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Old 03-13-09, 08:13 AM   #1
mrpleasant
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Washington DC Helmet Article

Good article from Washington's City Paper.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=36898
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Old 03-13-09, 08:37 AM   #2
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Personally, I thought that it was virtually propaganda.
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Old 03-13-09, 09:30 AM   #3
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I stopped reading when I got to this:

"No one wanted to blame Swanson for her own death, but many noted the myriad ways in which bikers put their lives in jeopardy, either by not riding in bike lanes, ..."
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Old 03-13-09, 09:34 AM   #4
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I stopped reading when I got to this:

"No one wanted to blame Swanson for her own death, but many noted the myriad ways in which bikers put their lives in jeopardy, either by not riding in bike lanes, ..."
I suffered the over-the-top baloney a little bit longer but quit at:
"Correctly worn, bike helmets are about 70 percent effective in preventing damage on impact."
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Old 03-13-09, 09:36 AM   #5
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I stopped reading when I got to this:

"No one wanted to blame Swanson for her own death, but many noted the myriad ways in which bikers put their lives in jeopardy, either by not riding in bike lanes, ..."
Too bad as the article went on to explain that she was doing everything right.

But yeah, the general tone of the article was a bit preachy.

As a side note I find it interesting that helmets are not usually worn in countries where cycling IS really part of the transportation modal share...
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Old 03-13-09, 10:09 AM   #6
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Personally, I thought that it was virtually propaganda.
Yeah, and I wonder who managed to get this tripe printed. My guess would be that the BHSI might have had something to do with it. Randy Swart promotes helmet use relentlessly, he is based in the area, and the BHSI is quoted a couple of times.

70% effective in preventing damage on impact? Two-thirds of bicyclist deaths are from brain injuries? Misleading at best.

That 70% damage prevented is superficial damage and almost every death to a cyclist is at the wheels of a motor vehicle and that type of impact is something no bicycle helmet can protect against.

No one would get this impression from the article though. Someone who is not familiar with the issue would be misled by this. They would never get that if drivers and cyclists used the roads safely, it would be far more effective at lowering injury and death rates than if every single cyclist wore a helmet.
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Old 03-13-09, 10:23 AM   #7
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Randy Swart promotes helmet use relentlessly, he is based in the area, and the BHSI is quoted a couple of times.
Yep ... Randy is just across the Potomac in Arlington. Nice guy. Funny thing, when it comes to general advocacy -- mainly the Bike Arlington committee -- I never heard Randy mention helmets in the past year.
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Old 03-13-09, 10:23 AM   #8
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It was interesting.
Thanks for posting it.
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Old 03-13-09, 10:24 AM   #9
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Cool!

It's about time that a newspaper published a Fantasy & Science Fiction section.
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Old 03-13-09, 11:48 AM   #10
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Yep ... Randy is just across the Potomac in Arlington. Nice guy. Funny thing, when it comes to general advocacy -- mainly the Bike Arlington committee -- I never heard Randy mention helmets in the past year.
I've exchanged a number of emails with Randy and it seems to me he is a nice guy. He has a lot of good information on his site but unfortunately, there are a couple of fatal flaws with it.

One is that he says, whether people know it or not, they need helmets. Another is his use of the TRT study out of the Seattle area in 1989. That he ties fatalities to cyclists to this study exposes a major crack in his reasoning. The study showed children who fell from their bicycles while cyclist fatalities involve a collision with a motor vehicle. To link the 2 as justification to wear a helmet is unconscionable.
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Old 03-13-09, 12:09 PM   #11
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The study showed children who fell from their bicycles while cyclist fatalities involve a collision with a motor vehicle.
Hmmmm ... what does this mean ClosetBiker?
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Old 03-13-09, 01:56 PM   #12
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I stopped reading when I got to this:

"No one wanted to blame Swanson for her own death, but many noted the myriad ways in which bikers put their lives in jeopardy, either by not riding in bike lanes, ..."
They either should have left this part out or given more info on more details on Swanson's death and collision with the garbage truck, or at the very least provided a link one could click on to find the details.

This is a prime example of media bias and not telling the whole story.
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Old 03-13-09, 01:59 PM   #13
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I suffered the over-the-top baloney a little bit longer but quit at:
"Correctly worn, bike helmets are about 70 percent effective in preventing damage on impact."
It would have been nice to have a source of this and the other statistics and percentages quoted. A link one could click on that would take someone to a site that shows these stats. would be sufficient.

Again more media bias.
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Old 03-13-09, 05:52 PM   #14
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Hmmmm ... what does this mean ClosetBiker?
Well, maybe it means those who try to equate young children who fall over on their bikes (the '89 TRT study) to adults colliding with motor vehicles in full flight (fatalities), are intentionally misleading their audience into thinking bicycle helmets are far more effective than they actually are.

A logical disconnect comes when you say "helmets prevent 85% of injuries, therefore they would prevent 85% of deaths". That the article starts out with an example of a cyclist being run over by a bus and credits her survival to a bike helmet shows how misled people have been. Bike helmets are not made for collisions with motor vehicles. To imply that they are is irresponsible.

I recently emailed the Snell Foundation and asked why they funded these Seattle area studies. They said the studies were funded to provide evidence that helmets were effective. Not to see if they were effective. They had already decided that the study would provide this information. To further their cause, they hired an author who had previously been involved in helmet use promotion. It's no wonder helmet manufactuers fund lobby groups who use this study as "proof" helmets will save lives. Since Bell funded Snell as well (when I asked, they couldn't find the records showing just how much they were paid, but I have a source that said Bell provided half of Snells funding) you could say this whole thing is a great move by Bells marketing department. They hardly have to spend a thing anymore and any exaggerations of claims of a helmets effectiveness cannot be tied to them.

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Old 03-14-09, 07:53 AM   #15
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I thought it was interesting that the Washington City Paper did this article. They've usually got an anti-establishment bent, and I would've thought that it would be either anti-helmet or simply neutral.
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Old 03-14-09, 08:46 AM   #16
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I thought it was interesting that the Washington City Paper did this article. They've usually got an anti-establishment bent, and I would've thought that it would be either anti-helmet or simply neutral.
Interesting? I'd say this article's appearance (as written) in the Washington City Paper is rather bizarre.
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Old 03-14-09, 09:52 AM   #17
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Interesting? I'd say this article's appearance (as written) in the Washington City Paper is rather bizarre.
I'd say it's a bit of politicking.

Someone or some group is trying to drum up support to get people to buy helmets (or pass a law) while ignoring the real problem, which is the responsible interaction of traffic.


It's funny that in none of the excuses given for not wearing a helmet, is that there is a legitimate argument that bicycle helmets have limitations and that often the incidents that result in serious injuries to cyclists are beyond the limitations of a bicycle helmet. Nor is the excuse given that the risks of incident or injury are relative. The article takes it as a matter of course that just because one rides a bike, they are more likely than others to have a serious incident or injury.

I see lots of anecdotal stories that tug on peoples heartstrings. I wonder why they manage to ignore those same stories that happen to helmeted cyclists in areas where they have enforced all ages mandatory helmet laws?

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Old 03-14-09, 10:49 AM   #18
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It's funny that in none of the excuses given for not wearing a helmet, is that there is a legitimate argument that bicycle helmets have limitations and that often the incidents that result in serious injuries to cyclists are beyond the limitations of a bicycle helmet.
Maybe because it's something that doesn't need to be said.
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Old 03-14-09, 11:04 AM   #19
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I know it doesn't need to be said in my neck of the woods. The presence of a dead cyclist that had been wearing a helmet is commonplace.
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Old 03-14-09, 11:55 AM   #20
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Maybe because it's something that doesn't need to be said.
Unfortunately, I disagree. Talking to other parents and colleagues, when the discussion of helmets comes up I also ask what their expectations are. My anecdotal experience is that their expectations are wildly disproportionate to the evidence and science of helmets.

Putting more emphasis on wearing helmets instead of how one rides is a problem, IMO.
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Old 03-14-09, 12:32 PM   #21
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Unfortunately, I disagree. Talking to other parents and colleagues, when the discussion of helmets comes up I also ask what their expectations are. My anecdotal experience is that their expectations are wildly disproportionate to the evidence and science of helmets.

Putting more emphasis on wearing helmets instead of how one rides is a problem, IMO.
Agreed. Bicyclists and non-bicyclists ascribe magic powers to helmets. This is very bad from a safety standpoint imo.
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Old 03-14-09, 12:53 PM   #22
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Unfortunately, I disagree. Talking to other parents and colleagues, when the discussion of helmets comes up I also ask what their expectations are. My anecdotal experience is that their expectations are wildly disproportionate to the evidence and science of helmets.

Putting more emphasis on wearing helmets instead of how one rides is a problem, IMO.
And yet other than a totally voluntary program offered by the LAB in the US, I know of no program that puts emphasis on "how one rides" with the same fervor as the various legislation enacted regarding helmets.
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Old 03-14-09, 02:46 PM   #23
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Guess I must just live in an area rich with intellectuals because most people I know seem to recognize that all helmets have limitations. This includes bicycle, motorcycle, batting, football, construction, etc. Only a fool would believe any helmet can protect against everything. If such a helmet could make those claims, it would be virtually unwearable.
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Old 03-14-09, 03:37 PM   #24
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... Only a fool would believe any helmet can protect against everything...
Agreed. However, this article tries to make a fool out of it's readers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Washington City Paper
It costs $40 and could save your life...One winter day in 2002, Carol Tyson had no idea how badly she’d need her bicycle helmet...As she prepared to take a left off of New Hampshire Avenue and onto Quincy Street NW, she turned to look behind her and saw an empty 66 Metrobus...the driver didn’t even feel it when she ran Tyson over, bike and all...Tyson’s skull was fractured, along with both eye sockets, but she credits her helmet ... with saving her life.
Even the BHSI says this type of thing is bunk

http://www.bhsi.org/truck.htm

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Originally Posted by BHSI
While we would all like to believe that a helmet could save a cyclist run over squarely by the wheel of a car, truck or bus, that is not the case...There is no crush criterion or test in any bicycle helmet standard, and for good reason. A helmet that is capable of protecting a cyclist's head from a true full runover by a motor vehicle wheel would have to be reinforced far beyond any current bike helmet. It would be too heavy for bicycle use...It is curious that the articles never focus on the cause of the crash, or how it might be prevented next time. The press apparently does not consider the associated safety message to be newsworthy.

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Old 03-14-09, 03:50 PM   #25
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Guess I must just live in an area rich with intellectuals because most people I know seem to recognize that all helmets have limitations. This includes bicycle, motorcycle, batting, football, construction, etc. Only a fool would believe any helmet can protect against everything. If such a helmet could make those claims, it would be virtually unwearable.
They don't think that it can protect against everything. You are absolutely right that it would be foolish. But ask specific questions about helmet efficacy -- how much do your odds improve say against mortality given a collision; if you passed a helmet law for children, by what proportion would you expect serious injuries/mortality to decrease; and so on -- and I generally get estimates that defy empirical observations and are nonrandom. That is, they almost always overstate the efficacy of a helmet ... by a lot in my opinion. When I follow up and broadly discuss the research out there and what helmets are designed for they are usually quite surprised.

I should point out that I don't find the quality of answers to be much different from people trained to understand statistics and probability versus the more quantitatively average folk. So I think that there is a true bias out there and this glip glop of an article is consistent with it.
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