NATURAL ANKLING wrote:
Steady rider wrote:Cycling has a low fatality risk overall, but a good chance of falling off at some time and even an higher chance if wearing a helmets.
What you are saying is that if I wear a helmet I am more likely to fall off Than if I don't wear a helmet
It's a bit more complicated than that.
First of all, you need to draw a line between what happens in a population to an "average cyclist" and what happens to you, as an individual, and they can be quite different things.
Also you have the chicken/egg thing. People who are riding in a riskier manner are more likely to wear helmets, but that's because they're doing risky things to start rather than because they're put a helmet on. Once they're doing those riskier things risk compensation suggests that some, quite possibly significant, proportion of them will up their risk (this is not necessarily a bad thing: risk needs to be seen as something balanced with the benefits of taking it, e.g. if I'm out on my MTB for white-knuckle fun, and the faster I take the berms the more fun I have, and I feel better about going faster with some protective gear on, the primary goal (having fun) is enhanced by the safety gear, and it might help if I over-cook it too), which means they're more likely to fall. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing: if you're cycling to have fun, and riding faster and more daringly ups your fun, that's the primary goal, not avoidance of falls.
You also have the way that other people around you will modify their behaviour according to their perception of you, and at least some evidence is there to suggest that drivers pass closer to helmeted riders, thus upping their risk of a fall (while Walker's paper on this has been criticised on various counts I've heard an anecdote from a rider who was criticised by a driver for not wearing a helmet, reasoning that had he been wearing one it would have been "safe" for the driver to "squeeze past", so it does
happen, but how often and how much is not clear).
But in any case, to a first approximation for most riders doing most rides, most of the time, you won't fall off. Your chances of falling off are very low, but finite. Let's say they go up by (plucking a figure out of the air) 5% if you put a lid on: as an individual it will be quite impossible for you to register such an effect, because since you hardly ever fall off, being ever so slightly more likely to come off as an individual will not register and will be well withing random variation.
A lot of people are happier if they ride in a helmet than not. That is, IMHO, a much better reason to wear one than worrying about crash angles or risk compensation etc. might suggest otherwise. Riding a bike is a huge health benefit. Anything that makes you do it more is a Good Thing. At a population level encouraging helmets seems to put people off starting, but if you've started and ride more with a helmet on then at an individual level that's good.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...