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War breaks out on Twitter after police and ambulance blame cyclist for #NoHelmet

Forces accused of victim blaming and failing to understand the risks

The local police and ambulance services in Hackney, East London, one of the most successful boroughs in the capital in terms of cycling numbers, have come under fire for a series of bizarre tweets about not wearing a helmet being ‘risky’.

The Joint Response Units tweeted on February 18th that they were attending a “RTC- cyclist in collision with a van. Taken to a Major Trauma Centre as a priority @MPSHackney #NoHelmet #999family”

It was sent after a call out to Northchurch Road, De Beauvoir, where a man in his 70s had head injuries after colliding with a van.

The hashtag #NoHelmet brought about an instant angry reaction on the social media site.

Jono Kenyon of the Hackney Cycling Campaign tweeted back:  “Hoping a speedy recovery. Not sure the #nohelmet hashtag is needed though. We don't do it for car drivers.”

But then Hackney Police weighed in, responding: “it's best to wear a helmet. Provides far more protection. We see injures from #Nohelmets”

Hackney Cyclist said: “do you recommend pedestrians wear helmets whilst walking round Hackney Central?”

But the police tweeter continued to argue in a string of tweets reading: “I would see it more as prevention than blaming. It's not necessarily the cyclists fault but you are more vulnerable.

“not wearing a helmet is still very risk [sic] in our opinion. That's what we were saying.”

Meanwhile the Joint Response Unit was back for more, saying: “A helmet would have prevented further injury to the head from the road. Tweet not about blame.”
Another member of the public said:  “disgraceful victim-blaming. Helmets aren't the law. Pedestrians and drivers don't get criticism for not wearing.”

Back in 2015 we reported how Chris Boardman told road.cc that cycle helmets are “not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.

“We’ve gone away from the facts,” he said. “We’ve gone to anecdotes. It’s like shark attacks - more people are killed building sandcastles than are killed by sharks. It’s just ludicrous that the facts aren’t matching up with the actions because the press focus, naturally, on the news stories, and [the notion that cycling is dangerous] becomes the norm, and it isn’t the norm.

“You can ride a thousand times round the planet for each cycling death. You are safer than gardening.”

But in 2013 Sir Bradley Wiggins said they should be mandatory for all cyclists.

Speaking to BBC’s Newsround, he said: “I think certain laws for cyclists need to be passed to protect us more than anything.

“Making helmets compulsory on the roads, making it illegal to maybe have an iPod in while you’re riding a bike, just little things like that would make a huge difference.”

However he was seen riding a Boris Bike in London without a lid just this month.

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69 comments

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Crankpoet | 8 years ago
0 likes

Went for a run (officially a sport pedestrian?)this morning and didn't wear a helmet - am now concerned this is over risky and am looking to buy a running helmet.......................................

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Matt eaton | 8 years ago
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What I find really peculiar about stories like this is that the emergency services allow random members of staff (i.e. people who have no specific skills or training in making public statements on behalf of a large organisations) to publish these kind of comments. In many cases this seems not only to be permitted but possitivly encouraged. This practice allows individials' opinions to be stated as fact; which is clearly unacceptable when they claim to be the view of a larger organisation. Operational staff in our emergency services perform a difficult and vital role already; I don't understand the logic of giving them this additional responsibilty.

Although I realise it's a bit different as I work outside of the public sector there is absolutly no way that I would be allowed to publish statements on behalf of my employer as and when I pleased on whatever subject I saw fit.

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L.Willo replied to Matt eaton | 8 years ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

What I find really peculiar about stories like this is that the emergency services allow random members of staff (i.e. people who have no specific skills or training in making public statements on behalf of a large organisations) to publish these kind of comments. In many cases this seems not only to be permitted but possitivly encouraged. This practice allows individials' opinions to be stated as fact; which is clearly unacceptable when they claim to be the view of a larger organisation.

They are the views of the organisation! You think the emergency services should not be in the business of promoting the Highway Code?

Rule 59

Clothing. You should wear:

  • a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
     
  • appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
     
  • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
     
  • reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82

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philtregear | 8 years ago
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wearing a helmet whatever you are doing will decrease the chance of head injury. that is not the same as arguing for compulsion or against other measures that may also increase safety. I wear ahelmet when cycling, working with a chainsaw, up ladders when decorating. For me, these are my risky activities. Yes, I could be knocked down as a pedestrian, but i estimate  , for me, that is a significantly lower risk than the above activities. I think it is both sensible and responsible to consider the risks of what we do in our daily lives, take such sensible measures we can, and advocate for others eg  stronger penalties for bad driving.

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davel | 8 years ago
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L.Willo: you're conflating a few issues here, and ignoring others.

I'm not slating ALL helmets. Different types of helmet are different. I have no idea whether skiing helmets have reams of evidence that overwhelmingly support their effectiveness. Cycling helmets do not,and some reports suggest that they exacerbate other injuries (eg neck). Why the blanket faith in protective equipment when it's been credited with making other sports and activities less safe?

If you swung at my head with a baseball bat, a very specific action, I'd take the helmet designed to protect my head from someone swinging a baseball bat at it (though if you wield a bat like you do logic, I might be better off with a jockstrap ).

If you drove at me with a car while waving a bat out of the window, I'd probably choose wearing a few other items of equipment over a polysterene lid.

If I cycle in a way whereby I'm likely to land on my head at 10mph, then I'll feel safer with a helmet designed for that. I don't think that makes up a large part of my cycling.

How can you argue for the effectiveness of a safety device 1. while using completely irrelevant scenarios as examples and 2. without quoting some sort of evidence that suggests that a sizeable proportion of majority of bike KSIs were the type of injury that would have been avoided if helmets had been worn?

 

 

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L.Willo | 8 years ago
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Wow, really reaching now ....

Schumacher would have been better off headbutting a rock with his bare head than wearing a crash helmet with a go pro attached ..... 

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mrmo replied to L.Willo | 8 years ago
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L.Willo wrote:

Wow, really reaching now ....

Schumacher would have been better off headbutting a rock with his bare head than wearing a crash helmet with a go pro attached ..... 

 

we'll never know, but quite possibly, yes he would have been better offer not wearing a helmet with a go=pro attached. A helmet on its own MAY have helped, but then comes in the issue of design standards. Cycle helmets are pretty crap. 

 

For a young child they can make some sense, height, impact loads etc. for an adult not so much.

 

 

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Windydog | 8 years ago
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Apparently common sense needs to be legislated.  This is a sad path to travel down, if you ride like an idiot, don't maintain your bike, and ride with a helmet, you're a fool. 

If the inverse is applied, apparently you're also a fool.  Go figure...

 

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PeterM | 8 years ago
1 like

I wish they'd repeal the motorcycle helmet law - I'd enjoy my motorbike more without one... and as for seatbelts...restrictive or what....

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chrismayoh | 8 years ago
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I was just looking up statistics on injuries from airbag deployment in cars

I think we should be pressing for helmets and face masks to be compulsory if airbags are fitted . . . . . . . . . !

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davel | 8 years ago
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I wear a helmet for all but the shortest, pootling-round-the-park-with-my-kids rides. I do this because races/events (generally sportives, club rides and triathlons) insist that I have to wear one, so I may as well get used to them on training rides/commutes than fiddling with them on the day. Plus my wife would probably nag me if I didn't. And that's it. Basically it's for an easy life.

I haven't taken the time to become an expert in all the disciplines necessary to be able to make a genuinely objective decision, or considered all the evidence as I should have. Actually, from what I've read, from a safety perspective, I'd be better off reversing my wearing strategy: wear for slow pootles, when if I fall off at 8mph and bang my head it might be some use, but not bother with it for 40mph descents and commutes alongside 30/40mph vehicles, where it isn't likely to make much difference, right?

In short, who knows? But the preaching on here about a polysterene lid saving lives, people being stupid for not wearing a helmet, only being unlucky once, listening to paramedics over people who actually cycle... all based on what? Feeling safer with a lid on?

Those people need to go and read up on sports studies involving head injuries. Those in the helmet-wearing NFL now, those on modern boxing vs bareknuckle, or boxing with 12oz gloves vs UFC-style 4oz. They do exist.

As do 'expert opinions' on helmets having unintended consequences vis-a-vis neck injuries, behaviour on the wearers and drivers next to them, the reinforcement of the belief that cyclists need to protect themselves if they dare to use the roads alongside vehicles.

I'd say it's counter-intuitive, but it really isn't - unless you don't understand human behaviour and risk compensation. Maybe if you're the type of person to throw in a reference to a full-face downhill MTB helmet as though it's the same as a polystyrene lid. You might feel safer with one on, but don't lecture people based on what is basically your faith in a bit of plastic.

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Stumps | 8 years ago
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Just throwing this out there......

Is there any poster on here who is a member of a cycling club who's rules state you DONT have to wear a helmet on club rides. I know at my club, no helmet equals no ride.

I did a very basic survey a few months back where i simply counted the number of cyclists on both road and mtb's and noted who did and who didn't wear a helmet. If my memory serves me right it was nigh on 98% of roadies wore a helmet but a lot less for the mtb'ers.

However nearly all the mtber's were youngsters flying about the streets and estates.

Not that this means much but IF it became compulsory for helmet use it would have virtually no effect on usage around where i live and work.

 

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mrmo replied to Stumps | 8 years ago
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stumps wrote:

I did a very basic survey a few months back where i simply counted the number of cyclists on both road and mtb's and noted who did and who didn't wear a helmet. If my memory serves me right it was nigh on 98% of roadies wore a helmet but a lot less for the mtb'ers.

However nearly all the mtber's were youngsters flying about the streets and estates.

Not that this means much but IF it became compulsory for helmet use it would have virtually no effect on usage around where i live and work.

 

From experience, would the people using MTBs actually be using them, or would they be using them as a means of transport. Most MTBers use helmets ime, but a lot of people ride MTBs for transport. 

The issue i have with helmets is summed up nicely by the NZ study,compulsary helmets=less cyclists. More people cycling means more people not driving which in turn reduces pollution and improves air quality. If someone chooses to wear a helmet i really i don't care either way. I do care if a change is imposed that results in less people cycling and further trashing the environment i live in. 

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Stumps replied to mrmo | 8 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
stumps wrote:

I did a very basic survey a few months back where i simply counted the number of cyclists on both road and mtb's and noted who did and who didn't wear a helmet. If my memory serves me right it was nigh on 98% of roadies wore a helmet but a lot less for the mtb'ers.

However nearly all the mtber's were youngsters flying about the streets and estates.

Not that this means much but IF it became compulsory for helmet use it would have virtually no effect on usage around where i live and work.

 

From experience, would the people using MTBs actually be using them, or would they be using them as a means of transport. Most MTBers use helmets ime, but a lot of people ride MTBs for transport.

The issue i have with helmets is summed up nicely by the NZ study,compulsary helmets=less cyclists. More people cycling means more people not driving which in turn reduces pollution and improves air quality. If someone chooses to wear a helmet i really i don't care either way. I do care if a change is imposed that results in less people cycling and further trashing the environment i live in.

 

Totally agree with you and yes nearly all were using them as transport between A and B and not for going downhills. Compulsory helmet use may well come in but with less and less officers on the streets and more and more to do it would be way way down any cop's to do list.

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FluffyKittenofT... | 8 years ago
1 like
LJS wrote:

A few thoughts

1) I'd be more inclined to take the view of a paramedic that deals with accidents on a regular basis than those who dont

2) I don't understand why road cyclists are so anti helmet.. Most other sports where there is a risk of falling and hitting your head have embraced helmets, I've noticed it particularly with snowsports.  Out of interest are mountain bikers anti helmet too?

3) its very easy to find studies for or against helmets, but on the most simplistic level personally I would think that a hard plastic shell is likely to offer more protection than nothing at all

4) I'd be very wary of taking two or three variables, as some of the graphs on this thread do, applying it to a population and saying a causes b

1/Why?
2/What does sport have to do with the issue? I don't particularly like sport, myself. and don't participate in any.
3/Just for cycling or all the time? And how is that relevant to the issue of paramedics making victim-blaming comments?
4/This point surely contradicts your point 1, no? Why aren't you wary about such comments? You are absolutely entitled (and probably sensible) to be 'wary' about statistics but not to simply assert the contrary position with no evidence or argument of your own.

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LJS | 8 years ago
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A few thoughts

1) I'd be more inclined to take the view of a paramedic that deals with accidents on a regular basis than those who dont

2) I don't understand why road cyclists are so anti helmet.. Most other sports where there is a risk of falling and hitting your head have embraced helmets, I've noticed it particularly with snowsports.  Out of interest are mountain bikers anti helmet too?

3) its very easy to find studies for or against helmets, but on the most simplistic level personally I would think that a hard plastic shell is likely to offer more protection than nothing at all

4) I'd be very wary of taking two or three variables, as some of the graphs on this thread do, applying it to a population and saying a causes b

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brooksby replied to LJS | 8 years ago
1 like
LJS wrote:

A few thoughts

1) I'd be more inclined to take the view of a paramedic that deals with accidents on a regular basis than those who dont

2) I don't understand why road cyclists are so anti helmet.. Most other sports where there is a risk of falling and hitting your head have embraced helmets, I've noticed it particularly with snowsports.  Out of interest are mountain bikers anti helmet too?

3) its very easy to find studies for or against helmets, but on the most simplistic level personally I would think that a hard plastic shell is likely to offer more protection than nothing at all

4) I'd be very wary of taking two or three variables, as some of the graphs on this thread do, applying it to a population and saying a causes b

On point 2. I think you'll find that the people suggesting helmets not be compulsory are not road cyclists in the sense of sports/racing. Rather, they are people who happen to ride bikes to get from A to B / go to the shops / &c. If you are riding at speed while in a race then a helmet does make more sense. Nobody tells motorists to wear helmets to drive to B&Q (despite what some of the studies show), but they're mandatory if you're racing Formula One.

On point three: I've come off my bike a handful of times. Only once involving another vehicle (a dooring). And my head has never been the bit that hit the ground or got hurt. Going on my own injuries, I think that shoulder- and shin-pads would stop more injuries than helmets...

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wycombewheeler replied to LJS | 8 years ago
1 like
LJS wrote:

 

2) I don't understand why road cyclists are so anti helmet.. Most other sports where there is a risk of falling and hitting your head have embraced helmets, I've noticed it particularly with snowsports.  Out of interest are mountain bikers anti helmet too?

 

I am not anti helmet, in fact i wear one when I ride almost all of the time.  The objection is that the response to any head injury to a cyclist is either 'wear a helmet' or 'lucky he was wearing a helmet, it would have been worse' the first response is never 'stop driving metal boxes into people'. If pedestrians suffer head injuries in an RTA the response is not 'wear a helmet'.

 

Also remember the helmet is designed to protect only up to a fall from head height. i.e. falling over sideways. it is not intended to protect from high speed impact with metal box.  The emergency services might as well tweet #nosteelsafetycage whenever a cyclist is injured by a driver. 

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L.Willo replied to wycombewheeler | 8 years ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

...injury to a cyclist is either 'wear a helmet' or 'lucky he was wearing a helmet, it would have been worse' the first response is never 'stop driving metal boxes into people'.

Barring one or two absolute psychos, motorists are not driving metal boxes into people on purpose, so expecting motorists to stop doing it is as about as useful as expecting that you never stub your big toe again.

I don't wear padding at all times on my big toe, shoulder or shins because the consequences of an injury are unlikely to be serious enough to justify the inconvenience. A head injury though? While mixing it with mobile metal on a very hard surface at 15 - 20+ mph?

I would rather be wearing a helmet in the unlikely event of a collision with a motor vehicle and my bonce heading for the kerb, in the same way I would rather be wearing a helmet when facing a fast bowler or taking a blow from a thug wielding a baseball bat. There are no guarantees but it is obvious that my chances of avoiding death or a life changing brain injury are improved if some of the impact energy is absorbed by a well-designed disintegrating polystyrene hat.

They should be compulsory for under 16s on and off road but adults should be allowed to make their own choices.

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davel replied to L.Willo | 8 years ago
1 like
L.Willo wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

...injury to a cyclist is either 'wear a helmet' or 'lucky he was wearing a helmet, it would have been worse' the first response is never 'stop driving metal boxes into people'.

Barring one or two absolute psychos, motorists are not driving metal boxes into people on purpose, so expecting motorists to stop doing it is as about as useful as expecting that you never stub your big toe again. I don't wear padding at all times on my big toe, shoulder or shins because the consequences of an injury are unlikely to be serious enough to justify the inconvenience. A head injury though? While mixing it with mobile metal on a very hard surface at 15 - 20+ mph? I would rather be wearing a helmet in the unlikely event of a collision with a motor vehicle and my bonce heading for the kerb, in the same way I would rather be wearing a helmet when facing a fast bowler or taking a blow from a thug wielding a baseball bat. There are no guarantees but it is obvious that my chances of avoiding death or a life changing brain injury are improved if some of the impact energy is absorbed by a well-designed disintegrating polystyrene hat. They should be compulsory for under 16s on and off road but adults should be allowed to make their own choices.

No it isn't, and that's the problem.

Comments threads and Twitter and Facebook might be busy with people convinced that helmets saved their lives, because 'look at the state of my helmet', but if you look in the right places they're also busy with evolution-denyers because 'the eye' and other such bollocks.

The evidence is far from conclusive on how effective a helmet would be in your 15-20mph collision with a vehicle, and if the vehicle has driven into you, hitting the kerb is the least of your worries.

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Windydog replied to davel | 8 years ago
0 likes
davel wrote:

No it isn't, and that's the problem.

Comments threads and Twitter and Facebook might be busy with people convinced that helmets saved their lives, because 'look at the state of my helmet', but if you look in the right places they're also busy with evolution-denyers because 'the eye' and other such bollocks.

The evidence is far from conclusive on how effective a helmet would be in your 15-20mph collision with a vehicle, and if the vehicle has driven into you, hitting the kerb is the least of your worries.

 

I can actually follow you on this one, riding a bike is not an algorithmic safety assessment based on likely trauma if hit by a car.  You'll probably not be very well, helmet or not.

Far better not to hit the car in the first place but this comes down to active and passive safety measures and how a rider uses them to mitigate risk.  

As a profile analogy;

Schumacher had a helmet on skiing.  

   

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hawkinspeter replied to Windydog | 8 years ago
0 likes
Windydog wrote:
davel wrote:

No it isn't, and that's the problem.

Comments threads and Twitter and Facebook might be busy with people convinced that helmets saved their lives, because 'look at the state of my helmet', but if you look in the right places they're also busy with evolution-denyers because 'the eye' and other such bollocks.

The evidence is far from conclusive on how effective a helmet would be in your 15-20mph collision with a vehicle, and if the vehicle has driven into you, hitting the kerb is the least of your worries.

 

I can actually follow you on this one, riding a bike is not an algorithmic safety assessment based on likely trauma if hit by a car.  You'll probably not be very well, helmet or not.

Far better not to hit the car in the first place but this comes down to active and passive safety measures and how a rider uses them to mitigate risk.  

As a profile analogy;

Schumacher had a helmet on skiing.  

   

Agreed, but I'd like to add a couple of extra points. Standard bike helmets (i.e. not full face MTB ones) are designed to protect the head during a low speed fall not involving any other parties. When involved in a collision, the forces are orders of magnitude greater and a bike helmet is more or less irrelevant (they aren't designed for that).

Also, Schumacher's helmet may have indirectly contributed to his injury due to the GoPro mounted on it: http://road.cc/content/news/133135-did-michael-schumacher%E2%80%99s-helmet-cam-cause-brain-injury

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mrmo replied to Windydog | 8 years ago
0 likes
Windydog wrote:

 

Schumacher had a helmet on skiing.  

   

He also, i believe, had a Go-Pro on it? Force multiplier which would have created a pressure point on the helmet outside of scope. 

 

how many cyclists do you see with cameras and light strapped on to their helmets rendering them virtually pointless. I believe the Aus rules ban any attachment to a helmet because they invalidate the tests.

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davel replied to Windydog | 8 years ago
0 likes
Windydog wrote:
davel wrote:

No it isn't, and that's the problem.

Comments threads and Twitter and Facebook might be busy with people convinced that helmets saved their lives, because 'look at the state of my helmet', but if you look in the right places they're also busy with evolution-denyers because 'the eye' and other such bollocks.

The evidence is far from conclusive on how effective a helmet would be in your 15-20mph collision with a vehicle, and if the vehicle has driven into you, hitting the kerb is the least of your worries.

 

I can actually follow you on this one, riding a bike is not an algorithmic safety assessment based on likely trauma if hit by a car.  You'll probably not be very well, helmet or not.

Far better not to hit the car in the first place but this comes down to active and passive safety measures and how a rider uses them to mitigate risk.  

As a profile analogy;

Schumacher had a helmet on skiing.  

   

 

...and there's evidence that cyclists take more risks while wearing helmets, and drivers around them give them less space... = more risk of collision in the first place?

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Windydog replied to davel | 8 years ago
0 likes

 

[/quote]

 

...and there's evidence that cyclists take more risks while wearing helmets, and drivers around them give them less space... = more risk of collision in the first place?

[/quote]

 

Yes, agree.  Comes back down to taking responsibility for your own safety.  I wear a helmet on bike because I want to take that responsibility, being forced to suddenly makes it much less appealing and am forced into a herd mentality acceptance, and suddenly we're in that New Zealand graph territory.   For a sport where we spend a lot of time hurting voluntarily, sometimes in isolation, being forced into group compliance seems at odds with the aim.  

And as an aside, a helmet skiing also because i'm a wrecklessly fast idiot when not in anyone's else's way, and I need all the help I can get.  

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davel replied to Windydog | 8 years ago
0 likes
Windydog wrote:

 

 

...and there's evidence that cyclists take more risks while wearing helmets, and drivers around them give them less space... = more risk of collision in the first place?

[/quote]

 

Yes, agree.  Comes back down to taking responsibility for your own safety.  I wear a helmet on bike because I want to take that responsibility, being forced to suddenly makes it much less appealing and am forced into a herd mentality acceptance, and suddenly we're in that New Zealand graph territory.   For a sport where we spend a lot of time hurting voluntarily, sometimes in isolation, being forced into group compliance seems at odds with the aim.  

And as an aside, a helmet skiing also because i'm a wrecklessly fast idiot when not in anyone's else's way, and I need all the help I can get.  

[/quote]

there also needs to be more taking of responsibility for not driving into vulnerable road users.

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hawkinspeter replied to davel | 8 years ago
0 likes
davel wrote:

there also needs to be more taking of responsibility for not driving into vulnerable road users.

Absolutely! It never cease to amaze me when car drivers complain of RLJers and rude cyclists and I feel like saying "Look, can you just stop killing so many of us first, then we'll see about our behaviour".

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Windydog replied to davel | 8 years ago
0 likes

[/quote]

there also needs to be more taking of responsibility for not driving into vulnerable road users.

[/quote]

 

Yes.  But we are in conflict and now in an arms race it seems where a helmet forms part of the armoury, and the proportion of bad drivers I would guess is similar but yet numbers are going up.

 Stab theory, a million people in a room, some will have knifes, some will be stupid, someone will get stabbed for no good reason. 

You can't legislate for stupidity, just avoid it or live with the risk.  If you feel wearing a helmet decreaases that risk, then good on you.  The inverse applies though, and I will not condemn a cyclist for not wearing one. 

 

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L.Willo replied to davel | 8 years ago
1 like
davel wrote:
L.Willo wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

...injury to a cyclist is either 'wear a helmet' or 'lucky he was wearing a helmet, it would have been worse' the first response is never 'stop driving metal boxes into people'.

Barring one or two absolute psychos, motorists are not driving metal boxes into people on purpose, so expecting motorists to stop doing it is as about as useful as expecting that you never stub your big toe again. I don't wear padding at all times on my big toe, shoulder or shins because the consequences of an injury are unlikely to be serious enough to justify the inconvenience. A head injury though? While mixing it with mobile metal on a very hard surface at 15 - 20+ mph? I would rather be wearing a helmet in the unlikely event of a collision with a motor vehicle and my bonce heading for the kerb, in the same way I would rather be wearing a helmet when facing a fast bowler or taking a blow from a thug wielding a baseball bat. There are no guarantees but it is obvious that my chances of avoiding death or a life changing brain injury are improved if some of the impact energy is absorbed by a well-designed disintegrating polystyrene hat. They should be compulsory for under 16s on and off road but adults should be allowed to make their own choices.

No it isn't, and that's the problem.

Comments threads and Twitter and Facebook might be busy with people convinced that helmets saved their lives, because 'look at the state of my helmet', but if you look in the right places they're also busy with evolution-denyers because 'the eye' and other such bollocks.

The evidence is far from conclusive on how effective a helmet would be in your 15-20mph collision with a vehicle, and if the vehicle has driven into you, hitting the kerb is the least of your worries.

 

What I actually said, is obvious. If my head is going to hit the kerb, I have a choice of absorbing all of the impact or allowing the helmet to absorb some and my skull the rest. The latter is the better option for me.

If I strapped you to a chair, told you that I was going to whack the back of your head hard with a baseball bat and gave you a choice of helmet or no helmet, you would choose helmet, unless you are a liar, have a death wish or are profoundly stupid.

No one should claim that a helmet saved their lives any more than people should claim that they would not have made a difference, as in the case of the poor guy cited in the link above who died from a head injury from a low speed accident. We don't come with an identical control version of ourselves to see what would have happened in other circumstances.

What you can legitimately claim as you hold up your destroyed helmet is that your injury would have been worse without the helmet absorbing some of the impact, enough to destroy it. If you look at one of those scuffed, shredded helmets and think, mmmm I wouldn't personally have minded all that extra destructive force applied to my naked scalp, well maybe you're a masochist or a Darwin award wannabe.

I have no illusion that a helmet will reduce my chances of an accident, or guarantee protection if I am crushed by an HGV or T-boned into next week by a 4WD but I will continue to wear one and insist that my children wear them (I confiscated my son's bike for a month after I saw him riding without one) and shake my head in bewilderment at those grown adults who quite bizarrely choose not to.

PS Michael Schumacher is alive. After a significant impact with a rock. I am glad he was wearing a helmet. Who knows what medical science might be able to achieve within a decade? Which would be a moot point if his brain was still lying in pieces in the Alps ...

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Pjrob | 8 years ago
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Most helmet head injury discussions miss a major point. There are not many bicycle head injuries and even less brain injuries. Certainly compared to the biggest source of head injury, more specifically brain injury,  which is stroke. The number of brain injuries from bikes is vanishingly small.

The elderly bicycle user by virtue of using the bike instead of driving was living a more active life, thus delaying or decreasing the likelihood of stroke and for that matter many other debilitating conditions.

According to research undertaken in Norway (Elvik) and using alot of Australian helmet data, if a rider is discouraged from riding by a helmet requirement, the net health deficit is about 20 to one. That is you save one unit medical cost of a head injury but lose twenty through other forms of ill health.

By all means encourage the elderly to ride bikes and dont think for a minute that you are doing them a favour by suggesting its so dangerous they need helmets.

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