The helmets thing

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.
Mike Sales
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Mike Sales » 14 Jul 2015, 11:38am

horizon wrote:This idea that wearing a helmet makes cycling safer (or not) is to me a funny concept (I'm not blaming Sustrans for using the term, everyone does).

Cycling isn't safer if your helmet gets used - it only shows that it hadn't been made safer. You obviate the need for helmets by making cycling safer. Helmets never made cycling safer - they just show that it isn't.

This may sound pedantic but it's often in the way these things get bandied about that confusion arises.


I quite agree. In yachting books i have come across a useful distinction.
Safety is making the boat seaworthy, giving it equipment sturdy enough to cope with extreme weather and to keep the crew dry, fed, rested and on board.
Gear like a liferaft or an EPIRB is emergency equipment, to save the day when safety equipment has failed.
Like helmets, liferafts are not a get out of jail free card. They often fail. The advice is don't get into the liferaft until you have to climb up into it.

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mjr
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby mjr » 14 Jul 2015, 4:42pm

pjclinch wrote:One of the fundamental points of making cycling normal is it shouldn't require special permissions or (beyond a bike) special equipment.

Have you tried pushing for introduction of a permit to be driven to school? On the grounds that it risks their health in general, and in particular that children that have undertaken no exercise before school starts are more often disruptive.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Cunobelin
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Cunobelin » 14 Jul 2015, 7:14pm

ossie wrote:Im truely amazed at your stance on here in light of these pictures that have surfaced .....


Had some spare time today, and it appears that your helmet wearing is less than clear

I have no issue with that as this is personal choice

However given the implication of your post that the helmet wearer's personal choice is important.... would you feel comfortable with sharing your helmet wearing habits?

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pjclinch
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby pjclinch » 15 Jul 2015, 8:50am

horizon wrote:
pjclinch wrote:
Quote from Sustrans: Helmet wearing isn't a legal requirement in the UK, and the evidence is inconclusive as to whether it makes cycling safer.



This idea that wearing a helmet makes cycling safer (or not) is to me a funny concept (I'm not blaming Sustrans for using the term, everyone does).

Cycling isn't safer if your helmet gets used - it only shows that it hadn't been made safer. You obviate the need for helmets by making cycling safer. Helmets never made cycling safer - they just show that it isn't.

This may sound pedantic but it's often in the way these things get bandied about that confusion arises.

Much boils down to one's definition of "safer". The one you have here is perfectly reasonable, but OTOH so is " chance of ending my trip in A&E", which I suspect is closer to the idea in the Sustrans policy.

Pete.
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Thermostat9
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Thermostat9 » 26 Jul 2015, 6:02pm

As an aside, I've just come back from a holiday in Tokyo. A place where there are a lot of bicycles. Not many helmets though, I didn't see one cyclist wearing one. Nor hi-viz.

I think the Japanese are a sensible lot.

TonyR
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby TonyR » 26 Jul 2015, 9:19pm

Thermostat9 wrote:As an aside, I've just come back from a holiday in Tokyo. A place where there are a lot of bicycles. Not many helmets though, I didn't see one cyclist wearing one. Nor hi-viz.

I think the Japanese are a sensible lot.


They cycle a lot on the pavements too with the pedestrians.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby [XAP]Bob » 27 Jul 2015, 8:17am

And pedestrians have an excellent trained reflex to hearing a bike bell... Apparently
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.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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pjclinch
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby pjclinch » 27 Jul 2015, 9:36am

It's effectively "shared space". Which does work very well in some places, but doesn't scale nearly as well as its most ardent promoters seem to think. It needs the right densities of traffic, both in absolute terms and the relative mixes, and it needs everyone using it to appreciate that that's what it is.

Was down visiting my folks in The Smoke recently, had a day at the V&A so got to look at Exhibition Road again. The shared space works pretty well down at the quiet end nearest the Tube, but where it runs between the V&A and NatHist the only thing distinguishing it from another moderately busy London Street is the more interesting pattern on the surface.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby [XAP]Bob » 27 Jul 2015, 10:19am

Works better up past the museums again as well.
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.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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bovlomov
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby bovlomov » 27 Jul 2015, 12:54pm

pjclinch wrote:It's effectively "shared space". Which does work very well in some places, but doesn't scale nearly as well as its most ardent promoters seem to think. It needs the right densities of traffic, both in absolute terms and the relative mixes, and it needs everyone using it to appreciate that that's what it is.

Was down visiting my folks in The Smoke recently, had a day at the V&A so got to look at Exhibition Road again. The shared space works pretty well down at the quiet end nearest the Tube, but where it runs between the V&A and NatHist the only thing distinguishing it from another moderately busy London Street is the more interesting pattern on the surface.

Pete.


This probably isn't for the ghetto.... but,

If I was a spin-doctor for "shared space", I'd say that the process is as important as the goal. After decades of turning urban roads into race tracks, there has been a shift towards blurring the distinction between pavement and carriageway. Around here (the least enlightened, most cycle-unfriendly borough in the land?), railings have been removed and crossovers have been raised and surfaced in brick, to let drivers know that they are as much for pedestrians as for cars.

It isn't perfect, but the feeling is very much more pedestrian friendly than before. Even if the world was full of enlightened highways engineers, there'd still be the political question: is it better to encourage with small changes, or to impose a big change. For me, either is better than nothing.

pwa
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby pwa » 27 Jul 2015, 1:14pm

Thinking about the idea that wearing a helmet sends out the message that cycling is dodgy, does the same apply to using oven gloves for getting stuff out of the oven, or my wearing of gardening gloves for handling hedge clippings, or using a RCD when I plug the lawnmower in? There are nervous types out there who are put off by protective paraphernalia for things we do, but surely they are already put off cycling by the more direct and graphic message of stories in the media about real accidents where people have been injured or killed. That is what really puts some people off, not the sight of cyclists wearing helmets.

Me wearing a helmet is not a response to problems with traffic. It is a response to me occasionally managing to crash all by myself, with no other road user involved. If there were no cars and lorries on the roads I would still wear a lid. For me, traffic and my wearing of a helmet are not connected.

Bicycler
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby Bicycler » 27 Jul 2015, 1:35pm

pwa wrote:Thinking about the idea that wearing a helmet sends out the message that cycling is dodgy, does the same apply to using oven gloves for getting stuff out of the oven, or my wearing of gardening gloves for handling hedge clippings, or using a RCD when I plug the lawnmower in? There are nervous types out there who are put off by protective paraphernalia for things we do, but surely they are already put off cycling by the more direct and graphic message of stories in the media about real accidents where people have been injured or killed. That is what really puts some people off, not the sight of cyclists wearing helmets.

Both getting pricked by hedge clippings and burned by ovens are inevitable without protection and the extent of the risk is obvious. The cycling equivalent of these is wearing bicycle clips if wearing loose trousers and no, they don't make the activity look dangerous. The risk is high and easily mitigated so the safety equipment is appropriate. The problem is that helmets are often viewed and promoted as necessary to prevent death or serious injury. Now, implicit in this argument is the idea that the risk is sufficiently high to warrant the wearing of a safety device and that is the message helmet wearing sends out. Once one has accepted this inherent dangerousness of cycling, even the most ardent helmet advocate couldn't argue that a helmet makes everything safe again.
Last edited by Bicycler on 27 Jul 2015, 1:44pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The helmets thing

Postby Vorpal » 27 Jul 2015, 1:40pm

pwa wrote:Thinking about the idea that wearing a helmet sends out the message that cycling is dodgy, does the same apply to using oven gloves for getting stuff out of the oven, or my wearing of gardening gloves for handling hedge clippings, or using a RCD when I plug the lawnmower in?

Would you take a hot baking pan out of the oven without something to protect your hands?
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mjr
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby mjr » 27 Jul 2015, 1:42pm

pwa wrote:Thinking about the idea that wearing a helmet sends out the message that cycling is dodgy, does the same apply to using oven gloves for getting stuff out of the oven, or my wearing of gardening gloves for handling hedge clippings, or using a RCD when I plug the lawnmower in?

Oven gloves are usually a simple, cheap and relatively long-lived tool that protects against a 100% chance of burns, so they're a rather different case. Imagine if you had to strap them on and replace them after every time they protected you? They'd be much less popular.

Not everyone wears gardening gloves or uses RCDs for garden tools and there's much less scaremongering about them. If there was promotion of them in proportion to that for cycle crash helmets and the relative risks, it would be shocking and laughable to most people. Why have cycle crash helmets become a special case?

There are nervous types out there who are put off by protective paraphernalia for things we do, but surely they are already put off cycling by the more direct and graphic message of stories in the media about real accidents where people have been injured or killed. That is what really puts some people off, not the sight of cyclists wearing helmets.

Media coverage is disproportionate and biased, but almost no-one will see a real cyclist being killed or seriously injured. However, almost everyone has seen loads of armoured cyclists, to the point where many people think that it's normal and some think it's a legal requirement!

Me wearing a helmet is not a response to problems with traffic. It is a response to me occasionally managing to crash all by myself, with no other road user involved. If there were no cars and lorries on the roads I would still wear a lid. For me, traffic and my wearing of a helmet are not connected.

It would be better to remove the causes of those crashes if possible, rather than don a crash helmet in the vague hope it may save one.

You didn't crash into an A-barrier did you? ;)
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pjclinch
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Re: The helmets thing

Postby pjclinch » 27 Jul 2015, 2:51pm

pwa wrote:Me wearing a helmet is not a response to problems with traffic. It is a response to me occasionally managing to crash all by myself, with no other road user involved. If there were no cars and lorries on the roads I would still wear a lid. For me, traffic and my wearing of a helmet are not connected.


Thus you have often rationalised, and what makes me think it's rationalised logic rather than hard logic is if it were the latter it would mean that if you banged your head around the house by accident as is actually pretty common (trips and falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, and I suspect rather more minor but still painful head-strikes) then following the same logic would dictate you would wear a crash helmet around the house for the same reasons. Even if you've never banged your head around the house, would you start wearing a crash helmet if you did?

Lots of people theorise their helmet use much as you do above, but do not carry the same logic over to equally risky situations, and often ones with not only a similar record of risk but a track record of similarly painful bumps. How come lots of Brits and Merkins rationalise as above when Dutchmen tend not to, despite the ground being just as hard, the force of gravity much the same and despite typically having further to fall? It does all rather point to buying in to the prevailing cultural winds surrounding what is prudent on a bike rather than any absolute level of risk. Humans are rationalising animals more than they are rational animals.

So I suspect your helmet use is very probably about the pervasive feeling that cycling is inherently dangerous and inherently productive of head injuries and that's all part of a vicious circle. Not just cause, not just effect, but a bit of both. People think it is "essential" to wear a helmet because cycling is dangerous, so every helmet just reinforces that they are "essential" and thus cycling is dangerous, and so on.

Pete.
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