Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.

Bert

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby Bert » 24 Oct 2004, 12:20pm

I am reduced to riding a recumbent trike due to injury and though carefully about Helmets
before going out on the road since I have never worn them.

I find that most motorists excuse themselves from responsibility towards cyclists on the basis of "Well he wasn't wearing a helmet"
I can see the back seat drivers mouthing it as they go past sometimes.

However most drivers also respond unwittingly to the wearing of hat per se
so I now ALWAYS wear a hat and doff it with more enthusiasm to the bad driver than I do to the good. You don't argue with drivers on the road do you, and you are going to be polite aren't you?

Then if you want to wear a helmet, and make quite sure it is one when a careless motorist goes by, then so much the better.

My hat does fine for the purpose and I may even remove it clearly for the purpose BEFORE they get near me.
On a recumbent if I did not wear a hat ALL drivers would be offended. With a peaked hat on NONE of them are.
Bert

Pete

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby Pete » 25 Oct 2004, 11:31am

Context determines how useful a helmet will be when climbing. Sports climbs they're pretty much pointless: since they overhang you'll fall into space and anything knocked off the top of the crag will fall behind you. Mountain routes with loose rock is a different matter, as there's a resonable chance a leader will dislodge stuff while they're vertically above their second. Winter routes, hacking at the face with an axe to shower anyone below, you'd be pretty daft not to wear one unless you were leading the whole route.

And if you're soloing high then a helmet wouldn't make much difference if you lost it. OTOH it's nice not to get sweat running down into your eyes when your life's on the line!

Pete.

nigel

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby nigel » 27 Oct 2004, 12:31pm

I've just bought a motorbike helmet and the next time a motorist bugs me I'm gonna headbut them - irrespective of whether their car window is up or down. Doffing caps to motorists.....

phooey

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby phooey » 27 Oct 2004, 4:53pm

There are some clearly intellectual posts on this debate, something which is noticeable only by it's absence on the motorcycle forum I post on - I digress...

I always use a hat and feel 'naked' without it.

It won't save you from the rear wheels of a 38 tonner, but does offer more protection than your hair ( no offence to baldies ).

If I was going to hit you on the bonce with a scaffold pole and offered you a helmet first - would anyone honestly refuse ?

nigel

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby nigel » 28 Oct 2004, 10:18am

Pete -thanks for the www.cyclehelmets.org site - it will undoubtably come in useful to me in future discussions with people at work/down the pub/etc.
Phooey -you're absolutely correct; nobody in their right mind would refuse a helmet if you offered to smack them over the head with a piece of scaffolding. But what has that got to do with a debate about cyclists wearing helmets? Are you suggesting that EVERYONE should wear a helmet all the time -just in case you walk/cycle/drive round the corner with your scaffolding? Perhaps YOU could carry a spare helmet around with you to lend people who you want to hit over the head. Perhaps we should just take your scaffolding off you if you can't behave responsibly with it.

nigel

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby nigel » 29 Oct 2004, 11:06am

This is getting away from the subject but I was wondering if there was any evidence to suggest that cyclists with kiddie seats (and the child) have fewer incidents with aggressive motorists?

phooey

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby phooey » 30 Oct 2004, 12:11pm

{FFE - family-friendly edit }....Nigel !
Why don't you try asking the next clown in a car that has you off to be a little more responsible with his driving ?

If he refuses - you could always take his car off him until he does ??

What I'm saying is a helmet is safer than no helmet. If you choose to wear no protective gear / high viz clothing / lights etc - well, natures way I suppose...

nigel

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby nigel » 4 Nov 2004, 6:56pm

Phooey -yes, taking their cars off them would be an excellent idea. That's what I was getting at with my sarcasm and exactly what I think SHOULD happen!

To return to the main point of this subject, why do people wear helmets but neglect the high-visibility clothing? Is this a lack of sense or are cyclists just as 'fashion conscious' as anyone else -even when their lives at risk?

CJ

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby CJ » 5 Nov 2004, 11:49am

Nigel asks: "why do people wear helmets but neglect the high-visibility clothing?" Good question. It puzzles me too.

When I arranged stocks of the Bell Kinghead (an extra-large helmet without which the largest-headed 1% wouldn't have had the option) for CTC shop, I naively thought we'd just get white ones - after all, its a safety thing. But shop man said no, black sells best. So we got some of each and he was right, black outsold white by 3 to 1.

Pete

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby Pete » 22 Nov 2004, 1:53pm

Phooey, "What I'm saying is a helmet is safer than no helmet" may well be "common sense", but it isn't actually true as far as we can tell from the data gathered so far.

To quote David Jamieson, our pro-helmet roads minister with teams of civil servants combing the data looking for a positive benefit of helmets beyond saving a graze and bump, "the Government knows of no case where cyclist safety has improved with increasing helmet use".

Quite a bit of info has appeared recently since the BMA were apprantly the victims of a successful knobbling lobby for helmet compulsion, and it would pay for a lot of people to read it and find out what can /really/ be expected of helmets. And in terms of serious injuries thhat really does appear to be *nothing*.

Pete.

mel

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby mel » 23 Nov 2004, 4:56am

I bought a helmet once, an expensive one, a MET, I didn't like it, it felt uncomfortable and I think it made non-cyclists consider me to be some what eccentric because I looked foolish. I would never wear one again...even if it meant giving up cycling. When cycling ceases to be enjoyable why do it?

nigel

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby nigel » 29 Nov 2004, 12:41pm

Sometimes the simplest questions are the most profound:
"When cycling ceases to be enjoyable, why do it?"
Thanks, Mel.
Nigel

JS

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby JS » 1 Dec 2004, 9:37am

Prompted by this thread, I read most of the contents of the cyclehelmets web site, with the eyes of someone who dabbles professionally in epidemiology (it's not my main job but I do know a bit about interpreting statistical evidence). I got a mixed impression. They advance arguments as to why much of the research that claims benefits for helmet wearing is flawed. Those arguments strike me as very valid. Specifically, the lack of control as to whether the people who wear helmets are temperamentally more careful people, and therefore any reduced injury rate is down to riding style rather than helmet use, basically invalidates many of the studies (if I'd been refereeing those papers for a scientific journal I'd reject them out of hand for that reason).

But, the site also makes claims of its own: that helmets are designed only for impacts up to modest speeds and therefore don't help in the more common/serious faster impacts with cars; and that by increasing the effective diameter of the head they may increase the likelihood of impact, and specifically of the rotational injuries that do the most harm. These both have a certain plausibility but I couldn't find any real evidence for either of these, so I came to the conclusion that in their desire to counter the arguments for compulsion, the site authors have gone too far the other way and have slipped into a looseness with evidence and a promotion of hypothesis as fact that smacks of what they accuse (rightly) the pro-compulsion lobby of doing!

My personal conclusion was that any individual cyclist is probably better off wearing a helmet than not as long as it doesn't alter their behaviour in other ways. It's because of the behaviour alteration problem that compulsion is a bad idea, but unless someone proves that the rotation-damage effect is real and outweighs the finite protection even a poorly-fitted helmet at high speed does provide, I'll wear a helmet myself.

Pete

Re:Let''s start another helmet debate . . .

Postby Pete » 1 Dec 2004, 10:47am

JS, As I see it, the fundamental piece of data on cyclehelmets.org is that where the *actual* real world data of serious injury rates are shown not to have changed with varying helmet wearing rates everywhere that anyone has looked.

This is what /has/ happened, and though the reasons as to quite why this is are at the level of speculation (such as larger chances of hitting one's head, risk compensation etc. etc.), as you point out, it doesn't affect that it *has* happened.

Those figures tell us that, for whatever reason, there is no effective benefit in terms of our chances of a serious injury from wearing a lid, and we can say that because the data tells us that everywhere wearing rates have been increased dramatically by mandatory helmet laws. It's happened like that everywhere these laws have already happened so why should it be different in the UK?

I don't know why, the folk behind cyclehelmets.org don't know why (they present the factors you mention as possibilities), but the why is less important than the *what*, and the "what" is no effective benefit. That shows your proven finite protection is basically around zero as far as serious injury goes, and you don't need specific data about rotational injuries or whatever to see that.

Furthmore, note that many pedestrians and drivers get to A&E departments with head injuries. If you wear a cycle helmet because it /might/ improve your chances on a bike, do you wear a helmet in a car or as a pedestrian for the same reason? If not, why not? We know from looking at the figures that cycling is, like walking, reasonably safe despite the number of people involved in accidents, including fatal ones. Same goes for using stairs. And if the reasoning to wear a lid in case of an unlikely accident holds for cycling it should hold for walking and using stairs too, yet it doesn't. Why the inconsistency? I think it's cultural, we've been told that cycling is dangerous, so we seek extra protection. In NL and Denmark, where the culture is aware that cycling isn't especially dangerous, hardly anyone bothers.

Pete.