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Fabian Cancellara sparks helmet debate on Twitter, says all cyclists should wear one

Trek Factory Racing rider shocked by number of bare-headed riders — in the Netherlands

Fabian Cancellara has this morning sparked a revival on Twitter of the eternal helmet debate, after saying that all cyclists should wear the headgear – his comments prompted by the sight of bare-headed people riding bikes in the Netherlands, where he is currently taking part in the Eneco Tour.

The Trek Factory Racing rider tweeted:

 

 

Shortly afterwards, he added:

 

 

The fact Cancellara was tweeting about the Netherlands, which together with Denmark has the highest levels of cycling in Europe but one of the best safety records, did not escape attention:

 

 

 

 

Some also pointed out that everyday cycling is an entirely different proposition from racing, where helmets have been compulsory since 2003 – although the speeds that racers travel at means that the velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards for cycle helmets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Cancellara’s original posts were widely retweeted and favourited, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Twitter users doing that were endorsing his views.

One person who lives in the town where Cancellara noticed the lack of helmets happened to be visiting the rider’s home country, Switzerland, and said:

 

 

Not everyone took exception to Cancellara’s stance. One Twitter user said:

 

 

Another added:

 

 

Finally, this tweet sums up an opinion shared by many:

 

 

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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110 comments

Avatar
Joeinpoole | 9 years ago
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I visited Bern recently and I was surprised by how few motorists were wearing helmets.

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batch2103 | 9 years ago
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The debate on helmet wearing should never go away. It has to be kept very much in the publics consciousness ... otherwise we might not have any conscious to ponder?

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Joeinpoole replied to batch2103 | 9 years ago
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batch2103 wrote:

The debate on helmet wearing should never go away. It has to be kept very much in the publics consciousness ... otherwise we might not have any conscious to ponder?

Don't be ridiculous. The 'helmet debate' most definitely *should* go away as there is no evidence whatsoever that helmets do anything to reduce injury rates.

We've been running 'studies' of compulsory helmet-wearing in Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Canada for nearly 20 years now. If helmets really did help, then it should have shown up in the statistics by now.

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antigee | 9 years ago
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rode to school with my daughter today as we do most days - live in Melbourne, Victoria and helmets are mandatory
we rode defensively and dealt with one illegal right turn across us, a fast approach no look and hard accelerate thru a stop line in front of us and a fail to give way at a crossing when turning at lights (busy junction and legal for us to use crossing) a pretty average 15minute ride at rush hour

a helmet might have mitigated some of the injuries if we'd failed to assess the poor driving and failed to react in time
- the helmets didn't make the ride to school any safer.

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surly_by_name | 9 years ago
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Was Fabian paid to tweet about helmets by cycling websites eager to get clicks?

We've been here before. Many, many times. Please make it stop.

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drfabulous0 | 9 years ago
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Next: Lewis Hamilton's opinion on 20mph zones. Not relevant, don't care.

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rggfddne | 9 years ago
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Being Safe is wearing a helmet. Being Safe cannot be questioned or challenged with numbers. It is above that.

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Mr Agreeable | 9 years ago
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You missed the best Twitter response, from the always-on-the-money @AsEasyAsRiding

//pbs.twimg.com/media/Bu_YwyRIUAEzUWd.png)

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rggfddne | 9 years ago
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I think, at last, I get it.

Helmets aren't about preventing injuries. They're about Being Safe. How foolish I was to think the number of injuries was in any way related.

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pedalpowerDC | 9 years ago
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Love the helmetless Fabs pic at the top!

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Kim | 9 years ago
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And Cancellara gets paid how much by a company which makes cycle helmets? Does he think we are stupid? It is not as if the damn things make a significant difference to safety.

Hey Fabian, just tell kids not to cycle at all, it will have the same effect!

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parksey | 9 years ago
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Sweepstake on how many comments this article will get...?!

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Some Fella | 9 years ago
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Pro cyclist sparks helmet row on Twitter that sparks helmet row in comments section of road.cc .........

And so the wheel keeps on turning ......

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ricky1980 | 9 years ago
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the man is being a bit of a silly boy for advocating helmet uise for all cycling...

i commute on my foldable and I don't go more than 15mph on it and constantly slowing down and weaving in and out of traffice...so i don't wear helmet and touch wood never had an accident on it.

however when i am training on my road bike i wear helmet as i intend to go a bit faster and is on roads that are likely to be quieter but still with occasional traffic...and the helmet has saved me a couple of times when i fell off so all for it in those instances.

although he does have a point regarding children...

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kcr | 9 years ago
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The only word you need to read in the article is "eternal".
Carry on...

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leqin | 9 years ago
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I wear a helmet and I am a proud helmet wearer and I went out of my way finding a helmet that fitted my head... some would say my big head.... properly, but I am constantly amazed by the fact that professional riders in the same team and even when they go from one team to another they all wear the same brand of helmet - they all wear a Specialized helmet - all wear a Kask - all wear a Bell or a Giro or a you perm any brand name of helmet and every single rider on the team is wearing that brand of helmet.

Forgive me if I am stupid, but how on earth can professional riders on the same team all have the same shape head, or do they have helmets specifically made to fit their head, or are the helmets adapted in some way to make it that the helmet fits each riders head perfectly.

If as I suspect is the case, which is that the helmet is just another piece of team sponsorship advertising then that means that most of the riders in the peleton are riding without helmets that fit their heads properly, or at least not as properly as the one I wear - a Specialized and only after trying endless brands and models... oh and I still try out any new helmets I happen upon just in case I can find a better fitting helmet.

If that is the case - that it is just sponsorship money - then that means that there is a very good chance that Fabian Cancellara is compromising his own safety, or his own interpretation of safety, for money rather than just in case he gets involved in a accident and needs his helmet to fit his head properly and so it helps save him from injury because the helmet he is wearing fits correctly.

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HarryCallahan | 9 years ago
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"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

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mad_scot_rider replied to HarryCallahan | 9 years ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

Except the impact mitigation for cycle helmet material is not to lessen the impact, but in fact to take it all unto itself

This results in the rule that ANY impact involving your helmet has almost certainly resulted in it splitting

In a real crash, impact directly to the helmet will result in it splitting like a watermelon hit by a hammer - providing NO protection to the rider

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fukawitribe replied to mad_scot_rider | 9 years ago
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mad_scot_rider wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

Except the impact mitigation for cycle helmet material is not to lessen the impact, but in fact to take it all unto itself

No, that's not a fact - one of the primary functions is to increase the time over which deceleration of the head occurs. That is mitigation not prevention or total protection.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

This results in the rule that ANY impact involving your helmet has almost certainly resulted in it splitting

There is no such rule.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

In a real crash, impact directly to the helmet will result in it splitting like a watermelon hit by a hammer -

Come on, that's clearly dependant on the impact unless you're appealing to your 'rule'.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

providing NO protection to the rider

Nah - just doesn't follow.

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HarryCallahan replied to mad_scot_rider | 9 years ago
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If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

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a.jumper replied to HarryCallahan | 9 years ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

Often some of the energy is lost to air resistance and some is transferred to the impact of whatever part of the body hits the ground instead of the smaller, lighter head which the body can now protect by tucking in.

I tell you what, strap a large half-pound weight to the outside of your elbow, then try walking around and see how many door frames and walls you hit that you usually avoid. That's not dissimilar to the effect of these crap commuter cycle helmets on a head.

Now if you're taking risks like racing or doing serious mountain biking or BMXing, then I can understand that you'd want a decent helmet, probably stronger than the junk sold to commuters, but that's a different calculation to everyday cycling.

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HarryCallahan replied to a.jumper | 9 years ago
0 likes
a.jumper wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

Often some of the energy is lost to air resistance and some is transferred to the impact of whatever part of the body hits the ground instead of the smaller, lighter head which the body can now protect by tucking in.

That's great advice.
.
.
.
For Turtles!

Avatar
rggfddne replied to HarryCallahan | 9 years ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Avatar
HarryCallahan replied to rggfddne | 9 years ago
0 likes
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Do you know there's a difference between cracking and instantaneous disintegration?

The damaged, compressed, helmet structure sat between the head and hard ground (wall, pole, windscreen etc) and took some of the impact.

Go do a simple experiment using a hammer, a helmet and your head. Which hurts more, with or without helmet?

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rggfddne replied to HarryCallahan | 9 years ago
0 likes
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Do you know there's a difference between cracking and instantaneous disintegration?

The damaged, compressed, helmet structure sat between the head and hard ground (wall, pole, windscreen etc) and took some of the impact.

Go do a simple experiment using a hammer, a helmet and your head. Which hurts more, with or without helmet?

MSCi in materials science, so yes, I do. The post just above this one is pretty relevant. Unlike your answer, which *completely* ignored my question, suggesting you don't have a clue.

Avatar
fukawitribe replied to rggfddne | 9 years ago
0 likes
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Do you know there's a difference between cracking and instantaneous disintegration?

The damaged, compressed, helmet structure sat between the head and hard ground (wall, pole, windscreen etc) and took some of the impact.

Go do a simple experiment using a hammer, a helmet and your head. Which hurts more, with or without helmet?

MSCi in materials science, so yes, I do. The post just above this one is pretty relevant. Unlike your answer, which *completely* ignored my question, suggesting you don't have a clue.

To be fair, I think Harry might have been saying much of what I was, but in a different way. I might well be wrong about that mind.

Avatar
rggfddne replied to fukawitribe | 9 years ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Do you know there's a difference between cracking and instantaneous disintegration?

The damaged, compressed, helmet structure sat between the head and hard ground (wall, pole, windscreen etc) and took some of the impact.

Go do a simple experiment using a hammer, a helmet and your head. Which hurts more, with or without helmet?

MSCi in materials science, so yes, I do. The post just above this one is pretty relevant. Unlike your answer, which *completely* ignored my question, suggesting you don't have a clue.

To be fair, I think Harry might have been saying much of what I was, but in a different way. I might well be wrong about that mind.

Yes, you provided useful information. He asked a rather stupid leading question and looked smart.

Avatar
HarryCallahan replied to rggfddne | 9 years ago
0 likes
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Do you know there's a difference between cracking and instantaneous disintegration?

The damaged, compressed, helmet structure sat between the head and hard ground (wall, pole, windscreen etc) and took some of the impact.

Go do a simple experiment using a hammer, a helmet and your head. Which hurts more, with or without helmet?

MSCi in materials science, so yes, I do. The post just above this one is pretty relevant. Unlike your answer, which *completely* ignored my question, suggesting you don't have a clue.

Well back to your irrelevant question then.

You could drive a steam roller over helmet foam and not crack it in the sense of large visible separations. Concentrated force on a section can cause separation at the edge, say a high heal creating a sharp indentation. Then again pushing a cricket ball into it won't necessarily cause separation because the impact force reduces smoothly over a distance.

In the end it's just a dumb irrelevant question which doesn't have a precise answer as requested because there are too many unknowns.

And also, as an MSc whatever, surely you know that an impact is measured in terms of FORCE and PRESSURE not energy??

The foam is there to lengthen the deceleration by way of compression, so our concern is compressibility, thickness, not "what 'energy' is required to crack it" .

Avatar
rggfddne replied to HarryCallahan | 9 years ago
0 likes
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Do you know there's a difference between cracking and instantaneous disintegration?

The damaged, compressed, helmet structure sat between the head and hard ground (wall, pole, windscreen etc) and took some of the impact.

Go do a simple experiment using a hammer, a helmet and your head. Which hurts more, with or without helmet?

MSCi in materials science, so yes, I do. The post just above this one is pretty relevant. Unlike your answer, which *completely* ignored my question, suggesting you don't have a clue.

Well back to your irrelevant question then.

You could drive a steam roller over helmet foam and not crack it in the sense of large visible separations. Concentrated force on a section can cause separation at the edge, say a high heal creating a sharp indentation. Then again pushing a cricket ball into it won't necessarily cause separation because the impact force reduces smoothly over a distance.

In the end it's just a dumb irrelevant question which doesn't have a precise answer as requested because there are too many unknowns.

And also, as an MSc whatever, surely you know that an impact is measured in terms of FORCE and PRESSURE not energy??

The foam is there to lengthen the deceleration by way of compression, so our concern is compressibility, thickness, not "what 'energy' is required to crack it" .

Too much stupid to bother replying to everything.

Look up "impact test" about anywhere really. Energy is absolutely relevant, as is stress. And no, you absolutely cannot drive a steamroller over a helmet and have it survive, idiot.

Avatar
HarryCallahan replied to rggfddne | 9 years ago
0 likes
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:
nuclear coffee wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

Too much stupid to bother replying to everything.

Look up "impact test" about anywhere really. Energy is absolutely relevant, as is stress. And no, you absolutely cannot drive a steamroller over a helmet and have it survive, idiot.

Just quickly.

What is the answer to your question?

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