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Helmets, Rapha, and the "freedom of choice" argument

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Helmets, Rapha, and the "freedom of choice" argument

Old 11-05-09, 08:39 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Exit. View Post
FWIW, I was in an accident while not wearing a helmet two months ago. I smashed my head into a car door at about 30km/h. Ten stitches in my head, no concussion, no skull damage. If I had been wearing a helmet, it would have cracked in half, as they are designed to break at an impact speed of 20km/h.

Now, consider the following: If I had in fact been wearing a helmet, and said helmet had indeed cracked in half - which, given the circumstances, it almost definitely would have - would there not be droves of people using me as their anecdotal evidence for pro-helmet advocacy? Generally, when people see a split open helmet, they assume that it saved the person's life, and that the person would have been dead or severely injured had they not been wearing a helmet. As we can clearly see, this is simply not true in my case.

How's that for anecdotal evidence?
You are now brain damaged and no longer need to wear a helmet.
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Old 11-06-09, 06:46 AM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
You are now brain damaged and no longer need to wear a helmet.
Actually according to standard helmeteer logic he is now a zombie and no longer needs to wear a helmet.
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Old 11-06-09, 06:50 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Actually according to standard helmeteer logic he is now a zombie and no longer needs to wear a helmet.
So they really do understand me!
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Old 11-06-09, 06:57 AM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
I just hate to start really evaluating this type of thing. Increase in rotational damage risk. Decrease in brain decel injury. Increase in visibility to others. Decrease in ability to hear at speed. Increase in loading on the head. Maybe increase in fatigue. Risk compensation. Increase in hostility against those bikers. And so on. Do the better cyclists wear helmets, rider faster, suffer worse injuries? All the cyclists are lumped perhaps, including BMX and off road cyclists.

I got degrees, too, including a Ph.D. and a J.D. And I wouldn't really want to wade into the statistical mess unless someone was footing the bill.
The simple answer is to look at the stats - which say that there is no reduction in serious injury for riding a helmet. You then have to weigh the remaining factors against the benefit that a helmet will provide against minor injuries of the type that result from simply falling off a bike without the involvement of a car, and plug in your own intution for how much a helmet reduces hearing and - even more importantly - balance. My own decision is that I'd wear one for racing in a crit or riding aggressively off road, where I'm many times more likely to come off my bike than on the road, but not for commuting.

The only people who are simply wrong are those who say that a helmet will provide a meaningful level of harm reduction in a serious accident or that this issue is simple. Among the other harms these idiots do, they also reduce pressure on helmet makers to create safer helmets - and there at least two steps that could be taken to make them much better. The first would be incorporating a sliding anti-rotation membrane, and the second would be to test helmets realistically against a realistic moving "road" - amazingly at the moment they're tested by dropping against a smooth and stationary surface, which migh explain why so many helmets recovered from accident sites failed to work, shattering before providing the necessary compression. (See the wikipedia helmet article.)
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Old 11-06-09, 06:58 AM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
Actually according to standard helmeteer logic he is now a zombie and no longer needs to wear a helmet.
So they really do understand me!
What's so hard to understand? Ninety per cent of your conversation is "Brainzzz..."
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Old 11-06-09, 09:29 AM
  #81  
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I want freedom of choice to drape myself in fashionable clothing to assemble my very own identity kit from brands that move me.

check this shizzle out from Rapha. i think they're mostly wearing helmets. their charting of regional epic rides really dig deep around the country.

i think its very cool brand identity and they back it with some impressive 'we're doing it' rugged randonneuring rides behind their ad campaigns. pretty cool IMO.

check them out, you might see one of your favorite rides in here..... rapha short films from the road
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Old 11-06-09, 12:33 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
See eg https://www.vehicularcyclist.com/fatals.html and https://www.vehicularcyclist.com/kunich.html

The smart way of controlling this data is to compare fatal cyclist accidents against pedestrian-car accidents - otherwise you risk attributing changes due to altered driver behaviour to helmet efficacy. If helmets were effective in serious accidents you would expect to see cyclist fatalities tend down relative to ped deaths, as helmets are increasingly used. They don't - anywhere, as far as I've been able to find out. Eg for the US:



You can find even more at the definitive site of The Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation at www.cyclehelmets.org/ For the trend data you want you should look at https://www.cyclehelmets.org/1010.html.

(Note to Mr I Have A Prestigious Physics Degree - so do I! But the point of getting the degree was supposed to be learn to use facts and logic - not to say "I have a degree!" and expect opponents to bow down before you...)

Unless cycling has grown per capita since 1986. I'm guessing pedestrian traffic has not, but that assumption could easily be wrong. Certainly, I doubt pedestrian traffic in heavy traffic areas has risen since we've entirely stopped building cities in lieu of suburbs. Cycling, on the other hand, is much more resistant to the type of city, probably because such a large share of it is recreational.

So I'm not sure I buy into using pedestrian fatalities as the control. Not that I have a better one. I'd much rather use cyclists and simply try to establish mileage totals for each year, but the margin of error is probably so high on those stats.

Thanks for sharing the information though.

Edit: Actually, using cyclists wouldn't be very good either. You'd have to narrow it down to one kind of cyclist. Different sorts of cycling come in and out of popularity, and some are more dangerous than others.

Last edited by crhilton; 11-06-09 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 11-06-09, 02:17 PM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
Edit: Actually, using cyclists wouldn't be very good either. You'd have to narrow it down to one kind of cyclist. Different sorts of cycling come in and out of popularity, and some are more dangerous than others.
That's a very good point - its a criticism I've seen statisticians make of at least one paper that claimed to prove a benefit for helmets.

Yes, the statistical analysis of helmet benefits gets very complex. However, if helmets provided the 85% reduction in serious injuries once claimed for them - and still claimed by some MHL lobbyists - then that would be absolutely unmissable. All one can say is that the benefit from helmets is below the level at which it can be unambiguously proved - unlike that for seatbelts and motorcycle helmets.
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Old 11-07-09, 07:54 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
That's a very good point - its a criticism I've seen statisticians make of at least one paper that claimed to prove a benefit for helmets.

Yes, the statistical analysis of helmet benefits gets very complex. However, if helmets provided the 85% reduction in serious injuries once claimed for them - and still claimed by some MHL lobbyists - then that would be absolutely unmissable. All one can say is that the benefit from helmets is below the level at which it can be unambiguously proved - unlike that for seatbelts and motorcycle helmets.
Yea, I think you're right. Helmets might still be able to fall in the 25% region and be hidden by rising popularity of dangerous riding styles (drunk, downhilling, salmon). Or they might just be useless.

Somebody should try following bike messengers within the same city (probably NYC to get the biggest sample size). You'll have to find some who actually wear a helmet though, and the study would probably take a few decades to get many deaths.
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Old 11-07-09, 08:16 AM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by danarnold View Post
Have you ever wondered what are the psychological forces that drive people to caring so much about what other riders wear? They care enough to insult those who don't wear helmets. Their outward claims are usually fairly vague. Sometimes they talk about having to pay the costs for injured riders. They never have any data. So why do they care?

They ignore the studies that show the risk of not wearing a helmet is so low, that mandatory helmet laws causing a decrease in ridership actually have a net detriment to the overall health of the citizenry.

So why do they care? I have a theory. They wear the stupid things, they know they look stupid. They suspect the non helmet wearers are right, that it is statistically ridiculous to wear a helmet when you don't wear one as a pedestrian or driver of a car.

So, there they are, having gone along like sheep with the majority of the riders in their area, wearing the silly helmets, but knowing better... knowing they look like silly paranoid sheep. So what is left to them?

Make everyone else wear a helmet, either by law or ridicule, so they don't look so silly ... they think.

^^^ what he said!
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Old 11-07-09, 08:19 AM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
Somebody should try following bike messengers within the same city (probably NYC to get the biggest sample size). You'll have to find some who actually wear a helmet though, and the study would probably take a few decades to get many deaths.
That would still suffer from the self-selection problem that's been criticized about the case-control studies like Thompson/Rivara: the messengers who choose to wear helmets may well differ in significant ways from those who don't. One group may ride more cautiously than the other and therefore ascribing any difference in injury or fatality rate to the presence of a helmet would not be accurate.

That's why drug effectiveness studies depend on double-blind procedures. The subjects are randomly assigned to the study and control groups and neither they nor the doctors know who is getting the drug under test. Can't really do that with helmets so we're left with the current situation where the case-control studies (and their inherent self-selection problem) show a big benefit but the whole population studies haven't confirmed it in areas where there's been a large increase in helmet usage (either due to MHLs or big publicity campaigns).
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Old 11-07-09, 08:53 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
That would still suffer from the self-selection problem that's been criticized about the case-control studies like Thompson/Rivara: the messengers who choose to wear helmets may well differ in significant ways from those who don't. One group may ride more cautiously than the other and therefore ascribing any difference in injury or fatality rate to the presence of a helmet would not be accurate.
Exactly.

The only way to settle this is either select people at random and get them to commit to wearing a helmet or not on the flip of a coin, or to do trend studies in countries where MHLs are introduced. The second of these have been done and show no detectable benefit - but a large reduction in cycling.
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Old 11-07-09, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by rando View Post
Have you ever wondered what are the psychological forces that drive people to caring so much about what other riders wear? They care enough to insult those who don't wear helmets. Their outward claims are usually fairly vague. Sometimes they talk about having to pay the costs for injured riders. They never have any data. So why do they care?

They ignore the studies that show the risk of not wearing a helmet is so low, that mandatory helmet laws causing a decrease in ridership actually have a net detriment to the overall health of the citizenry.

So why do they care? I have a theory. They wear the stupid things, they know they look stupid. They suspect the non helmet wearers are right, that it is statistically ridiculous to wear a helmet when you don't wear one as a pedestrian or driver of a car.

So, there they are, having gone along like sheep with the majority of the riders in their area, wearing the silly helmets, but knowing better... knowing they look like silly paranoid sheep. So what is left to them?

Make everyone else wear a helmet, either by law or ridicule, so they don't look so silly ... they think.
^^^ what he said!
I'd disagree and go with blind fear as the motivator. Helmet zealots are invariably poorly informed, place enormous faith in their foam beanies, and become anxious and evasive when facts are introduced to the debate. They need to believe, but have problems doing so, and one of the ways that scared and doubting zealots have reinforced their own belief throughout history is by making other people act as if they believe.
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Old 11-07-09, 09:23 AM
  #89  
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Sheesh!

this isn't about safety, this is about fashion!
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Old 11-07-09, 09:37 AM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
The only way to settle this is either select people at random and get them to commit to wearing a helmet or not on the flip of a coin
Still doesn't avoid the problem that those given a helmet may change their behavior. An example is the taxi cab study of ABS - the drivers randomly assigned to cabs with ABS drove around corners faster and braked harder and later than those with conventional brakes.

Maybe if a helmet could be designed that looks and feels like the regular ones but has an internal construction that makes it much flimsier when involved in an accident. That would be the only way to do a proper 'blind' study with a comparison of groups given regular helmets and those given the fake, deliberately ineffective ones.

or to do trend studies in countries where MHLs are introduced. The second of these have been done and show no detectable benefit - but a large reduction in cycling.
Yes, the best studies are where there's a large and rapid rise in the usage of helmets such as occurred in Australia and where good cyclist counts are done before and after implementation of the MHL. Otherwise a reduction in the raw numbers of injuries and fatalities might be seen as vindication of the MHL when it's actually a result of a reduced amount of cycling.
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Old 11-07-09, 09:54 AM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
I'd disagree and go with blind fear as the motivator. Helmet zealots are invariably poorly informed, place enormous faith in their foam beanies, and become anxious and evasive when facts are introduced to the debate. They need to believe, but have problems doing so, and one of the ways that scared and doubting zealots have reinforced their own belief throughout history is by making other people act as if they believe.
And I don't disagree with that as part of their motivation. There are probably others as well that explain the desperate, almost hysterical zeal I've seen helmeteers exhibit when they find out you don't wear a helmet.

What I don't understand is all this talk about proper studies to determine if helmets have some safety benefit. A properly designed helmet has some benefit in some accidents. Only anti helmet zealots who are counterpart to the helmeteers would argue otherwise.

The issue is how dangerous is recreational cycling. Study after study confirms it is no more dangerous than many other activities where helmets are almost never worn. The danger is so slight that it is outweighed by the health benefits of cycling.

Wear a helmet. Fine. No argument. Just accept, as many helmet wearers do, that a helmet wearing does not confer greater protection than it does and that in most cases wearing a helmet makes little or no difference and that those who don't wear one have made a rational, reasonable decision.
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Old 11-07-09, 02:43 PM
  #92  
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Also, what's up with all the Rapha hate on BF? If I was considerably wealthier than I am, I'd own a ton of their gear. It's snappy-looking, well made, has a plethora of useful features, and is designed by people who do the same thing I do...bike lots!
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Old 11-07-09, 03:21 PM
  #93  
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those beanies are just plain fugly

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Old 11-07-09, 03:47 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Still doesn't avoid the problem that those given a helmet may change their behavior.
You wouldn't want to. Risk compensation is a vital part of the safety picture. Although the most disturbing RC might be that of drivers. One study showed that they treat helmeted riders more aggressively. Although that might be a tribal thing - because they look less like "normal" people.
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Old 11-07-09, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Exit. View Post
Also, what's up with all the Rapha hate on BF? If I was considerably wealthier than I am, I'd own a ton of their gear. It's snappy-looking, well made, has a plethora of useful features, and is designed by people who do the same thing I do...bike lots!
You mean Chinese sweatshop workers? Probably, yes.
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Old 11-07-09, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by danarnold View Post
And I don't disagree with that as part of their motivation. There are probably others as well that explain the desperate, almost hysterical zeal I've seen helmeteers exhibit when they find out you don't wear a helmet.

What I don't understand is all this talk about proper studies to determine if helmets have some safety benefit. A properly designed helmet has some benefit in some accidents. Only anti helmet zealots who are counterpart to the helmeteers would argue otherwise.
Unfortunately there is some question as to whether helmets are "properly" designed. The standards have been reduced over the years to make them easier to sell. And the testing used in certifcation is unrealistic in several ways - helmets hit a smooth static surface rather than an abrasive moving one and rotational forces aren't measured even they are the key factor in most serious neurological injuries. We should and easily could do better.
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Old 11-07-09, 05:43 PM
  #97  
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I certainly agree with meanwhile. Current helmets seem designed to meet fashion and testing needs way ahead of real protective needs. Better dual density foam layer, probably thinner overall, linked to a stay-together mesh and incorporating cheek / chin protection would make sense and is certainly within the reasonable design/manufacturing capabilities of our industry. I'd rather have a little less protection from a single impact and have more durability over a series of tumbling impacts. And a bit less rotational leverage.

But then again, I'd like hip protective armor/padding on shorts and kevlar cloth abrasive panels on shoulders etc. Then I could really ride fast from even better risk compensation.

Funny thing is, all the protective gear reminds me to ride slow on a motorbike, but the helmet clearly has me riding more aggressively on my bicycle. I ride much more sanely without a helmet on a bicycle. It's really weird.
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Old 11-07-09, 06:03 PM
  #98  
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I think some of the recommended helmets are the exact opposite of what most cyclists wear. They're the ones like the Bell Citi that are just plain and round with no swoopy projections that can dig into a surface on impact.

So the 'anti-fashion' helmeteers put fashion and aerodynamics ahead of safety whilst preaching safety to others.
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Old 11-07-09, 06:26 PM
  #99  
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I just picked up a Bern Brentwood for about $25. But mostly I just ride around town with a ball cap these days.



The Bern Baker is a great winter helmet.

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Old 11-07-09, 07:17 PM
  #100  
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Have read these posts- thought about the facts, opinions and bias.
I often wear one of those Rapha cycling caps when riding- it is comfortable & reduces road grit in my hair. The brim interfaces in just about the right locus with my riding glasses to help keep debris out of my eyes. I had to replace one of the lens of my glasses earlier this year because a passing dump truck spewed a pea sized pebble that bounced into my face, hit the lens and made quite a scratch in the hard polycarbonate surface. I've very glad I was wearing this protection that pebble would have been a direct hit in my eye. Based upon this experience - perhaps eye protection should be mandatory ??
When solo riding and commuting in my rural area- I usually don't wear a helmet. But I do wear the cycling cap, a doo rag or brimmed sun protection hat.
When riding on a trail or path - there is an increased risk of a spill - I usually wear a helmet.
When riding with my kids - I wear a helmet. I know they have a higher risk of a spill. I ask them to
wear a helmet and I do with them. i do believe there is data suggesting that helmets reduce injury risk from simple spills- especially among adolescents and young adults.
A few times a year I visit a city/urban area- I wear a helmet in these areas because I think the risk of a simple spill is greater [perhaps a perception due to my infrequent city cycling].
When riding during the winter with ice and snow on the road - I wear a RibCap.

What ever I wear on my head - cap, rag, hat, helmet - I always wear the glasses.
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