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Old 07-28-01, 11:50 PM   #1
JonR
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Cycling head injuries article

Read it quick--the link probably won't be good for more than a day or two. It's a NY Times article called "A Bicycle Mystery: Head Injuries Piling Up."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/29/na...l?pagewanted=1
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Old 07-29-01, 05:28 AM   #2
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I couldn't get the link to work. Can you paste the text here or something?

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Old 07-29-01, 09:42 AM   #3
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Same here. I couldn't get the link to work either.
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Old 07-29-01, 09:43 AM   #4
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I don't know why the link didn't work--it works for me...

I can't put the text here because it's copyrighted (it's also a two-page article).

In brief, it seems head injuries are UP despite helmet usage also being WAY UP and cycling allegedly being DOWN 21% since 1990 or so (which I find hard to believe, and so do cycling advocates, according to the article).

Further study is underway to try to solve this apparent mystery.

One theory is that increased helmet usage has made wearers over-confident in some cases. Insurance analysts say this is a common phenomenon: perceived protection causes increased risk-taking.

That's about all there was to the article.
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Old 07-29-01, 11:34 AM   #5
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Jon,
The link worked for me, but I didn't read the article cause the NYTimes wanted me to register, etc. I didn't want to do that.
If you can cut and paste that would be great.

On a related subject, did anyone see the feature story about bicycle helmets on Headline News this morning. It was right after the quicky story about Lance's victory.
It said that recent studies regarding head injuries among cyclists is on the rise even though helmet use has also increased. They made it sound like wearing a helmet was a waste of time because the helmet may not reduce your chances of receiving a serious head injury. Idiots!!
But they did say that wearing a helmet will reduce the chances by 88% compared with non-helmet cyclists. They also said that many injuries are due to poor cycling habits and not following or understanding the rules of the road.
Why can't these jerks present a positive cycling story???

Ron
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Old 07-29-01, 02:36 PM   #6
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That must have been based on the same news release(s) the Times story was based on. The figures and ideas are the same. The newspaper story didn't convey the idea that you might as well not wear a helmet, though.
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Old 07-29-01, 02:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by RonH
It said that recent studies regarding head injuries among cyclists is on the rise even though helmet use has also increased. They made it sound like wearing a helmet was a waste of time because the helmet may not reduce your chances of receiving a serious head injury. Idiots!!
Personally, I think that anyone who rides in a more dangerous manner just because they are wearing a helmet has other (non cycling) issues. Granted, a helmet is no substitute for sensible cycling, but it will offer additional protection if you are involved in an accident. I actually don't pay much attention to the so-called "mainstream media", and this story is a perfect example of why.

Quote:
Originally posted by RonH
They also said that many injuries are due to poor cycling habits and not following or understanding the rules of the road.
Why can't these jerks present a positive cycling story???
Two reasons: firstly, they are trying to look after their sponsors. Two of their major sponsors would be oil companies and car companies. Two groups who definitely do not want to see a heap of bikes on the road.

Secondly, because the best way to increase the number of readers of a newspaper is to basically print what people want to read. If Americans are at all like Australians, that will be "everything that goes wrong in your life is someone else's fault." Just think, now Joe Sixpack can feel happy about almost killing that cyclist that he couldn't be bothered slowing down for three seconds to pass because "the cyclist doesn't know the road rules" anyway.

In truth, a lot of cycling injuries are caused by poor cycling habits. However, what annoys me is that the next time there is a motor vehicle accident, nobody in the media will dare suggest that it was poor driving that caused it. Instead it will be the surface of the road, or the conditions, or maybe this guy was "held up" by a cyclist for three seconds and had to hurry because he was late to work and to f**king stupid to understand the concept of getting out of bed five minutes earlier!

rant over.

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Old 07-29-01, 08:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris L
In truth, a lot of cycling injuries are caused by poor cycling habits.
In the "oil crisis" of the '70's, cycling became very popular. At the same time, cycling deaths and injuries rose sharply. Most analysts agree this was due to a large number of untrained cyclists appearing on the roadways.

This phenomenon underscores the urgent need to educate all road users of the proper place and behavoir of cyclists on the roadways. To neglect to include cyclists as valid road users, and to forego training motorists and cyclists alike in the proper methods cyclists must use, only invites tragedy.

This includes, and goes far beyond, helmet usage.
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Old 07-30-01, 02:40 AM   #9
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Just a thought on these statistics courtesy of some insight from a poster on another forum. Does this mean that more head injuries are happening or that more are just being reported more effectively?

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Old 07-30-01, 06:04 AM   #10
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These newspaper reports are taken from science and medical journals, and reported by jopurnalists who wouldnt know a controlled experiment if it bit their foot off.
One experiment in Austria compared injuries in extreme off-road cyclists, to a control group of cycle-commuting medical students. According to the press reports, the research showed that cycling was harmful, rather than the real conclusion, that using a bike for extreme sports can be harmful, compared to using a bike for travelling on the road.
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Old 07-30-01, 08:54 AM   #11
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I think MichaelW makes a good point.

One thing that bothered me in the article was the seemingly indiscriminate lumping together of all kinds of bicycle use: off-trail, childrens', commuting, and other. It seems to me that it rapidly becomes meaningless to talk about "injuries" when the circumstances vary so widely. It's like the apples and oranges analogy....
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Old 07-30-01, 11:18 AM   #12
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There may be flaws in the article, but the fact remains that bicycling is a dangerous activity.

We also have to recognize that automobile tranport is also a dangerous activity.

The worst bike crash I have had wasn't nearly as bad or as expensive or as painful, or as damaging as any of the serious automobile accidents I've been in.

We hear the frightening stories about bicyclists being hit by automobiles and being crippled. More horrible, in many cases, is the slaughter of two automobiles crashing at high speed.
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Old 07-30-01, 01:54 PM   #13
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The NY Times article indirectly raises several significant issues:
1) Too many bicyclists are ignorant of the principles of lawful vehicular cycling.
2) Too many cyclists do ride more aggressively or carelessly when they don a helmet.
3) Too many motorists are distracted, careless, incompetent, or overly aggressive.
4) Too many motorists are not truly cognizant of cyclists' rights and safety issues.

Solutions include improved education for all road users and stricter accountability and licensing standards for motorists. Juries and judges cannot simply keep accepting the "aw shucks, accidents happen" or the "cycling is inherently dangerous" argument or the "I didn't see him/her" [in that blindingly bright "Screaming Yellow" cycling jersey] defense.

I have raised my sons to regard automobile seatbelts and bicycle helmets as automatic habits, rather than as special safety shields, and make sure they notice that I drive my wife's car (6 airbags and ABS) as conservatively as my own (no airbags or ABS).
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Old 07-30-01, 02:26 PM   #14
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Once again, John E makes a lot of sense. Education and proper law enforcement are the key to reducing injuries for road users in any capacity. Now if we could just get the FRCs who make the laws to listen.

Chris
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Old 07-30-01, 03:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris L
Now if we could just get the FRCs who make the laws to listen.

And that's the big problem. At least in this country, legislators are so fearful of, if not beholden to, the oil and automotive interests, that they don't have the guts, even if they have the sense, to go for stricter licensing standards. It might hurt the industry sales. And that would hurt votes and campaign contributions.
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Old 08-01-01, 02:59 PM   #16
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To support JonR's contention, I read a direct quote from the chairman of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (the agency responsible for the licensing of motorists), to the effect that we could make our roads safer by instituting stricter standards for obtaining and retaining a driver's license, but "at what cost to the southern California lifestyle?" What about the lifestyles of those killed or disabled by distracted, aggressive, inebriated, or incompetent drivers? In California (and probably in the rest of the U.S. and most other developed nations), driving is supposed to be a revocable privilege, not an unalienable right.
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Old 08-01-01, 04:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by John E
To support JonR's contention, I read a direct quote from the chairman of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (the agency responsible for the licensing of motorists), to the effect that we could make our roads safer by instituting stricter standards for obtaining and retaining a driver's license, but "at what cost to the southern California lifestyle?" What about the lifestyles of those killed or disabled by distracted, aggressive, inebriated, or incompetent drivers? In California (and probably in the rest of the U.S. and most other developed nations), driving is supposed to be a revocable privilege, not an unalienable right.
Couldn't agree more.

Chris
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Old 08-01-01, 06:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by John E
In California (and probably in the rest of the U.S. and most other developed nations), driving is supposed to be a revocable privilege, not an unalienable right.
At the root of this "privilege" is the old idea that, "posession is nine-tenths of the law." It is the predominance of petro-burning vehicles and the corresponding supporting infrastructure that is responsible for this confusion.

I will confess that a modern transportation system, as it exists in the USA, has many positive benefits. But nothing is perfect, and
this entrenched transportation system that now holds a monopoly on our roadways must undergo an "antitrust action."

We need provisions not only for alternative methods of transport (like bicycles), but also alternative fuels. Smog is damaging to health and the environment, and is not absolutely necessary. Someone must take responsibility for change, because those who are sleeping on a bed of profits will never lift a finger.

Chris, in Georgia where I live, a new law was passed which declares aggressive driving (road rage) a punishable offense.

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Old 08-01-01, 09:53 PM   #19
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Just getting back to the original question, I see a lot of kids riding around with helmets attached to the handlebars rather than on their head where they belong. Does this happen much in the US (where they don't have a mandatory helmet law), it would explain a lot.

Pete, I'm glad they've made "road rage" a punishable offence over there. What is the penalty exactly?

Chris
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Old 08-09-01, 10:28 AM   #20
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I hope I am wrong, but are average driving skills (ability and attitude) declining, while vehicle occupant protection technology keeps improving? The net effect would be rising pedestrian and cycling fatality rates, accompanied by steady or falling driver and passenger fatality rates. Once again, society goes for the quick technological fix (airbags) instead of grappling with the real issue (legal tolerance of careless motoring).
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Old 08-09-01, 04:58 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by John E
I hope I am wrong, but are average driving skills (ability and attitude) declining, while vehicle occupant protection technology keeps improving? The net effect would be rising pedestrian and cycling fatality rates, accompanied by steady or falling driver and passenger fatality rates.
But this is the whole point, they've been doing all that stuff with cars and roadways for 30 years or more, and driver fatality rates are not falling. To be honest I'm amazed how stupid people are with this. The media keep giving us all this stuff about unsafe roads or whatever, but it's a load of crap. The real reason for fatality rates on our roads is incompetence.

In fact, just on the media:

Quote:
Originally written by The Screaming Jets
Thereís no reason that I should believe you
You make a little on the side
Iíve been watchin you try to deceive me
Iím keepin up with your lies
Iím gonna get along get along and see you

You canít get rid of them easily
The stain the world like blood on the sand
Clean em out but they reappear
Theyíre like maggots in a garbage can

Well you donít give me a choice or a reason
Just all the tension inside
Iíll be just like a sick man spilling his guts
Youíve got no place left to hide
When I get along get along and see you

You canít get rid of them easily
They stain our world just like blood on the sand
Clean it out buy they reappear
Theyíre like maggots in a garbage can

Maggots maggots maggots maggots ......
Just like the hot sun burnin your eye
Iíll track you down until the day that you die

You canít get rid of them easily
The stain the world like blood on the sand
Clean em out but they reappear
Theyíre like maggots in a garbage can
Possibly the most accurate description of them I've heard yet.

Chris
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Old 09-02-01, 02:50 PM   #22
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More evidence that wearing a helmet isn't a guarantee:
http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/hfaq.html#A8
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Old 09-02-01, 03:19 PM   #23
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Wearing a helmet never guarantees safety.

But why argue against it? Isn't it easier just to put one on?

Thursday, August 30, at about 5:30 pm, about 2 miles from home,
I crashed. A pedestrian stuck his arm out deliberately in my path to knock me down and succeeded. I don't remember falling, I only remember getting up.

It is clear from the pattern of my injuries that the first part of me that hit the pavement was my forehead. But since I had my helmet on, my head and face were spared a worse fate. Though I was told by the plastic surgeon who stitched up my face that I might need to wear a mustache from now on, I am relieved that my head did not take the punishment my helmet did.

I only wish the rest of my body were as protected as my head was. My right wrist lost skin down to the flesh, in one place losing a chunk of meat.
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Old 09-02-01, 04:31 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by mwmw
More evidence that wearing a helmet isn't a guarantee:
http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/hfaq.html#A8
Chris L again asks his usual questions.

Who says - Well, can someone tell Chris L...

So what - Chris L has found nothing in this article that he didn't already know. Chris L realises that helmets don't make one invincible on the road (as if anything does), but Chris L realises that they provide additional protection in certain situations. Chris L has way too much cool stuff inside his head to be able to justify not having that additional protection.

Chris L is wondering what it is about helmets that p*sses people off so much...

Chris
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Old 09-02-01, 05:39 PM   #25
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The way to obtain stricter driver licensing standards is to remind legislators and responsible motorists that bad drivers can kill them, too. The U.S. highway death rate of 40K+ per year (that's almost three TWA Flight 800s per week) should speak for itself.

The California Highway Patrol has been cracking down on drunk drivers in my area, partly because drunks have recently killed two of their officers in the line of duty. I can only hope that the legal system will follow suit with severe penalties and license suspensions or revocations.
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