Helmets vs bikeability

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.

Helmets vs L3

Helmet: Yes/sometimes, L3 Yes
2
12%
Helmet: Yes/sometimes, L3 No
3
18%
Helmet: No, L3 Yes
2
12%
Helmet: No, L3 No
10
59%
 
Total votes: 17

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Si
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Helmets vs bikeability

Postby Si » 24 Feb 2015, 5:43pm

The argument rages as to the extent of the protection that a cycle helmet offers.
I've seen very little research regarding whether or not doing a bikeability L3 course equips the rider to not get into situations where their helmet might be called into action (or indeed, whether doing a L3 course actually risk compensates them into riding on busier / faster / riskier roads).

But from personal experience, when the helmet issue comes up and people (mostly without casting aspersions on other's choices) tend to say that they are aware of the arguments but wear one as it might be the straw that saves the camels back, however, very rarely do any ever admit to having even considered doing a bikeability L3 (often free or cheaper than a helmet)...which is intended to help them avoid situations where the helmet might find itself between head and road.

So, if you wear a helmet because you want to do all that you can to protect yourself, have you done a L3, and if not, why not (assuming it was on offer in your area)?

Note - I'm not telling anyone not to wear a helmet - just interested why, if you've decided to go for a helmet you didn't go for professional cycle training?

Better add a poll for completeness :wink: (I'm talking about normal road riding here, not MTBing, BMXing, road racing, etc)

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Si
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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby Si » 24 Feb 2015, 5:45pm

BTW, first vote is mine: Sometimes / Yes, because I have to wear one for work sometimes.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pwa » 24 Feb 2015, 6:07pm

Si

I totally agree that a helmet is not a panacea and that the way you handle your bike is likely to have a much bigger influence on your safety / exposure to danger. I do wear a helmet (for the reason you suggested) and have not done an L3 course, but I don't think I need to do the L3 course. I passed my Cycling Proficiency Test (about 1970) and have been riding (and learning) ever since. So I don't think you can read from my vote that I do the little things but don't worry about the big things. I just think my road skills are up to scratch.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pjclinch » 24 Feb 2015, 9:43pm

Have you checked what you do against Cycle craft? Very few people have nothing left to learn (I effectively took L3 when I trained to teach it. I changed a few things as a result).
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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pwa » 24 Feb 2015, 10:14pm

I suppose we all have things to learn, but I always feel I understand traffic and the way I interact with it. Being a driver for more than 30 years helps, because I know what situations look like from the other side.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby Paulatic » 24 Feb 2015, 10:24pm

We all do have something to learn. Being a driver for 45 yrs and a RAC/ACU motorbike instructor. I did L3 a couple of years ago along with another cyclist my age. We both learned something from it and are both, hopefully better cyclists from it.
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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pwa » 25 Feb 2015, 9:00am

I know, you're right, but I do have an aversion to courses. After a recent course of managing site safety (construction industry course over about six days) I felt like I wanted to go out and do all the dangerous things we had been taught not to do, simply because I hate the interactive approach. I work best with a book in front of me and nobody asking me to share my findings with the rest of the group. If you can point me at some good reading I would welcome it.......

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby [XAP]Bob » 25 Feb 2015, 9:04am

CycleCraft is the recommended reading.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby Si » 25 Feb 2015, 9:09am

I note that some deliverers of NS courses are starting to move away from cycle craft and no longer recommend it with the same gusto.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby Si » 25 Feb 2015, 9:20am

pwa wrote:I suppose we all have things to learn, but I always feel I understand traffic and the way I interact with it. Being a driver for more than 30 years helps, because I know what situations look like from the other side.


You may well be an excellent cyclist who already does all of the things that L3 suggests (or you may have developed your own equally good strategies) - having not seen you ride I don't judge you.

But talking more at 'population level'......couple of cycling clubs near me - full of experienced cyclists who have ridden enough to be able to ride happily at between 15 and 20 mph (if not more) or ride for over 100miles with ease......i.e. they have been riding some time to achieve this fitness. Vast majority wear helmets, so obviously giving some thought to their safety. Yet, the standards of riding are pretty questionable for many of them - poor observation, poor road position, extreme lack of hazard perception. They have been offered free L3 training (offered in the most diplomatic of ways, such that they didn't feel they were being criticised) but no interest.

I'm just interested why certain perceived safety enhancements are widely accepted yet others are not.

Indeed, if one wears a helmet just in case one is involved in the small number of crashes where it might be beneficial, then why does one not do a L3 just in case there is a small tip in there somewhere that might save one's life one day?

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pwa » 25 Feb 2015, 10:02am

Si

just to give you a better impression of me, I am criticised by my son (19) for sticking to speed limits in the car even when I'm not sure why they are so low on certain stretches of road. When I use my chainsaw I wear all the PPE and do all the checks. and I'm the same on the bike. I know how to position myself to control the space around me, I am assertive (in a good way) and I obey the Highway Code. I know that approach does not apply to all experienced cyclists.

I do wear a helmet and have done so since 1987 when I bought my first one from Harry Hall's old shop in Manchester. But I have never overestimated the level of protection it gives. It is likely to reduce my injuries if I bang my head of a car windscreen at a relatively low speed, but it will do little or nothing if I finish up under a vehicle.

The way I ride my bike is a much bigger factor in avoiding danger. You are right about that, and there are cyclists out there who would do themselves a favour if they took the trouble to learn some basic skills. When I was a child there was the Cycling Proficiency Test (with a nice enamel badge as a reward) and it did a good job. Lots of riding around cones and hand signalling. I began proper thoughtful cycling there (as opposed to playing on the street) and I suppose I built on it as the years went by.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby mjr » 25 Feb 2015, 11:59am

Si wrote:Indeed, if one wears a helmet just in case one is involved in the small number of crashes where it might be beneficial, then why does one not do a L3 just in case there is a small tip in there somewhere that might save one's life one day?

I don't wear a helmet but I've also not done L3 because I disagree with the Norfolk County Council training manual and they mess me about anyway, and any time I've tried to find a genuine Bikeability course location and time, I've given up before I lose the will to live, as described in viewtopic.php?f=11&t=92214 and probably some others.

Unless all the trainers are rolling in work, I feel they should either provide a driving-school-style online booking system (compare the "here's a contact list - now go away" http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/training/cou ... om/norfolk with https://student.go-red.co.uk/bookpayonl ... ornew.aspx ) or publish course dates and prices which will run if some given number of bookings are made. I do know one provider who publishes dates and prices but they seem to charge more for advanced lessons (£75 for 2) than a beginners lesson (£5) :roll: but it's probably the fault of external funders who are subsidising only beginners... and does that suggests that there's not much public benefit in advanced training?
pwa wrote:I do wear a helmet and have done so since 1987 when I bought my first one from Harry Hall's old shop in Manchester. But I have never overestimated the level of protection it gives. It is likely to reduce my injuries if I bang my head of a car windscreen at a relatively low speed, but it will do little or nothing if I finish up under a vehicle.

It's not tested on an oblique impact such as you might encounter on a car windscreen, is it?
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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pjclinch » 25 Feb 2015, 12:13pm

Si wrote:I'm just interested why certain perceived safety enhancements are widely accepted yet others are not.

Indeed, if one wears a helmet just in case one is involved in the small number of crashes where it might be beneficial, then why does one not do a L3 just in case there is a small tip in there somewhere that might save one's life one day?


My guess is that a helmet is a very simple, quick "fix". You buy it, you put it on, job done (or at least so you'd like to think). L3 training, or even reading Cyclecraft, requires investment of time and effort, and also challenges one's assumptions of having been Doing The Right Thing.

If one wants to be cautious it makes very good sense to challenge your preconceptions of Best Practice. But it is hard to do that.

pwa wrote:The way I ride my bike is a much bigger factor in avoiding danger. You are right about that, and there are cyclists out there who would do themselves a favour if they took the trouble to learn some basic skills.


But why not advanced skills, or be really sure your idea of advanced skills is the same as the folk that teach it? I'm not suggesting you're getting it wrong, but I am suggesting it makes sense to calibrate your skills by measures other than your own.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby Psamathe » 25 Feb 2015, 12:17pm

(Although I've only just checked), most cycle training around me targeted at kids and NOT free.

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Re: Helmets vs bikeability

Postby pjclinch » 25 Feb 2015, 12:27pm

mjr wrote:... and does that suggests that there's not much public benefit in advanced training?


It think it more suggests that there's not much money about and lots of uninformed people in LAs who think Bikeability = Cycing Proficiency = All We Have To Do, Box Ticked!

Can't speak for my southern counterparts, but up in Scotland L3 has been quite a long way down the food chain, and we only got resources in Summer '14 and they're still provisional. It also requires 2 full Cycle Trainers to deliver with a 2:6 (or better) instructor/pupil ratio. I train up my own CT Assistants to deliver 1 & 2, but that's not good enough for L3 so even if I had the time (as a volunteer doing it in my spare time I don't) I couldn't currently deliver Bikeability Scotland L3 (I can give you Essential Cycling Skills that covers L3 stuff, but is a "quickie" and certainly not a full L3 course).

Probably the easiest way to do L3 in Scotland at present is volunteer to become a CT (and have your LA pay the fee for the 4 day course by promising to help out with Bikeability at local schools!), but if you're in Norfolk and they're teaching mince that's not a useful option :(

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