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The helmet thread

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The helmet thread

Old 08-16-14, 03:27 AM
  #8526  
meanwhile
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Well try this on for size. The Anti Helmet Crowd---AHC say that wearing helmet embolden people. If it gives some people that are scared to ride the security to ride, that is a good thing. Then since they are riding the AHC say they are almost totally safe cycling (which I agree with) it is a win win situation. Bottom line, helmets mean more cyclist.
There are two problems with this "logic":

1. The evidence is that the most "emboldened" people are drivers who take more risks with helmet wearers

2. When people see cyclists wearing helmets they think that cycling must be more dangerous than it is because it requires a helmet - which is why cycling numbers have fallen massively in every country that introduces helmet laws

3. Many of the "emboldened" helmet wearers go on to do stupid things like riding too close to other cyclists or texting while cycling

4. If cycling safety courses had been promoted as an answer to their fear instead of helmets then could have take one instead and cut the odds of their being in a serious accident 2-4 times.

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 03:31 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 03:41 AM
  #8527  
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This analysis provides an up to date summary of research on helmet effectiveness (and should be read by silly people who quote discredited papers from the 80s without checking their validity):

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct...,d.d2k&cad=rja

Opposite there is a long tradition of casualty surveys and laboratory experiments (virtual or not)
which in large majority find an overwhelmingly positive effect of bicycle helmets. The extent of the
reported effect does however vary strongly from zero to + 85%. That last figure comes from an older
but very influential study, of which it has since been established that it is untenable (also according
to the authors!). This number however is impossible to retract from the Internet 5 . In a recent fact
sheet SWOV puts it at +45% 6 . In June, in a previous fact sheet, it was still +15%. No explanation was
given for this significant adjustment. The figure of +45% is based on an influential meta‐study of
traffic fatalities 7 .

Recently, this meta‐study was subjected to scrutiny again by the Norwegian Elvik 8 . Elvik found two
methodological errors in the previous meta‐study. Correcting these and adding new studies to the

Paper for the “Nationaal verkeerskundecongres” Netherlands, 2 November 2011
3 meta‐study, Elvik establishes an effectiveness of 15%. He also notes that the effectiveness in the
reported studies decreases over time. When limited to the studies of the last decade, Elvik finds
there is no effect (0% effectiveness).

The author of this contribution can add the following, there is an additional methodological error
that Elvik overlooked 9 . Unjustly all studies use wrong odds ratios to estimate the risk ratios. The
effects are very difficult to map due to lack of relevant data, but in all cases it leads to an
overestimation of the effectiveness of bicycle helmets. A first indicative estimate is that the
effectiveness of bicycle helmets is overestimated by at least 11 percent points, possibly considerably
more. With this correction the alleged difference between theory and practice has in fact practically
disappeared.
To summarize, the current best estimate based on meta‐studies for the effectiveness of bicycle
helmets has an upper limit of 6% 10 and no effect (0%) lies within the unreliability interval.


..That's the bottom line: the biggest number you can pencil in for 100% helmet use would be a 6% reduction in cyclist deaths.
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Old 08-16-14, 03:50 AM
  #8528  
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...And really, is it surprising that placing a tiny piece of foam on your head can't save you if you're hit by a ton of SUV at 30mph? Rationally, no. But again, most people are not willing to make the effor to behave rationally. They don't analyse the realities of the situation - the energy in the impact, the energy the packing foam can absorb. They just know that the piece of foam is now called a helmet and that riders wear them in the TDF, so they're "in-group approved."

These numbskullls then become effective traitors to the community (although they're a majority) because when they promote helmet effectiveness they aid the politicians and road transport lobbies who don't want to pay for genuinely effective safety measures like hood airbags, better junction designs, etc.

So, yes, I really am disgusted with the majority of helmet wearers and posters in this thread - they show several of the very worst aspects of human nature. Anytime someone walks into a store to buy a cycling helmet without first doing 5 minutes of research to see what the different helmets can do (because it could well have the case that, say, 90% of helmets were useless and 10% wonderful - car impact safety varies considerably after all) then I despair of the human race. But that's what virtually all helmet buyers do!

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 07:49 AM
  #8529  
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Originally Posted by Joe Minton View Post
I'm not certain but I believe there are no motorcycle helmets being made with Lexan shells. Lexan has a fatal weakness; it develops very small cracks and checks when exposed to petrochem solvents. Riders would sometimes clean their helmet exteriors with some solvent or other, gasoline for instance. The damage was immediate and fatal to the efficacy of the Lexan; when struck as in an accident or even by being dropped it would shatter. The most common failure was cracking around the rivets that held the chin straps.

Joe
I had my Bell for almost 10 years, it never developed cracks around any rivets, and I when I crashed wearing it I first drove the helmet through the side window of a car then smacked it hard onto the pavement, the shell never cracked. Afterwards I took a claw hammer to it and it hit as hard as I could with the claw end and it still didn't crack the exterior until the second hit then it left spider cracks in it, I had to hit 5 or 6 more times after that to penetrate all the way through. I've done this to other helmets since then and one hard blow with a claw hammer penetrates the helmet and right on through the styrofoam which if someone would have been wearing it I would have killed them.
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Old 08-16-14, 09:02 AM
  #8530  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
There are two problems with this "logic":

1. The evidence is that the most "emboldened" people are drivers who take more risks with helmet wearers

2. When people see cyclists wearing helmets they think that cycling must be more dangerous than it is because it requires a helmet - which is why cycling numbers have fallen massively in every country that introduces helmet laws

3. Many of the "emboldened" helmet wearers go on to do stupid things like riding too close to other cyclists or texting while cycling

4. If cycling safety courses had been promoted as an answer to their fear instead of helmets then could have take one instead and cut the odds of their being in a serious accident 2-4 times.
You would do well to stick to the inadequacy of current bicycling helmets in significantly reducing bicycling risk. You are on solid ground with that issue.

I'd recommend dropping speculation on the risk reduction powers of generic "cycling safety courses" until you can name any specific cycling safety course that has produced any verified positive risk reduction results, let alone "cut the odds of [cyclist] being in a serious accident 2-4 times."
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Old 08-16-14, 09:11 AM
  #8531  
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
...maybe you are just a little too smart for your own good, just a tad too smart...JMO
Just one tap of his grape on the tarmac should cure SOME of that. I know several people personally that could benefit from a stout smack on the brain bucket.
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Old 08-16-14, 09:32 AM
  #8532  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
You would do well to stick to the inadequacy of current bicycling helmets in significantly reducing bicycling risk. You are on solid ground with that issue.

I'd recommend dropping speculation on the risk reduction powers of generic "cycling safety courses" until you can name any specific cycling safety course that has produced any verified positive risk reduction results, let alone "cut the odds of [cyclist] being in a serious accident 2-4 times."
In urban cycling an unholy number of deaths occur at junctions when cyclists meet HGVs. (HGVs kill 53% of those cyclists killed in London.) The majority of cyclists know don't where an HGV's blind spots are and ride into them while waiting at traffic lights or after they've moved into the junction to make a turn - or while under or overtaking on straight roads. If you simply eliminated these deaths - which would be quite easy - then you've made a massive impact.

Also: most cyclists don't know how to brake in an emergency and this is a skill they could learn in an hour or so and muct have some impact. And only a small minority of people know that some tyres and brake pads work *much* better than others in the wet. And both the last serious crash I saw and the last fatal crash that happened on roads I use were easily preventable by the cyclist - all that was needed was a little knowledge. So in the absence of robust statistic either way, I'm going to assume that training could make a reasonable difference.

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 09:37 AM
  #8533  
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Just one tap of his grape on the tarmac should cure SOME of that.
It's natural to get irritated with people who demand that you attempt to use your intelligence, especially when doing so is a strain.

I know several people personally that could benefit from a stout smack on the brain bucket.
I regret to say that I don't. Common sense injections, doses of anti-hysteria drugs, IQ boosting gene therapy, yes. But is this really a useful line of discussion?

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:03 AM
  #8534  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
In urban cycling an unholy number of deaths occur at junctions when cyclists meet HGVs. (HGVs kill 53% of those cyclists killed in London.) The majority of cyclists know don't where an HGV's blind spots are and ride into them while waiting at traffic lights or after they've moved into the junction to make a turn - or while under or overtaking on straight roads. If you simply eliminated these deaths - which would be quite easy - then you've made a massive impact.

Also: most cyclists don't know how to brake in an emergency and this is a skill they could learn in an hour or so and muct have some impact. And only a small minority of people know that some tyres and brake pads work *much* better than others in the wet. And both the last serious crash I saw and the last fatal crash that happened on roads I use were easily preventable by the cyclist - all that was needed was a little knowledge. So in the absence of robust statistic either way, I'm going to assume that training could make a reasonable difference.
You have the name of any training course that specifies that it includes these helpful experience gained tips?

Does this training course attract students who either already know this information and just want a certificate, or newcomers to cycling who may be unlikely to retain the specific information details or taught special skills the moment after passing a test and receiving a certificate?

There may be a reason why no bicycle safety course, at least in the U.S. has any record of cutting the odds for anything accident related.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:11 AM
  #8535  
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Hell, I don't even know what a HGV is, much less where one might be, except in London.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:11 AM
  #8536  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
You have the name of any training course that specifies that it includes these helpful experience gained tips?
Yes: the "Give Meanwhile $1000 to shout at you course" does exactly that.

Does this training course attract students who either already know this information and just want a certificate, or newcomers to cycling who may be unlikely to retain the specific information details or taught special skills the moment after passing a test and receiving a certificate?
The $1000 includes random inspections of your post-course cycling and more shouting. And possibly beatings and electrical shocks; I'm working on that with my (ex-US State Dept) lawyers.

There may be a reason why no bicycle safety course, at least in the U.S. has any record of cutting the odds for anything accident related.
That's interesting: do the stats exist to show that course don't work? Or is there just an absence of positive evidence?

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:14 AM
  #8537  
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Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
Hell, I don't even know what a HGV is, much less where one might be, except in London.
Heavy Goods Vehicle. Perhaps you call them "trucks and buses"? They're 5% of London traffic but do more than 50% of the killing, and most of it is at junctions. In fact, in urban cycling, knowing how to handle junctions is probably most of cycling safety. But most people don't even know this much, so they can't eg plan their routes around avoiding the worst junctions.

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:14 AM
  #8538  
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Don't think that ones going to be a commercial success. Maybe there is a reason they are ex state dept. lawyers?
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Old 08-16-14, 10:16 AM
  #8539  
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Thanks, I pretty much surmised that, but have a general ass-hatness about jargon and such. meanwhile: I do appreciate your actual attempts to provide a degree of rigor to the subject debate.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:27 AM
  #8540  
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Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
Don't think that ones going to be a commercial success. Maybe there is a reason they are ex state dept. lawyers?
Maybe if we offered a tropical location? Say... Cuba? The CIA has already expressed an interest in group bookings. Although I may have to learn the Arabic for "Use your front brake!"

(Seriously, most people don't know how to brake effectively: https://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html and https://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/over-the-bars.html)

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:28 AM
  #8541  
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Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
Thanks, I pretty much surmised that, but have a general ass-hatness about jargon and such.
HGV is Brit Speak, not jargon. Well, I suppose it could be both.

meanwhile: I do appreciate your actual attempts to provide a degree of rigor to the subject debate.
Thanks!

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 08-16-14, 01:07 PM
  #8542  
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meanwhile

Stats show that 18% of American ride a bike at least some. Three hundred million Americans times 18% is 54 million times your 6% is over 3 million that a helmet might save. I think you just proved that cyclist should wear helmets. Thanks.
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Old 08-16-14, 01:27 PM
  #8543  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
meanwhile

Stats show that 18% of American ride a bike at least some. Three hundred million Americans times 18% is 54 million times your 6% is over 3 million that a helmet might save. I think you just proved that cyclist should wear helmets. Thanks.
Yes... Your logic would be true IF EVERY AMERICAN WHO RIDES A BIKE WAS GOING TO HAVE A FATAL LEVEL ACCIDENT ONCE PER YEAR.

Except that it wouldn't, because

1. There is statistical evidence that for two otherwise identical riders wearing a helmet may make having an accident 15% more likely

and

2. That 6% is the MAXIMUM benefit rate in a fatal level accident; it may be zero

So the actual calculation is the 600 (?) US riders a year who will have a fatal level accident * 3% for the lives saved (3 is the average of 0 and 6)... minus 15%. Which means that you're probably looking at 18 lives a year saved in the USA if every cyclist worse a helmet. Against 90 extra lost. And a cost of around a billon dollars for foam hats. (And even ignoring the extra deaths, if you want to spend a billion dollars saving lives there are lots of ways to do it so you save more than 18 people.)

..And that's before you allow for a reduction in cycling numbers, which is typically 25-50% for universal helmet wearing and would represent thousands of deaths due to extra cardiac arrests, etc.

(Seriously: how can you believe that cycling helmets could save 3 million Americans a year from dying in cycling accidents? Do you really think that 4 or 5 million a year die now???)
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Old 08-16-14, 01:31 PM
  #8544  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
meanwhile

Stats show that 18% of American ride a bike at least some. Three hundred million Americans times 18% is 54 million times your 6% is over 3 million that a helmet might save. I think you just proved that cyclist should wear helmets. Thanks.
With 50,000 cycling injuries annually, and only a portion of which involve head injuries, that would be something less than three thousand that it might help, not three million.

Although the 6% number has little credibility - not exactly rigorous science. Credible estimates range from around 40% to 70% for traumatic brain injury.
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Old 08-16-14, 01:36 PM
  #8545  
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It's interesting to compare bike helmets to seat belts and motorcycle helmets:

Seatbelt Physics

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD]ies[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 20%"]Car [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Driver[/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Lap/ shoulder belt [/TD]
[TD] 42 +/- 4%[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 20%"]Car [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Right front passenger [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Lap/ shoulder belt[/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] 39 +/- 4% [/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 20%"]Car [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Left rear passenger [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Lap belt [/TD]
[TD] 19 +/- 10%[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 20%"]Car [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Right rear passenger [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Lap belt [/TD]
[TD] 17 +/- 9%[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 20%"]Motorcycle [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Driver [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Helmet [/TD]
[TD] 27 +/- 9%[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 20%"]Motorcycle [/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] passenger[/TD]
[TD="width: 20%"] Helmet [/TD]
[TD] 30 +/- 8%[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

If we were going to add cycling helmets to this then, ignoring the possible 15% increase in accidents, we'd have

Bicycle, driver, foam hat.... 3% +/-3%

..You can see that there's quite a difference here!
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Old 08-16-14, 01:48 PM
  #8546  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post

Although the 6% number has little credibility - not exactly rigorous science.

Utter bs. That figure is backed up the

- The UK Department of Trade And Industry study of REAL accidents

- Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics

- Brian Walker, Europe's leading helmet test engineer and the most respected expert witness for helmet cases in the UK

And you can't back up your claims (which make me very suspicious of an ulterior motive) at all. The studies that produce the "credible" figures you go onto present (without proof or sources) have been completely discredited - and I will show this.

Credible estimates range from around 40% to 70% for traumatic brain injury.
Nope: that figure you claim has already been debunked. Again:

Why bicycle helmets are not effective
in the reduction of injuries of cyclists.



Theo Zeegers, Fietsersbond
(Dutch Cyclists’ Union)
Opposite there is a long tradition of casualty surveys and laboratory experiments (virtual or not)
which in large majority find an overwhelmingly positive effect of bicycle helmets. The extent of the
reported effect does however vary strongly from zero to + 85%. That last figure comes from an older
but very influential study, of which it has since been established that it is untenable (also according
to the authors!). This number however is impossible to retract from the Internet 5 . In a recent fact
sheet SWOV puts it at +45% 6 . In June, in a previous fact sheet, it was still +15%. No explanation was
given for this significant adjustment. The figure of +45% is based on an influential meta‐study of
traffic fatalities 7 .

Recently, this meta‐study was subjected to scrutiny again by the Norwegian Elvik 8 . Elvik found two
methodological errors in the previous meta‐study. Correcting these and adding new studies to the

Paper for the “Nationaal verkeerskundecongres” Netherlands, 2 November 2011
3 meta‐study, Elvik establishes an effectiveness of 15%. He also notes that the effectiveness in the
reported studies decreases over time. When limited to the studies of the last decade, Elvik finds
there is no effect (0% effectiveness).

The author of this contribution can add the following, there is an additional methodological error
that Elvik overlooked 9 . Unjustly all studies use wrong odds ratios to estimate the risk ratios. The
effects are very difficult to map due to lack of relevant data, but in all cases it leads to an
overestimation of the effectiveness of bicycle helmets. A first indicative estimate is that the
effectiveness of bicycle helmets is overestimated by at least 11 percent points, possibly considerably
more. With this correction the alleged difference between theory and practice has in fact practically
disappeared.
To summarize, the current best estimate based on meta‐studies for the effectiveness of bicycle
helmets has an upper limit of 6% 10 and no effect (0%) lies within the unreliability interval.

I can also refer you to the recent paper by Brian Goldacre in the BMJ:

Bicycle Helmets and the law: a perfect teaching case for epidemiology. ? Bad Science

Quite simply, Goldacre is one the world's leading experts in weeding out bad medical treatments and says that the "evidence" for helmets is so bad that it's main value is as a teaching aid on how to recognize prejudiced fake science. One of the comments on that page is from one of the world's leading medical statisticans on that supposed 40% study (which you know came from the disgraced 85% claim authors!):

I’ve been interested n the evidence deficiency for a long time. I was at the founding meeting of cyclehelmets.org editorial board, the amount of agenda-driven work in the field is quite staggering.

Amazingly, people still cite the 85%/88% figures of the 1989 Seattle study, even though nothing approaching this has ever been observed in a real cyclist population and the case and control groups were completely different.

The Cochrane review is disgraceful. It’s written by the Seattle group, is dominated by their own work, double-counts their data sets, and entirely ignores the fact that substituting co-author Rivara’s own street count data in the 1989 study, instead of their assumed value, makes the effect vanish into the statistical noise.

At this point I want to ask you, quite seriously, whether you are here on behalf of a helmet or PR company - because if you are not, then your behaviour is extraordinary. You are repeatedly referencing work that has been shown to be invalid, and which comes from researchers sponsored by helmet makers, and you NEVER respond when this is pointed out.

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 08-16-14, 01:54 PM
  #8547  
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Btw: the main pro-helmet site on the web is run by the "Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute". Which sounds very impressive - because, hey, institute. So science! Independence!

Except not. Because when you check it turns out this means that the site is run by a guy with no engineering or relevant scientific qualifications. Who gets money from some mysterious source to do nothing but sit around and post all year about how marvellous cycle helmets are!

Otoh, the sites I've quoted have editorial boards of scientists and engineers who have no financial interest at all.

So being suspicious of a weirdo poster who keeps insisting on discredited and probably deliberately biased studies should be believed over robust independent ones... not terribly paranoid!

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 08-16-14, 01:57 PM
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Oh - and the BHSI used to have some articles on that helmet makers didn't like. For example, the one proving that cycling helmets can't prevent concussion - well, that seems to be gone! And the article saying that $200 helmets only cost $5-$10 to make - can't find that one either! But, hey, the guy running the site gets paid now!
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Old 08-16-14, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Yes: the "Give Meanwhile $1000 to shout at you course" does exactly that.



The $1000 includes random inspections of your post-course cycling and more shouting. And possibly beatings and electrical shocks; I'm working on that with my (ex-US State Dept) lawyers.



That's interesting: do the stats exist to show that course don't work? Or is there just an absence of positive evidence?
That's about what I thought was the status of effective (in risk reduction) cycling safety courses. Any reason why a sheet or two of paper with relevant cycling safety information would not be just as useful or effective as your shouting out instructions, or any other existing safety course?

Absence of any evidence of risk reduction for participants of cycling safety courses. As you well know the burden of evidence falls on those claiming that cycling safety courses have any positive effect, i.e. "cut the odds of [cyclists] being in a serious accident 2-4 times." Ya know, just as the burden of evidence falls on the parties making claims for the positive effects of bicycle helmet wear.
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Old 08-16-14, 02:43 PM
  #8550  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
That's about what I thought was the status of effective (in risk reduction) cycling safety courses. Any reason why a sheet or two of paper with relevant cycling safety information would not be just as useful or effective as your shouting out instructions, or any other existing safety course?
After experiencing this thread you really believe that the average cyclist can read???

Absence of any evidence of risk reduction for participants of cycling safety courses. As you well know the burden of evidence falls on those claiming that cycling safety courses have any positive effect, i.e. "cut the odds of [cyclists] being in a serious accident 2-4 times."
Those were the numbers I got when I crunched the risk factors for modifiable behaviour. The range is large because the data from the different cities I used - NYC and London - don't reconcile well. I certainly don't claim that the numbers would eg justify passing a law to force every cyclist in America to give $1000 to shout at them for three days... Although I might, if I thought I could get away with it.

But risk is definitely behaviour dependent: men are much more likely to die than women, for example (Two Per Cent of US Road Deaths Are Cyclists : TreeHugger) Training alters behaviour, so a properly constructed training course such reduce deaths. If you don't believe that training can have any effect at all, then you are making an extraordinary claim - and the burden of proof is on you.

In London, at least, you get a 50% reduction for simply staying away from HGVs. You don't undertake, you don't overtake them, you don't ride past them into the "safety zone" at red lights (which will actually be a blind spot for a lot of HGVs.) If one catches up with you in traffic, you slow down. HGV hits in urban traffic that can't be prevented by following these rules are very rare - they don't have the acceleration to kill you if you simply stay away from them. So that's almost 50% of deaths gone with a single strategy, and the estimate seems reasonable to me.

A lot of the remaining deaths happen around hot spots with very dangerous road conditions - and the Meanwhile Strategy here is simply to route around these.

And when you crunch the numbers on these and another couple of items on my list (avoid riding drunk, on the wrong side of the road, on the pavement, and without lights) and you really do end up with a 2-4x drop in deaths - at least in London.

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 02:57 PM.
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