Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

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Steady rider
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Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby Steady rider » 5 Mar 2014, 6:29pm

http://data.parliament.uk/writteneviden ... eHtml/7077

A case for revising cycle helmet advice in the Highway Code

Great Britain accident data on the rate of killed and seriously injured per billion miles travelled shows that from 2002 to 2012 cyclists had an increase of 19% compared with a general reduction for other road users of 35%. In 2012 GB accident data shows 3340 cyclist cases of killed or serious injuries and indicates urgent action should be a priority.

Cycle helmets
One important issue is regarding fair accident compensation and equality before the law for people cycling without a helmet. The advice to wear a cycle helmet was added to the Highway Code in 1993. At that time evidence for helmets providing a benefit was mixed, as is the case today. Reports published in 1992 from Victoria, Australia suggested a major benefit from helmet use but later these claims were substantially reduced. In 1996 a report (ref 1) detailed the outcome from legislation in some Australian states. The outcome raised concerns, for example; Robinson 1996 reported survey results for children in New South Wales 2 years after their helmet law, 569 extra wearing helmets compared with 2658 fewer counted. A reduction of 44% in children cycling and evidence suggests that this has had a long term effect. The number of injuries to children was compared to the level of cycling activity to provide estimates of the ‘equivalent number of injuries for pre law numbers of cyclists’, Table 2 in the 1996 report. The equivalent number of injuries for pre-law number of cyclists increased from 1310 (384 head + 926 other injuries) in 1991 to 2083 (488 head + 1595 other injuries) in 1993, effectively an increase of 59%. For the state of Victoria details provided also indicated a reduction in safety for children in addition to discouraging cycling.

The Department for Transport published a lengthy report in 2002 (ref 2) that has been referred to by Minsters and in Parliament. It omitted to include details for NSW, the largest and only state in Australia that had conducted widespread surveys for the state and were conducted over a 4 year period. In 2007 Erke and Elvik (ref 3) 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." In 2008, Curnow (ref 4) concluded: “Compulsion to wear a bicycle helmet is detrimental to public health in Australia but, to maintain the status quo, authorities have obfuscated evidence that shows this”.

In 2009 a UK report (ref 5) estimated that helmets may provide a benefit but their findings have been questioned (ref 6) .

In 2010 a New Zealand report (ref 7) stated; ‘Of particular concern are children and adolescents who have experienced the greatest increase in the risk of cycling injuries despite a substantial decline in the amount of cycling over the past two decades’.

In 2012 Clarke reported (ref ) on New Zealand and provided a Summary;
The following trends were observed following the introduction of New Zealand’s helmet law:
• Cycling usage reduced by 51%.
• Cyclist’s injury risk per hour increased by 20–32%.
• Estimated to have contributed to 53 premature deaths per year (due to reluctance to cycle and hence people not exercising).
• Thousands of fines are issued annually for not wearing a helmet.
• May contribute to discrimination in accident compensation and the legal processes.
• Could have contributed to environmental pollution and environmental harm (due to use of vehicles in place of cycles).
• Possibly diminishes civil liberties and human rights (by imposing a requirement to wear a helmet when several reports raise serious doubts whether they improve safety overall).

For Canada, Clarke provided information suggesting helmet use may have contributed to an increase in the accident rate. http://www.cycle-helmets.com/canada-hel ... ssment.doc .

In 2013 the British Medical Journal reported (ref 9) ‘Benefit of cycle helmet laws to reduce head injuries still uncertain’ .

Robinson 1996 related injuries to counts of cyclists and Clarke 2012 related injuries to hours cycled, giving a better indication of safety effects and both indicated a negative outcome and that there are safety concerns.

There are a wide range of helmets available with various designs. They are tested to standards that do not include rotational acceleration aspects. One main cause of severe brain injury is rotational accelerations and helmets incur more impacts than a bare head due to their increased size. An element of uncertainty exists about how safe or otherwise any particular helmet may be. Curnow (ref 10) provided a scientific evaluation explaining the importance of rotational acceleration and the background leading to its understanding.

Concerns exist about the Highway Code’s advice because serious doubts exist as to whether helmet wearing improves safety overall, not just in providing protection in the event of a fall or in some types of collision. Also concerns about the implications in accident compensation cases where the Highway Code is quoted and used to effectively reduce compensation for a non-helmeted cyclist compared to helmeted ones or other road users. A reduction in compensation has been reported in some cases (ref 11, 12).The Human Rights principles of all are equal before the law needs to fully apply and be respected.

The other approach to cycle helmets is that they may offer a degree of protection and should be encouraged and especially for children. Children tend to have falls resulting in minor head injuries. A number of reports have compared medical outcomes for wearers and non-wearers and concluded that helmets may provide a benefit but usually they do not provide data on the risk per hour of activity. Researchers have noticed differences in the type of cyclists who wear/not wear helmets and in part this would have a bearing on the injuries sustained. As an example in fatality cases helmet wearers may have low levels of alcohol use and non-wearers probably have higher levels and could be similar to the levels of pedestrians. Racing cyclists riding in groups incur higher risks than normal cycling and often wear helmets for protection.

The issue is not simply one of safety. The health benefits of cycling, in life years gained have been estimated to exceed life years lost by a factor of 20 to 1 (ref 13). Socially people may prefer cycling to be a normal activity that does not require wearing extra safety aids. Children were reported expelled from school in Derby for refusing to wear helmets when cycling to school (GMTV 2 December 1997). The Advertising Standards Authority objected to a lady being shown cycling without a helmet (ref 14). Some groups in the UK are seeking helmet legislation and any advert showing a cyclist without a helmet could draw their attention. Postal workers have been forced to wear helmets against there wishes (15). The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not require employees to wear cycle helmets. Cycle helmets used on the public highway are specifically excluded from the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at work regulations (ref 16).

For cyclists the Highway Code states, ‘You should wear’- followed by a list including helmets and for pedestrians a different approach is taken of, ‘Help other road users to see you’ followed by advice. The two have important different legal implications.

From 1993 to 2013 a number of unexpected consequences have occurred in regards to cycle helmets. Parliament may wish to reconsider the advice in the Highway Code.

The following options may be suitable to address the issue.

The Introduction to the Highway Code includes:
“Although failure to comply with the other rules of The Highway Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts (see The road user and the law) to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’.” https://www.gov.uk/highway-code/introduction

Adding a sentence to the ‘Introduction’,
“However, liability should not be based on wearing extra safety aids in the case of pedestrians and cyclists.” and revising Rule 59, omitting ’should’ as below.

Rule 59
https://www.gov.uk/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82
Rewording Rule 59,
Clothing.
• Wear appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
• Wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
• Wear reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.
• If wearing a cycle helmet please ensure it conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened (evidence for the safety benefits of helmets is still under consideration).

Alternatively, omit any advice to wear cycle helmets and include the additional sentence to the ‘Introduction’.

The above suggestions may be suitable for an amendment to the Code. The CTC provides additional information on cycle helmets (ref 17). The Cyclist Defend Fund mentions the issue of contributory negligence is a worrying question for litigators and litigants alike – not to mention cyclists (ref 18).

In May 2013 the Cyclists’ Touring Club (National Cycling Charity) voted to improve safety and seek changes to the Highway Code, (vote 2665 for, 7 against, refer
http://www.ctc.org.uk/sites/default/fil ... rt2013.pdf
http://www.ctc.org.uk/file/Public/agmagenda.pdf

Recent questions in the House of Lords by Lord Greaves [Appendix A, HL5480, HL5477, HL5478 and HL5479] reveal some of the issues that may be involved in strengthening the cycle safety provisions of the Highway Code; Opening car doors and considering setting a minimum passing distance for drivers overtaking cyclists are two examples.


Appendix A

Cyclists: Fatalities
Question
Asked by Lord Greaves
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many cyclists have been killed or seriously injured in each of the last five years as a result of the opening of car doors into their path.[HL5480]
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The number of reported cyclist that have been killed or seriously injured as a result of hitting an open door of a car is given in the table:
26 Feb 2014 : Column WA262
Number of killed or seriously injured cyclists
2008 33
2009 29
2010 41
2011 57
2012 78
Data for year 2013 will be available in June 2014.

Cyclists: Safety
Questions
Asked by Lord Greaves
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to strengthen the cycle safety provisions of the Highway Code in accordance with proposals by British Cycling and the Cyclists' Touring Club or in any other way.[HL5477]
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Highway Code was last revised in September 2007, and there are currently no plans to carry out another revision, which is a time consuming and expensive exercise. Nevertheless, when the next revision to the Highway Code is carried out the rules on cycling and cycle safety will be reviewed, as with other sections of the document. Any changes will be subject to public consultation.

Asked by Lord Greaves
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered the impact on cycling safety of setting a minimum passing distance for drivers overtaking cyclists.[HL5478]
Baroness Kramer: The Department for Transport has not carried out any work specifically to investigate the impact of setting a minimum passing distance. However, the Highway Code makes clear that drivers should give cyclists plenty of room when passing, including giving them time and space to carry out manoeuvres.

Asked by Lord Greaves
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice they have given to police forces in relation to apprehending cyclists who are not wearing helmets or high visibility clothing.[HL5479]
Baroness Kramer: The Department for Transport recommends the wearing of helmets and high visibility clothing through the Highway Code and our THINK Cyclist campaign. If cyclists decide not to wear helmets or high visibility clothing, that is a matter for them. We have therefore not issued any further advice to police.
26 Feb 2014 : Column WA263

Refs
1 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
2 Bicycle helmets - a review of their effectiveness: a critical review of the literature
Road Safety Research Report No 30, Towner, Dowswell, Burkes, Dickinson & Hayes. Department for Transport, London, November 2002.
3 Erke A, Elvik R, Making Vision Zero real: Preventing Pedestrian Accidents And Making Them Less Severe, Oslo June 2007. page 28 http://www.cycle-helmets.com/norway.pdf
4 Curnow WJ, Bicycle helmets and public health in Australia, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2008 Apr;19(1):10-15.
6 The potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury – a review of the evidence
Hynd D, Cuerden R, Reid S, Adams S. Transport Research Laboratory report PPR446, 2009.
6 http://cyclehelmets.org/1230.html accessed 4.3.2014
7 Tin Tin S. Injuries to pedal cyclists on New Zealand roads, 1988-2007. BMC Public Health 2010;10:655. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/10/655 accessed 10.2.2014
8 Clarke, CF, Evaluation of New Zealand’s bicycle law, NZMJ 10 February 2012, Vol 125 No 1349
http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/125-1349/5046/ accessed 11.1.2014
9 Benefit of cycle helmet laws to reduce head injuries still uncertain http://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2013/ ... -uncertain access 4.2.2014
10 Curnow B, BICYCLE HELMETS: A SCIENTIFIC EVALUATION, Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2008 http://cyclehelmets.org/papers/p787.pdf,
11 http://ukcyclerules.com/2011/09/08/cycl ... an-update/
12 http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/Archive/ ... le-Helmets , accessed 4.3.2014
13 Hillman M, Cycling and the promotion of health, Policy Studies Vol 14, Policy Studies Institute, London 1993.
14 Advertising watchdog’s helmet ruling threatens the promotion of normal cycling, Roger Geffen, 28 January 2014 http://www.ctc.org.uk/news/advertising- ... al-cycling
15 Private communications, with postal workers and HSE, 2006
16 http://cyclehelmets.org/1061.html accessed 4.3.2014
17 Cycle helmets: the evidence, http://www.ctc.org.uk/campaign/cycle-helmets-evidence
18 Cycle Helmets and the Law , http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/c ... ts-and-law accessed 4.3.2014
Last edited by Steady rider on 18 Mar 2014, 3:50pm, edited 1 time in total.

AlaninWales
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby AlaninWales » 6 Mar 2014, 9:16am

All your own work? Or is there a link to the original somewhere? :wink:

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pjclinch
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby pjclinch » 6 Mar 2014, 10:27am

AlaninWales wrote:All your own work? Or is there a link to the original somewhere? :wink:


If you followed matters concerning helmets you'd realise that that's almost certainly all Colin's own work, excepting the bits he's clearly referenced for you.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

Steady rider
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby Steady rider » 6 Mar 2014, 11:10am

Yes, my work. A link may be possible shortly, I will let you know if it happens.

AlaninWales
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby AlaninWales » 6 Mar 2014, 12:10pm

pjclinch wrote:
AlaninWales wrote:All your own work? Or is there a link to the original somewhere? :wink:


If you followed matters concerning helmets you'd realise that that's almost certainly all Colin's own work, excepting the bits he's clearly referenced for you.

I don't "follow matters concerning helmets" particulrly. I asked because whilst it is well constructed, if using it to summarise the issue for another (not necessarily sympathetic) forum it is better to link to a statement by an official body (even CTC!) than "some random post by a bloke on a cyclists' forum" which is what this would undoubtedly be seen as.

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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby pjclinch » 6 Mar 2014, 12:30pm

AlaninWales wrote:
pjclinch wrote:
AlaninWales wrote:All your own work? Or is there a link to the original somewhere? :wink:


If you followed matters concerning helmets you'd realise that that's almost certainly all Colin's own work, excepting the bits he's clearly referenced for you.

I don't "follow matters concerning helmets" particulrly. I asked because whilst it is well constructed, if using it to summarise the issue for another (not necessarily sympathetic) forum it is better to link to a statement by an official body (even CTC!) than "some random post by a bloke on a cyclists' forum" which is what this would undoubtedly be seen as.


Was it really necessary to add a winking smiley, in that case?
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

AlaninWales
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby AlaninWales » 6 Mar 2014, 1:13pm

pjclinch wrote:
AlaninWales wrote:Was it really necessary to add a winking smiley, in that case?

Eh? Smilies are provided to allow 'something other' than the impersonal typed word allows: So you are criticising me for trying to be other than remote and impersonal :shock: ? Strange life you have friend.

Steady rider
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby Steady rider » 6 Mar 2014, 2:20pm

Hi Alan in Wales
On this CTC site there are some very well informed cyclists who have written about helmets in the past. My contribution may provide a bit more information and connectivity of information to consider. If you google the Highway Code some of the details can be checked.

https://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/helmet/helm_fl.htm it details the Florida helmet law, note
(19) The failure of a person to wear a bicycle helmet or the failure of a parent or guardian to prevent a child from riding a bicycle without a bicycle helmet may not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.


I would not say it is a failure not to wear a helmet, it is simply a choice they make. 'Failure' in my view is the wrong word.
revising the section 19 for them, could read;
(19) A person choosing to cycle without a bicycle helmet or a parent or guardian allowing a child to ride a bicycle without a bicycle helmet may not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.

This could I suppose be used in our Highway Code. But I suggested something that covers helmets/hi vis clothing or any extra safety item people may wear.
However, liability should not be based on wearing extra safety aids in the case of pedestrians and cyclists


The above covers both cyclists and pedestrians, allowing normal cloths and being entitled to full compensation when due.

AlaninWales
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby AlaninWales » 6 Mar 2014, 2:59pm

Hi Steady rider, I sometimes spend long, tiring threads trying to persuade supposedly advanced drivers that it is the driver's responsibility not to bring danger. Despite being the type that will agree they should be able to stop in the distance they can see to be clear, they still bring up the requirement for HiViz (for pedestrians as well as cyclists) and helmets - lack of evidencing "not taking personal responsibility" for safety. I am constantly on the lookout therefore for 'standards' sites which demonstrate why these things do not necessarily bringf safety; I have a couple of standard links I use, but thought your post looked like it may be another one: No offence intended :wink:

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mjr
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby mjr » 6 Mar 2014, 3:23pm

AlaninWales wrote:Eh? Smilies are provided to allow 'something other' than the impersonal typed word allows: So you are criticising me for trying to be other than remote and impersonal :shock: ? Strange life you have friend.

No, he's criticising you for conveying a wink (usually indicates sarcasm or other jokey nature) at the end of that question if it wasn't a sly dig or joke or something! HTH :-)
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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AlaninWales
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby AlaninWales » 6 Mar 2014, 4:09pm

mjr wrote:
AlaninWales wrote:Eh? Smilies are provided to allow 'something other' than the impersonal typed word allows: So you are criticising me for trying to be other than remote and impersonal :shock: ? Strange life you have friend.

No, he's criticising you for conveying a wink (usually indicates sarcasm or other jokey nature) at the end of that question if it wasn't a sly dig or joke or something! HTH :-)

Well, it helps (sort of) to realise why pjclinch seemed to be offended, so I did a quick search to see whether I was contravening some well-known internet mores here: However the only reference to sarcasm I can find when searching for what the wink emoticon means, is the frown-wink which "can be" sarcasm, and "is easily misunderstood". My conclusion is that there is no evidence that " a wink (usually indicates sarcasm or other jokey nature) ".

Might I suggest that different people use the emoticons differently: To be offended by :wink: appended to a post, is to over-interpret by projecting one's own usage onto others (unless of course there are forum-specific rules somewhere about this?).

BTW "sarcasm or other jokey nature" - I don't see the type of wit exercised by sarcasm as particularly jokey myself, but perhaps that is the way I personally use the language (and is certainly off topic).

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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby RickH » 6 Mar 2014, 4:47pm

To avoid confusion over humour, maybe we should adopt the system proposed in this "ancient" article.

Rick.

AlaninWales
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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby AlaninWales » 6 Mar 2014, 4:56pm

RickH wrote:To avoid confusion over humour, maybe we should adopt the system proposed in this "ancient" article.

Rick.

Oh thank you your excellency, I think that's an excellent suggestion! :lol:
(but I 'as troubles wiv me code pages y'know)

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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby Tonyf33 » 6 Mar 2014, 5:51pm

I'd be looking to have any references to hi-vis and helmets removed from the highway code altogether. Those in motorvehicles have by far the greatest responsibility and the constant batterings everywhere trying to force you to wear hi-vis/flourescents and/or helmets just sticks in the craw.
Even a large proportion of cyclists actually believe that these things reduce incidents when the evidence clearly shows it doesn't. Given the huge increase in helmet/hi vis wearing over the last 20 odd years you would think that the rates of decline of incidents/head injuries involving cyclists wearing such would be down by a very significant %.
Hardly ever do I hear a helmet saved my life 'story', hardly ever do I hear that despite hi-vis (and lights at night) a cyclist was mown down, nope helmets & hi-vis surely work a treat.. :roll: :x :x

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Re: Highway Code and advice on cycle helmets

Postby Steady rider » 18 Mar 2014, 3:51pm

http://data.parliament.uk/writteneviden ... eHtml/7077
added a link showing where the information is published, Transport Select Committee, Written Evidence.