Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

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.
fast but dim
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Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby fast but dim » 16 Aug 2014, 3:41pm

I know it's a hot topic here, and I sit (sat) on the fence about helmet wearing ( I'm actually led on the couch, unable to walk :oops: )

I wear one, maily because my wife goes mad if I don't :D , 90% of the time, always for my commute and club rides / training rides, but not for leisure rides.

I went out Weds for a 50 miler on the flat (part of route 91 in west lancs), and as I was only going to take it easy wasn't going to bother with a lid. It started to rain, so I put it on, mainly to kkep my head dry!

20 miles in, I was riding non-handed eating, and got hit by a crosswind, and went over the bars at 16 mph, landing on my head and elbow. I was briefly knocked out, but managed to get to the side of the road, gather my thoughts, and get back on the bike after 5 mins. I made it home under my own steam (10 miles), whinging and moaning like a(n infant). << Graham >>

Without my helmet I would have been in a lot of trouble. I hit the ground hard with my head, hard enough to have suffered a serious injury without my helmet. As it stands I am resonably ok..... I've spent 24 hrs in hosptal due to a large (melon sized) Haematoma on my hip. Without the lid I'd still be on a ward.

I won't be riding again without a helmet. The only reasons not to are vanity / overheating / laziness, which in now way outweigh the pros.
Last edited by Graham on 17 Aug 2014, 1:35pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: My apology to infant(s), but less derogatory than using "girl" in this phrase.

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honesty
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby honesty » 16 Aug 2014, 3:58pm

Or you could have stopped and ate on the side of the road, thereby completely removing the chance of accident in the first place...

Bicycler
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby Bicycler » 16 Aug 2014, 4:03pm

I can fully understand why you might believe that the helmet saved you from more serious injury. We all hear these stories umpteen times a year. So many incidents which would have resulted in serious injury or death had the individual not been wearing a helmet and what we hear must surely be the tip of the iceberg. The problem is that when we look at population statistics helmetless people do not seem to be injured more frequently or more severely than helmeted riders. Unfortunately that suggests that people overestimate the additional protection provided by helmets or helmeted people suffer a significantly higher incidence of head impacts.

As you acknowledge there is a debate. The debate exists because the evidence is not clear and I suspect that your additional piece of anecdotal evidence is unlikely to sway those who have remained hitherto unconvinced. I think you are doing many of us a severe disservice by dismissing our concerns as merely down to
vanity / overheating / laziness, which in now way outweigh the pros


I may be stating the obvious here but prevention is better than a cure. Surely the lesson learned from your experience and thus the emphasis of your earnest forum thread should be "keep hold of your handlebars and in proper control of your bike" rather than "wear a helmet"

I'm glad you were not more seriously hurt and hope you are able to get back on your bike in the very near future :)

fast but dim
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby fast but dim » 16 Aug 2014, 4:31pm

honesty wrote:Or you could have stopped and ate on the side of the road, thereby completely removing the chance of accident in the first place...


:D Touche. I've ridden non- handed thousands of times before, and never fallen off doing so. until wednesday form me, statistically,riding non-handed was 100% safe. it is now only 99.9% safe, assuming I've done it 1000 times.

Bicycler: I can assure you I am not overestimating the protection afforded in this instance by my helmet, or the severity of the impact. As a firefighter and trauma technician with experience of head injuries, a former boxer who has been knocked out a handful of times, and a former builder who knows how hard and abraisive tarmac is, I hit the ground hard enough to suffer a head injury severe enough to have needed surgery and a lengthy stay in hospital, had I not been wearing a helmet.

I was riding non handed unnecessarily (putting a straw into a smoothie carton) and I should have stopped to do it, so I have to admit to having learned two lessons: stop to eat, and wear a helmet.

Both of which are, in my opinion, unarguably good advice. I will still ride non handed, and helmetless occasionally, but if I hurt myself seriously doing either, will have only myself to blame.

irc
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby irc » 16 Aug 2014, 4:48pm

fast but dim wrote:I won't be riding again without a helmet. The only reasons not to are vanity / overheating / laziness, which in now way outweigh the pros.


Your choice of course. I'll continue to ride without a helmet because I think my risk is low. I've never had an injury crash. But then I don't eat while riding no hands in windy conditions either.

mnichols
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby mnichols » 16 Aug 2014, 4:58pm

I'm a statistician and common sense would suggest there is something wrong with the study or the inference being drawn from the data (more likely)
How can not wearing a helmet be as safe as wearing one?
If those were my stats I'd be going back to look at my samples, there must be another factor involved - I.e., the two samples aren't the same.
I would do the tests on crash test dummies to eliminate other factors and subject them to a range of collisions and observe the results.
Also, If I was doing the recommendations I would struggle to come up with many benefits to not wearing a helmet.
Its personal choice, but even if the benefits were marginal I would struggle to see the logic in not wearing one.

irc
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby irc » 16 Aug 2014, 5:06pm

mnichols wrote:Its personal choice, but even if the benefits were marginal I would struggle to see the logic in not wearing one.


So do you wear one while walking then? No disadvantages and marginal benefit.

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honesty
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby honesty » 16 Aug 2014, 5:15pm

The main reason to not wear one for me is this - your are as likely to suffer head trauma whilst walking. Therefore if wearing a helmet is beneficial when cycling it therefore follows that wearing one whilst walking will be beneficial as well. If you don't wear one whilst walking and insist on wearing one when cycling something is squiffy with your decision making.

Ignoring all discussions about effectiveness though, the best way to keep cyclists safe is to segregate them from cars on proper cycling facilities. Discussing helmets is generally ignoring the causes of most accidents and insisting on the victim sorting out the problem. Its the old "she shouldn't have been wearing that if she didn't want it" argument...

mnichols
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby mnichols » 16 Aug 2014, 5:38pm

You are using analogy not logic

A logistician would weigh up the provable advantages and disadvantages between two or more courses of action and make a decision based on mathematically derived conclusssions.

Walking is not comparable. I don't walk down 10,000 miles of busy roads each year and I don't have my back to the traffic. I mostly use the pavement the majority of the time spent on the road is spent crossing it at specially designed junctions (zebra crossings, etc). The risks are not comparable and the analogy is therefore invalid.

irc
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby irc » 16 Aug 2014, 5:43pm

mnichols wrote:Walking is not comparable. I don't walk down 10,000 miles of busy roads each year and I don't have my back to the traffic. I mostly use the pavement the majority of the time spent on the road is spent crossing it at specially designed junctions (zebra crossings, etc). The risks are not comparable and the analogy is therefore invalid.


Back to traffic is irrelevant. I use a mirror rather than wear a helmet and trust drivers not to hit me.

The risks are comparable.

peds 2.jpg


From Page 25

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/s ... mplete.pdf

Bicycler
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby Bicycler » 16 Aug 2014, 5:46pm

Luckily the whole segregation debate is rather irrelevant to cyclists who get blown off their bikes in the wind.

mnichols wrote:I'm a statistician and common sense would suggest there is something wrong with the study or the inference being drawn from the data (more likely)
How can not wearing a helmet be as safe as wearing one?

You can only ask that question starting from the belief that they do more good than harm. As that is the question under discussion it would be a poor position to start from. Common sense is only of any use until actual evidence appears. A recent thread in this section was interesting in pointing out how evidence has resulted in a retreat from what had seemed to be the common sense position. How can not wearing protective boxing headgear be safer than wearing it? viewtopic.php?f=41&t=88936

I would do the tests on crash test dummies to eliminate other factors and subject them to a range of collisions and observe the results.

But the factors you are eliminating are relevant. If I were interested in buying a helmet, I would want to know how the bigger chance of collisions (resulting from the much bigger headform and any risk compensation effect) whilst wearing the helmet affects my chance of head injury, compared to not wearing it and having a smaller headform but being without the polystyrene protection. I would want to know about the incidence of rotational injuries whilst wearing and when not wearing a helmet. Lastly I would like to know the approximate risk of serious head injury so that I could make my decision with some sense of perspective.

Your narrow test might be better for estimating the effectiveness of helmets in mitigating very specific impacts but ignore some of the complexities of real world collisions. A potential helmet buyer wants to know the extent to which it affects his chances of serious injury, not how well it performs against a standardised laboratory impact test.
Last edited by Bicycler on 16 Aug 2014, 5:52pm, edited 1 time in total.

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honesty
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby honesty » 16 Aug 2014, 5:52pm

Not really. You are conflating personal situation against statistical information based on population data. Both are forms of transport that have an associated risk of head injury to them. If you're going to ignore the risk in one form of transport and accept it for another form of transport, either the risk for you is much greater in one than the other (you cycle a lot but never walk anywhere) or your just being stubborn.

irc
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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby irc » 16 Aug 2014, 6:02pm

honesty wrote:Not really. You are conflating personal situation against statistical information based on population data. Both are forms of transport that have an associated risk of head injury to them. If you're going to ignore the risk in one form of transport and accept it for another form of transport, either the risk for you is much greater in one than the other (you cycle a lot but never walk anywhere) or your just being stubborn.


Obviously everyone's risk profile is different depending on their skill, experience, where they ride, etc. So wearing a helmet can be a valid choice for any individual. On a population basis though either both pedestrians and cyclist need helmets or neither do. I suspect neither but could be persuaded that there may be a small, say 10% overall benefit from helmets.

With Dft stats suggesting 1 cyclist fatality every 28 million miles I'll take the minimal (if any) extra risk of not wearing a helmet. Even the Boris Bikes had some 34 million miles clocked up before the first fatality and I'd suggest central London is a more challenging riding environment than most.

http://understandinguncertainty.org/fat ... oris-bikes

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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby mnichols » 16 Aug 2014, 6:07pm

Just because things appear on the same chart doesn't mean that you can infer the same rules apply to all of them. This is your inference and not implicit in the data that the chart is showing.

There is data (fact). The inference that you draw from the fact (opinion) and then recommendation (don't wear a helmet) which is based on the opinion and now two steps removed from the fact.

I cannot see why you would infer from that chart that it is as safe not to wear a helmet. Using your method the same rules would have to apply to motorcyclists and pedestrians and this is self evidently not true.

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Re: Near miss, saved by helmet.Lesson learned

Postby mjr » 16 Aug 2014, 6:20pm

I'm also a statistician (1997 graduate from UEA). I don't wear a helmet except when engaging in riskier cycling (icy roads, mainly) because wearing one introduces a whole new range of risks from strapping a weight to the top of my head which I judge to outweigh the reductions. After all, I've ridden 30+ years and not yet hit my head in a crash, unlike when walking!

I agree some crash test dummies and measurements would be best, but there's depressingly few of those published. Studies seem to use disembodied heads or at best torsos, which doesn't seem realistic to me. I'm not sure if that's because of cost, or some scarier reason.
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