why is there not a definative study about helments?

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pjclinch
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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby pjclinch » 5 Dec 2014, 11:01am

mjr wrote:
pjclinch wrote:Caving is more constant small knocks caused by some fool making the roof too low, though with the possibility of something falling from higher too.

The better solution is to deal with that bad design, not foist hard hats on everyone! ;-)


Absolutely. And to prevent deflection of low branches being an issue, forest singletrack should be a minimum of 10m wide!

On a more serious note, you're quite right once we get beyond playing silly buggers for our own amusement. If you actually do it by the book, as opposed to by the Daily Wail editorial, then PPE should be the risk management solution of last resort. And if proposed it should actually be a solution, rather than lip-service masquerading as such.

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby drossall » 5 Dec 2014, 1:28pm

pjclinch wrote:I'm pretty sure helmets will have caused some over-cooking of corners and drops over time, but the same can be said of better brakes and suspension. But that doesn't make higher performance bikes which can cause some riders to over-reach a bad thing.

No, but with brakes and suspension you generally get a pretty good idea of how they perform from frequent use. Helmets are more like the salesman convincing you that your new brakes are a vast improvement, and sending you off to test them down an unfamiliar 1:10. Only when you suddenly reach the botttom do you find out whether he knows what he's talking about. But you were convinced, so you're going pretty fast :o

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby pjclinch » 5 Dec 2014, 2:05pm

drossall wrote:
pjclinch wrote:I'm pretty sure helmets will have caused some over-cooking of corners and drops over time, but the same can be said of better brakes and suspension. But that doesn't make higher performance bikes which can cause some riders to over-reach a bad thing.


No, but with brakes and suspension you generally get a pretty good idea of how they perform from frequent use. Helmets are more like the salesman convincing you that your new brakes are a vast improvement, and sending you off to test them down an unfamiliar 1:10. Only when you suddenly reach the botttom do you find out whether he knows what he's talking about. But you were convinced, so you're going pretty fast :o


After a little while with us post-adoption, our son had the BSO he came with replaced with an Islabikes Beinn 20. I pointed out to him that the brakes would be quite a bit more effective than the ones he was used to. A little later he flew over the bars (and survived, despite not being in a helmet, who'd have thought it possible?!) having locked the front solid... The "salesman" had got it right, but experience of the rider was insufficient to use the info. The "frequent use" mentioned translates as experience, but the "I've just bought the best bike I can afford, thus I will magically become a better rider, where are those black trails?" brigade are probably lacking that experience.

The example I've been using of somewhere a helmet is maybe something that might be handy is preventing lacerations from low hanging branches while playing singletrack through the woods. That's something where you can do plenty of "live testing", right alongside how much grip your knobblies give you in decreasing viscosities of porridge. "My helmet saved my life!" incidents, OTOH, aren't...

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby andy65 » 8 Dec 2014, 1:30am

As has been pointed out very eloquently by others a scientific study of any reliability would be too difficult to carry out and would be of little value. In general these types of studies are used by one side of a debate to support their point of view rather than seek any truth, but the same can be said of the arguments that people present. These are just a few that I have noticed.

Number 1 - Helmets encourage risk taking by the wearer. Not necessarily, they may ride that way anyway and all they are doing is taking a very reasonable precaution.

Number 2 - Helmets are pointless because they don't help if you get hit by a motor vehicle. Clearly there are cases where this is true, but you just have to look at head cam footage from cyclists to see that the majority of collisions are lower impact where a helmet could help. Also, more common than this are crashes where the cause is something like the rider loosing control, again times when a helmet could help.

Number 3 - That cycling is less risky than walking, climbing stairs....etc. How do you measure this, time spent doing it, number of journeys? How do you compare the way in which you do it, running on the stairs is more dangerous than walking using the handrail we are told. How do you separate these risk takers from the statistics? This is comparing apples and pears and therefore utterly meaningless. All we can know is that based on the reported deaths and serious injuries that cycling is in the range of what most people would consider and acceptable risk.

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 8 Dec 2014, 8:58am

andy65 wrote:Number 3 - That cycling is less risky than walking, climbing stairs....etc. How do you measure this, time spent doing it, number of journeys? How do you compare the way in which you do it, running on the stairs is more dangerous than walking using the handrail we are told. How do you separate these risk takers from the statistics? This is comparing apples and pears and therefore utterly meaningless. All we can know is that based on the reported deaths and serious injuries that cycling is in the range of what most people would consider and acceptable risk.

That's why I don't walk down the stairs at work - I hold both handrails and avoid al trip hazards by sliding down on the rails ;)
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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby pjclinch » 8 Dec 2014, 11:19am

andy65 wrote:Number 3 - That cycling is less risky than walking, climbing stairs....etc. How do you measure this, time spent doing it, number of journeys?


Preferably as many ways as you can, and publish them all. I think the really important thing here, that is often lost in the i-dotting and t-crossing, is that utility cycling is not unreasonably risky compared to other things we do without thinking, "blimey, that's dangerous, better use some armour!" Cycling is, on average, across the population, slightly less risky in terms of serious injuries per mile travelled than walking. That doesn't mean that on any given trip a random cyclist will be slightly safer than a random walker, but it indicates that typically the cyclist doesn't have an outsize chance of getting in to A&E compared to the pedestrian (terms and conditions apply... depends on the exact route in question, state of repair of the bike, skills and knowledge of the participants, etc. etc.).
But folk in the UK often start off in the mindset of "cycling is dangerous, better do something about it", while for walking they generally don't. That's a difference in perception, rather than actual risk. I think the idea of pointing out stuff like the relative safety given in broad-brush is to try and re-calibrate that perception. It's not that helmets are useless to a cyclist, just that they're not substantially more use to a cyclist (again, T&C apply) than to a pedestrian. Trips and falls are the biggest cause of traumatic brain injury, after all.

andy65 wrote:How do you compare the way in which you do it, running on the stairs is more dangerous than walking using the handrail we are told. How do you separate these risk takers from the statistics? This is comparing apples and pears and therefore utterly meaningless. All we can know is that based on the reported deaths and serious injuries that cycling is in the range of what most people would consider and acceptable risk.


Very good points. The population stats tell us the gross story, which is useful but is a very broad brush. They tell us reasonably well that there isn't currently a sensible case for requiring their use, but the case for individuals to decide is very much up in the air. Fortunately, if you're an individual, you know the things that matter to you and you have a chance to decide.

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby TonyR » 8 Dec 2014, 12:07pm

andy65 wrote:As has been pointed out very eloquently by others a scientific study of any reliability would be too difficult to carry out and would be of little value.


Actually you need to qualify that statement. It would be very easy to carry out a reliable scientific study if the levels of efficacy were around the 85% claimed reduction in head injuries. That magnitude of effect would be dramatically visible in the population data.

The reason why its difficult is because the efficacy, if any, appears to be so modest. So its arguing over whether there is a very minor benefit from wearing a helmet or not, and not what most people think which is arguing over whether it will save lives or not.

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby TonyR » 8 Dec 2014, 12:30pm

pjclinch wrote:Cycling is, on average, across the population, slightly less risky in terms of serious injuries per mile travelled than walking.


Actually cycling is, on average, across the population, a lot less risky in terms of serious injuries per mile travelled than walking. It only becomes slightly less risky if you restrict it to serious injuries from collisions involving vehicles. There is a whole cohort of serious injuries that are not in the usually used statistics which is pedestrians tripping or falling on the highway with no vehicle involved. That number is about six times the number of pedestrian serious injuries involving a vehicle. The comparable number for cyclists is not relevant because they all involve a vehicle - the bike.

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby beardy » 8 Dec 2014, 12:39pm

TonyR wrote:
andy65 wrote:As has been pointed out very eloquently by others a scientific study of any reliability would be too difficult to carry out and would be of little value.


Actually you need to qualify that statement. It would be very easy to carry out a reliable scientific study if the levels of efficacy were around the 85% claimed reduction in head injuries. That magnitude of effect would be dramatically visible in the population data.

The reason why its difficult is because the efficacy, if any, appears to be so modest. So its arguing over whether there is a very minor benefit from wearing a helmet or not, and not what most people think which is arguing over whether it will save lives or not.


Well, it is visible, there are at least a dozen people on this forum alone who have had their lives saved by their helmets splitting in two during crashes. Those who didnt wear helmets in similar situations are no longer left alive to post. :wink:

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby TonyR » 8 Dec 2014, 1:34pm

beardy wrote:Well, it is visible, there are at least a dozen people on this forum alone who have had their lives saved by their helmets splitting in two during crashes. Those who didnt wear helmets in similar situations are no longer left alive to post. :wink:


Yes, will those two dozen people or so forum members who came off their bikes without a helmet please stop posting. Do you not realise you're dead? :wink:

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby mjr » 8 Dec 2014, 2:40pm

TonyR wrote:Yes, will those two dozen people or so forum members who came off their bikes without a helmet please stop posting. Do you not realise you're dead? :wink:

Nope, I hadn't noticed and neither had anyone else. I still have work to do and places to ride to...
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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby Tigerbiten » 8 Dec 2014, 4:20pm

TonyR wrote:Yes, will those two dozen people or so forum members who came off their bikes without a helmet please stop posting. Do you not realise you're dead? :wink:

No wonder I've been feeling like a Zombie lately.
It must be because I rolled my bent trike a few months ago and not from lack of sleep ..... :lol:

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby snibgo » 8 Dec 2014, 4:26pm

Although I agree with your overall point, that cycling is a lot less risky than walking (I would add, especially walking drunk), you are not quite accurate on this:
TonyR wrote:The comparable number for cyclists is not relevant because they all involve a vehicle - the bike.

True, a pedestrian tripping and falling, with no motor vehicles around, does not need to be reported to the police, so it won't appear in STATS19.

But similarly, a cyclist falling off with no motor vehicles around. The only serious bike accident I've had, which broke a hip, was never reported to the police and isn't in STATS19.

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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby mjr » 8 Dec 2014, 4:57pm

Cyclists falling off with no other vehicles around will often show up in the hospital emergency admissions, which are higher than STATS19 - I'm not 100% sure but I think they also show up other types of cycle-related accident such as stabbing oneself with an axle in the shed, depending on how the medics categorise it, which don't really relate to transport use any more than injuring oneself getting dressed (yes, it happens) is a walking injury! So the better estimates combine STATS19 with some rationally-argued portion of hospital stats.

Do we know whether TonyR was referring to STATS19 or combined estimates?
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Re: why is there not a definative study about helments?

Postby TonyR » 8 Dec 2014, 4:58pm

snibgo wrote:True, a pedestrian tripping and falling, with no motor vehicles around, does not need to be reported to the police, so it won't appear in STATS19.


Even if it was reported to the police it would not be in the STATS19 because by definition, a vehicle has to have been involved for it to go in.

[/quote]But similarly, a cyclist falling off with no motor vehicles around. The only serious bike accident I've had, which broke a hip, was never reported to the police and isn't in STATS19.[/quote]

Yes but there have been comparisons done for cyclists between STATS19 and the HES hospital admissions statistics and while there is a difference, because of the sorts of things you note, its nowhere near as large as the difference between STATS19 pedestrian serious injuries involving a vehicle and the HES trips and falls on the public highway without a vehicle involved. And then there is age profile which involves more pedestrians in the older age groups but again you can take this adjustment in isolation or with others and it still comes nowhere near closing the gap.