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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: Helmet wearing habits?
I've never worn a bike helmet 178 10.66%
I used to wear a helmet, but have stopped 94 5.63%
I've always worn a helmet 648 38.80%
I didn't wear a helmet, but now do 408 24.43%
I sometimes wear a helmet depending on the conditions 342 20.48%
Voters: 1670. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-23-13, 03:24 PM   #5101
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Glad you werent hurt any worse and that you were wearing your helmet.

Keep going out without mine, will be more strict!
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Old 04-23-13, 03:55 PM   #5102
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Originally Posted by rearviewbeer View Post
He hit his head so hard that his front two teeth popped out. He hit his forehead, smashed the helmet in the front, cracked it all the way to the back. His teeth did not come into contact with the road...

Well they came into contact with the road once they fell out.
How old was he?
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Old 04-23-13, 04:18 PM   #5103
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I was asked to play a competitive flag football game. I blew the gap and disrupted a play by taking someones front teeth in my forehead. Doctor was really cautious on a human bite wound and saved the teeth incase the other guy came in. I would have looked silly in a helmet.
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Old 04-23-13, 05:24 PM   #5104
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How old was he?
He was 10.
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Old 04-23-13, 05:28 PM   #5105
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He was 10.
Interesting. I'd be fascinated to know whether there has ever been a case of an adult's front teeth popping out because of a survivable blow to the forehead. I should think it must be exotically rare.

Anyway, I'm glad he's OK. In general, helmets seem pretty ineffectual at protecting against serious brain injuries.
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Old 04-24-13, 10:53 AM   #5106
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Kids pulled over for wearing helmets and given ice cream.

Wonder if they still get ice cream if they are not following traffic law?
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Old 04-24-13, 08:40 PM   #5107
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I would wear a helmet if they'll start passing out whiskey and Vicodin.
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Old 04-25-13, 05:16 AM   #5108
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Then let's take the netherlandian example. Everyone are riding bikes which have upright riding positions, speeds are really low (10-15mph) and the environtment for cycling is safe in general. Absolutely no helmet needed, because speed stay below the critical reactional threshold, and with a such a vintage bike hitting one's head is really unlikely. Don't believe me? I have ridden those oldie bikes my whole life and I tell you now, hitting your head when walking has a bigger probability than with those bikes. At least if you posess normal reactions of a human being.
Unfortunately, this is not true.

In the NED vs AUS study, in Netherlands there were about 65.000 accidents, 8.000 of which caused moderate or serious injuries. About 60% of the serious injuries in Netherlands and 50% in AUS were from collisions with another vehicle. Obviously, urban environments have their own risks for the cyclists - in Finland, statistics show that about half of the cycling injuries happen in crossings.

In this Spanish study, parties committing infractions are analyzed. About 15% of the cases were solo crashes, 85% were collisions with another vehicle. In cases where the accident was caused by a collision, in about 50% of the cases the cyclist did not commit any infraction. Same goes for 30% of cases where a cyclist crashed on his own.

So-called "granny bikes" don't have any features that would make them significantly safer than other bikes, either. Even if their average speed is slower, you can still make them go fast, especially if there's a downhill to benefit you. In addition, they usually have poor brakes and don't steer as well as modern bikes do.

Last edited by proileri; 04-25-13 at 05:30 AM.
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Old 04-25-13, 08:02 PM   #5109
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I would wear a helmet if they'll start passing out whiskey and Vicodin.
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Old 04-26-13, 08:37 AM   #5110
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I don't think the reports are in conflict - I think the questions being asked are! There's a lot of studies done from different angles and examining different things - I think part of the 'no consensus' is that there's actually lot of different aspects of helmet wearing and injury statistics being discussed at the same time. So I think we need to better define which aspect of helmets and statistics are we talking about.

In larger picture, when discussing mandatory helmet laws and large-scale accident statistics, I wouldn't call helmets a 'miracle cure' either. They don't stop accidents from happening, and a large amount of serious injuries occur to other parts of the body, not just to the head. In general, I think cyclist safety would be better improved by focusing in traffic safety, visibility etc., so I don't mean to make a claim that helmets should be mandatory to wear.

However, when we are talking if it's beneficial to have a helmet in an accident, I don't think you can argue that helmets wouldn't lessen the seriousness of head injuries. I haven't seen one study saying helmets don't actually absorb impact, or that their impact absorption doesn't improve the results. We have very good data that while cyclists are still hitting their heads hard and getting concussions, the severity of head and brain injuries does lessen with use of helmet. This is visible in all the studies that examine head and brain injury and their severity. So if you're unlucky enough to hit your head badly, yes, a helmet would lessen the injuries on average. However, it should be considered a last line of defense.

How probable are you to get serious injuries, then? The "AUS vs NED" study quotes that in Nederlands where cycling is popular in all age groups and a lot of it is urban areas/short commutes, the population of 16.5 million experiences 67.000 cases of ER-requiring bicycle accidents, 8.000 (12%) of which are serious enough to require hospitalization and there's about 190 deaths (0.3% of 67.000 / 2.4% of 8.000) every year - and about 25% of which in NED happens to people aged 70 or older. It's not a huge amount, considering that accident rate is perhaps what, 1 accident every few years for most people?

I'm also not saying that helmet design is perfect. The question of rotational injury is interesting, and there might be a lot of room for improvement there, as it's been studied a lot less. Same thing goes for helmet shells, foam types, testing procedures etc. However, I don't think it's a show stopper. If current helmets do a lot to lessen serious head injuries at the moment, then the speculated slightly increased chance of rotational injury is no reason not to wear one. It seems that if there's an effect of making rotational injury worse, it's not large enough to negate much of the positive effects of helmets - you're still a lot better off wearing a lid if you happen to get in a serious crash.
What you've been discussing is for the most part head injuries. However, rotational injuries to the neck seem to be exacerbated by helmet use. As pointed out by Elvik somewhere in his meta study:

http://www.cycle-helmets.com/elvik.pdf

It seems to me that what can be concluded from most of the studies that are well executed is that, in general helmets are of some use at lower speeds, and of almost no use at higher speed or in serious collisions with cars. An interesting fact: The number of fatalities in professional cycling doubled when helmets became mandatory in races.
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Old 04-26-13, 10:19 AM   #5111
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Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
...An interesting fact: The number of fatalities in professional cycling doubled when helmets became mandatory in races.
Please provide a link to this "interesting fact."

It could be true, but I'd not be surprised if the numbers are something like:
Professional cyclist deaths prior to helmet use: 1 death every 4 years
Professional cyclist deaths since helmet use: 1 death every 2 years

Which would make your "interesting fact" perhaps correct but rather misleading.
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Old 04-26-13, 11:17 AM   #5112
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Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
An interesting fact: The number of fatalities in professional cycling doubled when helmets became mandatory in races.
Correlation does not equal causation. It could "correlated" with other things too.
And you haven't really established that there's any correlation.

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Old 04-26-13, 12:24 PM   #5113
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edit: incorrect math

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Old 04-26-13, 12:26 PM   #5114
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Here's what I was able to find:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._during_a_race

And here's how the math plays out:
From 1894 to 2002 (108 years) 81 professional cyclists died while racing. That comes to a rate of .75 deaths per year.
From 2003 to 2013 (10 years) 11 professional cyclists died while racing. That comes to a rate of 1.1 deaths per year.

I guess that "interesting fact" was not actually a fact. Rather, a false representation of professional cyclists' deaths.
And I agree with njkayaker. Correlation does not equal causation.
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Old 04-26-13, 12:48 PM   #5115
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Here's what I was able to find:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._during_a_race

And here's how the math plays out:
From 1894 to 2002 (108 years) 81 professional cyclists died while racing. That comes to a rate of .75 deaths per year.
From 2003 to 2013 (10 years) 11 professional cyclists died while racing. That comes to a rate of 1.1 deaths per year.

I guess that "interesting fact" was not actually a fact. Rather, a false representation of professional cyclists' deaths.
And I agree with njkayaker. Correlation does not equal causation.
There also could be other reasons behind the rise. And there could be no reason at all.

It "correlates" to the number of racers or finishers.

http://bikeraceinfo.com/tdf/tdfstats.html

Yawn.

Last edited by njkayaker; 04-26-13 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 04-26-13, 02:03 PM   #5116
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Originally Posted by MMACH 5 View Post
Here's what I was able to find:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._during_a_race

And here's how the math plays out:
From 1894 to 2002 (108 years) 81 professional cyclists died while racing. That comes to a rate of .75 deaths per year.
From 2003 to 2013 (10 years) 11 professional cyclists died while racing. That comes to a rate of 1.1 deaths per year.

I guess that "interesting fact" was not actually a fact. Rather, a false representation of professional cyclists' deaths.
And I agree with njkayaker. Correlation does not equal causation.
Wow. Talk about manipulative use of numbers. Here's the list broken up in decades. Note that the decades preceding helmet compulsion show quite few fatalities. After... looks kinda like double those numbers, eh?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._during_a_race

The reasons for the decreasing numbers up till the helmet compulsion are in all probability better doping management, better roads, and better medical monitoring. Better brakes may play a role, too...

Edit: And I agree. Correllation does not equal causation. However, it is in line with what we seem to know about helmets and high speeds, and at the same time it's very difficult to point at any other factor that might have had an influence. I think there's a pretty good case for saying that the helmet regulations are at fault.

Last edited by hagen2456; 04-26-13 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 04-26-13, 02:15 PM   #5117
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and at the same time it's very difficult to point at any other factor that might have had an influence.
It's impossible to point at any factor.

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Originally Posted by hagen2456 View Post
I think there's a pretty good case for saying that the helmet regulations are at fault.
Wishful thinking. There's no such case.

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Edit: And I agree. Correllation does not equal causation.
Yet, you are proposing a causation anyway. And it isn't even clear that there's a "correlation"!

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Old 04-26-13, 02:29 PM   #5118
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Wow. Talk about manipulative use of numbers. Here's the list broken up in decades. Note that the decades preceding helmet compulsion show quite few fatalities. After... looks kinda like double those numbers, eh?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._during_a_race
That's the same link I shared.
And the most dangerous decade for professional cycling was 1900-1909.

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...
I think there's a pretty good case for saying that the helmet regulations are at fault.
Really?
It kind of looks like most of those in what I pointed out as the most dangerous decade occurred in track cycling. So, it is clearly safer to ride on the streets than on a cycle track.
I am making this assertion tongue-in-cheek. These stats have no info valuable to determining fault.

But again, your "interesting fact" of deaths doubling after helmet regulations was false. It sounds good to throw it out there, especially since most won't actually attempt to verify the numbers, but it's simply not true.
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Old 04-26-13, 02:41 PM   #5119
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Oh. You don't wish to accept facts. Fair deal.
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Old 04-26-13, 02:44 PM   #5120
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Oh. You don't wish to accept facts. Fair deal.
Calling it a fact, over and over again doesn't actually make it a fact. But nice try.
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Old 04-26-13, 04:22 PM   #5121
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What you've been discussing is for the most part head injuries. However, rotational injuries to the neck seem to be exacerbated by helmet use.
Thanks for the link. It's kinda hard to say about neck injuries, as there haven't been too many studies about it. In most studies, it's been clumped together with head injuries, or the studies just look into head injuries without looking at neck injuries. That particular study suggests that the neck injuries might be increased, but 95% confidence interval is pretty large, 1.0-1.8 IIRC, and more than one study reports no effect.. so it's all a bit uncertain.

Also, these are studies where they calculate people treated in hospitals after accidents - if head injuries go down because of helmets, then more of the admissions are because of injuries to other body parts. Such is the case in NED vs AUS study - in AUS there are less serious head/brain injuries, but more serious injuries to chest, abdomen and extremities. So even though there are more abdominal injuries in the group wearing a helmet, we probably cannot really say that helmets cause those - it might be the same for neck injuries. What we would need is a study looking into separate head, neck and other injuries, but I don't think I've seen one. But at least we can say that helmets don't seem to decrease neck injuries.

The effect of a weighty helmet has been a big topic in motorcycle helmet discussion, but large-scale accident studies have indicated that MC helmets do not increase the amount of neck injuries, even if they weight 5 times more (usually around 1100-1400 g). In that sense I don't think the weight is a problem.

In addition, the amount of neck injuries is rather small in general. In the Bambach cyclist vs vehicle paper, there were neck injuries in 5% of total cases (head injuries in 35%) and serious neck injuries in less than 1% of the cases (serious head injuries in 14%).

Last edited by proileri; 04-26-13 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 04-26-13, 08:48 PM   #5122
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Re. deaths in pro racing: If nothing else, it's a good argument against the idea that helmets make one dramatically safer.
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Old 04-27-13, 01:55 AM   #5123
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Re. deaths in pro racing: If nothing else, it's a good argument against the idea that helmets make one dramatically safer.
Precisely. njkayaker looks at the chart I posted and says "well yeah, but there may have been some effect because it dropped a bit after use rates increased in the 80's". Ignoring the fact that it was, on the whole, a continuing downward trend for quite awhile, the real telling part is that coupled with that decrease which was already trending, there was an exponential increase in helmet use, with no correlating decrease in deaths. I mean, use skyrocketed. If helmets were even halfway as effective as the most virulent believers claim, there should have been more effect, and a more undeniable effect. Certainly not an arguable blip occurring during a downward trend.

Now, look at the oft-touted comparison of seatbelts, and look what we get:





Seatbelts have a distinctly more noticeable, and pretty undeniable effect. I had a harder time finding motorcycle helmet uses, but they also seem to have a better reflection than bike helmets do:



Much more of what you would expect to see from what is designed, tested, and used as a life-saving device. At the very least, this should make clear that even if helmets are effective to a degree, they are not nearly as effective as is commonly believed, and are far from a panacea (I realize not everyone or even most on here are arguing this, but it is commonly treated that way in practice, for better or worse).
Attached Images
File Type: gif seatbelts.gif (20.2 KB, 18 views)
File Type: gif belts 2.gif (9.6 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg BikeHelmets1.jpg (40.7 KB, 22 views)
File Type: png new zealand bike helmets.png (19.4 KB, 19 views)
File Type: gif motorcyclehelmets.gif (20.5 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg head-injuries-australia.jpg (30.9 KB, 18 views)

Last edited by sudo bike; 04-27-13 at 02:17 AM. Reason: mostly formatting
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Old 04-27-13, 02:50 AM   #5124
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Thanks for the link. It's kinda hard to say about neck injuries, as there haven't been too many studies about it. In most studies, it's been clumped together with head injuries, or the studies just look into head injuries without looking at neck injuries. That particular study suggests that the neck injuries might be increased, but 95% confidence interval is pretty large, 1.0-1.8 IIRC, and more than one study reports no effect.. so it's all a bit uncertain.

Also, these are studies where they calculate people treated in hospitals after accidents - if head injuries go down because of helmets, then more of the admissions are because of injuries to other body parts. Such is the case in NED vs AUS study - in AUS there are less serious head/brain injuries, but more serious injuries to chest, abdomen and extremities. So even though there are more abdominal injuries in the group wearing a helmet, we probably cannot really say that helmets cause those - it might be the same for neck injuries. What we would need is a study looking into separate head, neck and other injuries, but I don't think I've seen one. But at least we can say that helmets don't seem to decrease neck injuries.

The effect of a weighty helmet has been a big topic in motorcycle helmet discussion, but large-scale accident studies have indicated that MC helmets do not increase the amount of neck injuries, even if they weight 5 times more (usually around 1100-1400 g). In that sense I don't think the weight is a problem.

In addition, the amount of neck injuries is rather small in general. In the Bambach cyclist vs vehicle paper, there were neck injuries in 5% of total cases (head injuries in 35%) and serious neck injuries in less than 1% of the cases (serious head injuries in 14%).

The difference in how different helmets protect against neck injury is a question of how they're constructed. Check the development of motor cycle helmets.

Bike helmets inducing neck injury is likely not so much a question of weight as of volume (and "gripping").

That bike helmets seem to cause more neck injuries is in line with what we know of rotational injuries. So, we've got both correllation (even if somewhat uncertain), as well as causation.

Further: Neck injuries seem to be one of several kinds of injuries that even out the over all advantage of helmet use. But that's only the beginning, really. In Denmark, where cycling is in fact safer than ever before, ever more people regard cycling as unsafe. That's a perception which can only stem from the helmet propaganda, and which, all things being equal, will make fewer people bike.

Helmet propaganda as we know it is detrimental to cycling.

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Old 04-27-13, 08:43 AM   #5125
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I just got the June issue if Bicycling Magazine and there's a story called "Senseless." It's about the history of bicycle helmets and why they likely don't protect us as well as they could. The story has stuff in it that could rile up both sides if the issue. Which I tend to think of as a pretty good sign of fairly accurate content.
It's a good read. I recommend it for all interested in helmet safety.
Sorry, I can't find a link it online (maybe they'll make it available when the next issue comes out).
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