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Helmet, Schmelmet- why bother?- Another Helmet Rant.

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Helmet, Schmelmet- why bother?- Another Helmet Rant.

Old 05-16-10, 10:35 PM
  #1  
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Helmet, Schmelmet- why bother?- Another Helmet Rant.

Okay, since the helmet wars seem to have become the new VC here in A&S- where every thread now turns into some kind of diatribe about helmets- I'll throw some fuel on the new fire.

Normally, I stand strongly on the side of wearing a bike helmet (though I'm not pro-mandatory helmet laws) but today I saw the point that some of the anti-helmet crowd has been making.

It was a gorgeous day here in Boston, a Sunday, and I did my usual commute along the Charles River on the bike path. But now the path is filled with happy recreational cyclists, most of whom have now pulled out their bikes for the first time this year and are riding along in blissful ignorance of how totally clueless they can be about all things bike. For those of us who are year rounders it's an opportunity to sit in judgement on the woeful inadequacies of these snowbirds of the bike path- and I confess I rode with hammer and gavel in hand.

My absolute awe, and had I not been in such a hurry to get to work I'd have taken pictures, was of how many people had their helmets on in the most ludicrous of fashions. An astounding number of them literally on backwards. Many of them worn pushed all the way on the back of the head exposing their obviously underused/underdeveloped frontal lobes to the potential catastrophe of a face plant. Some of them simply left the helmet unstrapped. For some they obviously felt one side of their brain warranted more protection than the other since they chose to wear their helmet at severe, jaunty angles covering either their artistic side or their rational. Or the real geniuses who hung their helmets from their handlebars as they rode, the straps dangling precariously near their front wheel and front brake caliper.

The worst offenders were the parents of young children, who either in some bizarre compliance of law or to avoid litigation against them by a former spouse, dutifully helmeted their offspring but in such a way that the child seemed more in danger of strangulation in the helmet's straps than protected by the helmet's shell.

It raises certain questions for me:

#1- Are most people simply wearing the helmet, as many have pointed out, due to a kind of superstition-- that the helmet is some kind of talisman that by simply being put in the proximity of a cyclist will ward off serious head injury?

#2- Why bother? I mean, if you're not going to take the time to wear the helmet properly- even remotely like it's intended, why bother?

#3- And this is where it gets kind of serious- the manufacturers of helmets must, absolutely must know that a large percentage of the helmets they sell are being worn improperly. And, as stupid as some of these people may be, isn't it the fault of the designers of these things that the strapping systems are so impossible to adjust, that the front and the back of the things is not obvious? It really does lend credence to those critics that surmise that helmet manufacturers create an hysteria around helmet use, design them for a "look" ie. like a "racer" but really could give a crap about protecting people's actual heads.

It seems to me a design issue. Most helmets on the market are very poorly designed for the vast majority of casual, once in a great while riders that can hardly be bothered with intricate strap and sizing adjustments and have no reference points as to how to properly wear them- in other words they don't read bicycle magazines, follow the Tour de France or know all that many people who ride regularly. But these folks need help.
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Old 05-16-10, 11:04 PM
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Most people don't follow the guidelines that tell them the proper distance to sit from their airbag equipped steering wheel. They sit to far to try and look cool or they sit too close because they are blind (Thats a joke, folks) and don't wear the proper eye-wear prescription.

Back on point. Better strap systems are available - at a greater cost (usually).

They are lazy. When I was a kid I actually took the time to figure out how the straps on my helmet adjusted each other when either was moved. It takes some slight personal responsibility and THAT is not the responsibility of the helmet manufacturers.

Every helmet I've ever owed came with instructions on how to fit it and the level it should be and a description on how tight and how loose it should be. From $10 to $160. If people don't read it, then thats their idiocy.
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Old 05-16-10, 11:05 PM
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They might need help, but they don't need helmets.

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Old 05-17-10, 12:02 AM
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a great reason for those helmets are they make the motorists more comfortable around cyclists.

And I am pro helmet but anti-helmet law. I've flung myself at windshield of reason, the pavement of harsh reality, the rocks of immutable physics often enough to have been left wanting for a reason to NOT wear one for myself, frankly. Did i even mention I used to be a luger?

The school of hard knocks makes short shrift of the helmet debate to me, but requiring them is a disincentive to more populist bicycling.
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Old 05-17-10, 12:14 AM
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"Are most people simply wearing the helmet, as many have pointed out, due to a kind of superstition-- that the helmet is some kind of talisman that by simply being put in the proximity of a cyclist will ward off serious head injury?"

Yes. Any cyclist who does a little research (ie, science vs. superstition) on bike helmets will come to realize that they don't actually work.
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Old 05-17-10, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Giffen

Yes. Any cyclist who does a little research (ie, science vs. superstition) on bike helmets will come to realize that they don't actually work.
You are wrong. It depends on the question. What, do you propose, do they fail at doing?

I can say without any question that my helmet has saved me from some type of injury. Even if it were only a scrape and some lost blood, maybe a lasting scar around my right eyebrow, it hit the ground at around 20 mph instead of my head. I won't say it kept me from dying, but I'd have been in more pain had I not worn it. That's worth it to me. It may not be to you. Whatever. It really should be your choice, but I think it performed its function very well. Then again, anything may have absorbed the abrasions, cuts, and the relatively light impact my helmet ended up taking. The helmet just so happens to be designed for this task.

Anecdotes aside: they do work to mitigate the damage from certain types of accidents, but they may not help in very traumatic situations. In a single vehicle accident, like hitting a patch of gravel on an arterial road at night (unexpected conditions), it may save you from some annoying injuries. It won't keep you from dying if your head is run over by a truck.

Saying helmets don't work is like saying chemotherapy doesn't work: they may or may not help, given the particulars of the situation and functions assigned to them.

I'd counter your statement with: Any cyclist who considers the various ways in which one's head my meet the pavement will come to realize they may or may not work, depending on the forces involved.

None of us like to be controlled with legislation, and I think bicycle helmet use should be a personal decision. They aren't magical, but they may help. Do you not brush your teeth, because you may still get cavities? Do you not wear your seatbelt, because you may still get injured in a particular type of crash? Do you not exercise because you may still get heart disease, and you're still going to age and die?

I'd agree that helmets aren't some kind of panacea, but claiming they are universally useless is immature.

Last edited by tadawdy; 05-17-10 at 01:29 AM.
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Old 05-17-10, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by tadawdy
You are wrong. It depends on the question. What, do you propose, do they fail at doing?

I can say without any question that my helmet has saved me from some type of injury. Even if it were only a scrape and some lost blood, maybe a lasting scar around my right eyebrow, it hit the ground at around 20 mph instead of my head. I won't say it kept me from dying, but I'd have been in more pain had I not worn it. That's worth it to me. It may not be to you. Whatever. It really should be your choice, but I think it performed its function very well. Then again, anything may have absorbed the abrasions, cuts, and the relatively light impact my helmet ended up taking. The helmet just so happens to be designed for this task.

Anecdotes aside: they do work to mitigate the damage from certain types of accidents, but they may not help in very traumatic situations. In a single vehicle accident, like hitting a patch of gravel on an arterial road at night (unexpected conditions), it may save you from some annoying injuries. It won't keep you from dying if your head is run over by a truck.

Saying helmets don't work is like saying chemotherapy doesn't work: they may or may not help, given the particulars of the situation and functions assigned to them.

I'd counter your statement with: Any cyclist who considers the various ways in which one's head my meet the pavement will come to realize they may or may not work, depending on the forces involved.

None of us like to be controlled with legislation, and I think bicycle helmet use should be a personal decision. They aren't magical, but they may help. Do you not brush your teeth, because you may still get cavities? Do you not wear your seatbelt, because you may still get injured in a particular type of crash? Do you not exercise because you may still get heart disease, and you're still going to age and die?

I'd agree that helmets aren't some kind of panacea, but claiming they are universally useless is immature.
I propose that they fail to prevent serious brain injuries.
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Old 05-17-10, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tadawdy
You are wrong. It depends on the question. What, do you propose, do they fail at doing?

I can say without any question that my helmet has saved me from some type of injury. Even if it were only a scrape and some lost blood, maybe a lasting scar around my right eyebrow, it hit the ground at around 20 mph instead of my head. I won't say it kept me from dying, but I'd have been in more pain had I not worn it. That's worth it to me. It may not be to you. Whatever. It really should be your choice, but I think it performed its function very well. Then again, anything may have absorbed the abrasions, cuts, and the relatively light impact my helmet ended up taking. The helmet just so happens to be designed for this task.

Anecdotes aside: they do work to mitigate the damage from certain types of accidents, but they may not help in very traumatic situations. In a single vehicle accident, like hitting a patch of gravel on an arterial road at night (unexpected conditions), it may save you from some annoying injuries. It won't keep you from dying if your head is run over by a truck.

Saying helmets don't work is like saying chemotherapy doesn't work: they may or may not help, given the particulars of the situation and functions assigned to them.

I'd counter your statement with: Any cyclist who considers the various ways in which one's head my meet the pavement will come to realize they may or may not work, depending on the forces involved.

None of us like to be controlled with legislation, and I think bicycle helmet use should be a personal decision. They aren't magical, but they may help. Do you not brush your teeth, because you may still get cavities? Do you not wear your seatbelt, because you may still get injured in a particular type of crash? Do you not exercise because you may still get heart disease, and you're still going to age and die?

I'd agree that helmets aren't some kind of panacea, but claiming they are universally useless is immature.
Exactly. Good luck trying to convince an average person of that. When I ended up in the ER this year the nurse was constantly on my case for not wearing one. Forget the fact that my head didn't touch the payment and reason I was there was because of hip/muscle damage. She just kept saying "You should have wore a helmet." Then of course it's always comes down to "Well it save my/my friends life, blah blah blah." Another "scientific" argument right there.
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Old 05-17-10, 06:08 AM
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A lot of the buildings I deliver to require me to remove my helmet. Removing it and carrying it b the straps pretty much messes up the strap positioning and makes my helmet useless when I put it back on. I don't have time to readjust most of the time. It pisses me off to no end. I'm not a major helmet freak and I ride without one very often, but if I do wear one I want it to sit on my head properly. Oh well.
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Old 05-17-10, 06:20 AM
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I'm pretty sure my head hit right where the glass meets the body of the car, judging by the crack in my helmet and the damage to my face. That small oval thing at the bottom of the window near the left side is one of the lenses to the eyeglasses I was wearing.

So how do you think I would have fared without a helmet?

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Old 05-17-10, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by buzzman
It raises certain questions for me:

#1- Are most people simply wearing the helmet, as many have pointed out, due to a kind of superstition-- that the helmet is some kind of talisman that by simply being put in the proximity of a cyclist will ward off serious head injury?
when I see these sidewalk ninja salmons wear a helmet it seems to me that they do think it is some kind of talisman because the way they're riding sure show no signs of wanting to prevent injury through the way they ride

Originally Posted by buzzman
#2- Why bother? I mean, if you're not going to take the time to wear the helmet properly- even remotely like it's intended, why bother?
I think they are bothering because they have been convinced wearing a helmet is more important than knowing how to ride safely

Originally Posted by buzzman
#3- And this is where it gets kind of serious- the manufacturers of helmets must, absolutely must know that a large percentage of the helmets they sell are being worn improperly. And, as stupid as some of these people may be, isn't it the fault of the designers of these things that the strapping systems are so impossible to adjust, that the front and the back of the things is not obvious? It really does lend credence to those critics that surmise that helmet manufacturers create an hysteria around helmet use, design them for a "look" ie. like a "racer" but really could give a crap about protecting people's actual heads.

It seems to me a design issue. Most helmets on the market are very poorly designed for the vast majority of casual, once in a great while riders that can hardly be bothered with intricate strap and sizing adjustments and have no reference points as to how to properly wear them- in other words they don't read bicycle magazines, follow the Tour de France or know all that many people who ride regularly. But these folks need help.
This is a serious problem and the manufacturers do know about it. What is sold is what the manufacturers think the public wants. They're not selling safety, they're selling style.

They first convince the public cycling is not safe, then they sell them "Courage for Your Head". Then they convince them how "cool" and "sexy" helmets are.

Last edited by closetbiker; 05-17-10 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 05-17-10, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Giffen
Yes. Any cyclist who does a little research (ie, science vs. superstition) on bike helmets will come to realize that they don't actually work.
Unless they've actually had them save them from head injury, as I have. I agree that I can't imagine that they actually do much to prevent concussion; that happens completely internal to the skull as a result of G forces. But I'm pretty sure they can protect pretty well against skull fracture.

In my case it was just facial contusions - I got some on my chin and lip and the tip of my nose, but the upper part of my face was kept away from the pavement by the helmet, which got all scraped up on the front, and the visor got snapped. I'm pretty sure I would have had a broken nose without the helmet, too.
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Old 05-17-10, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by robertv
A lot of the buildings I deliver to require me to remove my helmet. Removing it and carrying it b the straps pretty much messes up the strap positioning and makes my helmet useless when I put it back on. I don't have time to readjust most of the time. It pisses me off to no end. I'm not a major helmet freak and I ride without one very often, but if I do wear one I want it to sit on my head properly. Oh well.
My helmet doesn't need adjustment every time. In fact, I only mess with the adjustment perhaps 2 or 3 times a year, mainly when I start/stop having to wear a balaclava, to adjust the strap tension.

Perhaps the problem is you have a cheap helmet? I'm riding with a Bell Metro, which I got on clearance but normally I think it's a $70 or $80 helmet. It's a hell of a lot nicer to adjust than the $20-$30 helmets I used to ride with.
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Old 05-17-10, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
I'm pretty sure my head hit right where the glass meets the body of the car, judging by the crack in my helmet and the damage to my face. That small oval thing at the bottom of the window near the left side is one of the lenses to the eyeglasses I was wearing.

So how do you think I would have fared without a helmet?
And do you wear a helmet while riding in a car, knowing that traumatic injuries often occur from hitting the INSIDE of the glass?
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Old 05-17-10, 07:26 AM
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I think you would have fared a LOT better had you not been wearing a helmet, but paying attention to where you were going.

Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
I'm pretty sure my head hit right where the glass meets the body of the car, judging by the crack in my helmet and the damage to my face. That small oval thing at the bottom of the window near the left side is one of the lenses to the eyeglasses I was wearing.

So how do you think I would have fared without a helmet?

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Old 05-17-10, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bmclaughlin807
I think you would have fared a LOT better had you not been wearing a helmet, but paying attention to where you were going.
^^^This.
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Old 05-17-10, 07:36 AM
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I crashed at high speed while wearing a helmet, and it didn't save my life. It barely got scuffed. Based on my personal experience, I have determined that I do not need a helmet.
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Old 05-17-10, 07:59 AM
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Most every thread includes something worthwhile. In this one, it's part of bmclaughlin807's signature.

"There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson
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Old 05-17-10, 08:17 AM
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I liked that too.
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Old 05-17-10, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak
When I ended up in the ER this year the nurse was constantly on my case for not wearing one. Forget the fact that my head didn't touch the payment and reason I was there was because of hip/muscle damage. She just kept saying "You should have wore a helmet."
Did you remind her to wear a neck brace when you strangulated her throat?

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Old 05-17-10, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
So how do you think I would have fared without a helmet?

How come I see blood stains?

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Old 05-17-10, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by buzzman
today I saw the point that some of the anti-helmet crowd has been making.
The more important point is that helmets in large-scale trials have not been found to make any difference and are only designed to mitigate minor injuries. Risk-compensation is just icing on the cake. Bottom line is that helmets are largely unimportant.
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Old 05-17-10, 08:42 AM
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I read the instructions that come with safety equipment and I teach my kids to do the same. Wheh they use play equipment in a fashion other than it was intended - I explain to them that it was not designed to be used like that.

on related note? my son had a major collision while playing little league yesterday. he was fielding a ball and ran to 1st base to beat the runner. the runner had a helmet but my son did not. I heard what sounded like a football clash with plastic armor getting banged and they bot went down. my son stayed down. I ran over and his body was shaking. fortunately he was responsive and said he got a knee in his thigh and that his head was OK. the adrenaline wore off and he took his at bat and actually mad eit to 1st base with a small hit and a fielding error.

my kids safety is the most important thing to me. at age 14 we get a little complacent but it brought back memories of being a new paranoid father.

keep your kids safe people

oh Cambridge - this time of year - its like a little China over there! :-)
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Old 05-17-10, 08:50 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by buzzman

It seems to me a design issue. Most helmets on the market are very poorly designed for the vast majority of casual, once in a great while riders that can hardly be bothered with intricate strap and sizing adjustments and have no reference points as to how to properly wear them- in other words they don't read bicycle magazines, follow the Tour de France or know all that many people who ride regularly. But these folks need help.
How about the majority of helmets are poorly designed period. They are designed for maximum profit, and minimal standards... coupled with a severe sense of style... or an attempt at such.

No other helmet comes close to matching the bicycle helmet... nearly every other helmet has a hard protective shell and does not depend on Styrofoam like so much "icing" on a cake to fulfill some obvious pitiful standard that virtually means a cyclist must land square on the top of the helmet to be protected.

Yes, I wear a helmet... so this is not some anti helmet rant. I paid for a good quality Giro helmet and had it fitted at the bike shop. But my opinion still stands... bike helmets are a joke, and the mandatory wearing of helmets has done little for cycling in America in general.
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Old 05-17-10, 09:00 AM
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MrCjolsen
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Originally Posted by cudak888
How come I see blood stains?

-Kurt
Because I was bleeding.

Actually, I think they're from when I tried to get up after bleeding all over my hands. I had a major nosebleed.
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