Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

tali42
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby tali42 » 28 Sep 2009, 11:00am

numbnuts wrote:
I can assure you that in an Australian summer, with temperatures daily over 30C and often over 35C, the sweaty head is not a figment of my imagination.

sorry I lived in Australia for 3 years so I do know how hot it gets there :mrgreen:


Well, I lived there for 27 years. :P :mrgreen:

People sweat differently and I never figured out why my head itched, even on cold days. And of course, it would be illegal to cycle in Oz and compare the head sweat issue on a hot day with and without a helmet.

The bottom line is, Australians are denied the opportunity to make their own decision, for what has been an negligible reduction in deaths and serious injuries per hour cycled in the nation and a reduction in cycling.

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yakdiver
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby yakdiver » 28 Sep 2009, 1:31pm

I agree in principle what your saying, but if a helmet saves just one life surely that has to be worth it
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MartinC
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby MartinC » 28 Sep 2009, 1:49pm

numbnuts wrote:I agree in principle what your saying, but if a helmet saves just one life surely that has to be worth it


OK. So if making pedestrians wear helmets saved just one life would it be worth making it compulsory for them? If making car occupants wear helmets saved just one life would it be worth making it compulsory for them? And so on ad infinitum. Begs the question yet again though - have you any evidence that a cycle helmet has ever saved a life or is it an assumption?

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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby kwackers » 28 Sep 2009, 1:54pm

numbnuts wrote:I agree in principle what your saying, but if a helmet saves just one life surely that has to be worth it

You can't save a life - you can simply extend it.
So, firstly you have to prove that the life has been saved - then you have to show that the people who no longer cycle and thus presumably aren't fitter aren't shortening theirs by any appreciable amount.
Add in the fact that fit people don't just live longer they have shorter periods of ill health before they croak and there are quality of life issues.
Add into that the issue that a cyclist is one less car on the road and this can only bring around an improvement of quality of life by others.
Then finally the more cyclists there are the more likely others are to take it up bringing even more improvements.

If helmets did some good the issue would be cut and dried and easily backed up by statistics. The fact that there is no clear cut answer is in my view proof that it's a non starter as an issue.

If you apply the "if just one life is saved" maxim to everything then there are many many guaranteed ways to do this without looking for tenuous links.

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yakdiver
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby yakdiver » 28 Sep 2009, 2:39pm

have you any evidence that a cycle helmet has ever saved a life or is it an assumption?

OK it's an assumption, but I carry a first aid kit with me hoping I'll never need it, but it's there if I do, it's a bit like insurance.
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rbrian
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby rbrian » 28 Sep 2009, 5:20pm

I have no proof that my lucky pants really are lucky, it's just an assumption, but I wear them every single day anyway, it's a bit like insurance.
Cynic? No, an optimist tempered by experience.

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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby yakdiver » 28 Sep 2009, 5:42pm

OK point taken........
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Steady rider
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby Steady rider » 28 Sep 2009, 6:39pm

Several children have died due to strangulation by helmet straps, if you google 'strangulation by cycle helmet' you will see some details. It is possible to say for sure that helmets have killed children but very difficult to prove they have saved any lives.

The life years gained by regular cycling has been calculated to exceed life years lost in accidents by a factor of 20 to 1. In practice helmet laws result in a net loss of life years, helmet promotion may also result in a loss.

Laws that affect millions of people have to consider the total effects. In any case, helmets result in a higher accident rate, up 14% according to one report.

Possibly RoSPA plus the CTC should invite speaker and papers on the helmet issue. Some questions to consider are should helmets be promoted and if any warnings provided. Can additional research help in understanding helmet effects. Has the public been misled by claims and reports on helmets. Consider the evidence and try to decide if helmets improve or reduce safety for various types of cyclists? Consider alternative approaches to helmets that will improve safety without discouraging cycling.

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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby basingstoke123 » 28 Sep 2009, 11:04pm

The most likely explanation for the increase in the accident rate in Australia is the 'safety in numbers' effect (see http://www.ctc.org.uk/desktopdefault.aspx?tabid=5225). One of the big problems I have with mandatory helmet laws is that if this reduces the number of people cycling (as observed in Australia), then it will make it less safe for those of us whole continue to cycle (whether or not we wear helmets). This is more than just a loss of choice on wearing a helmet.

It's interesting that a similar debate has started with skiing and snowboarding, with moves from some people to promote ski helmets, and Vail Resorts making helmets compulsory for all employees from 2009/10 onwards (see: http://investors.vailresorts.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=376765). Ski helmet supporters quote studies that show the benefits of ski helmets. Last winter (2008/09), helmet use in the USA was 48%. Usage has increase year on year, from essentially zero in 1991/92, to 33% in 2004/05. Yet over this time, the (very low) fatality rate has not changed. See http://www.astm.org/JOURNALS/JAI/PAGES/JAI13893.htm.

There seem to be several parallels between skiing and cycling.

It's ironic that with the increase in obesity (and inactivity/unfit) related deaths, well meaning people are proposing measures that will, indirectly, increase the numbers of people who are obese / unfit.

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meic
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby meic » 29 Sep 2009, 12:04am

I dont know much about ski-ing but it looks scary to me. It looks like downhill racing on snow. I think I might feel like wearing a lid if I was doing that, just as I would wear a lid if I was perched 10 foot up in the air on the back of a horse.
On the other hand there is cross country ski-ing which seems a bit more sedate, like cycling, where you are not in much danger and a helmet would be ridiculous overkill.
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby Steady rider » 29 Sep 2009, 9:39am

basingstoke123 » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:04 pm wrote

"The most likely explanation for the increase in the accident rate in Australia is the 'safety in numbers' effect "

It is correct to say safety in number has an effect, however there is evidence to point to helmets having an effect.

The petition to the Victorian Parliament mentions a 119% increase in accidents for adults prior to legislation
( http://tex.parliament.vic.gov.au/bin/te ... 991+%29%0a )
some of the increase most likely due to the increase in cycling but helmet use was also increasing.
Thompson's paper 1989 mentions the wearing rate was low generally (possibly about 7%) but details about 23% of the emergency room and 23% of the population control group were wearing them. see Clarke CF, The Case against bicycle helmets and legislation, VeloCity Munich, 2007. http://www.ctcyorkshirehumber.org.uk/campaigns/velo.htm for more examples.

The safety in numbers explanation allows helmets to be promoted but also allows legislation to be opposed. Some of the evidence points to helmets contributing to increasing accidents in addition to safety in numbers effects after helmet laws.

If anyone can prompt skiing and snowboarding and cycling research to measure the head accelerations levels involved in each activity this could be useful. Cycling has been measured (in about 1986) at about 10g for hitting deep pot-holes. This is probably the main reason why bike helmets have to be so much lighter than motorcycle helmets. Clarke 1995 Safer Cycling publication provided figures comparing the two groups. The 10g force from a helmet making it more difficult to maintain balance when hitting pot-hole type situations.

Injuries to that part of the head where helmets offer protection are roughly 10%+, face injuries 20%+, meaning other injuries, arms , legs etc are about 60%-70%. Any increase in accidents results in more injuries, even if helmets provide some protection.

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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby Steady rider » 9 Oct 2009, 4:21pm

Sue's day in court can be seen on youtube.

Mike Rubbo has made a film about the trial; it is available at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZriJe1CO7-k
and also on a host called Vimeo, a better quality site from which films can be downloaded and DVDs made: http://www.vimeo.com/6924283.

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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby Ellieb » 10 Oct 2009, 6:00pm

she lost...no surprise there then

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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby Steady rider » 12 Oct 2009, 8:01pm

Ellieb » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:00 pm wrote

"she lost...no surprise there then"

It would have been quite a surprise if she had won.

Erke and Elvik 2007 (Norway) stated: “There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent.” Imposing any law that increases the risk of having an accident is very questionable.

Under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (AHRCA), the Commission can only look into a complaint of a human rights breach by the Commonwealth or one of its agencies. This does not include State Government departments which are responsible for bicycle helmet laws.

Further, under the AHRCA, the term 'human rights' has a very specific meaning. Human rights are defined as the rights and freedoms contained in the international instruments scheduled to or declared under the AHRCA such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Further, their Commission is unable to investigate actions which are a direct result of the operation of a law.

Under UK law, Human Rights Act 1998, beliefs are included and there would be more opportunity for a fair trail to consider Sue's belief that helmets are dangerous. However, Australia does not have this standard of provision for Human Rights.

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EdinburghFixed
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Re: Sue heads for Court, helmets case, down under

Postby EdinburghFixed » 13 Oct 2009, 7:36am

Surely the outcome was never in doubt - once a "safety law" like this has been put onto the statute books, it can effectively never be repealed. Just politically impossible.

If you think about it, as soon as they discovered hard evidence that 1/3 of people had stopped cycling, the only sensible response would have been an immediate backtrack (given the fact that almost nobody dies cycling but it does extend everyone's life expectancy and reduce their burden on the health system).

After all the hard campaigning you need to do to get people to support a law, about how dangerous and risky cycling is, you flat out can't go back and say, hang on, it's fine to ride bareheaded after all. Politicians prefer to be wrong, but seen to be taking action on safety, than risk being seen as wishy-washy.