Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

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.
irc
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby irc » 26 Sep 2010, 9:42am

Jonty wrote:No you couldn't. She could have been dead before she hit the ground due to a heart attack.
jonty


I doubt it. Given the fact the report states "It is now suspected that the woman died as a result of severe head injuries sustained when she fell from her bicycle." there is likely to be obvious head injuries although a post mortem exam is still needed to confirm that the head injuries were the cause of death.


All this accident shows is that even in what appears to be a cycle only accident helmets provide only limited protection. But we knew that anyway. They are tested in drops from 1.5m. The average adult falls further than that falling sideways from a stationary position on the bike.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

Jonty

Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Jonty » 26 Sep 2010, 9:56am

irc wrote:
Jonty wrote:No you couldn't. She could have been dead before she hit the ground due to a heart attack.
jonty


I doubt it. Given the fact the report states "It is now suspected that the woman died as a result of severe head injuries sustained when she fell from her bicycle." there is likely to be obvious head injuries although a post mortem exam is still needed to confirm that the head injuries were the cause of death.


All this accident shows is that even in what appears to be a cycle only accident helmets provide only limited protection. But we knew that anyway. They are tested in drops from 1.5m. The average adult falls further than that falling sideways from a stationary position on the bike.


Irc
Yes I agree that they give limited protection rather than giving no protection at all.
I suppose the issue is what is meant by limited? When you fall off a bike you tend to break your fall to some extent by taking some of the impact on your hand and arms. The extent of this will obviously depend on the strength of your arms, your weight, reactions, fitness etc.
So IMHO a helmet could protect you in some circumstances from head lacerations and bruising when moving. In combination with taking some of the impact on your hands and arms, it could make all the difference in some circumstances which I'm sure it does.
jonty

irc
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby irc » 26 Sep 2010, 5:11pm

Jonty wrote:irc
Yes I agree that they give limited protection rather than giving no protection at all.
I suppose the issue is what is meant by limited? When you fall off a bike you tend to break your fall to some extent by taking some of the impact on your hand and arms. The extent of this will obviously depend on the strength of your arms, your weight, reactions, fitness etc.
So IMHO a helmet could protect you in some circumstances from head lacerations and bruising when moving. In combination with taking some of the impact on your hands and arms, it could make all the difference in some circumstances which I'm sure it does.
jonty


I agree. The issue I have is with compulsion and the fact helmets are presented as lifesavers when statistics show there is more chance of winning the lottery than a helmet saving your life.

If helmet campaigners did not seek compulsion and did not exaggerate the protection helmets gave there would be no argument. I have no doubt that helmets give some protection but as I've been cycling for 40 odd years without having any head injury or any serious accident my choice is not to wear one.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

Jonty

Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Jonty » 26 Sep 2010, 9:49pm

irc wrote:
Jonty wrote:irc
Yes I agree that they give limited protection rather than giving no protection at all.
I suppose the issue is what is meant by limited? When you fall off a bike you tend to break your fall to some extent by taking some of the impact on your hand and arms. The extent of this will obviously depend on the strength of your arms, your weight, reactions, fitness etc.
So IMHO a helmet could protect you in some circumstances from head lacerations and bruising when moving. In combination with taking some of the impact on your hands and arms, it could make all the difference in some circumstances which I'm sure it does.
jonty


I agree. The issue I have is with compulsion and the fact helmets are presented as lifesavers when statistics show there is more chance of winning the lottery than a helmet saving your life.

If helmet campaigners did not seek compulsion and did not exaggerate the protection helmets gave there would be no argument. I have no doubt that helmets give some protection but as I've been cycling for 40 odd years without having any head injury or any serious accident my choice is not to wear one.


Irc - I think we're getting quite close on this.
In certain limited circumstances where, for example, a rider is able to take some of the impact on hands and arms, a helmet could make a difference and in such circumstances could be a life-saver IMO. James Cracknell certainly thinks wearing a helmet saved his life and of course he didn't take any of the impact on hands and arms.
What I've found surprising on this forum is the number of people who are not prepared to accept that helmets offer any safety benefits at all or, if they do, they do so grudingly and accept that they might only protect against scrapes and scratches.
Also there seems to be an inconsistency on whether or not cycling is dangerous. Many say that cycling is not in the slightest dangerous then you find that many of the threads are to do with trying to reduce the danger to cyclists. You would have thought if cycling were genuinely not in the slightest dangerous then the need to reduce danger wouldn't feature so highly. Of course to accept that cycling had its dangers could suggest a case for compulsory use of helmets and could put off new recruits to cycling.
In fact on average your risk of death from cycling for 1 hour is about 4 times that for walking for an hour.
I suspect the position of some people on these issues is determined by lining up behind a policy stance rather than being determined by an objective appraisal of the facts, IMHO.
jonty

irc
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby irc » 26 Sep 2010, 10:08pm

But the problem is that helmets are pushed to the exclusion of all else. Helmet zealots don't tell people that wearing a helmet has a 10-16% chance of saving your life in a fatal. The message given out is that they make an otherwise dangerous activity safe.

The point about cycling is that whether or not it is safer than walking it is incredibly safe. Millions of cyclists and around 100 fatal accidents. For practical purposes that is zero.

I'm never going to win the lottery. I'm never going to be struck by lightning. I'll never get killed on my bike.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

Jonty

Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Jonty » 26 Sep 2010, 10:39pm

irc wrote:But the problem is that helmets are pushed to the exclusion of all else. Helmet zealots don't tell people that wearing a helmet has a 10-16% chance of saving your life in a fatal. The message given out is that they make an otherwise dangerous activity safe.

The point about cycling is that whether or not it is safer than walking it is incredibly safe. Millions of cyclists and around 100 fatal accidents. For practical purposes that is zero.

I'm never going to win the lottery. I'm never going to be struck by lightning. I'll never get killed on my bike.


Irc
We're coming close again - please don't spoil it!
You say that helmet zealots don't tell people that wearing a helmet has a 10-16% chance of saving your life in a fatal. Which helmet zealots are you referring to? Is it those on this forum who don't accept that helmets offer any safety benefits?
IMO a 10-16% chance of saving your life in a fatal is quite good as far as I'm concerned.
Thank you very much for putting forward such an explicit figure. This would mean that if everyone wore helmets about 1 in 7 fatal cycling accidents would be avoided.
However do not interpret this comment as meaning that I support compulsory helmet use.
I tend to agree that cycling is relatively safe (although not as safe as walking).
I don't agree with you however that for practical purposes cycling fatal accidents should be regarded as zero. The CTC and other organisations are righly concerned IMO to reduce cycling fatalities and serious accidents. If they were regarded a zero there would be no justification for doing this.
Also I disagree with you on the lottery, lightening and getting killed on your bike.
You might win the lottery (assuming you buy a ticket); you may get killed by lightening; and you may get killed on your bike.
All are very unlikely but possible. It's even possible you could experience all 3: winning the lottery one day and killed on your bike by lightening the next. (Have you considered earthening your helmet?)
If one of them happens, I hope it's the lottery.
jonty

Ron
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Ron » 26 Sep 2010, 11:30pm

Jonty wrote:James Cracknell certainly thinks wearing a helmet saved his life and of course he didn't take any of the impact on hands and arms.


Some of us might think in this type of incident one could be safer without a helmet, the cyclists lower air draught allowing the lorry mirror to pass over the cyclists head unobstructed. :?

Steady rider
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Steady rider » 27 Sep 2010, 9:19pm

UK, 104 cyclist deaths 2009 from about 12 million who ride bikes
one death per 115,000 cycle users roughly
if helmets provide 10%-16% protection, about 1 in 7,
one death per 807,000 cycle users roughly

assume I ride for 50 years in my life, then on average the helmet may save me, once in 16,000 lifetimes.

So on average, a person would have to wear one for 807,000 years before it saved them.

In contrast, Erke and Elvik (Norwegian researchers) 2007 stated: "There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent."

Robinson 1996 report, Table 2 shows data for children in NSW. The equivalent number of injuries for pre law level of number of cyclists increased from 1310 (384 head + 926 other injuries) in 1991 to 2083 (488 head + 1595 other injuries) in 1993. For NSW the helmet laws reduced children’s safety. The increased injury rate was 59%, from 1310 to 2083.
(Robinson DL; Head injuries and bicycle helmet laws; Accid Anal Prev, 28, 4: p 463-475, 1996 http://www.cycle-helmets.com/robinson-head-injuries.pdf )

Cycling by secondary school children in Sydney reduced by 67% following legislation.

The British Medical Association reported that the health benefits of cycling exceed the injury risk by 20 to 1. Moderate cycling has many physical and mental benefits (BMA 1992) by reducing the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer, depression and helping to control weight and increase fitness.

Serious head injury is associated with head rotation and helmets increase the risk due to the larger size and extra impacts.
http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1182.html
http://www.ctcyorkshirehumber.org.uk/US ... t_laws.pdf

Would it be sensible to take the risk of wearing one?

Jonty

Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Jonty » 28 Sep 2010, 12:50pm

[quote="Steady rider"]UK, 104 cyclist deaths 2009 from about 12 million who ride bikes
one death per 115,000 cycle users roughly
if helmets provide 10%-16% protection, about 1 in 7,
one death per 807,000 cycle users roughly

assume I ride for 50 years in my life, then on average the helmet may save me, once in 16,000 lifetimes.

So on average, a person would have to wear one for 807,000 years before it saved them.

Surely many of these people "who ride bikes" will do so very infrequently? Indeed some may simply own them rather than ride them.
Surely it makes more sense to compare the death and seriously injured rates for the various modes of travel by time "risk/'time exposure " whilst engaged on that activity?
Also 1 in 7 isn't bad especially as the odds may be higher for less serious accidents.
jonty

kwackers
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby kwackers » 28 Sep 2010, 12:54pm

I suspect being saved from death by an helmet isn't that great. Given they offer relatively poor protection you'd probably be condemned to a life as a vegetable. Doesn't sound that great...

I'd be far more interested in numbers of brain injuries rather than deaths due to head injuries and then some idea of how much the could have been lessened or removed (or made worse) by wearing an helmet.

Steady rider
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Steady rider » 28 Sep 2010, 3:11pm

The 10%-16% figure comes from examining details of cyclists not wearing helmets.

Erke and Elvik (Norwegian researchers) 2007 stated: "There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent."

So if helmets did provide 10%-16% protection this would be balanced out by the increased rate of accidents at 14%. As for injuries, head injuries covered by an helmet is about 10% of injuries, 90% other injuries.

1000 cyclists not wearing helmets - 100 accidents say, 10 head, 90 other injuries, total 100.

1000 cyclists all wearing helmeets - 114 accidents say, 11.4 head, 102 other injuries, assume helmets protect 50%, head goes to 5.7, others 102, total 107.7

Comparing head injuries, 5.7 to 10, good for helmets etc, compare total injuries, 100 to 107.7 not so good.

Much of the research promoting helmets focus on the ratio say 5.7 to 10 and they cannot assess the rate of accident involvement, patients arrive and they count head to other injuries and report on that, for helmeted 5.7 to 102 in the made up example provided, 4.75%. For non-wearers, 10 to 90 , 11.1%. Compare the two figures 4.75 to 11.1 and doctors will assume a major benefit.

In general injuries to cyclists are not serious, lowest number of days in hospital compared to other road users. Mills reported that 66% of cyclist's admissions were detained for just one night and most of the casualties with cranium injuries were admitted for overnight observation.

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1182.html
For the 57 cm headform, which fitted more snugly than the 54 cm headform, rotational accelerations from the oblique impact test averaged 13,500 rad/s², a level expected to produce a 35-50% risk of serious AIS3+ brain injury, higher than predicted for a non-helmeted head. Report PPR213 adds: “For rotational accelerations the research shows that concussion, AIS 1-2, can occur at 5,000 rad/s² and fatal injury AIS 5-6 at 10,000 rad/s². This correlates with data from the same research that indicates there is a 35% risk of a brain injury of AIS 3-6 at 10,000 rad/s².”

The conclusion from this info tends towards saying helmets increase injuries and may not provide the head protection expected.

Jonty

Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby Jonty » 30 Sep 2010, 11:22am

Steadrider - even if one were to accept the above stated statistical association between helmet use and fatalities, it may not be a causal relationship.
It may be, as others have implied, that cyclists who tend to ride quickly on dangerous roads or go mountain biking, tend to have a greater propensity to wear helmets than other cyclists and they therefore tend to be disproportionately killed or severely injured by head injury because of where and how they ride.
On the rotational forces issue it may be the case that in some circumstances helmet wearing can increase the risk in the same way that not wearing a helmet can in some circumstances can increase risk.
But I think the argument that helmet use increases the overall risk of serious head injury would be difficult to sustain, even amongst the most fervent ant-helmeteers on this forum, most of whom seem now to accept that it reduces fatalities by about 1 in 10 or 1 in 7.
jonty :|

snibgo
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby snibgo » 30 Sep 2010, 12:25pm

Jonty wrote:But I think the argument that helmet use increases the overall risk of serious head injury would be difficult to sustain, even amongst the most fervent ant-helmeteers on this forum, most of whom seem now to accept that it reduces fatalities by about 1 in 10 or 1 in 7.


I'm not an anti-helmeteer, but I wouldn't accept that figure, at least not unless it was qualified.

I accept that in the event of a head-injuring accident, they will reduce fatalities in that proportion.

But I'm worried about whether they increase the chances of such an accident.

EDIT: I mean, in the event of an accident that injures the head but not the rest of the body

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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby byegad » 30 Sep 2010, 12:51pm

The worry is that a well meant helmet law (I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories on why compulsion may be enacted.) will reduce cycle use and so we lose the well documented safety in numbers for those of us who continue to ride.

We can add in lots of reasons why cycling is good for you and so on, but the bottom line is all of us who would continue to cycle will be made less safe by a reduction in cycle use such as has been seen wherever compulsion is enacted.

I'm all in favour of those who think helmets are a 'good thing' to wear them, although it is possible that as use goes up none cyclists will perceive the pass time as dangerous when by and large it isn't. But I don't want to see compulsion.
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Re: Northern Ireland proposes cycle helmet law

Postby MartinC » 30 Sep 2010, 1:33pm

Jonty wrote:But I think the argument that helmet use increases the overall risk of serious head injury would be difficult to sustain, even amongst the most fervent ant-helmeteers on this forum, most of whom seem now to accept that it reduces fatalities by about 1 in 10 or 1 in 7.
jonty :|


I'm not anti-helmet and I'm definitely not fervent.

I don't accept the 1 in 10 or 1 in 7 figures - they're derived from someones assumptions not from statistics.

The increased risk of is evident from the figures so the correlation is very sustainable but any theory of a casual relationship isn't. But i'm not aware of anyone proposing one.

There's too much hyperbole in your posts - it doesn't help your proposition.