Seeing as there is a lot of helmet talk going on, I would like to explore a question. Between training and safety equipment, what should the balance be as far as cycling advocacy and safety is concerned? For instance, if we were to legislate or promote something to lower the death rate of cyclists (besides actions against car drivers, those laws are already in the books, though enforcement is an issue.) which, training or equipment, should take priority?
It is a good question because many people on this forum have differing opinions about which is more effective in reducing cycling injuries. I am curious about how these opinions are founded.
As fodder, my opinion is that training is the most effective and most resources of cycling advocacy should be aimed at making effective training available, especially to lower income people. I think that all attention given to helmets and other safety equipment raises the barrier keeping people from commuting by bicycle. It gives the impression that cycling is more dangerous than my experience has shown me.
It also gives a weapon to car drivers who are involved in car - bicycle collisions or car induced bicycle accidents as far as injury liability is concerned. Regardless of what the laws say and how the driver had acted.
I would like to see more studies on what actually happens in a variety of bicycle accidents with regard to the safety equipment and the behaviour of the cyclist. Finding out just how well helmets in particular work for different types of accidents would be nice. Unfortunately, the emotion that surrounds the helmet issue prevents such things. The helmet companies will not publish these studies for fear of their bottom line and/or their reputation. Nobody else seems willing to as well, or if they are, they are run out of town.
So in short, I believe that training is most important to prevent cycling accidents and injuries, and cycling advocates should lend most of their resources to this.