Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

For all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmet usage will be moved here.
Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 23 Aug 2019, 9:49am

poetd wrote:
Wanlock Dod wrote:Do you take the same approach and wear protective equipment when walking, driving, drinking alcohol, and using stairs? If not why not? Is there something especially dangerous about cycling?


Yes I do.
And yes, cycling in traffic carries risks. You'd have to be an idiot to think otherwise.
And as a grown up I'm happy to accept personal responsibility for my own safety and actions, I take precautions I feel are sensible for me to take rather than crying at everyone else about victim blaming like a pathetic child.


Less "pathetic child" please.

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Wanlock Dod » 23 Aug 2019, 10:23am

poetd wrote:
Wanlock Dod wrote:Do you take the same approach and wear protective equipment when walking, driving, drinking alcohol, and using stairs? If not why not? Is there something especially dangerous about cycling?


Yes I do.
And yes, cycling in traffic carries risks. You'd have to be an idiot to think otherwise.
And as a grown up I'm happy to accept personal responsibility for my own safety and actions, I take precautions I feel are sensible for me to take rather than crying at everyone else about victim blaming like a pathetic child.

I am truly delighted to hear that you are a user of protective helmets under all circumstances, I have never actually seen a pedestrian helmet or a pub helmet in use but it is great to know that they are about and have their devotees.

Is it the traffic element of cycling that makes you feel that a helmet is appropriate?

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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby georgew » 23 Aug 2019, 2:12pm

poetd wrote:
Wanlock Dod wrote:Do you take the same approach and wear protective equipment when walking, driving, drinking alcohol, and using stairs? If not why not? Is there something especially dangerous about cycling?


Yes I do.
And yes, cycling in traffic carries risks. You'd have to be an idiot to think otherwise.
And as a grown up I'm happy to accept personal responsibility for my own safety and actions, I take precautions I feel are sensible for me to take rather than crying at everyone else about victim blaming like a pathetic child.



Ah now, this thread was all going swimmingly with each poster treating the others with proper respect until the slur I highlighted. This does seem to be the predictable response when the remorseless grinding of logical arguments takes effect....pity though.

poetd
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby poetd » 23 Aug 2019, 2:55pm

I'd barely call it logical when it's the same re-using of poor statistical analysis and hand picking the same couple of flawed studies to defend the anti-helmet position.

Take the famous Walker study.
Surely if helmets increase risk taking as people seem so insistent on, then the fact that Walker wore a helmet completely nulls his findings as the differences he measured could easily have been caused by his increased risky behaviour.

Or the fact that people repeat that helmet laws in Australia reduced cyclist numbers, when the current figures show a large growth.

Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.


No, there's very little in the way of logical argument, just the usual cherry picking of data to protect a cherished position.

However, this idea of any criticism aimed at cyclists who refuse to take personal responibility for their own safety is "victim blaming" is exactly that - pathetic and child-like.

Now, you could argue that it isn't people's fault that they exist in a near permanent infantilised state as so much of the media and social infuence we are exposed to is designed precisely to bring about that child-like mental state as it makes for a more obedient and compliant consumer or citizen - and it would be a fair argument.
But that doesn't take away from the fact that it is still both pathetic and childish - whether the individuals sensitivity to outside influence is to blame or not.

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Wanlock Dod » 23 Aug 2019, 4:12pm

poetd wrote:Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.

Would you be able to provide links to any of these studies or articles please? I’m sure that I am not the only one who would welcome the opportunity to read them.

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deliquium
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby deliquium » 23 Aug 2019, 4:41pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:
poetd wrote:Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.


Would you be able to provide links to any of these studies or articles please? I’m sure that I am not the only one who would welcome the opportunity to read them.


+1 with Wanlock Dod - the source of this 'information' would be appreciated by all
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Vorpal » 23 Aug 2019, 4:43pm

poetd wrote:I'd barely call it logical when it's the same re-using of poor statistical analysis and hand picking the same couple of flawed studies to defend the anti-helmet position.
I'm not sure what you are basing this on, but if you look through this sub-forum, there is a great deal of debate over a wide variety of studies. Very many of the available studies on bicycle helmets are discussed on this forum.
poetd wrote:Take the famous Walker study.
Surely if helmets increase risk taking as people seem so insistent on, then the fact that Walker wore a helmet completely nulls his findings as the differences he measured could easily have been caused by his increased risky behaviour.
How can the distance at which cars pass be influenced by his 'risky' behaviour?
There are studies where risk taking has been compared with & without cycling helmets. Other studies mostly focus on speed. Cyclists wearing helmets go faster than those without. Interestingly, one study found that cyclists who habitually wear helmets are subject to this effect, while cyclists who do not normally wear helmets are not. Studies that focus on illegal behaviour, such as red light jumping, pavement riding, etc., as representative of risk taking, have found no difference between helmet wearers and non-wearers in terms of injury rates. However, the studies do not take into account illegal behaviour that is meant to reduce risk. (i.e. cyclists may jump red lights to avoid conflict with same-direction traffic).
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21418079
poetd wrote:Or the fact that people repeat that helmet laws in Australia reduced cyclist numbers, when the current figures show a large growth.
Current figures may show large growth. You did not include any statistics, and I'm not inclined to go look it up. But the current growth does not change the fact that the cycle helmet law impacted the numbers of cyclists. http://www.cycle-helmets.com/cycling-1985-2011.html has an extensive analysis of the available data. The conclusion basically is that increases in cycling did not keep up with population growth between 1985 and 2011.
poetd wrote:Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.
Can you please provide a reference for some of these studies?

poetd wrote:However, this idea of any criticism aimed at cyclists who refuse to take personal responibility for their own safety is "victim blaming" is exactly that - pathetic and child-like.

Now, you could argue that it isn't people's fault that they exist in a near permanent infantilised state as so much of the media and social infuence we are exposed to is designed precisely to bring about that child-like mental state as it makes for a more obedient and compliant consumer or citizen - and it would be a fair argument.
But that doesn't take away from the fact that it is still both pathetic and childish - whether the individuals sensitivity to outside influence is to blame or not.

Refuse to take personal responsibility for their own safety? I generally take responsibility for my safety by riding in a safe manner, making sure my my equipment is safe & functional, etc. I'm not sure who you think is refusing to take responsibility for their own safety. Every single cyclist takes responsibility for their own safety every time they go out on a pedal cycle.

However, there is a fine line between taking responsibility for one's own safety, and blaming someone when things go wrong. Police, coroners and the media blame cyclists for not wearing a helmet, and insurance companies commonly offer reduced compensation, even when the cyclist is found not to be at fault in the circumstances that led to the crash. That is victim blaming.

If you mean specifically that a cyclist who does not wear a helmet is refusing to take responsibility for their own safety, you first need to demonstrate that wearing a helmet actually has any influence on safety. While there is some evidence that helmets help in specific circumstances, I have yet to see evidence that they improve safety overall for cyclists.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby mjr » 23 Aug 2019, 4:48pm

poetd wrote:I'd barely call it logical when it's the same re-using of poor statistical analysis and hand picking the same couple of flawed studies to defend the anti-helmet position.

The main topic of this thread is an entirely new study, so that seems a bit of a bizarre accusation.

Take the famous Walker study.
Surely if helmets increase risk taking as people seem so insistent on, then the fact that Walker wore a helmet completely nulls his findings as the differences he measured could easily have been caused by his increased risky behaviour.

I see no mention in https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/1 ... 7615620784 that Walker wore a helmet. What did I miss?

Or the fact that people repeat that helmet laws in Australia reduced cyclist numbers, when the current figures show a large growth.

Both of those claims can be true - helmet laws reduced cyclist numbers and since that reduction, there may have been large growth, even if it may have been lower than it could have been. The main denier that helmet laws reduced cycling is Jake Olivier and he's been dismantled many times. Here's a readable free online example: https://warriorfactor.wordpress.com/201 ... grzebieta/

No, there's very little in the way of logical argument, just the usual cherry picking of data to protect a cherished position.

Even if that were true, it would be better than the vigorous handwaving to protect an incorrect cherished position, reliance on long-discredited old research and refusal to cite properly any data or studies - which is what we so often get from helmet fans. ;)

However, this idea of any criticism aimed at cyclists who refuse to take personal responibility for their own safety is "victim blaming" is exactly that - pathetic and child-like.

Not sure that I agree, but nevertheless I look forward to you taking personal responsibility for your safety and stopping trying to replace responsible actions with a belief that a hard hat may save you and does you no harm. This latest study makes the "no harm" part look even more likely to be baseless.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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poetd
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby poetd » 23 Aug 2019, 5:17pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:
poetd wrote:Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.

Would you be able to provide links to any of these studies or articles please? I’m sure that I am not the only one who would welcome the opportunity to read them.


Except you won't read them, we both know that. However:


A review of the known (at the time of publication) papers studying risk compensation:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 7818305941

An examination of the statistical analysis errors in many known anti-helmet papers:
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5599/e ... 13d25b.pdf

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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby mjr » 23 Aug 2019, 5:37pm

poetd wrote:
Wanlock Dod wrote:
poetd wrote:Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.

Would you be able to provide links to any of these studies or articles please? I’m sure that I am not the only one who would welcome the opportunity to read them.


Except you won't read them, we both know that. However:

A review of the known (at the time of publication) papers studying risk compensation:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 7818305941

"23 studies were identified [...] Ten studies found helmet use associated with safer cycling behaviour" - Even if I took that at face value (which I would not, as I see helmet fan Jake Olivier among the authors), 10 out of 23 is not a majority of studies showing safer cycling and it seems to say nothing about lawbreaking.

poetd wrote:An examination of the statistical analysis errors in many known anti-helmet papers:
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5599/e ... 13d25b.pdf

Oh joy(!) Another Olivier paper - and one I feel is adequately debunked by earlier links, which it seems you didn't read - which seems to have nothing to do with the claim about a majority of studies... unless you're arguing that it's a statistical error to say that 10 out of 23 is not a majority?
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Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 23 Aug 2019, 5:58pm

poetd wrote:I'd barely call it logical when it's the same re-using of poor statistical analysis and hand picking the same couple of flawed studies to defend the anti-helmet position.

Take the famous Walker study.
Surely if helmets increase risk taking as people seem so insistent on, then the fact that Walker wore a helmet completely nulls his findings as the differences he measured could easily have been caused by his increased risky behaviour.

Or the fact that people repeat that helmet laws in Australia reduced cyclist numbers, when the current figures show a large growth.

Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.


No, there's very little in the way of logical argument, just the usual cherry picking of data to protect a cherished position.

However, this idea of any criticism aimed at cyclists who refuse to take personal responibility for their own safety is "victim blaming" is exactly that - pathetic and child-like.

Now, you could argue that it isn't people's fault that they exist in a near permanent infantilised state as so much of the media and social infuence we are exposed to is designed precisely to bring about that child-like mental state as it makes for a more obedient and compliant consumer or citizen - and it would be a fair argument.
But that doesn't take away from the fact that it is still both pathetic and childish - whether the individuals sensitivity to outside influence is to blame or not.


You neglect to mention that the immediate effect of the Australian helmet law was a large reduction in cycling. The level has gradually increased, with natural population growth, to a level rather lower than it might have been without compulsion. The level of cycling in Australia, that sunny, sporting country, is still a fraction of ours, but the cyclist casualty rate, in spite of helmets is a multiple of ours.
The results of the NZ law were very similar, an immediate large reduction in cycling and a big increase in casualty rates.
There is no country where compulsion has made cyclists safer.
The best collection of evidence on helmets that I know can be found at cyclehelmets.org. This site assembles as many studies as it can find, whatever "side" they are on, and comments on them.

I appreciate that this is a huge amount of data to take in. That is why I mentioned the conclusions of two experts in risk data and public interventions in health problems. Did you read their article from the British Medical Journal?

Ben Goldacre, Wellcome Research Fellow in epidemiology calls this edition of his blog,

https://www.badscience.net/2013/12/bicycle-helmets-and-the-law-a-perfect-teaching-case-for-epidemiology/

You probably know that epidemiology looks at the health problems of populations and the efficacy of interventions. It is precisely relevant to this question. It also involves skill with handling statistics.

With his colleague, David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for the public understanding of risk, he wrote the article I link to. The relevance of his job does not need to be pointed out.

https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f3817.full?ijkey=I5vHBog6FhaaLzX&keytype=ref

Here is another extract. I recommend you read the whole.

This finding of “no benefit” is superficially hard to reconcile with case-control studies, many of which have shown that people wearing helmets are less likely to have a head injury.3 Such findings suggest that, for individuals, helmets confer a benefit. These studies, however, are vulnerable to many methodological shortcomings. If the controls are cyclists presenting with other injuries in the emergency department, then analyses are conditional on having an accident and therefore assume that wearing a helmet does not change the overall accident risk. There are also confounding variables that are generally unmeasured and perhaps even unmeasurable. People who choose to wear bicycle helmets will probably be different from those who ride without a helmet: they may be more cautious, for example, and so less likely to have a serious head injury, regardless of their helmets.


There is much more worth reading.

I repeat their conclusion.

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.



I suggest that to cling to a belief that putting a scrap of expanded polystyrene on your head can keep you safe is not rational or fully adult, when the evidence is otherwise.

Safety is not something you wear, it is something you do.

Helmets are promoted because they are thought to save head injuries and lives. If they did, we should be able to tell.

Mike Sales
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Mike Sales » 23 Aug 2019, 7:23pm

poetd wrote:
Now, you could argue that it isn't people's fault that they exist in a near permanent infantilised state as so much of the media and social infuence we are exposed to is designed precisely to bring about that child-like mental state as it makes for a more obedient and compliant consumer or citizen - and it would be a fair argument.
But that doesn't take away from the fact that it is still both pathetic and childish - whether the individuals sensitivity to outside influence is to blame or not.



Some of us might take this a fair description of the unreasoning way that most people are conned into accepting helmet propaganda.
Helmets are a great consumer non-durable. Cheap to make and easy to give a spurious necessity. Even the promotion is done free by others, often at public expense. Replace on impact.

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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby fastpedaller » 23 Aug 2019, 7:39pm

At a cafe recently the proprietor said to me 'don't you wear a helmet?' to which I replied 'no I don't'
She then went on to say 'I think all cyclists should wear helmets' so I replied 'why do you think that?' the conversation went thus....
prop. Because they should
me. But what is your reason for suggesting they should be worn?
prop because they should - it's simple
me. If you think it's to protect the head, why don't you wear one when going up and down stairs, that's a dangerous situation.
prop They should wear them. there's no reason why they shouldn't!

I decided it wasn't worth carrying on the debate, and the only thing that was simple was her...... Not because she had a different opinion (we're all entitled to have those), but because she couldn't present any reason why. I don't suspect I'll be eating there again. :?

poetd
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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby poetd » 23 Aug 2019, 8:14pm

Mike Sales wrote:I repeat their conclusion.

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.



I suggest that to cling to a belief that putting a scrap of expanded polystyrene on your head can keep you safe is not rational or fully adult, when the evidence is otherwise.

Safety is not something you wear, it is something you do.

Helmets are promoted because they are thought to save head injuries and lives. If they did, we should be able to tell.


All of which stands only if you chose to ignore the vast body of research done that shows helmets do offer a signification level of injury prevention.
Or is all that just Big Helmet propaganda? Standards Agencies bought and paid for, entire governments taken over by their undercover agents?

But that's not the topic on discussion anyway.
This is about risk assessment.

IF you assert that riders chose helmets because they "think they'll be safe" then the risk increase argument could make sense.
But if you frame it that people chose helmets because it will add SOME protection to the head (and some being better than none) then the attempted correlation stands on shakier ground.


And while yes, 10 out of 23 studies found no correlation, only 2 did. Did we forget to omit that part?

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Re: Study finds that wearing a cycle helmet may diminish ability to assess risk

Postby Vorpal » 23 Aug 2019, 8:52pm

poetd wrote:
Wanlock Dod wrote:
poetd wrote:Or the fact that the majority of known studies show that helmeted cyclists are less likely to be law breakers and are generally safer riders.

Would you be able to provide links to any of these studies or articles please? I’m sure that I am not the only one who would welcome the opportunity to read them.


Except you won't read them, we both know that. However:


A review of the known (at the time of publication) papers studying risk compensation:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 7818305941
Exactly one of those studies found a correlation with non-helmet wearing and illegal behaviour. The study was conducted in Spain where cyclists are legally obligated to use helmet outside of urban areas. So I don't think that it's really a surprise that cyclists who are willing to engage in one illegal behaviour are also willing to engage in others.

Other studies found no correlation.

poetd wrote:An examination of the statistical analysis errors in many known anti-helmet papers:
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5599/e ... 13d25b.pdf
Some of his criticisms are valid, but many of them merely state that something is unlcear, or the results may not be representative. Even the authors readily acknowledge some of the same problems or cautions. Also, the same is true of most of the studies which find population level benefits for helmet use. Olivier's own studies are criticised by the same folks that he has criticised. However, there is a significant difference. Olivier has, for several of his studies, refused to release the data for peer review. So, he criticises Rissel, Elvik, and others on multiple minors points, some of which are acknowledged in the studies by the authors, but will not allow them to do the same?

At the very least, I must criticise his frequent use of 'anti-helmet'. It is, at best, imprecise, and at worst wholly inaccurate. Few of the scientists whose work he is criticising are actully anti-helmet. Elvik, for example, is cautiously in favour of helmet use and wears one himself when cycling. He is opposed to helmet legislation.

I'm trained in analysing statistics on risk. I've read many papers on the benefits & otherwise of helmets, and the only conclusion I've drawn is that if there were an obvious benefit, it should easily be demonstrated by statistics. Currently it is not. Sure, it's possible find some studies that show a small benefit.It's also possible to demonstrate the energy absorption of helmets. Equally, it's possible to find some studies that show a slightly increased injury rate for cyclists who wear helmets. If it were obvious, it would be easy. It isn't. Why? I don't know.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom