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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 04-27-13, 03:39 PM   #5126
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Don't get run over and you won't have to consider a helmet. But it happens and what is out there helps. I'd guess anyone who was asking here is new to the sport... probably when most of your accidents will happen.
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Old 04-27-13, 03:57 PM   #5127
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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.
While I don't completely agree that helmets seem to cause more neck injuries, we could shift the goalposts to analyzing if they "even out the advantage".

In AUS vs NED study, AUS group had 3.5 times the chance to survive with only mild or non-existant "head and neck" injury, and the amount of severe "head and neck" injury was half of the NED group. Also, as mentioned, in AUS there's a very small percentage of neck injuries - head injuries are 7 times as common and severe head injuries are 14 times as common. In these studies, about 75% of aussie cyclists use helmets, when practically no NED cyclist does.

So I would say that the case for neck injuries is same as for brain rotational injuries - if there is an effect that increases rotational injuries, it doesn't seem to be big and the net effect is that you're a lot better off with a helmet.

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Old 04-27-13, 07:18 PM   #5128
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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).
The funny/ironic/whatever bit is that if I were to get back into racing I would want to wear a helmet - I am unamused by the current state of bike handling skill among the go-fast crowd - because for me racing tilts the risk/benefit equation into the "helmet" side of things. Even knowing that a helmet is unlikely to prevent severe brain injury, I'd still prefer to have one. Of course, I recognize that my particular equation is valid (if it is valid) for no one other than me, which seems to be a key idea missing from the helmeteer's school of thought.

Short version: I think racing is likely to produce the kind of impacts against which bicycle helmets do a reasonable job, but not too likely to produce the kinds of impacts which cause serious brain injury, against which bicycle helmets aren't very useful anyway.
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Old 04-27-13, 10:44 PM   #5129
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The funny/ironic/whatever bit is that if I were to get back into racing I would want to wear a helmet - I am unamused by the current state of bike handling skill among the go-fast crowd - because for me racing tilts the risk/benefit equation into the "helmet" side of things. Even knowing that a helmet is unlikely to prevent severe brain injury, I'd still prefer to have one. Of course, I recognize that my particular equation is valid (if it is valid) for no one other than me, which seems to be a key idea missing from the helmeteer's school of thought.

Short version: I think racing is likely to produce the kind of impacts against which bicycle helmets do a reasonable job, but not too likely to produce the kinds of impacts which cause serious brain injury, against which bicycle helmets aren't very useful anyway.


That makes sense.

In fact, I think that many situations the average non-racing cyclist might encounter are the kinds of situations "likely to produce the kind of impacts against which bicycle helmets do a reasonable job". Like riding on bike paths, dirt road riding, mountain bike riding, riding on residential streets with little traffic but the possibility of pedestrian collisions, getting knocked off the bike by a dog, hitting a pothole or similar road hazard.

For example, I often commute using a heavily used bike path and as "I am unamused by the current state of bike handling skill among the" go-slow crowd on the bike path I happily don a helmet as I slalom through the chaos. Once I'm on the busy streets of Manhattan mixing it up with the body crushing trucks, buses and SUV's I've opted to keep my helmet on despite my awareness that I am being better preserved by my bike handling skills and a modicum of luck. I am also mindful of the fact that the helmet may offer some reasonable protection against what ever hazards might befall me.

Last edited by buzzman; 04-27-13 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 04-28-13, 01:36 AM   #5130
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Pics or it didnt happen
Well, here's a pic of my ear a few days after.
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Old 04-28-13, 08:03 AM   #5131
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Thinking of safety devices and their effectiveness ... and resistance to wearing them ... and affect in injury after their use become widespread ... Anyone have data on PFD's?

"Real" paddlers and boaters used to think it was lame to wear a PFD. They'd have one in the boat to be legal. But this mentality came from when they were all big and orange. They really could NOT be worn and still let you function normally.

In past 20 years, maybe even 15 years, PFDs have turned into an industry just like bike helmets. Now they are expensive "garments." I could see some sectors whining even harder about them now. "...And they're expensive! They're a part of fashion, no less!" But the big thing is that now they're high-tech. The makers would argue that they work wonderfully now. I'm inclined to agree. They usually have pockets for other essential safety gear or even extra goodies. They do not interfere with motion! They are light! They often include safety coloration and reflection. Dang, they're even handy! They're not ugly! They are designed for every duty area (some are camo, say, for hunters). I'd think that their use has skyrocketed. They also seem to be CLEARLY the best way to prevent drowning BY FAR. Also, today much more is known and publicized about drowning (no struggle, etc.). So what do the stats reveal? I'm hoping good news! But I could see stubbornness in statistical response here in maybe a way that relates to stubbornness of response in bike safety. That might relate to the possibility that nearly all adult accidents relate to idiocy and alcohol. These would tend to be VERY hard goalposts to move. : ) Personally, I just don't have enough nice PFDs in my house to go around or we'd all wear em all the time. As it is, I give em to my kids first. I still won't wear an orange blocky one. But they're still in the boats. The only downside I see is coolness but they're so minimal today that this is almost resolved. As regards coolness of fashion, I think they're neat enough that teens would wear 'em. The disincentive is gone now except for the expense. Anyway, seems like perhaps parallels and mutual lessons here with helmets. Indeed, I'd think PFDs might be proven to be sizably MORE effective. Not sure if there are any naysayers.
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Old 04-28-13, 10:25 AM   #5132
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Thinking of safety devices and their effectiveness ... and resistance to wearing them ... and affect in injury after their use become widespread ... Anyone have data on PFD's?
PFDs are probably the same as helmets, if you wear them they can/do help but probably not as much as most people may think... Your survival in the water is effected by many other things, like is it a calm lake or a stormy sea, how good a swimmer you are, sharks, water temps, currents, waves...
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Old 04-28-13, 10:30 AM   #5133
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PFDs are probably the same as helmets, if you wear them they can/do help but probably not as much as most people may think... Your survival in the water is effected by many other things, like is it a calm lake or a stormy sea, how good a swimmer you are, sharks, water temps, currents, waves...
That's why I asked for stats -- to get away from probably and most people. : ) But I don't wanna do the googling either. My hunch is that they've sizably reduced problems. Like safetybelts. In contrast to bike helmets.
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Old 04-28-13, 10:32 AM   #5134
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That makes sense.

In fact, I think that many situations the average non-racing cyclist might encounter are the kinds of situations "likely to produce the kind of impacts against which bicycle helmets do a reasonable job". Like riding on bike paths, dirt road riding, mountain bike riding, riding on residential streets with little traffic but the possibility of pedestrian collisions, getting knocked off the bike by a dog, hitting a pothole or similar road hazard.
Maybe. But again, the key is that the decision should be left up to the individual. I'm not qualified to judge what an "average" rider might be and I don't think anyone else is either. So if Joe Cyclist feels the risk of riding in the situations you mention justifies the benefit of the helmet (and, hopefully, understands the limitations of the helmet) then more power to him. I just hope he keeps his mouth shut about it when other people come to different conclusions.
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Old 04-28-13, 10:35 AM   #5135
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Thinking of safety devices and their effectiveness ... and resistance to wearing them ... and affect in injury after their use become widespread ... Anyone have data on PFD's?

"Real" paddlers and boaters used to think it was lame to wear a PFD. They'd have one in the boat to be legal. But this mentality came from when they were all big and orange. They really could NOT be worn and still let you function normally.

In past 20 years, maybe even 15 years, PFDs have turned into an industry just like bike helmets. Now they are expensive "garments." I could see some sectors whining even harder about them now. "...And they're expensive! They're a part of fashion, no less!" But the big thing is that now they're high-tech. The makers would argue that they work wonderfully now. I'm inclined to agree. They usually have pockets for other essential safety gear or even extra goodies. They do not interfere with motion! They are light! They often include safety coloration and reflection. Dang, they're even handy! They're not ugly! They are designed for every duty area (some are camo, say, for hunters). I'd think that their use has skyrocketed. They also seem to be CLEARLY the best way to prevent drowning BY FAR. Also, today much more is known and publicized about drowning (no struggle, etc.). So what do the stats reveal? I'm hoping good news! But I could see stubbornness in statistical response here in maybe a way that relates to stubbornness of response in bike safety. That might relate to the possibility that nearly all adult accidents relate to idiocy and alcohol. These would tend to be VERY hard goalposts to move. : ) Personally, I just don't have enough nice PFDs in my house to go around or we'd all wear em all the time. As it is, I give em to my kids first. I still won't wear an orange blocky one. But they're still in the boats. The only downside I see is coolness but they're so minimal today that this is almost resolved. As regards coolness of fashion, I think they're neat enough that teens would wear 'em. The disincentive is gone now except for the expense. Anyway, seems like perhaps parallels and mutual lessons here with helmets. Indeed, I'd think PFDs might be proven to be sizably MORE effective. Not sure if there are any naysayers.
I don't know enough about the subject to make any substantial comments. I'll just mention that when I go swimming I never have idiots shouting "Wear a PFD, moron!!!" at me.
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Old 04-28-13, 04:49 PM   #5136
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While I don't completely agree that helmets seem to cause more neck injuries, we could shift the goalposts to analyzing if they "even out the advantage".

In AUS vs NED study, AUS group had 3.5 times the chance to survive with only mild or non-existant "head and neck" injury, and the amount of severe "head and neck" injury was half of the NED group. Also, as mentioned, in AUS there's a very small percentage of neck injuries - head injuries are 7 times as common and severe head injuries are 14 times as common. In these studies, about 75% of aussie cyclists use helmets, when practically no NED cyclist does.

So I would say that the case for neck injuries is same as for brain rotational injuries - if there is an effect that increases rotational injuries, it doesn't seem to be big and the net effect is that you're a lot better off with a helmet.
And yet, once a lot of studies are scrutinized in a meta-analyses, it seems that rotational effects DO in fact even out the advantage.
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Old 04-28-13, 05:03 PM   #5137
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Maybe. But again, the key is that the decision should be left up to the individual. I'm not qualified to judge what an "average" rider might be and I don't think anyone else is either. So if Joe Cyclist feels the risk of riding in the situations you mention justifies the benefit of the helmet (and, hopefully, understands the limitations of the helmet) then more power to him. I just hope he keeps his mouth shut about it when other people come to different conclusions.
...AND one might hope for fewer horror campaigns making cycling appear a lot more dangerous than it really is.
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Old 04-28-13, 05:18 PM   #5138
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And yet, once a lot of studies are scrutinized in a meta-analyses, it seems that rotational effects DO in fact even out the advantage.
As mentioned above, the Elfvik meta-analysis doesn't take into account injury severity, how common neck injuries vs. head injuries are, or rates of neck vs. other non-head injuries, so I don't think it's a good one discussing the total effect. My personal opinion is that helmet is ment to reduce severe head/brain injuries, and they are not discussed by Elfvik.

I'm not sure if a helmet campaign is a horror campaign, any more than a seatbelt campaign is. Of course it depends how realistically the campaign is presented - if it's one of those "don't inject cannabis or you'll get AIDS!" campaigns, then it's maybe not very good

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Old 04-28-13, 05:19 PM   #5139
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...AND one might hope for fewer horror campaigns making cycling appear a lot more dangerous than it really is.
Have you ever ridden a bicycle in N America? I'm fairly sure there's a difference as compared to riding a bike in Copenhagen. JMO But I suspect that dealing with N American drivers/vehicle traffic is a bit more hazardous than dealing with traffic in European countries. again JMO...
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Old 04-28-13, 08:01 PM   #5140
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Have you ever ridden a bicycle in N America? I'm fairly sure there's a difference as compared to riding a bike in Copenhagen. JMO But I suspect that dealing with N American drivers/vehicle traffic is a bit more hazardous than dealing with traffic in European countries. again JMO...
It's been decades since I rode in Europe, but at least back then, Italian drivers scared the daylights out of me. I think maybe they assumed that anyone on a racing bicycle was a racer, so treated them as such, i.e. four inches of passing distance in a downhill hairpin while tuning the radio. Compared to the bike lanes and perfect pavement in my current neck of the woods, I've never needed a helmet less.
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Old 04-29-13, 09:44 AM   #5141
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PFDs are probably the same as helmets, if you wear them they can/do help but probably not as much as most people may think... Your survival in the water is effected by many other things, like is it a calm lake or a stormy sea, how good a swimmer you are, sharks, water temps, currents, waves...
Sharks?! Sharks...! what...!?
They kill kill like 5 people per year in the whole world.
Over the hills and far away off topic but I mean, sharks!
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Old 04-29-13, 10:02 AM   #5142
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Sharks?! Sharks...! what...!?
They kill kill like 5 people per year in the whole world.
Over the hills and far away off topic but I mean, sharks!
I tried to keep on topic (at least in my mind ) by equating different thing that happen when you fall in the water and why you could have fallen into the water, sharks=vehicles that buzz you, knowing how to swim=knowing how to ride, calm lake= a nice beachfront ride, stormy seas=riding in major traffic, water temps=winter riding in snow, currents=downtown riding, waves=big gusty winds...
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Old 04-29-13, 11:09 AM   #5143
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And yet, once a lot of studies are scrutinized in a meta-analyses, it seems that rotational effects DO in fact even out the advantage.
In fact, "rotational effects" have not been shown to have contribution to the overal statistics. In fact, it's mere speculation/hypothetical.
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Old 04-29-13, 12:53 PM   #5144
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And yet, once a lot of studies are scrutinized in a meta-analyses, it seems that rotational effects DO in fact even out the advantage.
Depends on the helmet. Skye posted a study which indicated that skate-style helmets help mitigate rotational injuries and there are a few different companies making similar bike helmets. To top it off, POC and others are beginning to utilize the MIPS system, specifically designed to deal with rotational forces.

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My personal opinion is that helmet is ment to reduce severe head/brain injuries, and they are not discussed by Elfvik.
Wut?!? Most helmets are not designed to deal with severe head/brain injuries, and studies back that up. The figures you posted previously support this, where the lighter the injury, the better a job a helmet did with injury mitigation. As injury severity ratchets up, the difference between those riding without helmets and those riding with gets much less in a hurry.
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Old 04-29-13, 01:20 PM   #5145
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Have you ever ridden a bicycle in N America? I'm fairly sure there's a difference as compared to riding a bike in Copenhagen. JMO But I suspect that dealing with N American drivers/vehicle traffic is a bit more hazardous than dealing with traffic in European countries. again JMO...
I ahve ridden pretty extensively in Canada and the Eastern US, as well as several European countries. Driver behaviour certainly differs. Inside major cities I'd say there is little to choose, though North American cities feel rather safer, largely because of the grid pattern. Outside town, I'd say that continental European drivers tend to be more aware of cyclists than those in the UK or North America, but that this is offset by the fact that American rural roads and minor highways are practically empty by our standards. The traffic density, and often the speed, are much higher in much of Europe.
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Old 04-29-13, 02:25 PM   #5146
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I don't know enough about the subject to make any substantial comments. I'll just mention that when I go swimming I never have idiots shouting "Wear a PFD, moron!!!" at me.
PFD laws are probably an issue in some places. PFD rules are a part of boat clubs. I've certainly had others mention my lack of PFD or ask me about a PFD. There are a lot of people who worry about those who don't wear them.

But you're right: you probably don't get people angrily shouting at you to wear them or neglecting usual manners to harp on it. But if you were paddling down a rapids and quickly passed someone and they saw you didn't have one on they might loudly try to alert you. Heck, maybe you did just forget and it's in the bottom of your boat. It would be a pretty good reason to eddy-out.

I'm still curious about their effect.

Maybe it's also a bit like helmets and alpine skiers -- especially out in an icy mogul field, say. It seems like "serious" skiers are totally game for helmets. Doubt there's rudeness about it, but, again, a friend might remind or ask -- and maybe you do have one in your pack and forgot to put it on after a snack stop.

Funny thing to me about bike helmets is that I hardly mind wearing mine in a store nowadays. Their appearance is often totally benign. And if you're out riding a bike there's no social penalty for looking like a biker. Some helmets DO look weird, tho, as does much bike apparel.
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Old 04-29-13, 02:28 PM   #5147
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It does seem like the heated aspect of the issue revolves mostly around the rudeness people hassling others to wear a helmet.

The educational and legislative thrusts seem somewhat different and are part of "pro and con" causes. I suppose the heat still comes from those who want to force others to wear helmets. Some folks may not yell at others but if they cause an institution to require all riders associated with it to wear helmets then it's a move to control.
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Old 04-29-13, 05:16 PM   #5148
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Have you ever ridden a bicycle in N America? I'm fairly sure there's a difference as compared to riding a bike in Copenhagen. JMO But I suspect that dealing with N American drivers/vehicle traffic is a bit more hazardous than dealing with traffic in European countries. again JMO...
I'm perfectly aware that biking in the USA is more dangerous than in Copenhagen - about four to ten times as dangerous, I believe (the numbers I've seen vary). However, biking is beneficial to your health - more so than riding a car. In fact, so beneficial as to even out the accident risk. (at least if Danish numbers are to be trusted as I remember them. Here, it VERY much more than just evens out etc.)

What's relevant to the thread is that helmets will probably only be really helpfull at relatively slow speed impacts. Only in rare cases will they save your life. (But we've been over that issue ad nauseam) Again and again I've been told that American cyclists ride very fast compared to Europeans. (on average, it's true, I'm sure)


Well, all in all: what's the point, then, in those campaigns?
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Old 04-29-13, 05:22 PM   #5149
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
In fact, "rotational effects" have not been shown to have contribution to the overal statistics. In fact, it's mere speculation/hypothetical.
You must be out of your mind.

"The risk of neck injury does not seem to be reduced by bicycle helmets. There are only four estimates of effect, but they all indicate an increased risk of injury. When the risk of injury to head, face or neck is viewed as a whole, bicycle helmets do provide a small protective effect. This effect is evident only in older studies. New studies, summarised by a random-effects model of analysis, indicate no net protective effect."
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Old 04-29-13, 06:09 PM   #5150
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...I just hope he keeps his mouth shut about it when other people come to different conclusions.
Well, I just hope he does too, because...because...uh, well, just because!
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