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The helmet thread

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The helmet thread

Old 07-15-12, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton
... Cost to society exceeded the extra medical costs that would result from not requiring helmets. It kind of blows a hole in the argument that one person refusing to wear a helmet makes another person pay for it indirectly, and hence is the latter's business...
It does blow a hole in them, but when it does, the helmet proponents drag out the anecdotes and play to emotions to trump reality.

There also is the strategy of ignoring the contradictory evidence to the research that supports helmet usage, pretending it just doesn't exist.

Vancouver recently hosted Velo-City and when some of the worlds leading experts on helmet use spoke at the conference and said that legislation works against the benefit of cycling and cyclists, local politicians and newspaper editorial boards (who know far less) said they were wrong and didn't know what they were talking about. To counter the lectures, they brought up stories of helmets "saving lives" based on personal observations.

Last edited by closetbiker; 07-15-12 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 07-15-12, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
Members of the anti helmet cult really are a humorless group. Just mention that the anti helmet crowd makes good organ donors, and just watch the laugh and giggle.
Originally Posted by mconlonx
So are you.
In all fairness, he posts some pretty funny stuff, it's just that I don't think he intends the stuff he posts to be funny. I think he's serious when he says the helmetless are going to die because they aren't wearing helmets. That's sad (and humorless)
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Old 07-15-12, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
Members of the anti helmet cult really are a humorless group. Just mention that the anti helmet crowd makes good organ donors, and just watch the laugh and giggle.
Oh, you're being funny? Try using a smiley with every organ donor post, then. Otherwise it seems like you're being just as ignorant as any other user of the "organ donor" phrase.
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Old 07-15-12, 11:43 AM
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you'd think they'd want us to wear helmets for our safety, clearly a nice thought. but when we say no thanks, they not only stop wishing for our safety, they begin the ominous beating of the death drums AND hope we didn't have a chance to breed before our certain decapitation so as to not contaminate the gene pool. it's called darwinisting, I guess.

a skull developed to what it is now for a reason, if you believe Darwin. Who basically said "if you don't use it, you lose it".
maybe this is a stretch but how long before we start to de-evolve because we're not using nature's defenses, over-reacting to a minor head wounds and scaring people into remaining sedentary.

I would rather be the child of a guy who hit his head a lot because according to Darwin, I will be better prepared for a world ready to hit me in the head. that VS a world where they issue you head protection on the day you arrive. I don't understand evolution as well as I'd like it, should it be used to wish harm on the unhelmeted?

oh and the organ donor "jokes"? no they're not funny.
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Old 07-15-12, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Rx Rider
I would rather be the child of a guy who hit his head a lot because according to Darwin, I will be better prepared for a world ready to hit me in the head. that VS a world where they issue you head protection on the day you arrive. I don't understand evolution as well as I'd like ...
Er, no, you don't. Whether your father hit his head a lot has zero bearing on your possession of an effective skull. You aren't helping our case much, here...
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Old 07-15-12, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
Oh, you're being funny? Try using a smiley with every organ donor post, then. Otherwise it seems like you're being just as ignorant as any other user of the "organ donor" phrase.
Funny? Most definitely the character in question is a big dang joke(r); "seems ignorant"? Hardly.
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Old 07-15-12, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
Er, no, you don't. Whether your father hit his head a lot has zero bearing on your possession of an effective skull. You aren't helping our case much, here...
I'm not helping your case much, here . . . because I'm not trying to help your case at all. I'm just sick of hearing these snarky, hope you die soon . . . comments from ONE or two of the preachers. personally I think your own recent mishap is a perfect scenario for when and why helmets work.

Last edited by Rx Rider; 07-15-12 at 12:15 PM. Reason: no
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Old 07-15-12, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton
I brought it (https://www.aqmd.gov/news1/1999/in_car_facts.htm Canberra study of total cost of requiring helmets vs medical costs) up earlier I think, and I've seen reference to the study from several others.

I agree it is about the cost of "useless nanny state regulations" but about one specifically: requiring bicycle helmets in Australia. Cost to society exceeded the extra medical costs that would result from not requiring helmets. It kind of blows a hole in the argument that one person refusing to wear a helmet makes another person pay for it indirectly, and hence is the latter's business.

BTW, there is one more reason to wear a helmet that I don't think has been mentioned yet. For every news article about a bicycle accident the reporter seems somehow compelled to state whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet. As if it largely determines his culpability. Should I have an accident, heaven forbid, I'm loath to have them smearing my name in that fashion - I want them reporting that "the cyclist was wearing a helmet" - and had lights for that matter - so the average clueless reader will conclude that I was doing everything right instead of being negligent.
You certainly may have brought it up earlier. Good for you -- I'm just dealing with this more prevalent citation.

Helmet usage where it pertains to safety in the common perception has been dealt with previously. Where those not in the know cite helmet usage one way or another in regards to accident reportage, those who have a bit more invested in the issue know where they stand and what the issues are.

The real issue is the weight associated with helmet usage or no, in the legal sense. When public opinion comes into play, helmet use is certainly pertinent, regardless of actual research. Most will associate helmet usage with a responsible rider; non-helmet usage with an irresponsible rider.

Rant all you want about worldwide usage; cite all the studies you want about helmet usage regarding safety -- in the US, you're still going to have to convince those with a predisposition toward helmet use that helmets are not as safe as perceived. Which falls into the category of educating the public, mostly a marketing losing battle...
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Old 07-15-12, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
Vancouver recently hosted Velo-City and when some of the worlds leading experts on helmet use spoke at the conference and said that legislation works against the benefit of cycling and cyclists, local politicians and newspaper editorial boards (who know far less) said they were wrong and didn't know what they were talking about. To counter the lectures, they brought up stories of helmets "saving lives" based on personal observations.
And you used this to advocate for recinding MHL in your province, how?
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Old 07-15-12, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Rx Rider
... and the organ donor "jokes"? no they're not funny.
No they're not, but considering the healthy organs cyclists have, and the need for healthy organs for transplantation, I can see to some, calling someone an organ donor isn't really that offensive; it's a good thing to donate organs.

The fatal flaw in the supposed organ donor insult (helmet-less cyclists live longer than that of the general population, and no shorter than helmeted cyclists), means the intention in the comment backfires and makes someone look even more clueless than s/he already is.

Last edited by closetbiker; 07-15-12 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 07-15-12, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
And you used this to advocate for recinding MHL in your province, how?
once again dude, I could answer you, but I already have. If I answer (again), I'm not helping you, I'm enabling you.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand
Someone recently shared an interesting (IMO) overview of head/brain injuries and helmet.

Since I have a hard time keeping up with the thread, before posting this I checked to see whether it was shared earlier but neither the forum search tool nor Google displayed any posts with the link or some portion of the link and author's name. The forum search was not behaving well ... or I was using it badly ... so please forgive me if I missed an old post and this is old news. The paper is dated 2008. It's by Curnow who has written several other articles on bicycle helmets. However, the others I read were written years earlier.

https://www.cyclehelmets.org/papers/p787.pdf
Great citation, thanks!
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Old 07-15-12, 05:21 PM
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I've seen some really interesting discussion here, so thanks to all for that. For me the major issues are:

1. Whether two equivalent populations of helmet-wearing and non-helmet wearing cyclists (e.g. with all other factors, such as experience controlled for) are statistically different in terms of injury and fatality numbers.

2. The safety in numbers benefit of having more cyclists on the road in general, and that mandatory helmet use can be detrimental to this cause.

In terms of issue (2) there seems to be a real trend. The more cyclists on the road, the better the infrastructure and advocacy, as well as driver awareness.

In terms of issue (1) the fact is that I simply haven't seen any controlled studies where helmet usage and injuries are compared between groups of cyclists with similar levels of experience and usage patterns. I haven't had time to read all the studies posted, but I think it would be helpful to identify ones that attempt a meaningful comparison. So, please let me know if these studies exist.

Based on considerations so far I'm against mandatory helmets laws. Still, I like to wear my helmet
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Old 07-15-12, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by spunkyj
I've seen some really interesting discussion here, so thanks to all for that. For me the major issues are:

1. Whether two equivalent populations of helmet-wearing and non-helmet wearing cyclists (e.g. with all other factors, such as experience controlled for) are statistically different in terms of injury and fatality numbers.

2. The safety in numbers benefit of having more cyclists on the road in general, and that mandatory helmet use can be detrimental to this cause.

In terms of issue (2) there seems to be a real trend. The more cyclists on the road, the better the infrastructure and advocacy, as well as driver awareness.

In terms of issue (1) the fact is that I simply haven't seen any controlled studies where helmet usage and injuries are compared between groups of cyclists with similar levels of experience and usage patterns. I haven't had time to read all the studies posted, but I think it would be helpful to identify ones that attempt a meaningful comparison. So, please let me know if these studies exist.

Based on considerations so far I'm against mandatory helmets laws. Still, I like to wear my helmet
You forgot one thing: The overall safety of bicycling in general, compared to other activities. That is, if you like to wear your helmet cycling, you should also wear it in the shower and when driving your car; both activities with a higher risk of head injury than cycling.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by spunkyj
... the fact is that I simply haven't seen any controlled studies where helmet usage and injuries are compared between groups of cyclists with similar levels of experience and usage patterns. I haven't had time to read all the studies posted, but I think it would be helpful to identify ones that attempt a meaningful comparison. So, please let me know if these studies exist.
The best way to show as many similarities as possible between two groups, is to use the same groups in the same situations, with the only difference being being an addition of helmets.

Mandatory helmet laws passed in Australia, New Zealand, and BC did this and much was learned by what happened when overnight, helmet- less cyclists virtually disappeared.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by skye
You forgot one thing: The overall safety of bicycling in general, compared to other activities. That is, if you like to wear your helmet cycling, you should also wear it in the shower and when driving your car; both activities with a higher risk of head injury than cycling.
Interesting, but this is another number game which I believe we don't have controlled statistics for. Yes, lots of seniors fall down and hit their heads in the shower, your typical active cyclist isn't going to have that problem. This is anecdotal (I know, I know) but how many young healthy people do you know that have fallen in the shower, compared to those that have crashed on their bikes? I still agree with your general sentiment: cycling is a mostly safe activity and the MHL drive is overzealous. But most of these numbers games, at least when played at a superficial level, are pretty meaningless.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by spunkyj
... most of these numbers games, at least when played at a superficial level, are pretty meaningless.
... And it's most often meaningless numbers games that spur helmet promotion, and laws...

that, and the emotional ploys that go along with those numbers... if we only save just one life...

Last edited by closetbiker; 07-15-12 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 07-15-12, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
The best way to show as many similarities as possible between two groups, is to use the same groups in the same situations, with the only difference being being an addition of helmets.

Mandatory helmet laws passed in Australia, New Zealand, and BC did this and much was learned by what happened when overnight, helmet- less cyclists virtually disappeared.
I understand from those studies that there was either no correlation or negative correlation between mandatory helmet use and cyclist injuries/fatalities. However, I was wondering if this could be isolated somehow from the safety in numbers effect, as I understand that ridership also significantly dropped when the MHLs were instituted.

I would be a bit surprised if helmets weren't found to offer at least a bit of extra protection/safety for those who choose to wear them. This is why I voluntarily strap one on before a ride. Even if MHLs have zero or negative effect on safety due to decreasing ridership, having accurate information about what helmets can and can't do for you would be useful and informative for all. If found to be beneficial, incentives such as low-cost or free helmets could be provided by municipalities and/or states, rather than trying to force MHLs down our throats.
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Old 07-15-12, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
My helmet didn't save my life...


because I wasn't wearing one.

Yesterday I was involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. I was negotiating a roundabout, I had the right of way, a car drove straight out in front of me, I had no opportunity to avoid it. I was catapulted over the car into the roadway. My shoulder and the side of my unhelmeted head struck the road. I have a separated shoulder joint and a lump on my head.

It occurred to me afterwards that had I been wearing a helmet, it would very probably have sustained some damage and that I might well have concluded that it had saved me from serious injury. But in fact what happened was that my skull struck the roadway with a single, glancing blow. I had a mild headache for about an hour and some residual tenderness of the scalp. My head did not rotate on impact, tests have shown no neurological deficit, I'm fine. (My shoulder is a bit of a mess, though).

This was the result of most such incidents before helmets became prevalent. For the most part, bumping one's head is unpleasant but not serious.

It also occurred to me that had I been wearing a helmet it is at least possible that the outcome might have been worse, given the reported tendency of helmets to increase the extent to which the head rotates. It's possible, if unlikely, that not wearing a helmet saved my life.

I value my noggin too highly to wear a helmet.
Plus one for the most unimaginative boorish made up story I've ever encountered just to get a fiery rebuttal from others.
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Old 07-16-12, 01:26 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata
Plus one for the most unimaginative boorish made up story I've ever encountered just to get a fiery rebuttal from others.
Unfortunately I don't have digital copies of the x-rays to show you, but believe what you like. The facts remain the facts, including the fact that my use of a real incident to satirise the usual helmeteers stories is evidently lost on you.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by spunkyj
I understand from those studies that there was either no correlation or negative correlation between mandatory helmet use and cyclist injuries/fatalities. However, I was wondering if this could be isolated somehow from the safety in numbers effect, as I understand that ridership also significantly dropped when the MHLs were instituted.
it could be, or it could be something else like, risk compensation, or that helmets have a far more limited effect on injury than thought from a few, previous, very flawed studies (that get far too much attention and credit). The fact is, there are studies, and there is the real world, and positive results of helmet use in the real world is far from clear, cyclists shouldn't be considered being an "airhead" for not wearing one.

I would be a bit surprised if helmets weren't found to offer at least a bit of extra protection/safety for those who choose to wear them. This is why I voluntarily strap one on before a ride.
It would seem, on an individual level helmets may provide some protection, but that protection hasn't been born out on an aggregate level. Again, there could be many reasons why (perhaps the level of injury protection helmets provide is too low to register on an aggregate level? perhaps on an aggregate level, people do things they never would have before if not for the helmet?) but I'm sure we can agree, helmets don't prevent collisions or falls and avoiding these are far more important than wearing a helmet.

Even if MHLs have zero or negative effect on safety due to decreasing ridership, having accurate information about what helmets can and can't do for you would be useful and informative for all. If found to be beneficial, incentives such as low-cost or free helmets could be provided by municipalities and/or states, rather than trying to force MHLs down our throats.
That is one of main purposes of this thread, to provide information about what helmets can and can't do. In a nut shell, they provide protection within a specific section of the helmet, in a simple fall with little to no forward movement. To say helmets to perform beyond this is simple conjecture, to expect them to, is folly.

Last edited by closetbiker; 07-16-12 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
Unfortunately I don't have digital copies of the x-rays to show you, but believe what you like. The facts remain the facts, including the fact that my use of a real incident to satirise the usual helmeteers stories is evidently lost on you.
You have no facts for what you said. There is no way for you to prove that wearing a helmet in that supposedly accident you had would have killed you or had a worst outcome, that's pure nonsense, in fact the only way you could have possibly come to that knowledge would to have several high speed cameras placed strategically around the point of impact and then take the film and have a crash engineer study it to determine if you could have been better off with or without the helmet. And more then likely you probably wouldn't even had the bump had you been wearing a helmet, and that's why I don't believe your boorish story.
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Old 07-16-12, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
once again dude, I could answer you, but I already have. If I answer (again), I'm not helping you, I'm enabling you.
Whatevs: It hasn't been effective regarding rescinding MHL in your locality, so, therefore, moot...
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Old 07-16-12, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by skye
Great citation, thanks!
"Clearly, a thorough investigation of the efficacy of helmets and effects of compulsorywearing in Australia is needed, preliminary to review of the policy, but authorities seem to be
unwilling or unable to learn from experience and are resisting pressure to take such action.
Though the policy of compulsory wearing has gone badly wrong, authorities still insist that
the sun goes around the earth. Such attitudes have implications that are wider than bicycle
helmets; they indicate a lack of scientific understanding among road safety authorities and a
need for governments to take action to strengthen their competence."

Since Australia has implemented MHL, how many other nations/localities have?
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Old 07-16-12, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
it could be, or it could be something else like, risk compensation, or that helmets have a far more limited effect on injury than thought from a few, previous, very flawed studies (that get far too much attention and credit). The fact is, there are studies, and there is the real world, and positive results of helmet use in the real world is far from clear, cyclists shouldn't be considered being an "airhead" for not wearing one.



It would seem, on an individual level helmets may provide some protection, but that protection hasn't been born out on an aggregate level. Again, there could be many reasons why (perhaps the level of injury protection helmets provide is too low to register on an aggregate level? perhaps on an aggregate level, people do things they never would have before if not for the helmet?) but I'm sure we can agree, helmets don't prevent collisions or falls and avoiding these are far more important than wearing a helmet.



That is one of main purposes of this thread, to provide information about what helmets can and can't do. In a nut shell, they provide protection within a specific section of the helmet, in a simple fall with little to no forward movement. To say helmets to perform beyond this is simple conjecture, to expect them to, is folly.
Risk compensation has been noted as not valid or rather not in any way relative in otherwise anti-helmet studies. See above.
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