I wouldn't say it is an informed choice, at face value at least, as it needs rather more information to be able to evaluate that I suspect. Saying that people should choose, but not providing any useful basis upon which to make a decision is probably going to result in lots of cyclists wearing helmets because it can't do any harm can it?

I hear repeatedly that the only thing which consistently correlates with cyclist safety is the number of cyclists (safety in numbers), and if people are put off cycling by seeing other people wearing helmets then that will have a real effect on the safety of all cyclists, even if the people that wear the helmets are actually safer in some way. Thus there would appear to be good reasons to try to dissuade people from wearing helmets for utility road riding for the benefit of all cyclists on the roads. Unfortunately we have ended up with an alternative situation where there is always a reasonably strong pro helmet message (you can choose if you really must, but you know what's good for you) without that every really getting challenged (have 25 years of steadily increasing helmet use in the UK really resulted in safer cycling?)

Presumably the crash prone stuff is actually racing, and I'm sure any racer would want the performance advantage of feeling a little bit safer. I have no doubt that it has made the races that I watch on the TV all the more exciting, I'm not sure that it has done anything much for rider safety though. Is it better to wear a helmet mountain biking just in case you try to ride something that is way beyond your capabilities, or is it better to ride cautiously and get off for the tricky bits that you're not sure about? The first approach will be faster, but is that better?

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Cyril Haearn » 26 Mar 2018, 7:57pm

'The tremendous weight of advertising'
!!
Is anyone here influenced by that?
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Mike Sales » 26 Mar 2018, 8:02pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:'The tremendous weight of advertising'
!!
Is anyone here influenced by that?


I would imagine few people would admit to being influenced by advertising, yet large sums of money are spent on it, by large and successful companies.
I remember though, " Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I wish I knew which half."
Sponsorship is a huge contributor to sport budgets.

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby profpointy » 26 Mar 2018, 10:04pm

I have some sympathy for ctc's claimed "neutral" stance. I am a former helmet wearer convinced not to wear one by the evidence. A rational stance it's hard to honestly argue against. But, the sad thing is a good proportion of helmet wearers have a zeal for it that doesn't answer to logic and they get angry and plain nasty if their view is challenged. Even though I strongly disagree with this stance it is unrealistic for an inclusive body to do anything but remain anti compulsion but shy away from a recommendation.

And others have said there may well be specific scenarios where helmets are helpful, and others where they are positively harmful so it'd be bold to make a strong reccomendation for any specific situation

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Cugel
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Cugel » 26 Mar 2018, 10:36pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:'The tremendous weight of advertising'
!!
Is anyone here influenced by that?


Personally I know that I'm influenced by advertising of every sort, as well as by newspapers, books and even things I hear in the pub. After all, I'm a human. Our greatest strength and our greatest weakness is to be social and to perform the recommendations of attractively glamourized authorities, or even just those made by them we have a sneaking admiration for. We're copycats, every one. "Fashion" (D Bowie).

So I try to avoid adverts, news and a lot of books. I never go to the pub. But then I'm in "a bubble". :-) And a lot of those Svengali mesmerising messages get through anyway!! I persuade myself that I have "good reasons" to buy those lovely new wheels. Ha! Rationalisation after the impulse.

Anyroadup, it seems self-evident to me that people wear helmets because they're sold as desirable, said to be desirable by various authorities with a variety of motives (few of which have anything to do with cyclist safety) and worn by nearly every cyclist you see out there. They're a fashion, not a choice. When I ask the wearers, "What safety increase does your helmet offer via what functionality" none of them can tell me anything about the testing regime, the reduction in crash-forces or anything much other than "it's obvious" or "a helmet saved my pal's life".

The adverts for helmets rarely, if ever, mention safety functionality. They're all about how the thing looks and whether its aerodynamic (as demo-ed by A Celebrity Cyclist - doesn't he look lovely in it).

******
I would like to see some independent testing of the things. They tell us that such testing is impractical - impossible to devise in any way that will show how a helmet will reduce harm in real cycling crashes. I feel this may be "avoidance", since such tests are likely to illuminate the rather small set of cycling accident types in which that polystyrene hat makes a significant difference to injury.

The profits made from their sale must be tremendous, when you consider the paucity of materials and design your £50-£200 buys. One rather large reason they get "pushed".

****
On the other hand, I could myself invent and push pedestrian helmets, advertise them vigorously (inclusive of induction of parental guilt-trips concerning their children running free on the streets) and so get rich. Happily, I fear being rich more than anything (you get to do what you want - disaster follows).

Cugel, only 58 years cycling without a head bang. Perhaps if I wear one it will "save my life" tomorrow, though but.

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Mick F
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Mick F » 27 Mar 2018, 8:58am

^^^^^
Wot he said.

BTW, the main activity that produces more head injuries by far, is car occupancy.

Helmets in a car anyone?
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby amediasatex » 27 Mar 2018, 9:24am

But, the sad thing is a good proportion of helmet wearers have a zeal for it that doesn't answer to logic and they get angry and plain nasty if their view is challenged


Just for a point of balance, that zeal is not limited to wearers, I've observed the exact same behaviour from non-wearers.

I've had few discussion in person with people over the last few years as it simply doesn't seem possible to have a rational discussion anymore (especially with my mother! :D ), which is a sad state of affairs, and precisely because of what an emotive topic it is.

I often wear one, I'd go so far as to say mostly, but I don't always. I have chosen to, I'm under no illusion that it will do much good it I get hit my a tonne of metal @30mph, and I'm still quite sceptical that it'll do much for my noggin if I simply fall off. but one thing it does do with almost 100% certainty is stop minor abrasions and scrapes to my scalp which I'm thankful for on a regular basis offroad*, and have had reason to be thankful for a couple of times on tarmac too.

The other really disappointing thing it does is mean that should the worst happen, at least any insurance payout to my family will not be reduced, nor prosecution hindered due to a cry of 'contributory negligence' or other such guff, that is the truly dangerous side of societal (rather than legal) compulsion. Were it not for that I would probably only ever use it when racing and riding offroad.

I think you're spot on though that the general 'choice' offered is becoming more and more of an illusion, and I'm undecided about where I think CUK should stand on the matter, I can see a stance either way being damaging to both the organisation and the discussion in general.

* where I also often wear knee pads and other protection depending on the situation.