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The helmet thread

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The helmet thread

Old 01-25-12, 07:09 PM
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I used to wear helmets.

But I became convinced that they actually cause more injuries than they prevent.
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Old 01-25-12, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by SPlKE
I used to wear helmets.

But I became convinced that they actually cause more injuries than they prevent.
Really? Please expand on this.
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Old 01-25-12, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SPlKE
I used to wear helmets.

But I became convinced that they actually cause more injuries than they prevent.
This seems as poorly supported as helmets reduce deaths by 84 (or whatever)%.

No one appears to (seriously) argue that helmets are not useful while mountain biking (ie, no one argues that they "cause more injuries" there). And, while helmets might not keep you from dying in a collision with a vehicle, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect that they would make that death worse.
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Old 01-25-12, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
there's still an outsize portion of the riding populace who die while not wearing a helmet. I'm not basing my helmet use on such, but it is a compelling argument...
???

Is it because they are protected by the helmet or because helmet wearing is associated with an increased safety consciousness?
What percentage of the riding populace wears helmets? Is the proportion who die without helmets different?
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Old 01-25-12, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by RazrSkutr
Please specify the proportion of the population that wears a helmet in NYC. After that please control for the proportion of helmet non-wearers that are risk-takers in other respects and show that the resulting bare-headed, but otherwise cautious cyclists are an "outsize" portion.
Nah. You a hater.

Please specify the proportion of the population that doesn't wear a helmet in NYC. After that please control for the proportion of helmet wearers that are risk-takers in other respects and show that the resulting helmeted, but otherwise cautious cyclists are a minority portion.

See how that works?
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Old 01-25-12, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
???

Is it because they are protected by the helmet or because helmet wearing is associated with an increased safety consciousness?
Does it really matter? I suppose in this thread, yes it does, but c'mon, it's not my study. Check out the NYCDoT and IIoHS studies, links posted previously and get back to me.

I'm going to keep wearing my helmet for no particular reason; y'all keep not wearing one for the same reason...
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Old 01-25-12, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Drummerboy1975
But you were implying. I'm simply say that if people care so much about my head to tell me what I should do with it then maybe they should send me a helmet.
I wasn't implying anything- you read that into my post. That aside, your health care plan ( the people who actually do care about your head- because if you whack it on something it may cost them money) may provide you with a bike helmet. As will many bike clubs and organizations for those, evidently not you, who cannot afford one.

As for me, while I actually am one of those bleeding hearts who does give a crap whether you smash your head on the ground, I have more respect for your right to make your own choice in this regard and I also believe that you should bear the responsibility that goes along with your freedom of choice- so don't look to me to buy you a helmet.
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Old 01-25-12, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Does it really matter? I suppose in this thread, yes it does, but c'mon, it's not my study. Check out the NYCDoT and IIoHS studies, links posted previously and get back to me.
What matters is what is real. As far as I can tell, I don't think we know what is real. (There's BS on both sides.)

If you are really interested in what is real, you'll be interested in where the problems are (which ever side those problems sit).
And if you are arguing for a particular side, you should be interested in what the vulnerabilities of that argument are!

Originally Posted by mconlonx
I'm going to keep wearing my helmet for no particular reason; y'all keep not wearing one for the same reason...
Note that I'm not personally interested in changing your mind about that (not at all).

Last edited by njkayaker; 01-25-12 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 01-25-12, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
What matters is what is real. As far as I can tell, I don't think we know what is real.
I maintain that this issue has entered the realm of politics, where the "real" is terribly subjective, and as you say, unknown, perhaps unknowable.

My belief is that helmets do offer some protection, so I wear one. I like helmets and relish an activity where helmet use is accepted. I don't care if you do or not.

Someone else posted the NYCDoT and IIoHS studies, my initial question, which nobody deigned to answer was: how do these studies not support what helmeteers desperately want them to?

I'll not defend them beyond consistencies and arguments within this thread.

And yet people take me to task rather than the study, those who conducted it, or the member who posted it...

Others claim that this is reasonable.

Again: whatever. Wear a helmet or not. Use these studies to support you stance or discredit them.

Prove to me this is something other than politics.

Last edited by mconlonx; 01-25-12 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 01-25-12, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
???

Is it because they are protected by the helmet or because helmet wearing is associated with an increased safety consciousness?
Originally Posted by njkayaker
What matters is what is real. As far as I can tell, I don't think we know what is real. (There's BS on both sides.)

If you are really interested in what is real, you'll be interested in where the problems are (which ever side those problems sit).
And if you are arguing for a particular side, you should be interested in what the vulnerabilities of that argument are!
Interesting that you make this point since your posts draw attention to what I see as a flaw in the helmet skeptical argument.

On one hand, it is argued by helmet skeptics that wearing a helmet gives a rider an unrealistic sense of invulnerability thereby more risk taking- the "magic hat" theory. On the other hand, you say that a reduction in injury on the part of helmet wearing cyclists may be due to the more cautious riding of helmeted riders.

Which is it guys? I bring this up only because "if you are arguing for a particular side, you should be interested in what the vulnerabilities of that argument are!"
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Old 01-25-12, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by buzzman
Which is it guys? I bring this up only because "if you are arguing for a particular side, you should be interested in what the vulnerabilities of that argument are!"
Generally speaking, and specific to LAB programming, most taught bike safety courses include helmet use which might indicate that those receiving safety instruction tend to wear helmets in general practice... Safer cyclists, those who seek out safety training, wear helmets.
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Old 01-25-12, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Generally speaking, and specific to LAB programming, most taught bike safety courses include helmet use which might indicate that those receiving safety instruction tend to wear helmets in general practice... Safer cyclists, those who seek out safety training, wear helmets.
Well, that makes sense to me but you're not exactly in the category of the helmet skeptics. You come across as a "helmet pragmatist",which may be why your post seems to make sense.

I was asking the helmet skeptics.
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Old 01-25-12, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Someone else posted the NYCDoT and IIoHS studies, my initial question, which nobody deigned to answer was: how do these studies not support what helmeteers desperately want them to?
Speaking only for myself, I'm beyond caring about the results of studies. This seems to be an area where one can prove anything one likes with statistics. So any particular study may provide the exact truth - but I have no way of knowing which one, and no one else does either. So we all get to pick and choose the studies which "prove" our preconceptions. This may be a useful waste of time for people who are looking for that sort of thing, but as far as furthering the debate, it's pointless.
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Old 01-26-12, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Also, in the shop while selling accessories incident to a bike purchase, I can personally attest to the fact that helmets are not sold any harder than any other bike add-on like a water bottle cage or flat repair kit.
I'd imagine most bike shops would be fairly reasonable- any good business should be selling what the customer asks for. One that did needlessly push helmets would quickly lose a lot of business.

It just seems to be the case that people are more concerned about wearing a helmet than actually riding properly. The notion that 'cycling is dangerous' and that you absolutely need a helmet for what is usually a safe activity must have come from somewhere, even if it now seems to be perpetuating itself through people's misinformation. Safekids et al could do a lot more for cycling safety for their time if they actually promoted real safety rather than pushing helmets based on some dubious statistics. I guess people always like thinking they can buy their way out of a problem though.

I'm all for people wearing whatever safety equipment they feel necessary, but I wish it would be for the right, informed reasons rather than 'it makes you safe', and to respect the choice of others who've made a reasoned decision not to.

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Old 01-26-12, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Meh. I'm not willing to say the non-immediately-relevant experience I bring to the issue regarding my use of specific safety gear in a non-relevant safety situation (motorcycling) is any different than someone's equally personal experience in another non-relevant personal experience like walking. Or showering.

Dood, don't wear a helmet if you prefer, I'll continue to wear mine.
I'm not arguing with you I do wear a helmet. I can tell you it's no fun to hit your head without one, even at slow speeds

What I'm saying is that this repeated notion by a couple posters that you must consider cycling's dangers in relation to the dangers of other activities before deciding to wear a helmet doesn't wash. For one, it partakes of the same nanny-state mentality that governments employ when enacting MHLs--i.e., you must think/act the way we tell you to--a view I thought our resident bare-headers opposed. Secondly, it speaks to the manner in which someone might decide for themselves whether a helmet is/isn't warranted, but it has no bearing on how dangerous cycling is in and of itself or what a helmet can/can't do in reality. Is the thread about helmets or about how people must approach their own personal decisions?

Last edited by Six-Shooter; 01-26-12 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 01-26-12, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
The problem is that it's stated with no support. hey appear to be merely echoing the "conventional wisdom". It's not clear that it's true.
Of course. But interesting, nonetheless.

Many cycle deaths are associated with not using lights at night (and being drunk!). Helmet users might be more safety conscious overall and either use lights or not ride at night. Is it the helmet reducing the fatalities?
In one of the links I posted recently, there was an argument to that effect: helmet use might well correlate with an overall intensified outlook on safety by the riders that opt to don one. Can't find the link offhand, perhaps one of the Dutch studies. I'll post it if I can find it.

EDIT: this isn't the one I'm thinking of, but speaks to the same issue:

The fact that, in general, safety conscious cyclists chose to wear helmets represents a major problem for case-control studies of the efficacy of helmets. A study in Tucson, Arizona, found than helmet users had less severe non-head injuries: "This implies that nonusers of helmets tend to be in higher impact crashes than helmet users. … It is possible that at least some of the 'protection' afforded helmet wearers in previous studies may be explained by safer riding habits rather than solely a direct effect of the helmets themselves" (Spaite et al, 1991). In Seattle, helmet wearers were more likely to be white than other races, had geared rather than nongeared bikes, rode in playgrounds, parks or on bicycle paths rather than city streets and rode with adults rather than alone (DiGuiseppi, Rivara, Koepsell and Polissar, 1989). As suggested by the Tucson study (Spaite et al, 1991), it is plausible that these differences (which might lead to less severe accidents and hence less HI), rather than helmets, were responsible for the differences in HI rates of wearers and non-wearers. Most case-control studies attempt to adjust for such differences, but it is virtually impossible to record and adjust for every difference likely to affect the risk of HI.
https://cyclehelmets.org/1131.html

Interesting. There's some notion that MHL reduce the number of cyclists. If it's casual (less skilled) cyclists dropping-out, the drop head-injuries might not be due to helmets.
Perhaps. But that's an important "if," and it also implies head injuries inversely correlate with skill. Perhaps, perhaps not. After all, the nature of an accident is that it's unforeseen and a person may not be able to avoid it, whatever their skill.

Last edited by Six-Shooter; 01-26-12 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 01-26-12, 08:40 AM
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Much to the disgust of the anti helmet trolls, several people write in and tell how a helmet has helped prevent or reduce injury. The of course get pounce on immediately.

But I have yet to read a letter that tells how a rider was injured by wearing a helmet.
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Old 01-26-12, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Someone else posted the NYCDoT and IIoHS studies, my initial question, which nobody deigned to answer was: how do these studies not support what helmeteers desperately want them to?

I'll not defend them beyond consistencies and arguments within this thread.

And yet people take me to task rather than the study, those who conducted it, or the member who posted it...
I posted links to the IIHS and NYCDOT data, which speak for themselves. Something that seems to have been conveniently overlooked in that post is that the Voukelatos and Rissel study concluding that helmet laws did not reduce injury in Australia was retracted by the journal because it was such a piece of crap:

https://www.safetylit.org/citations/i...icle_302065_22

The authors responded with lame equivocations:

https://www.sydneycyclist.com/forum/t...rrors-in-study

Subsequent studies have documented a sharp drop in injury rates after the introduction of a helmet law in Australia:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0622102656.htm
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Old 01-26-12, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
Much to the disgust of the anti helmet trolls, several people write in and tell how a helmet has helped prevent or reduce injury. The of course get pounce on immediately.

But I have yet to read a letter that tells how a rider was injured by wearing a helmet.
Riding without a helmet saved my life.

It's actually quite plausible, given the way I crashed and hit the tarmac. Had I worn a helmet, I would probably have broken my neck.
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Old 01-26-12, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
I posted links to the IIHS and NYCDOT data, which speak for themselves.
I posted IIHS data, as well, not realizing you guys already had. It doesn't look like anyone has been willing or able to offer any refutations of their data?

Speaking of NYCDOT data, here's a link for those interested:

https://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/download...fatalities.pdf

Of note, from 1996-2005

Among the fatalities with documented helmet use [59%], 97% of the bicyclists were not wearing a helmet at the time
of the crash. Only 4 bicyclists who died (3%) were wearing a helmet. All child or teen bicyclists who died were
not wearing helmets. Helmet usage is required by law for all children under 14 in New York.
For bicyclist deaths occurring in 2004 and 2005 (n=38), documentation of helmet use was more complete
(87% or 33). Analysis of helmet use in this subgroup revealed findings similar to the full group: 97% of bicyclists
who died were not wearing a helmet. Of the 38 deaths during this time period 29 (or 76%) had head injuries.
Documentation of helmet use among bicyclists suffering serious injuries improved markedly beginning in 2001. Even
so, for the time period 2001–2003, helmet use was only documented in 32% of crashes resulting in serious injuries.
Among serious injury crashes for which helmet use was documented, 87% of bicyclists were not wearing a helmet at
the time of the crash; 13% were wearing a helmet. While interpretation is hampered by missing data, the lower level of
helmet use in fatal crashes (3% vs. 13%) suggests that not wearing a helmet may be particularly dangerous.
Fourth, most bicyclists who died had head injuries, and nearly all of the
bicyclists killed were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Head injuries may not have been the primary cause of death
in all cases, but these findings do highlight the head as being particularly vulnerable to injury and a likely major cause of bicyclist
fatalities. While the rate of helmet use among those bicyclists with serious injuries was low, it was six times higher than the rate
among those bicyclists killed. These data suggest that helmet use is a critically important protection for all bicyclists.
***

Subsequent studies have documented a sharp drop in injury rates after the introduction of a helmet law in Australia:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0622102656.htm
To wit:

An examination of admitted
patients suffering a bicycle-related
injury at Brisbane’s Mater Children’s
Hospital, shows that in the two years
preceding the introduction of
compulsory helmet wearing in
Queensland, head injuries made up 34%
of admitted bicycle injuries, whilst in
the 10 years following, the percentage
fell to 17%.
-- https://www.carrsq.qut.edu.au/publica..._safety_fs.pdf

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Old 01-26-12, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
I posted links to the IIHS and NYCDOT data, which speak for themselves. Something that seems to have been conveniently overlooked in that post is that the Voukelatos and Rissel study concluding that helmet laws did not reduce injury in Australia was retracted by the journal because it was such a piece of crap:

https://www.safetylit.org/citations/i...icle_302065_22

The authors responded with lame equivocations:

https://www.sydneycyclist.com/forum/t...rrors-in-study

Subsequent studies have documented a sharp drop in injury rates after the introduction of a helmet law in Australia:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0622102656.htm
Your last link has no numbers, nor any definition of "injuries".

The report I've seen stating that the Australian helmet law did not work as intended, showed the numbers. What may have been wrong with them, I don't know. One should think that they were rather hard and fast. Perhaps, as the authors seem to admit, the problem with their work had to do with statistical significance. That doesn't change that to this layman, given the numbers their conclusions seemed reasonable.
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Old 01-26-12, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hagen2456
Your last link has no numbers, nor any definition of "injuries".
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science...01457511001485
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Old 01-26-12, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
I posted links to the IIHS and NYCDOT data, which speak for themselves. Something that seems to have been conveniently overlooked in that post is that the Voukelatos and Rissel study concluding that helmet laws did not reduce injury in Australia was retracted by the journal because it was such a piece of crap:

https://www.safetylit.org/citations/i...ls&citationIds[]=citjournalarticle_302065_22

The authors responded with lame equivocations:

https://www.sydneycyclist.com/forum/t...rrors-in-study

Subsequent studies have documented a sharp drop in injury rates after the introduction of a helmet law in Australia:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0622102656.htm
That the authors of the "erroneous" report admitted mistakes, and that the "new" report seems to prove it, should probably not be taken to mean what you seem to think.

1) The "erroneous" report was, if I'm not mistaken, so because of mistakes regarding statistical significance. I've read that report, and found the conclusions reasonable, but I have very little knowledge of statistics. However, the numbers seemed to be rather clear.
2) The "new" report doesn't tell us about the character of those injuries to the head. What would have been interesting would have been to know the number of fatalities in relation to numbers of miles traveled. Edit: also, with the apparent drop in total cycling seemingly as a result of the helmet law, it must be taken into account what kind of cycling and what kind of cyclists were still out riding.

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Old 01-26-12, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
I posted links to the IIHS and NYCDOT data, which speak for themselves.
What specifically do you see these data as showing?
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Old 01-26-12, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
Of course. But interesting, nonetheless.
It's not "interesting". It's predictable. Since it appears to be only echoing conventional wisdom, it doesn't add information (but is intended to look like it does). It's lazy.

Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
Perhaps. But that's an important "if," and it also implies head injuries inversely correlate with skill. Perhaps, perhaps not. After all, the nature of an accident is that it's unforeseen and a person may not be able to avoid it, whatever their skill.
But you know this isn't true! While they don't avoid all of them, skilled drivers have fewer accidents.

Last edited by njkayaker; 01-26-12 at 04:49 PM.
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