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View Poll Results: Helmet wearing habits?

Voters
1625. You may not vote on this poll
  • I've never worn a bike helmet

    171 10.52%
  • I used to wear a helmet, but have stopped

    93 5.72%
  • I've always worn a helmet

    634 39.02%
  • I didn't wear a helmet, but now do

    397 24.43%
  • I sometimes wear a helmet depending on the conditions

    330 20.31%
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  1. #1
    Randomhead
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    The helmet thread

    Some people think that the title of the previous helmet thread led to a muting of the pro-helmet viewpoint. It seems necessary to have this conversation, so I'm starting a new thread for it. You can argue as strenuously as you want, but insults are not allowed and anyone guilty of insults may find their posting privileges here to be adversely affected. If you find yourself typing one of the the words "idiot" or "stupid," you might want to reconsider hitting the submit button. I can assure you, some post in this thread will raise your blood pressure unless you have the patience of a saint. Be forewarned.

    This is the only thread where a discussion of the pros and cons of wearing a helmet will be discussed. Others will be locked or deleted.

    The previous thread is here: link

  2. #2
    Senior Member shawmutt's Avatar
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    Jeez, I haven't been here long at all, but this topic has been discussed ad nauseum! Playing devil's advocate here--why is it so important to argue about this over and over again? No one is changing anyone's mind. No one is really introducing anything new. There are much more effective ways to stand for a cause, and internet forums have to be the most ineffective way.

    Why not just wear them or not wear them and be done with it?
    My lifestyle change journey can be found here: The Skeptical Loser

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawmutt View Post
    Jeez, I haven't been here long at all, but this topic has been discussed ad nauseum! Playing devil's advocate here--why is it so important to argue about this over and over again? No one is changing anyone's mind. No one is really introducing anything new. There are much more effective ways to stand for a cause, and internet forums have to be the most ineffective way.

    Why not just wear them or not wear them and be done with it?
    Beautiful. If only everyone could keep[ it that simple and not try to convince everyone else that they aren't making a wise decision by not wearing a helmet, life would be so simple...sigh.
    "There are many causes worth dying for. There are none worth killing for." Albert Camus

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawmutt View Post
    Jeez, I haven't been here long at all, but this topic has been discussed ad nauseum! Playing devil's advocate here--why is it so important to argue about this over and over again? No one is changing anyone's mind. No one is really introducing anything new. There are much more effective ways to stand for a cause, and internet forums have to be the most ineffective way.

    Why not just wear them or not wear them and be done with it?
    It's been educational for me to understand the negative effect that mandantory helmet laws have on ridership. So even though I usually wear a helmet, I had not really considered the downsides to advocating for their use until I saw those points raised here.
    Last edited by Daves_Not_Here; 09-28-11 at 11:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Bicikli Huszár sudo bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawmutt View Post
    Jeez, I haven't been here long at all, but this topic has been discussed ad nauseum! Playing devil's advocate here--why is it so important to argue about this over and over again? No one is changing anyone's mind. No one is really introducing anything new. There are much more effective ways to stand for a cause, and internet forums have to be the most ineffective way.

    Why not just wear them or not wear them and be done with it?
    It helped change my mind, and there is some really good info in there, regardless of if anyone actually changes their mind or not. Can't hurt to have it. Title is clear, everyone who enters knows what they are getting into and can just pass on by if they so choose. $.02.
    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. I love the bicycle. I always have. I can think of no sincere, decent human being, male or female, young or old, saint or sinner, who can resist the bicycle."

    - William Saroyan

  6. #6
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawmutt View Post
    Jeez, I haven't been here long at all, but this topic has been discussed ad nauseum! Playing devil's advocate here--why is it so important to argue about this over and over again? No one is changing anyone's mind. No one is really introducing anything new. There are much more effective ways to stand for a cause, and internet forums have to be the most ineffective way.

    Why not just wear them or not wear them and be done with it?
    That would be the majority opinion...live and let die. But there are people who feel the need to evangelize for everyone to wear helmets...and allegedly people who feel the need to evangelize for everyone not to wear helmets (though the latter seems to be a mythical beast).

    You also have your <words we shalt not type> who feel the need to denigrate those who choose not to wear helmets, calling them <words we shalt not type>, Darwin candidates and such, either because they need to feel superior to overcome their insecurities, or as a method of peer pressure to force others share their misery.

    I think the point of this thread is to hopefully discuss the advantages and disadvantages of bicycle helmets so that people can make an informed personal choice...without the noise of the <words we shalt not type>. If we don't have <words we shalt not type>, I personally won't have a lot to say, since I don't have any need or desire to change anyone's mind...but can't resist picking on <words we shalt not type>.
    Last edited by chipcom; 09-29-11 at 05:43 AM.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    ^^^You sure didn't type an awful lot of <words we shalt not type> there. Well done sir!
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  8. #8
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Wow, another one bites the dust! how many helmet thread closures does this make now?
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  9. #9
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    The last one actually ended quite civilly. It appears the reason it was closed was just to change the title, and I agree the new title carries none of the negativity and baggage of the original.
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  10. #10
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
    The last one actually ended quite civilly. It appears the reason it was closed was just to change the title, and I agree the new title carries none of the negativity and baggage of the original.
    Yeah, now the fngs don't have to wade back through umpteen closed threads dating back 6 years to find the OP!
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Randomhead
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    Added a poll. You could add a few more options, but I think this pretty much covers the major cases.

    At one time, I only wore a helmet when I was at a race that required one. Then I started wearing a helmet when I was going out on a "fast ride," but not slow rides. Then one day I was out on a "slow ride," and we decided to sprint to a yellow sign. Didn't make it, and was transported to a medical facility in an ambulance. After that, I always have worn a helmet. I figure with the pricing structure in medical care today, that incident would have cost me thousands in deductibles and co-pays. Any commonly available helmet would have reduced my injuries to the point where I could have ridden home. Seems like a fairly reasonable investment.

  12. #12
    P_M
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    I learned that semantics can be the catalyst for passionate debates even among those in agreement.

  13. #13
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    I hate that poll. Can you make the last choice "I only wear a helmet when required or feel conditions merit it"?
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    I hate that poll. Can you make the last choice "I only wear a helmet when required or feel conditions merit it"?
    "Depending on conditions" versus "when required or feel conditions merit it". What's da dam diff?

    I must be nuance-challenged, but I can't parse enough of a variance to engender mild distaste, much less hatred for that poll.

  15. #15
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    I wear a helmet based on how likely I think I am to go down at speed or how isolated I will be.

    I train between 5 and 6 am in a secluded park -- it might be two hours before someone found the body, so I wear a helmet. I also wear one for group road rides and when I'm riding on a path and encountering on-coming high speed bike traffic.

    I don't wear one when cruising and running errands on my hybrid. Come to think of it, I see a helmet as part of the overall road kit and generally don't wear it when riding in sandals and street clothes. The exception is when I'm riding with my kids -- I figure if I'm going to tell them to wear a helmet, I need to wear one too.

    As far as whether other people should wear helmets, my attitude is whatever it takes to get them on a bike, that's what they should do. Sometimes, helmets increase ridership. My neighbor across the street, a former mountain biker with plenty of crashes in her past had stopped riding because, as a new mother, she was concerned about the risk. Getting her a helmet was what prompted her to start riding again.

    Some other people would not ride if they were forced to wear a helmet. I don't think trying to talk them into wearing a helmet is very constructive. Nobody likes being told what to do. I understand that sometimes helmet zealots actually will approach and tell strangers they should be wearing a helmet -- I'd be offended.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Brennan's Avatar
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    Helmets make sense in certain situations, like road racing or mountain biking, but for casual rides or basic transportation, I think cycling is a pretty safe endeavor which does not necessitate a helmet.

    I recently watched a documentary called "Bill Cunningham New York." It is about a fashion photographer for the New York Times who takes candid street photos. His method is to ride a bicycle all over Manhattan and take photos of people wearing outfits he finds interesting. He then publishes his favorites in the Sunday Times. He has been doing this almost every day for something like 40 years. He is now 82 years old, and he is amazingly still at it. During all this time, he has never worn a helmet.

    So, his story is a good example of the benefits of cycling. This 82-year-old is fit and healthy enough that he continues to work in a physically active profession. I would say this is due, in no small part, to his regular cycling. Furthermore, the fact that he does not wear a helmet is a pretty good indication that basic cycling is not as dangerous as it is made out to be.

    Anecdotal? Sure, but this is a pretty unique case. This guy has probably done more urban riding than most everyone, he rides day and night, in fair weather and foul, and he never wears a helmet. Yet, for decades now, he has somehow managed to avoid the supposed impending doom that awaits non-helmeted riders. I mean, can anyone really be that lucky?

    That's one of the things I liked about this guy: He shatters expectations, but he does so in the most unintentional and unassuming manner. All cycling talk aside, it's a funny and entertaining doc. If you like stories about quirky and interesting people, check it out.

  17. #17
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
    I must be nuance-challenged
    yes, you must be. Spend a decade or three subjected to this debate (or law or politics in general) and you'll understand why words matter.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Some people think that the title of the previous helmet thread led to a muting of the pro-helmet viewpoint.
    Given that the previous title "Helmets Cramp My Style: Spring Airheads" was composed by a Helmet Compulsionist and directed as an insult at (especially) women who chose to ride helmetless it is dishonest of you to lead into the new thread with the above quote without mentioning this background.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazrSkutr View Post
    Given that the previous title "Helmets Cramp My Style: Spring Airheads" was composed by a Helmet Compulsionist and directed as an insult at (especially) women who chose to ride helmetless it is dishonest of you to lead into the new thread with the above quote without mentioning this background.
    that's true....
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

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  20. #20
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rando View Post
    Wow, another one bites the dust! how many helmet thread closures does this make now?
    For this thread, that makes 4. Only 2 of those were due to heated exchanges. The first closure was simply because the length of the thread was causing it to load too slowly.

    Of course there have been many other threads involving helmet discussion that have been shut down.

    Quote Originally Posted by RazrSkutr View Post
    Given that the previous title "Helmets Cramp My Style: Spring Airheads" was composed by a Helmet Compulsionist and directed as an insult at (especially) women who chose to ride helmetless it is dishonest of you to lead into the new thread with the above quote without mentioning this background.
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you have the original title in reverse, it was "Spring Airheads... Helmets Cramp My Stye".

    It was a condescending swipe at at a group of cyclists that perhaps need helmets the least and a nod to the "wisdom" of another group who wear helmets more often, but are injured more frequently. (Perhaps a classic case of risk compensation?)

    The thread was started in April, 2005 by Jeff Williams when he posted a bit of provocation,

    I see more ladies than men...[look] like they might not even OWN a helmet.

    The ladies however are often young, on cruisers or classics, doing the 'hair show'.

    Most KIDS are smarter than some adult cyclists.
    It was nice to see so many riders today though. ....even the dumb ones.
    Jeff realized he made a mistake, and a couple of pages in he went back and edited the OP by removing some offensive stuff including calling the girls, spring airheads. The mods later removed spring airheads from the title.

    Of course the problem in Jeffs post is that that he is equating wearing a helmet with being safe. A helmet should be seen as being a means to an end, and not the end itself.

    Irony lies in the fact that women in general are injured far less often than men or children, so to denigrate the safer cyclist due to a lack of head gear misses the point and places helmet use out of priority.

    This idea is addressed in one of my favorite pages on cycling safety, http://bicyclesafe.com/

    It's first paragraph tackles Jeffs post head on

    This page shows you real ways you can get hit and real ways to avoid them. This is a far cry from normal bicycle safety guides, which usually tell you little more than to wear your helmet and to follow the law. But consider this for a moment: Wearing a helmet will do absolutely nothing to prevent you from getting hit by a car. Sure, helmets might help you if you get hit, but your #1 goal should be to avoid getting hit in the first place. Plenty of cyclists are killed by cars even though they were wearing helmets. Ironically, if they had ridden without helmets, yet followed the advice on this page, they might still be alive today. Don't fall for the myth that wearing a helmet is the first and last word in biking safety. In truth, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's better to not get hit. That's what real bicycle safety is about.
    in that paragraph he links his helmet page that describes the issue in more detail

    What's wrong with bicycle helmets?

    Focusing on helmets distracts people from what's more likely to actually save their lives: Learning how to ride safely. It's not that I'm against helmets, I'm against all the attention placed on helmets at the expense of safe riding skills. Helmets are not the most important aspect of bike safety. Not by a long shot.
    and really, why would anyone have a problem seeing someone on a bike look like this?

    Last edited by closetbiker; 10-01-11 at 11:43 AM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Maybe a view of Mikael Colville-Andersen's TedX talk would be beneficial here. I know it entails 16 minutes of thought, but if you care, maybe you should watch



    a worthwhile read is the wiki entry

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet

    it includes sections on history, standards, design intentions, fit and care, criticism of current standards; new designs, required use, risk, desirable and undesirable effects of use, opinions both for and against use, and a list of references
    Last edited by closetbiker; 10-01-11 at 12:48 PM.
    "My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything" -Peter Golkin
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  22. #22
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    A reposting of my response to the Helmet Poll in another recent thread:

    "I started racing, long distance touring and commuting by bike in 1969. Except for racing I never wore a helmet, including 2 bike trips across the US and one across Canada.

    Ten years later, after losing two close friends in bike accidents and watching enough crashes in races, club rides and on training rides I gave helmets a second look. I started wearing a bike helmet. At this point my logic is, if I'm going to wear one I'm going to wear one on every bike ride. It's insurance against the unpredictable so why should I try to predict when I might need the bike helmet."
    Since that post:

    I just spent two days shooting a fight scene in a movie. In the scene I am body slammed full force by a 350 lb guy into the side of a parked car, kicked in the groin hard enough to raise me off the ground by the same guy wearing heavy work boots, collapse to my knees and then am thrown hard to the pavement. The scene took 2 days to shoot so I did this again and again. Anyone who does not think that a little bit of foam and plastic provides substantial protection should work a day like this without that kind of protection.

    Granted this could be construed as an argument for a bicyclist to wear a thin layer of body armor under their clothing but when I compare the integrity and strength of my bike helmet to the bits of padding I wore on the set I cannot help but put even more trust in my helmet to make a difference as to the severity of head injury I might receive should my head hit the ground or an object.

    And yes, I know the head, and more specifically the brain, takes impact differently than other parts of the body but so do the kidneys, the spine, the knees and the testicles. Each area is specific in how it can take a hit. But well designed foam and plastic specific to those areas will make a substantial difference in protection from injury.

    I'll give far more weight to my personal experience than the tons of questionable, biased and often outdated "studies", inadequate "statistics" and the deluge of personal insults doled out by internet "experts" on both sides of this issue.

    My 2 cents is that common sense and your own personal experience will be a far better guide as to whether or not to wear a helmet while biking than 99% of the stuff you will read in this thread- my post included.

  23. #23
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    If you don't wear a helmet today, you mat not have the god given brains to wear it tomorrow, either!

    World-wide, human brain tissue has been mopped up by the tons since the beginning of cycling. The only salvation is the helmet. Not in all cases, but most inevitably in cases where head contact is coincidental, as a result of being impacted by some deflecting surface.

    - Slim

  24. #24
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    If you don't wear a helmet today, you mat not have the god given brains to wear it tomorrow, either!
    I know, like, seriously. Life is so dangerous and people are always banging their heads. Not only while riding bikes, either. People bang their heads walking, taking showers, sleeping, driving cars, etc. So, to really keep those god given brains, I wear my helmet 24/7. Sex is a little awkward sometimes when my wife's helmet and mine hit together and it is difficult to wash my hair, but otherwise, what's the big inconvenience to NOT wear one 24/7?
    My Bikes: 2009 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata Six Ten | 1970 Hercules Three-Two-Speed
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    I just spent two days shooting a fight scene in a movie. In the scene I am body slammed full force by a 350 lb guy into the side of a parked car, kicked in the groin hard enough to raise me off the ground by the same guy wearing heavy work boots, collapse to my knees and then am thrown hard to the pavement. The scene took 2 days to shoot so I did this again and again. Anyone who does not think that a little bit of foam and plastic provides substantial protection should work a day like this without that kind of protection.
    That's right. Your brain is contained in the area protected by your jockstrap. However, you must realize that most of us keep our brains in our heads? No?

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    cannot help but put even more trust in my helmet to make a difference as to the severity of head injury I might receive should my head hit the ground or an object.
    Again, yes, your faith in the Helmet God is touching, but completely irrelevant when compared to the mass statistics which pit your puny inexperience to the multitudes of people who have been brain damaged when hit by a car and the multitudes who have survived unscathed.

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    And yes, I know the head, and more specifically the brain, takes impact differently than other parts of the body but so do the kidneys, the spine, the knees and the testicles. Each area is specific in how it can take a hit. But well designed foam and plastic specific to those areas will make a substantial difference in protection from injury.
    I'll give you some smart-credits for the above, but I have to subtract hit points * 5 for not wearing a motorcycle helmet when you bomb down hills.

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    I'll give far more weight to my personal experience than the tons of questionable, biased and often outdated "studies", inadequate "statistics" and the deluge of personal insults doled out by internet "experts" on both sides of this issue.
    That's right. You know more than engineers and statisticians -- even if you'd be hard put to distinguish between a CI and a SD.


    Meanwhile you should continue doing 40mph plus down hill while trusting to the faith of marketeers that told you that a beer cooler on your head will save it from serious damage.

    Again -- what's it to you? No one is forcing you to take of your symbol of credulous stupidity. The only compulsion that exists is on the side of your fellow travellers -- Helmet NAZIs that have implemented fines and bicycle confiscations to enforce their scientifically unsupported and intolerant viewpoint.

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