Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

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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pjclinch
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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby pjclinch » 3 Dec 2018, 3:11pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:It is indeed ironic that in a place where a head on collision with another cyclist is a very real possibility, helmets (that could probably be rather effective in such a situation) are actually little more than a fashion symbol.


The design goal of the original polystyrene Magic Hat was a better hairnet, and the point of a hairnet isn't to Save Lives but to give you a better chance of getting back on your bike and finishing the race without losing too much time rather than waiting for the stars around your head to disappear. This is, on the one hand, a genuinely useful thing in lots of situations, but on the other it's rare enough in everyday situations that it's not really worth the repeated faff to avoid.

If I have to abandon one of, say, 10 races a year due to a bumped head that's 10% of my hobby written off and in any case comfort and convenience are non-issues. If I have to miss work for a couple of days in a year due to a bumped head that's not really the end of the world and the other ca. 220+ days I can do without faffing about with crash helmets.
As it happens the last time I fell off a bike and hit my head was about 15 years ago (as it further happens I took it on the chin so the helmet I was wearing didn't help a jot and may actually have added some unhelpful energy, but I digress...). So that would be one hell of a lot of journeys of "just in case" wearing, to save me a headache.

I've picked up a couple of other headaches from banging my head in non-sysling contexts (trees, signposts, cupboard doors etc.). I've never felt it was worth of faff of PPE to prevent such headaches in future.

Bikeability 1 is typically taught in a school playground. I've yet to see a child fall off and hit their head doing that, and thanks to the intelligent risk management like supervision ratios and removal of other things in the same place at the same time it's hardly surprising it isn't a plague. I have seen some other scrapes including a nasty one to a hand, but while helmets are often mandated by schools and/or LAs, gloves aren't. The same kids use the same playground for, err, play, and the rate of falling over and whacking their heads is such that the school will probably have "I Banged My Head!" stickers to go with the more generic "I've Been Brave!" stickers, and form letters home to carers pointing out they have sustained a minor head injury. But nobody's dumb enough to suggest you need crash helmets and knee pads etc. to play chase and football in your school playground. Cycling with close supervision though, well, clearly Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know!

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby Labrat » 3 Dec 2018, 3:43pm

bovlomov wrote:
RickH wrote:Looking at the last 12 months they've had 3 editions without helmets appearing & 3 with.
DSC_1005.JPG
DSC_1006.JPG


The most notable thing about those six covers, for me, is how unrepresentative they are of cycling. The cyclists might be modern, but the settings could be from a 1930s cycling handbook. No pavements, no road markings, no motorised traffic. It's not a really a criticism, but there is nothing about those cover pictures that I identify with. It's nice if people are enjoying being out on their bikes in these rural idylls, but the message seems clear: utility cyclists shouldn't expect to find anything for them in the magazine.



I think it’s genuinley interesting that you choose the words “unrepresentative of cycling” - Latest National Travel Survey shows that the two main reason for cycling were commuting (37% of journeys) and leisure/recreation (36% of journeys) - we can make the perfectly reasonable assumption that those commuting are more likely to be doing repeat journeys so an overwhelming proportion of cycists are therefore likely to be doing it for leisure and recreation.

Not only that, but the core ethos of CTC from th3 start was focused on leisure and recreation cycling - encouraging people to escape the towns and explore the countryside (see British Transport Films excellent ‘Cyclists Special’ as an example) - in fact I’d argue strongly that it’s this passion for escape from daily lives through leisure and recreation that underscored the massive growth in cycling in its heyday and led to the growth of organisations like the CTC, YHA and Ramblers Association.
After all, I don’t suppose anyone ever joined the Ramblers because they walked to work...

Perhaps it’s your own judgement that “people enjoying being out on their bikes in these rural idylls” rather than partaking in transport and utility cycling is what’s truly unrepresentative of most cyclists?

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby bovlomov » 3 Dec 2018, 5:53pm

Labrat wrote:I think it’s genuinley interesting that you choose the words “unrepresentative of cycling” - <snip> Perhaps it’s your own judgement that “people enjoying being out on their bikes in these rural idylls” rather than partaking in transport and utility cycling is what’s truly unrepresentative of most cyclists?

That had crossed my mind. I wasn't commenting because I felt my views should be represented, but because I thought it was an odd selection of pics. Do you think those six covers are representative of cycling?

The organisation is no longer a touring club. Its website seems to cover all types of riding. And in any case, I'm not sure those pictures are even representative of touring.

As a matter of interest, what were the remainder of journeys, if not leisure or commuting? There's a lot of utility cycling that isn't 'going to work'.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby thirdcrank » 3 Dec 2018, 10:39pm

This thread has prompted me to think beyond pics in the mag.

To simplify this, CUK is a charity committed to promoting cycling. Its own interpretation of research on the effects of helmet wearing show it to deter cycling. Although the relevant CUK .pdf has "policy" in its file name, its title refers to CAMPAIGNS BRIEFING.

What if anything is CUK doing about this deterrent to cycling?

I appreciate that the above is in my words, and it's possible to quibble over them. Remember, CUK is now primarily a charity and a membership organisation second. And this isn't about the rights and wrongs of helmets: the briefing document has made CUK's view on that pretty clear.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby Labrat » 4 Dec 2018, 1:29am

thirdcrank wrote: Its own interpretation of research on the effects of helmet wearing show it to deter cycling.


Point of order, the briefing note clearly discusses the deterrent effect of enforced cycle helmet legislation, no suggestion of a deterrent effect from either wearing, promotion, nudge policies, normalisation or simply 'showing' people in helmets rather than bareheaded.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby Lance Dopestrong » 4 Dec 2018, 9:24am

Labrat wrote:After all, I don’t suppose anyone ever joined the Ramblers because they walked to work...


That's nothing more than an assumption. The whole helmet debate and discussion arising around it is largely based upon assumption, and throwing in another one isn't very helpful.
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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby reohn2 » 4 Dec 2018, 10:43am

PH wrote:
bovlomov wrote:
PH wrote:Speak for yourself, I identify with four of those six covers, maybe I am living the dream :lol:

Yes, perhaps.

I can certainly identify with riding on roads where there are neither pavements nor markings. It's the car-free bit I'm struggling with. Are there really such places?

You don't have a DeLorean bike by any chance, do you?

Here's CTC Derby & Burton's Flickr pages, contributions from a dozen of so members, plenty of photos of people riding, not that many with cars in them, that doesn't mean there's never any cars, but neither has anyone set out to deceive
https://www.flickr.com/photos/149532011@N04/

Photos of ctc group rides are hardly likely to be of the group riding on traffic strewn roads,and rightly so.
In the same way magazine covers wouldn't,but is that representative of cycling in the UK or one aspect of it at a moment in time?
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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby pjclinch » 4 Dec 2018, 11:27am

thirdcrank wrote:This thread has prompted me to think beyond pics in the mag.

To simplify this, CUK is a charity committed to promoting cycling. Its own interpretation of research on the effects of helmet wearing show it to deter cycling.


As Labrat points out, legislation is not the same as wearing, but beyond that you have an issue of "for some values of cycling". Do rules requiring helmets put people off track racing and downhill MTB? Both are cycling, but I don't think the take-up will be affected much by helmets or rules for them.

thirdcrank wrote:What if anything is CUK doing about this deterrent to cycling?


The campaigning and policy team are very active in briefing decision makers about reality, and deserve a good share of the credit for DfT acknowledging that compulsory helmets are an own-goal. Roger Geffen particularly deserves a lot of Chapeau!s. I think this is a much better way to go about things than lecturing the membership, especially as lots of it probably just want to ride their bikes, choose to do it in a helmet and would leave if they were hectored by their club about a decision they've taken which is supported by the advice in the Highway Code. The Campaigns team keep on chipping away at the Highway Code too, including Rule 59.

thirdcrank wrote:I appreciate that the above is in my words, and it's possible to quibble over them. Remember, CUK is now primarily a charity and a membership organisation second. And this isn't about the rights and wrongs of helmets: the briefing document has made CUK's view on that pretty clear.


It's not so much whether it's a membership organisation or a charity or both as it covers a lot of different bases. Also, what the evidence is genuinely clear about is that... the evidence is not very clear. Proponents of helmet laws and outright encouragement tend to say, "this research says X, end of", while the more cautious line (typical of CUK Campaigns) shows up the contradictions when you don't cherry pick. CUK policy is, IMHO, based on the understanding that we don't actually know as much about helmet effects as some folk often like to think and that's not a basis for a clear policy requiring or recommending them. But neither is it a sound basis to actively discourage their use for individuals, even though lots of individuals make up the population where pushing them is probably a bad thing (not that everyone thinks that...). The nature of population data sets is routinely misunderstood in to thinking what's good for a population is good for everyone in it, but it typically doesn't work like that.

Goldacre and Spiegelhalter's BMJ editorial on research evidence not being that much use is a salient one.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby Wanlock Dod » 4 Dec 2018, 11:57am

pjclinch wrote:... Also, what the evidence is genuinely clear about is that... the evidence is not very clear. ...

There is an alternative viewpoint that the weight of evidence is clear in that the overall effect on the safety of cyclists (where safety is death or serious injury) is insignificantly small. Propagation of the view that the findings of the studies are uncertain tends to maintain the view that another study could be performed which would prove how effective they really are, although none of the ones that went before were able to, and the distraction of attention away from things that really matter for cyclist safety continues.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby pjclinch » 4 Dec 2018, 12:09pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:
pjclinch wrote:... Also, what the evidence is genuinely clear about is that... the evidence is not very clear. ...

There is an alternative viewpoint that the weight of evidence is clear in that the overall effect on the safety of cyclists (where safety is death or serious injury) is insignificantly small. Propagation of the view that the findings of the studies are uncertain tends to maintain the view that another study could be performed which would prove how effective they really are, although none of the ones that went before were able to, and the distraction of attention away from things that really matter for cyclist safety continues.


Which is why I maintain Goldacre and Spiegelhalter's BMJ review is something people need to read:

In any case, the current uncertainty about any benefit from helmet wearing or promotion is unlikely to be substantially reduced by further research. Equally, we can be certain that helmets will continue to be debated, and at length. The enduring popularity of helmets as a proposed major intervention for increased road safety may therefore lie not with their direct benefits—which seem too modest to capture compared with other strategies—but more with the cultural, psychological, and political aspects of popular debate around risk.
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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby Labrat » 4 Dec 2018, 2:49pm

Here’s a thought for you all

As segregated infrastructure is improved, the proportional benefit of wearing a helmet in a crash is likely to increase, since those serious/fatal accidents that do occur are more likely to involve low speed crashes, road furniture and marginal head injury, where survivability IS increased by helmet wearing, rather than catastrophic injury caused by impact with motor vehicles where it doesn’t.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby pjclinch » 4 Dec 2018, 3:10pm

Labrat wrote:Here’s a thought for you all

As segregated infrastructure is improved, the proportional benefit of wearing a helmet in a crash is likely to increase, since those serious/fatal accidents that do occur are more likely to involve low speed crashes, road furniture and marginal head injury, where survivability IS increased by helmet wearing, rather than catastrophic injury caused by impact with motor vehicles where it doesn’t.


This is quite true.

But a benefit increasing from nothing much to ever so slightly more isn't in itself a reason to wear one. Or we'd be wanting them as pedestrians, stair users etc. And we'd be wanting flameproof suits and motorsport crash hats in our cars, and full race-grade roll cages while we're at it.

The difference is, as Goldacre and Spiegelhalter pointed out, about "the cultural, psychological, and political aspects of popular debate around risk". Our culture tells us that cycling is dangerous, but that being a pedestrian is safe. That trumps actual figures pointing out that they're reasonably similar in Doom Potential. Over the North Sea and the culture is different, and along with it the perception of cycling and walking relative risks.

Unless we're madly underestimating the risk of pedestrians not wearing crash helmets we need to change the cultural view of the dangers of cycling relative to all sorts of things that don't imply PPE. Of course, fewer people wearing them would help, but that needs (IMHO) to be about realising they're not worth it rather than hectoring by CUK and Cycle refusing to print pictures of them wearing one.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby Mick F » 4 Dec 2018, 4:04pm

......... realising they're not worth it ...........

That's me. I realised.
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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby thirdcrank » 5 Dec 2018, 10:25am

I think it's mistaken to make a distinction in this context between formal - de jure - compulsion and what might be termed assumed compulsion.

Nobody can be sure, but I fancy the risk of statutory compulsion in the UK is nil. OTOH, de facto compulsion seems to be widespread and growing. I'm thinking of all the quite normal people whose assumption would be that helmets are a good thing and presume them to be compulsory. I don't suppose much thought goes into those assumptions, but if pressed, many might quote the HC. I suggest that if it's correct that helmet wearing is a substantial deterrent, then the form of that compulsion is academic.

It's a huge tide to turn but that won't be achieved by wishful thinking. Contributing to the normalisation of helmet wearing won't help at all.

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Re: Cycle mag, CTC finally caved in re helmets & sold us out?

Postby horizon » 5 Dec 2018, 6:03pm

I'm not often accused of being a realist but my take on this is that non-helmet wearers such as myself are on a loser to nothing. The cycle helmet is now so culturally embedded and its not-wearing so counter-intuitive that I think noble acceptance of one's position as an outsider is the best way forward. I cannot believe that this forum is representative of helmet wearing amongst the general bike-riding population. I too run the gauntlet of unsolicited advice but then riding a bicycle puts you a little way out anyway.

In this context, I'm sympathetic to Cycling UK (although also not very interested in them as a consequence). Unless they have a particular axe to grind, they would be mad to challenge conventional wisdom on this subject. Their neutrality is quite understandable although it may be that they would take a more principled and determined stand if legal compulsion was threatened (I would hope so anyway).

I accept that de facto acceptance of helmet-wearing is perhaps the start of a slippery slope to de jure. But that AFAICS is either a long way off or simply not a possibility. The fact is that despite years of patient arguing on this forum by very intelligent people, no-one has come up with a response against the wearing of cycle helmets that will convince those who believe in them.

My advice is let it be.
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