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Old 08-28-10, 02:21 PM   #1
Liddy
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Cycle Helmets

Okay Guys, let me first say that I am a newbie to the Forum and a complete beginner to cycling (like I can't ride a straight line yet!). I have seen a reasonable number of brain injured individuals in my time, although I don't specilise in Neuro. I have also ridden horses and would under no circumstances get on the the back of one, even with the intention of me and the horse just standing still, without a riding hat. I am very protective of my brain.

All that said, at the risk of triggering WW3 (having seen another thread discussing this topic from a different angle), I am mulling over the whole cycling helmet debate. I have read the following and found it thought provoking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_helmet Even before reading that, I had decided that cycling away from traffic does not, for me, require use of a helmet. If and when (last week I'm afraid it was when) I fall from a bike, it will be a fall from more or less my own height sideways at a low speed. Even as I get faster, I doubt it would be merrited. I think if I venture onto roads, I will probably wear one as a car hitting a bike, can after all, propell the rider through the air and, in so doing, produce a very different type of impact. I'm not sure about racing if not in traffic. I am very unlikely to ever want to do that, so I probably will never need to decide about it.

Anyway, I am interested in the considered, mutually respected opinions of other. Any takers?
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Old 08-28-10, 02:25 PM   #2
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What bike do you ride?
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Old 08-28-10, 02:30 PM   #3
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You don't need a helmet.
You don't need gloves.
You don't need to ride with traffic.
You don't need handle bars.







Why would this guy need a helmet?

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Old 08-28-10, 02:30 PM   #4
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A Pashley hybrid 5 speed. So nothing very scary.
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Old 08-28-10, 02:33 PM   #5
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A Pashley hybrid 5 speed. So nothing very scary.
Looks as it would be fun to ride.
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Old 08-28-10, 02:51 PM   #6
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Well, you're going to do what you're going to do, so I have no expectation that I'll convince you, but just to contribute to the discussion:

1. You don't have to be going that fast to hit your head really hard. Even if you are going 0 MPH, the acceleration from an upright position to your head hitting the pavement or a curb is enough to do serious damage.

2. I had a minor concussion about 3 years ago, unrelated to cycling. Believe it or not, I was simply sitting down in a chair - I allowed myself to collapse backwards into an easy chair in a cafe, not noticing that the back of the chair was recessed under a solid butcher-block counter top. My head couldn't have been going very fast (see point #1), but it felt like a bomb going off in my head and the post-concussive symptoms lasted more than a year. I don't want another and I wouldn't go down my driveway without a bike helmet.

3. I've seen lots of bike accidents unrelated to cars that resulted in cracked helmets. Fortunately for me, none of those helmets were mine and fortunately for the riders, I've never seen one that resulted in a cracked head. One was from a stick coming up and getting stuck between a wheel and a fork. Another was from unseen gravel (chipseal) coming around a turn. A third was a bike-bike crash. A fourth was someone having to make a sudden maneuver to avoid an errant child on a MUP. You get the idea.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:00 PM   #7
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If your front wheel hits something big enough to stop it (a curb will suffice), you may be suddenly ejected straight over the handlebars, head first until/if you get your arms up. The front wheel does stop, but the front wheel converts all the kinetic energy that was propelling the bike forward into the frame and rear wheel rotating up and over the now-stopped front wheel, including lifting you up and off the seat & pedals. What you think might happen immediately after that determines whether you wear a helmet or not. A sideways fall - even doing circles in a parking lot - can result in your head being the first body part that hits the pavement.

When I was a teenager, I got "ejected" off my 10-speed once, went clean over the handlebars and landed upright on my feet gymnastics dismount style, with the bike summersaulting behind me. All that was missing was the "ta-da" sound!
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Old 08-28-10, 03:01 PM   #8
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10 wheels, That last picture scares the living sh*t out of me!

Liddy, I've broken two helmets, not something I'm 'specially proud of. Once while on the streets, once on a bike path. Both crashes caused a concussion. Your head, your decision.

Brad

PS The most protective headgear I've worn on a horse was made of felt, but my younger daughter (my only horse lover child) did wear a helmet.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:06 PM   #9
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. . . mutually respected opinions of other. . . .
The physics of the minimal velocities of dangewrous crashes and vulnerabilities of the human brain inside its container that contribute to irreversible injury are a matter of historic record.

We're ALL big boys and girls here.

Wear a bucket or don't wear a bucket. . .your choice.

But just PLEASE. . .NO DAMN wining if you throw the dice wrong and don't be overly suprised to find folks none too eager to pay higher insurance costs based on personal choices flying in the face of a reliable record of risk avoidance.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:20 PM   #10
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I got a bicycle helmet when the first hardshell ones came out in the mid-70s (a Bell Biker) and was initially convinced of their benefits based on some of the early case-control ER studies that were published. I wore a helmet on all my rides for about 25 years and then became aware of newer studies that looked at the effects when mandatory helmet laws were enacted and enforced in New Zealand and Australia leading to a rapid rise in helmet use. Unfortunately even when 90% of riders were wearing helmets, the fatality and hospitalization rates didn't improve and even seemed to get a little worse when the analysis included the drop in ridership that accompanied the helmet laws.

While case-control studies continued to show a benefit, they all suffered from the self-selection effect - the most careful and health-conscious riders were the ones choosing to wear helmets and they tended to also ride more carefully, had less severe crashes, and tended to show up in ERs even with minor injuries. Comparing them to non-helmeted riders showed fewer head injuries, but that may not have anything to do with the helmets but rather than you're comparing two very different populations.

So my conclusion now is that the current bike helmets have very little if any benefit in serious crashes that result in either hospitalization or death. And the certification test for helmets only checks for an impact that's equivalent to a simple fall from a standing position. Furthermore, the chance of a serious head injury while riding on the road or on paved paths is very small. Brain injuries occur at about the same rate per hour to car occupants as to cyclists and at a higher rate to pedestrians.

So I no longer use a helmet on road and path rides unless it's required by law or rules of a club or event. But I do use one on some mountain bike riding - not because I think it'll save me from a serious head injury, but because the chance of a simple fall is much greater in that kind of riding and I think the helmet will protect against unpleasant cuts and scrapes.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:29 PM   #11
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Had a fall at 5mph on ice and the helmet took the impact. 5 minutes later and I had a headache and stopped with my riding partner- who also fell on the ice- and he advised me to look at my helmet. The Gouge mark was at least 1" deep. If I were not wearing a helmet- that would have been my face or my skull. Plenty of offroad spills that have broken a a helmet but have to admit that was at speed.

Imagine your head is a Large lump of Chalk---They used to say water melon but they are soft. Hit the chalk with a hammer- It explodes. That is you falling sideways onto a kerb.

Riding along a trail and an overhead branch. Didn't see it and helmet in 3 pieces and a headache.

I can go on for hours like this. Accidents happen. Broken bones can heal. Concussion can be serious. Fractured skull is- Brain damage is irrepairable.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:54 PM   #12
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I have also ridden horses and would under no circumstances get on the the back of one, even with the intention of me and the horse just standing still, without a riding hat.
My daughter rides horses, too. Having spent lots of time around barns in the last 10 years, I've witnessed, or heard about, a long, long list of accidents that can occur around horses even when no one is "really riding fast" or doing anything serious. S*** happens, especially around crazy 1,500 pound animals. Nobody at our barn gets on a horse w/out a helmet, and when kids are learning to jump they wear flak jackets.

So I don't see how bikes are much different (except there is less poop to clean up). Crazy stuff happens, even at slow speeds, even when riders are "not really doing anything special." The most famous phrase in cycling is, "I was just riding around and...."

I always wear a helmet when I ride.

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Old 08-28-10, 04:29 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=bradtx;11370784]10 wheels, That last picture scares the living sh*t out of me!

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Old 08-28-10, 05:00 PM   #14
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Even before reading that, I had decided that cycling away from traffic does not, for me, require use of a helmet. If and when (last week I'm afraid it was when) I fall from a bike, it will be a fall from more or less my own height sideways at a low speed.
Most of my falls have been at speeds of less than 5 mph. Painful!! I ALWAYS wear a helmet!!!
When you fall, even at low speeds, there is a VERY GOOD CHANCE your head is going to hit the ground, pavement, whatever.Thats why most cyclists I know ALWAYS wear a helmet.
If you ever ride off road (cyclocross or mtn biking) a helmet is still a good idea. About a year ago I was riding my CX bike on a flat section of a mtn bike trail. I hit a tree root that was hidden by leaves. It caught my front wheel and bam!!! I was on the ground in a heartbeat. Luckily I was wearing my helmet. Turns out there were a few small rocks right where I fell. My head was fine but my thigh and arm wear sore for the rest of the day. I'll take a sore arm or leg over a cracked skull anytime.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:04 PM   #15
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10 wheels, That last picture scares the living **** out of me!
That's almost as bad a some of the moms and dads I see riding on the bike path with their kids. The kiddies all have their helmet on but the parents aren't wearing one. When mom or dad falls and cracks his/her skull, who is going to call 911? Do the kiddies know their home address? Do they know grandma's phone number? Makes you think!
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Old 08-28-10, 05:09 PM   #16
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One thing I try not to do is preach. You should have the right to not wear a helmet, if that is your choice. That aside, have you considered asking emergency room doctors what they think
of bicycle helmets?

Quote:
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That's almost as bad a some of the moms and dads I see riding on the bike path with their kids. The kiddies all have their helmet on but the parents aren't wearing one. When mom or dad falls and cracks his/her skull, who is going to call 911? Do the kiddies know their home address? Do they know grandma's phone number? Makes you think!
Bingo. The Minuteman Bikeway is great for observing this species. Don't forget that one mom or dad who has the helmet on backwards. I still have not figured out how they manage to do this.

Worst thing I saw: Some dimwit, going along with his daughter following along closely, on her little pink bike. Uh, hers was tied to his with a dog leash. Yes, a dog leash.
anyone figure out where they come from? Certainly not this universe.

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Old 08-28-10, 05:38 PM   #17
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I wasn't wearing a helmet on my commute to work, for the reasons many use: heat, not on the street much, etc. But I signed up for a charity ride, which required helmets, and since mine was really old with poor venting, I bought a new helmet the day before the ride. At mile 13 of the metric century, I took a turn too fast trying to gain ground on a group and didn't hold the turn. I hit a curb sideways, and was catapulted into a different zip code than my bike, into rocks and bushes. Woke up with someone looking down at me asking me if I was alright, to which I replied "I don't know". The helmet had to be replaced, and there were bruises where it had been slammed against my head. CT scan was normal, which means I must have sustained significant brain damage. I wear a helmet all the time now, but hate helmet laws as it is a personal choice.

With a decent well-fit helmet, it's easy to forget you have it on.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:53 PM   #18
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Okay Guys, let me first say that I am a newbie to the Forum and a complete beginner to cycling (like I can't ride a straight line yet!). I have seen a reasonable number of brain injured individuals in my time, although I don't specilise in Neuro. I have also ridden horses and would under no circumstances get on the the back of one, even with the intention of me and the horse just standing still, without a riding hat. I am very protective of my brain.

All that said, at the risk of triggering WW3 (having seen another thread discussing this topic from a different angle), I am mulling over the whole cycling helmet debate. I have read the following and found it thought provoking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_helmet Even before reading that, I had decided that cycling away from traffic does not, for me, require use of a helmet. If and when (last week I'm afraid it was when) I fall from a bike, it will be a fall from more or less my own height sideways at a low speed. Even as I get faster, I doubt it would be merrited. I think if I venture onto roads, I will probably wear one as a car hitting a bike, can after all, propell the rider through the air and, in so doing, produce a very different type of impact. I'm not sure about racing if not in traffic. I am very unlikely to ever want to do that, so I probably will never need to decide about it.

Anyway, I am interested in the considered, mutually respected opinions of other. Any takers?
So wait, you're smart enough to not sit on a horse without a helmet but not smart enough to wear a helmet on a moving bike?
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Old 08-28-10, 05:59 PM   #19
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Since I do not engage in risk compensation (riding aggressively or carelessly because I believe the helmet makes me invincible), I see no reason whatsoever not to wear a helmet. The helmet also gives me a superb mounting platform for my mirror.
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Old 08-28-10, 06:31 PM   #20
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Get a helmet. Wear it. I always where a helmet, even when I ride 1/2 mile on my old bike, down a neighborhood street in our 55+ neighborhood to our fitness center. At the very least, a helmet is like Chicken Soup: It can't hurt.
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Old 08-28-10, 06:47 PM   #21
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If you don't wear a helmet, you'll need to change your BF name to Lidless.
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Old 08-28-10, 07:15 PM   #22
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I have religiously worn a helmet since 1977 when I donned a "leather hairnet" because the USCF required it. However, my recent forays on the south Louisiana roads in 100F+ heat index have resulted in me pouring water through the vent holes and shifting my helmet to obtain (albeit only momentary) relief from having my brain literally baked. At this point I'm wondering what is the greater risk: heat stroke or the possibility of a head injury? Where I live, one is more probable than the other (guess which one).
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Old 08-28-10, 07:41 PM   #23
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The three times my head hit the pavement were all on MUPS. The helmet saved my bacon in all three cases. However, I guess I don't need to wear a helmet while riding on the street, I have never - even as a kid - had a fall while riding on the street where I hit my head so I guess I don't need one. I am sure glad you posted this insightful thread, I will now stop wearing my helmet when riding on the road.
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Old 08-28-10, 08:07 PM   #24
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This summer I broad-sided a dog at 18 mph and hit the road hard enough to give me a major concussion. I also hit hard enough to begin a detachment of the retina of my right eye. I was wearing a helmet. I have no idea if the helmet kept me from more serious injury or contributed to it. There are those that would argue that the helmet hit the road when a helmetless head would not have reached the road, because my shoulder hit first. Hence the helmet contributed to the injury. There are others who might argue that the impact was strong enough that my head would have hit the road with or without helmet. I don't know the answer. Anyone who says they do has access to data that the rest us of should see. With that said, I'm still wearing a helmet, because I'd hate to think how much damage would have been done if those who made the second argument were correct. What I do know is that if I don't go down its not an issue. My focus is on riding in such a manner that I don't need the helmet.
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Old 08-28-10, 08:32 PM   #25
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Will you will me your Paisley? I'll send you the info. I think my wife would like to ride it, once it is cleaned up.

I've had 4 falls in 12 years. Each was at less that 5 mph. The worst was when I tried to "jump" a curb and didn't. The bike stopped and I didn't. I went "splat" on the very hard cement. Another was on a MUP when a mom went chasing after a ball her toddler had dropped - going right in front of me.

Did the helmet help? I can't say for sure. I am very positive it did not hurt me.

Don't expect a helmet to save your life if you are hit by a car and run over. It won't. But, it just might reduce injuries on a MUP - the most dangerous place, as far as frequency of accidents - around.

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