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  1. #1
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    Wear A Helmet, Get Run Down

    Wearing helmets 'more dangerous'
    Cyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be knocked down by passing vehicles, new research from Bath University suggests.
    The study found drivers tend to pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than those who are bare-headed.

    Dr Ian Walker was struck by a bus and a lorry during the experiment. He was wearing a helmet both times.

    But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said tests have shown helmets protect against injuries.

    To carry out the research, Dr Walker used a bike fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to find drivers were twice as likely to get close to the bicycle, at an average of 8.5cm, when he wore a helmet.

    The experiment, which recorded 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

    Dr Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University's Department of Psychology, said: "This study shows that when drivers overtake a cyclist, the margin for error they leave is affected by the cyclist's appearance.

    "By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements.

    "We know helmets are useful in low-speed falls, and so definitely good for children, but whether they offer any real protection to somebody struck by a car is very controversial.

    "Either way, this study suggests wearing a helmet might make a collision more likely in the first place," he added.

    Dr Walker thinks the reason drivers give less room to cyclists wearing helmets is because they see them as "Lycra-clad street warriors" and believe they are more predictable than those without.

    He suggests different types of road users need to understand each other.

    "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.

    "There should definitely be more information on the needs of other road users when people learn to drive and practical experience would be even better."

    Wig wearing

    To test another theory, Dr Walker donned a long wig to see whether there was any difference in passing distance when drivers thought they were overtaking what appeared to be a female cyclist.

    While wearing the wig, drivers gave him an average of 14cm more space when passing.

    In future research, Dr Walker hopes to discover whether this was because female riders are seen as less predictable than male riders or because women are not seen riding bicycles as often as men on the UK's roads.

    However, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents insisted: "We wouldn't recommend that people stop wearing helmets because of this research. Helmets have been shown to reduce the likelihood of head and brain injuries in a crash.

    "[The research] highlights a gain in vulnerability of cyclists on our roads and drivers of all types need to take more care when around them."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...et/5334208.stm

  2. #2
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruentus
    To carry out the research, Dr Walker used a bike fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to find drivers were twice as likely to get close to the bicycle, at an average of 8.5cm, when he wore a helmet.

    The experiment, which recorded 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

    Dr Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University's Department of Psychology, said: "This study shows that when drivers overtake a cyclist, the margin for error they leave is affected by the cyclist's appearance.
    So was Dr. Walker's hypothesis along the lines that "drivers [are] twice as likely to get close to the bicycle when [the rider wears] a helmet"? I hope it's not this but rather just the way the article's written. If it indeed was, we have no guarantee that he did the riding in good faith and does not have some anti-helmet agenda. In any event, shouldn't the rider have been a neutral third-party without explicit knowledge of whatever the hypothesis happened to be so as to encourage impartial results?

  3. #3
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    This has already been covered in BF. I do concur regarding the need for education and mutual understanding and respect. I am not going to give up my helmet because of this study.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
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  4. #4
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    Try searching before posting, this has been covered about twenty times already.
    Plus it's complete BS.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

  5. #5
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    There's so much that makes this study crap, but as others have mentioned it's all been covered before.
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  6. #6
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    The study is not crap just the rag’s summary. More info can be found here: http://www.helmets.org/walkerstudy.htm
    Cycling Advocate
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruentus

    Dr Walker thinks the reason drivers give less room to cyclists wearing helmets is because they see them as "Lycra-clad street warriors" and believe they are more predictable than those without.

    Wig wearing

    To test another theory, Dr Walker donned a long wig to see whether there was any difference in passing distance when drivers thought they were overtaking what appeared to be a female cyclist.

    While wearing the wig, drivers gave him an average of 14cm more space when passing.

    In future research, Dr Walker hopes to discover whether this was because female riders are seen as less predictable than male riders or because women are not seen riding bicycles as often as men on the UK's roads.
    Interesting but flawed theory on the first one. If I see a cyclist with helmet, properly kitted out I think to myself "Now there's someone who knows what he/she's doing" - and give them a wide berth. Some years ago, there was a cyclist knocked off his bike by a car and he sued the car-driver. The Judge ruled that, and I quote "A Cyclist is entitled to his wobble" - in other words, Mr Car Driver, you were a prat for not anticipating that the cyclist could hit a pothole in the road or other obstruction which would cause him to wobble in front of you and you didn't give him enough space.

    I think the problem goes back to when people learn to drive in the first place. People do not have it drummed into them to THINK BIKE. I was lucky, my driving instructor was very pro-bike, both bicycles and motorbikes, and drummed it into my head from the first time I sat in the driver's seat. It's stuck with me all these years, a lesson I've never forgotten.

    As for giving female riders a wider berth, well I'm not too sure on that one but maybe some of the young bloods see a pretty young thing on a bike and well...it's a male thing LOL.

    On the other side of the coin, the one thing that gets me fuming, either in the car or on a bike, are the amount of idiots (there's no better word to describe them) who refuse to put lights on their bikes or wear reflective clothing at night, then come shooting across the road in front of you out of nowhere

    One near miss I had when I used to be a taxi-driver was one night I was driving up a road where the street lights for some reason weren't working, so it was very dark. Something caught my eye about 50 yards up the road. To start with I thought it was an animal. Then I saw it again. As I got closer, to my astonishment I saw a black gentleman on a black bike wearing black clothing What I'd seen was the only "light" he had to let other road users know he was there - the reflectors on his pedals If I hadn't seen the reflectors, I could have ended up driving straight into him I opened the window and yelled at him to get some lights on his bike before he ended up getting killed (my language was not very lady-like). I couldn't get over how stupid that man was. Lights for a bike aren't very expensive and nor are hi-viz jackets or belts.

    I think both drivers and cyclists need to be educated more in safety - and having respect for other road users.

  8. #8
    Senior Member EnigManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Python
    Interesting but flawed theory on the first one. If I see a cyclist with helmet, properly kitted out I think to myself "Now there's someone who knows what he/she's doing" - and give them a wide berth. Some years ago, there was a cyclist knocked off his bike by a car and he sued the car-driver. The Judge ruled that, and I quote "A Cyclist is entitled to his wobble" - in other words, Mr Car Driver, you were a prat for not anticipating that the cyclist could hit a pothole in the road or other obstruction which would cause him to wobble in front of you and you didn't give him enough space.

    I think the problem goes back to when people learn to drive in the first place. People do not have it drummed into them to THINK BIKE. I was lucky, my driving instructor was very pro-bike, both bicycles and motorbikes, and drummed it into my head from the first time I sat in the driver's seat. It's stuck with me all these years, a lesson I've never forgotten.

    As for giving female riders a wider berth, well I'm not too sure on that one but maybe some of the young bloods see a pretty young thing on a bike and well...it's a male thing LOL.

    On the other side of the coin, the one thing that gets me fuming, either in the car or on a bike, are the amount of idiots (there's no better word to describe them) who refuse to put lights on their bikes or wear reflective clothing at night, then come shooting across the road in front of you out of nowhere

    One near miss I had when I used to be a taxi-driver was one night I was driving up a road where the street lights for some reason weren't working, so it was very dark. Something caught my eye about 50 yards up the road. To start with I thought it was an animal. Then I saw it again. As I got closer, to my astonishment I saw a black gentleman on a black bike wearing black clothing What I'd seen was the only "light" he had to let other road users know he was there - the reflectors on his pedals If I hadn't seen the reflectors, I could have ended up driving straight into him I opened the window and yelled at him to get some lights on his bike before he ended up getting killed (my language was not very lady-like). I couldn't get over how stupid that man was. Lights for a bike aren't very expensive and nor are hi-viz jackets or belts.

    I think both drivers and cyclists need to be educated more in safety - and having respect for other road users.
    I must admit I am confused. In your first paragraph you remark that you make snap judgements on the competency, experience and 'seriousness' of a cyclist by his or her appearance and, specifically, whether or not they are wearing a helmet, rather than based upon their riding behaviour at that moment. I suppose it's understandable. We must make instant assessments when driving or riding and spying an identifiable indication that a person is a 'cyclist' and not just a guy or gal on a bike. The problem is that there are a tremendous number of reckless, unpredictable, inexperienced and inattentive cyclists who wear helmets. I see a number of them every day and must give many of them a wide berth while I am passing them on my bike. There are an equal number of helmetless cyclists who behave just as dangerously, of course. Therefore, it's potential folly to assume a cyclist with a helmet is a better cyclist. All cyclists should be accorded the same respect, regardless of their attire, equipment or bike type.

    What did the case you cited have to do with your perception of cyclists? I found the judge's decision interesting and valuable and I am glad you shared it with us, I just didn't understand the relevance to the topic.

    I entirely concur with you regarding education for both motorists and cyclists. I witness far too much lunacy and foolishness by both every day.
    The slow down is accelerating

  9. #9
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    It's simple EnigManiac. The vast majority of cyclists I've seen who are properly kitted out tend to be very road conscious and respectful of their fellow road-users. Many of them belong to local cycling clubs also. I know it doesn't always follow, and a post I put on previously about the chap who nearly ended under my car due to his own carelessness (fortunately I'd anticipated what might happen and was prepared for it) was properly kitted out. On the other hand, I see day in, day out, whether I'm in the car, on the bike or walking idiots who are taking their life in their hands, who couldn't care less what evasive action they cause both car drivers and pedestrians to take, then stick two fingers up laughing, laced with numerous expletives

    The case I cited happened about 10 years ago. The cyclist in question was not wearing a helmet, the accident as far as I remember happened because the cyclist wobbled and the car driver didn't give him enough space, so the cyclist was injured in the accident, head injuries amongst others. Frankly, the way I read it at the time, both were to blame but the Judge presiding over the case ruled in favour of the cyclist, opening the floodgates for cyclists to literally become immune from the law (at least over here in the UK).

    Here's one piece of sheer lunacy that happened to me. It was when I was a taxi-driver. I was sitting stationery at a junction waiting to turn right (this was about 1am), with passengers on board, when WHAM! a bike slammed into the side of the cab. There, looking more than a bit silly was a young man on a bike, no brakes...munching on a beefburger Amazingly, he held onto his beefburger. He was going to have a go at me (bear in mind, I'm sitting at a junction and the handbrake's on) - until my passengers, three very large young men rose up to have a go at him. He was told to go away in short, sharp, jerky movements. He took the hint. I some suspect he'd been drinking too.

    For the record, I bought my bike on Sunday, have spent most of the week cleaning her up and today I went and bought myself a good quality helmet. I had an accident with a bike when I was 6 years old - and over 40 years later, still haven't forgotten how much my head hurt

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