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The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

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The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  Spindoctor on Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:52 pm

If you look at our statements on rider safety you will see the group are 100% behind helmet wearing. There is a huge debate about prescriptive helmet wearing and personal choice, although the consequences of not aren't always limited to personal issues. So have a read of these and make your choice accordingly: to me, and the group they make a compelling case.

To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question
by Warren McLaren, Bundanoon, Australia on 12.12.06



The journal Accident Analysis & Prevention has accepted for publication some research that suggests wearing a helmet, while cycling, increases the risk of being hit by a passing car. Author of the report, Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist at the UK’s University of Bath, fitted sensors to his bike and rode with and without a helmet for a couple of months, to the point he had been passed by 2,500 vehicles. He concluded that when wearing a helmet cars got 8.5 cm (3.35”) closer to him than without one. “The idea that helmeted cyclists are more experienced and less likely to do something unexpected would explain why drivers leave less space when passing.” He goes on to say, “Most adult cyclists know what it is like to drive a car, but relatively few motorists ride bicycles in traffic, and so don’t know the issues cyclists face. When people try cycling, they nearly always say it changes the way they treat other road users when they get back in their cars.” We first spied this news in the New York Times, which was interesting because that City, in their own study of a decade of cycling, discovered that of recorded bike fatalities, 97% were not wearing a helmet. As was the case of Dr. Carl Nacht, (image above) who died earlier this year, after being hit by a police vehicle, whilst in a bike lane.
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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  dreckers on Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:31 pm

The most serious accident I had was sprinting into a bus that pulled out of a side road. I hit it head first and without a helmet probably wouldn't be here. I still sustained neck injuries but the helmet absorbed most of the impact.

If you are going shopping or out for a ride in the park then maybe no helmet but for any serious ride a helmet is just another part of the kit.

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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  ChrisO on Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:18 pm

I'll leave the converted to preach to each other with such an unbiased selection of reading material... but the bit you may be surprised to find I most disagree with is dreckers' statement above.

A helmet is designed to protect your head from low speed impacts with stationary objects - that's the design test it has to pass.

So although at high speed you would get as much protection from strapping a trout to your head (poached or grilled, it doesn't matter), it is exactly in circumstances such as going to the shops or riding around the park that you should be wearing one.

When I am commuting in London I wear a helmet because it might actually work.

In that context the article about reduction in death rates among children (but no impact on adults) makes sense. Children are more likely to have a low-speed accident like falling over and hitting their head on the way down and I would also agree they should wear them, as mine do.

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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  dreckers on Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:38 am

Chris, no preaching intended.

I am not an advocate of compulsory helmet wear but if it is only intended for low speed crashes why do the UCI think it necessary in races?.
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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  ChrisO on Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:19 pm

Hi,

First let me say I'm not arguing against helmets and I don't really want to get into a debate about it here. In fact my post was encouraging people to wear them in appropriate circumstances.

As for the UCI, their reasons are beyond the understanding of most sane people but I can only guess at two things.

First that after the deaths of Kivilev and Casartelli there was a lot of pressure that Something Must Be Done. Even though the recent death of Wouter Weylandt suggests the types of pro-racing accident that are outside of the scope of helmet design. As far as I'm aware there has been no comparative study of pro-racing pre and post helmet rules.

Second that organisers and officials are often motivated by the desire to minimise legal liability. It is easier for them to make helmets compulsory than face the risk of being sued, or have insurers charge higher premiums. Lawyers in the UK have already attempted to claim that an accident victim payout should be reduced because he was guilty of contributory negligence by not wearing a helmet. It hasn't succeeded but I suspect it is only a matter of time. The victim's insurer will decide it is easier to take the hit than to pay for expert witnesses and extra legal fees and then we will have a precedent based on economics not facts.

The 'preaching' comment was aimed at the idea that the selection of clearly biased articles from such press giants as Warren McLaren of Bundanoon (pop 2035) and the world-famous safety expert Lloyd Alter of Toronto could be a basis for people making up their minds. It appears designed solely to reinforce currently held views.

If people want to actually look at facts and come to a conclusion then I would suggest the following links, from a spectrum of views.

1. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute - a pro-compulsion group. Among other things this site compares the various safety standards across Europe, US and Australia and gives details of the tests which vary between the equivalent of 19 and 22km/h impacts (see the conversion chart). Note that helmets do not have to pass a penetration test and that the test involves use of a 5kg mass in a drop test i.e. basically designed to simulate falling off a near stationary bike and hitting your (5kg) head on the way down.
http://www.bhsi.org/stdcomp.htm

2. A fairly neutral UK-based industry group aimed at the general population. Has a good description of how helmets actually work and links to further reading.
http://www.whycycle.co.uk/safety_and_security/cycling_helmets/

3. The main anti-compulsion group. Worth reading their analyses of various pieces of research, including on the Ontario helmet laws cited in one of the articles Spindoctor posted.
http://www.cyclehelmets.org

4. The inevitable Wikipedia entry. Note the section on design intentions and standards. It is a common misconception that a helmet which protects you at 20km/h will reduce the impact of a 40km/h accident by half. I am not a physicist but... energy is related to the square of speed so when you travel twice as fast you have four times as much energy, meaning the effect is considerably diminished.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet

If people really wanted to minimise their risk of serious head injury they would wear a hard-shell style helmet, like motorbikers or skaters.
They would also wear them in the car, where they are more likely to suffer a serious or fatal head injury, but funnily enough no politicians or safety groups seem to have decided to pick up that campaign.

When everyone starts doing that, then I'll wear one on a ride. Smile

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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  runsick on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:38 pm

It doesn´t hurt to wear one, right? So why not just do it? It´s not like they are heavy or uncomfortable. AND they can even protect you from wild animals (not those behind the wheel but real wild animals) Shocked

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2oymHHyV1M&feature=player_embedded
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this brings it closer to home

Post  Spindoctor on Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:11 am

peter muller wrote this on the AD tri forum 11-11-11

"Tom had a fairly nasty 'off' this morning coming off Sheikh Khalifa bridge on the way out to Saadiyat Island; a grey paving brick, on a grey road surface, in the early morning light. He has a broken collar bone and grazes.

Thanks to Christophe (it was great having a doctor on the ride), Matt; first on the scene, Greg, Aaron, Khalid and all for their assistance.

Just an aside: Att: Chris - Tom has a severe headache but is fine. Attached is a photo of Tom's helmet. Please, please, please!!!"

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Glad this wasn't my head!

Post  Spindoctor on Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:14 pm

... its happened to me. A combination of a water bottle change, cats eye and a cross wind, ensured I went down like a sack of spuds. Very lucky to have no breaks, but bad enough for and X-ray, and i am a real mess, so no cycling for 10-14 days!

What could have been is illustrated by my now ex-helmet
[img][/img]
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skull

Post  DavidConnell on Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:48 pm

In January, a rider from the cycling group 'back home' suffered an incident with a pair of dogs, avoiding one, but striking the second. He was not wearing a helmet. From an email I received: 'they controlled the bleeding on the left side of his head, and have kept his skull open to relieve the pressure. He has a slight bleed on the other side that they wanted to monitor'

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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

Post  GrahamB23 on Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:31 pm

Out on a Yas a couple of weeks ago just as you turn back on yourself under the Saadiyat Highway - I was going a bit too quickly with a rare tailwind and bike slid out from under me on a greasy patch - hit the back of my head on the kerb - lots of annoying grazes and a sore hip - but certainly glad I was wearing a helmet!!!!!

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Re: The Helmet Issue; To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question

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