yet another boring helmet thread

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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hubgearfreak
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby hubgearfreak » 14 Jan 2011, 5:07pm

horizon wrote:Group X:


breaks up the working day i suppose?

but if you're not bothered, why are you against compulsion. doesn't that [b]make you bothered?

Ellieb
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby Ellieb » 14 Jan 2011, 5:17pm

If you are not worried one way or the other about cycling helmets why should being compelled to wear one concern you?

(rhetorical question btw)

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bovlomov
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby bovlomov » 14 Jan 2011, 8:18pm

Ellieb wrote:If you are not worried one way or the other about cycling helmets why should being compelled to wear one concern you?

(rhetorical question btw)

Could be principle. There's more that motivates people than plain self-interest.

For example, I'm not a climber. It still concerns me when I hear talk of compulsory insurance for climbers. And I'm not a fish, but I'm concerned when I hear of a river being poisoned.

(Oh! We're not supposed to answer rhetorical questions)(are we?)

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horizon
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby horizon » 14 Jan 2011, 10:23pm

hubgearfreak wrote:
horizon wrote:Group X:


breaks up the working day i suppose?

but if you're not bothered, why are you against compulsion. doesn't that [b]make you bothered?


That's a fair question. Up until now the discussion has been about the efficacy of helmets. I don't wear one but that's more due to habit than opinion. If helmets looked as though they might become compulsory, that would intensify the debate. However it is just as likely that a broad consensus would develop on the forum against compulsion.

What interests me about the debate is that it is a classic case of individual best interest versus group/social interest. Assuming helmets work (which is another fascinating sub debate), it would be in the best interest of public policy not to make them compulsory (so as not to disencourage cycling and the safety in numbers effect). However it would still be in the best interest of public policy to encourage their use without discouraging cycling - a tricky one to achieve. At the same time however, it is in the best interest of the individual to wear one while hoping that they aren't made compulsory as this might reduce the safety in numbers effect.

However all of the above presumes that helmets work, which isn't universally agreed.

And now I can add another complication or two:

Assuming they work, but are not compulsory, some people may choose not to wear them for other reasons (e.g. comfort, risk compensation etc.)

Assuming they work and are compulsory, some people may still choose not to wear them (protest, take a chance or disbelieve that they work - this was my position when I was cycling in Spain).

Assuming that they don't work and they aren't compulsory, some people may still choose to wear them as a measure of conformity (as in "they might not be much good but they are what a responsible person would wear"). I don't think we have explored this very much on the forum - there is a huge disjuncture between one's self belief as a responsible citizen and refusing to wear something that is seen as effective and responsible by your fellow citizens.

Another element of the debate that entrances me is that a helmet appears to be self evidently functional. That this is challenged raises all kinds of interesting points about how we assess the information before our own eyes - do we really need proof that they work?

Given all of the above I stand by my position that the debate is a fascinating one and that I am grateful to the proponents on both sides for keeping it running. It ain't over yet. :D
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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hubgearfreak
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby hubgearfreak » 14 Jan 2011, 11:28pm

horizon wrote:Assuming that they don't work and they aren't compulsory, some people may still choose to wear them as a measure of conformity


IIRC our very own beloved thirdcrank is in this group, but to save his family having to argue with a slimy solicitor saying that it's his own fault he died when the driver wasn't looking. have i remembered that correctly?

horizon wrote:do we really need proof that they work?


if that was forthcoming, it would alter the debate considerably. but helmets have been on the marketplace for what, 30 years or so and no manufacturers have yet said anything. if there was any proof, i doubt the marketeerswould have missed using it.
instead the adverts seem to rely heavily on the fact that their new model is x grammes lighter and with y% more airflow.
it seems obvious to those in group A that this is still an infinite % heavier than no hemlet, and also an infinite % greater airflow restriction

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simon1
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby simon1 » 14 Jan 2011, 11:32pm

I love these threads!

We debate whether they should be compulsory, or optional. No-one ever seems to suggest banning helmets!

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meic
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby meic » 14 Jan 2011, 11:33pm

Except the Dutch!
Yma o Hyd

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hubgearfreak
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby hubgearfreak » 14 Jan 2011, 11:51pm

simon1 wrote:No-one ever seems to suggest banning helmets!


i've a low opinion of them (below), but freedom of choice must come first

hubgearfreak wrote:then there's me, who thinks that to wear one makes an everyday and safe activity appear more dangerous than it actually is. i believe that this will discourage cycling, and as a contributor to public health, reducing finite fuel use, reducing pollution and reducing congestion, cycling is too important to risk discouring it. to discourage cycling is a bad thing. the real group A - and i can't be the only one am i?

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horizon
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby horizon » 14 Jan 2011, 11:59pm

hubgearfreak wrote:
horizon wrote:Assuming that they don't work and they aren't compulsory, some people may still choose to wear them as a measure of conformity


IIRC our very own beloved thirdcrank is in this group, but to save his family having to argue with a slimy solicitor saying that it's his own fault he died when the driver wasn't looking. have i remembered that correctly?



Sort of, but I think thirdcrank had a slightly different take on it, perhaps a "Well I wore it, so now what?" approach. When I talk about conformity I mean a much deeper psychological need to be consistent with our own sense of self as in "I see myself as a socially responsible person. Socially responsible people wear helmets, so I shall wear a helmet". That isn't a criticism - I'm grateful to such people and we all need to take such decisions to preserve social well being. Helmets however have caused a fault line in this consistency - a bit like when middle class protesters get arrested.
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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hubgearfreak
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby hubgearfreak » 15 Jan 2011, 12:11am

horizon wrote:Helmets however have caused a fault line in this consistency


only because we're all bored of celebrities getting off the ice-factor. otherwise not really. you could take any group of people from here, send them out 20 miles to a cafe and 20 back. we'd all get on and enjoy the day 8)

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horizon
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby horizon » 15 Jan 2011, 12:18am

Actually HGF I meant an internal fault line, though yes it could be social as well. It's a bit like not wearing a tie - it is significant rather than practical.
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

Malaconotus
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby Malaconotus » 15 Jan 2011, 12:52am

I don't normally wear a helmet when cycling, and will consciously not wear one if I know I will be tackling heavy traffic or A roads, but I do wear one when I know I will be riding fast downhill. I am vociferously opposed not only to compulsion but also to promotion of cycle helmet use. I always wear a helmet when a driver or a passenger in a car. I have a carefully considered, evidence-based rationale for all of this.

Are there any letters left and could someone assign me a group please?

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hubgearfreak
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby hubgearfreak » 15 Jan 2011, 1:19am

Malaconotus wrote:Are there any letters left and could someone assign me a group please?


group A. what you do when you're not cycling on the road is of no consequence :P

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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby StopHeadway » 15 Jan 2011, 7:59am

horizon wrote:Assuming that they don't work and they aren't compulsory, some people may still choose to wear them as a measure of conformity (as in "they might not be much good but they are what a responsible person would wear"). I don't think we have explored this very much on the forum - there is a huge disjuncture between one's self belief as a responsible citizen and refusing to wear something that is seen as effective and responsible by your fellow citizens.


An excellent post. I think that this really cuts to the heart of the problem - it's not really to do with arguing whether helmets might save 5 or 10 lives a year (or all 100) but about conformity to a social norm. I think this is largely why so many cyclists are in favour of compulsion - in their heart of hearts they don't really think a helmet will save their life but are forced to wear one by social pressure (explicit or otherwise).

Once you're in that situation, everybody who doesn't wear a helmet is threatening to the peace you've come to with your own choice. Bareheaded cyclists and, increasingly, cyclists who ride without hi-viz are becoming an out-group within cycling as a whole as they challenge the "norm" - you only have to look a second time at all the "£10 helmet for a £10 head" or "obviously nothing worth protecting in there" comments to realise they come from a deep-rooted insecurity.

I've been verbally attacked several times on rides now for not wearing either - it's like it becomes self policing, and certainly that can't be because anonymous third parties who happen to be on a bike have suddenly got public spirit and want to prevent me getting injured. None of them say anything when I drive off with my seatbelt off, for example!

horizon wrote:Another element of the debate that entrances me is that a helmet appears to be self evidently functional. That this is challenged raises all kinds of interesting points about how we assess the information before our own eyes - do we really need proof that they work?


Strike!

Imagine there was some sort of device you could fit to your bike which cost £30-100, had to be carried everywhere off the bike, replaced every 2-3 years, and had the same effect on the injury rate as a helmet does (that is to say, when other countries have made it compulsory, a third of all cycle journeys cease, while the accident rate actually goes *up*).

Who would support it? Nobody. You'd look at the studies and it wouldn't even get off the ground.

Yet bike helmets really do look like they ought to decimate the injury rate. This, plus some pro-helmet research which has long since been discredited but remains universally quoted, has given rise to the social situation described above.

The real struggle against compulsion is rooted in the unfortunate fact that people now don't really care whether helmets work or not - it's not important to them as efficacy is not the real reason why they wear one.

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Cunobelin
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Re: yet another boring helmet thread

Postby Cunobelin » 15 Jan 2011, 9:06am

[quote="hubgearfreak"]

........ but to save his family having to argue with a slimy solicitor saying that it's his own fault he died when the driver wasn't looking. have i remembered that correctly?

Where does that leave us with cyclepaths?

Both are "recommended for use" by the Highway Code, and both have the same argument over whether they are truly beneficial to cyclists.

Should we use a cyclepath where provided simply to avoid arguing with a slimy solicitor?