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The helmet thread

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The helmet thread

Old 02-27-12, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
Who here is arguing for mandatory helmet laws?
Crickets chirping. One of the infamous straw men of this thread: the poster who wants a mandatory helmet law.
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Old 02-27-12, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
No. Discussion is useless when only one aspect of an argument is considered. You can't deny, there is legitimate opposing studies and arguments to your assertions.
You're leaping to the false conclusion that I've only considered one aspect of it. Nevertheless, in all my research of the issue, scientific studies showing at least some safety benefit from helmets dramatically outnumber those suggesting otherwise.

As to the legitimacy of opposing arguments (versus actual research), my core argument is merely that there's extensive research and expert opinion showing helmets can protect heads. Either way, some of the general arguments opposing helmet use or laws (the two get muddled frequently) are quite shaky:

There's the red-herring argument: "cycling is as dangerous as x, so why don't you wear a helmet when doing x?" "Hey, look over there: big BOOBS!" See, I just distracted you from the real issue: do you want to protect your head while riding? If so, can helmets help with that?

There's the "conflating helmet laws with helmets' protective effect" argument: "If you suggest helmets have any benefit, I'm going to imply you support laws mandating everyone's behavior, you evil bicycle helmet Fascist."

There's the "helmet laws reduce cycling" argument, when in fact cycling numbers have fallen substantially in some areas without laws and risen in some with them.

There's the risk-compensation argument (I think we've all had enough of that hypothesis to last a lifetime)

There's the scare-tactic argument: "Helmet manufacturers and campaigners are telling people that they'll die and go straight to hell if they cycle without a helmet!"

There's the health argument: "Cycling is healthy, but if you advocate helmet use, you're going to make people stop cycling and kill them! Why not just force-feed them Twinkies and bacon?" Oh, wait, people might prefer to jog or swim instead? Oops.

and so on. In all seriousness, I'm not especially convinced of the soundness of some of the arguments against helmets/helmet laws that I've seen bandied about.

Last edited by Six-Shooter; 02-27-12 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 02-27-12, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
You're leaping to the false conclusion that I've only considered one aspect of it.
I'm going on what you have posted here

Nevertheless, in all my research of the issue, scientific studies showing at least some safety benefit from helmets dramatically outnumber those suggesting otherwise.
well, maybe your research is limited in scope, and shouldn't quality, trump quantity?

... some of the general arguments opposing helmet use or laws (the two get muddled frequently) are quite shaky:
some, for sure, but you can't ignore that some of the general arguments promoting helmet use or laws are even more shaky. Such as ignoring that cycling, even without helmets, benefits health. It's a net positive.

Everything has risks, even medical intervention and exercise. Doctors often suggest taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator because it is better for the health of the patient, even with the risks of using the stairs.

Cycling should be encouraged, it shouldn't be discouraged by portraying it as more dangerous than it is.

Last edited by closetbiker; 02-27-12 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
You're leaping to the false conclusion that I've only considered one aspect of it. Nevertheless, in all my research of the issue, scientific studies showing at least some safety benefit from helmets dramatically outnumber those suggesting otherwise.

As to the legitimacy of opposing arguments (versus actual research), my core argument is merely that there's extensive research and expert opinion showing helmets can protect heads. Either way, some of the general arguments opposing helmet use or laws (the two get muddled frequently) are quite shaky:

There's the red-herring argument: "cycling is as dangerous as x, so why don't you wear a helmet when doing x?" "Hey, look over there: big BOOBS!" See, I just distracted you from the real issue: do you want to protect your head while riding? If so, can helmets help with that?

There's the "conflating helmet laws with helmets' protective effect" argument: "If you suggest helmets have any benefit, I'm going to imply you support laws mandating everyone's behavior, you evil bicycle helmet Fascist."

There's the "helmet laws reduce cycling" argument, when in fact cycling numbers have fallen substantially in some areas without laws and risen in some with them.

There's the risk-compensation argument (I think we've all had enough of that hypothesis to last a lifetime)

There's the scare-tactic argument: "Helmet manufacturers and campaigners are telling people that they'll die and go straight to hell if they cycle without a helmet!"

There's the health argument: "Cycling is healthy, but if you advocate helmet use, you're going to make people stop cycling and kill them! Why not just force-feed them Twinkies and bacon?" Oh, wait, people might prefer to jog or swim instead? Oops.

and so on. In all seriousness, I'm not especially convinced of the soundness of some of the arguments against helmets/helmet laws that I've seen bandied about.
You're omitting the "no consensus" argument, which basically amounts to "I can find a study which contradicts the rest of the literature on the subject, so there is no consensus." Of course, pretty much without exception, people whose job it is to evaluate the evidence as a whole, such as the CDC, the IIHS, etc. etc. ad nauseum all conclude that (a) helmets are effective at preventing more than just minor injury, and (b) helmet promotion is an effective public health measure. The consensus among professional statisticians and risk evaluators is in fact overwhelming.

The "no consensus" claptrap is virtually identical to the arguments used by creationists or global warming deniers, i.e. that it is impossible to conclude anything at all as long as a vocal and politically motivated minority tries to blow smoke and raise specious objections to consensus data. This is a fundamentally anti-scientific perspective which is unfortunately becoming ubitquitous, largely fueled by crackpots with too much time and bandwidth for their own good. A central common theme in this kind of argument is the dismissal of any existing consensus on the part of any kind of scientific authority, bolstered by anti-government paranoia and conspiracy theory. This has absolutely nothing to do with reasoned evaluation of evidence, which admits the possibility that consensus data can err, but places a high bar for concluding that it is in fact in error.

Last edited by corvuscorvax; 02-27-12 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
You're omitting the "no consensus" argument...

the CDC, the IIHS, etc. etc. ad nauseum all conclude that (a) helmets are effective at preventing more than just minor injury, and (b) helmet promotion is an effective public health measure. The consensus among professional statisticians and risk evaluators is in fact overwhelming.

The "no consensus" claptrap is ... a fundamentally anti-scientific perspective...
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Old 02-27-12, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
Had you taken the time to read, you would have noted that I italicized "minor knocks and bumps." I already posted links to numerous studies showing that they can protect against much more serious injuries.
Had you taken the time to think you would have seen that I was reacting exactly to your claim.

Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
But, hey, since you bring it up, this Cochrane Review finds that "Wearing a helmet dramatically reduces the risk of head and facial injuries for bicyclists involved in a crash, even if it involves a motor vehicle." https://www.thecochranelibrary.com/us...d/CD001855.pdf
LOL. Six-Shooter "wins" (something) for quoting Thompson, Rivara & Thompson:
Originally Posted by TRT2009
Helmet use reduces
the risk of head injury by 85%, brain injury by 88% and severe
brain injury by at least 75%.
Priceless. Magic Hats.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:28 AM
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Don't forget that the Cochrane library claims that helmets provide equal levels of protection for crashes involving motor vehicles and crashes from all other causes.

With claims like that, it's good that a court that reviewed such a crash said,

"Satisfaction of minimum standards that are not true performance standards (but instead only measure certain areas on a helmet which are not involved in the majority of head injury accidents) is not sufficient for making a product safe enough for use on the streets."
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Old 02-27-12, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
... what I've seen in this thread is what I saw 20 years ago. People started questioning the wisdom of cyclists without helmets and then getting involved in compelling them to do so.
Who here is 'getting involved in compelling' bare-headers to wear helmets...?
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Old 02-27-12, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
Who here is 'getting involved in compelling' bare-headers to wear helmets...?
look who's being Mr. Pedantic...

I'd say someone who insults another for not doing what they think they should is trying to intimidate that person into behavior they think is more appropriate.

Further, as to my post, I've seen it happen. First the questioning comes (Why aren't you wearing a helmet?), then the insults (if you had any sense, you'd be wearing a helmet), then the organization needed to get the others to do what they "should" (Every province and territory should enact all-ages helmet legislation)

If those who promote helmet use could acknowledge that a dissenting opinion has merit, maybe the respect for another opinion would quell the "cyclists should wear helmets" argument and maybe that is why the dissenting opinion isn't recognized.

Last edited by closetbiker; 02-27-12 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 02-27-12, 05:35 PM
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I have simple proposal to settle.... ok scratch settle, this will never be settled.......

I have simple proposal to add some entertainment to this subject. Mythbusters. We should all flood Mythbusters with the idea they should do a show on helmets. Think about it, watermelons and pigs heads with and without helmets, falls, sensors, skids, goofy jokes, explosions (they always find a way to do an explosion), maybe a cannon balll with a helmet and just possible some interesting data that might add some facts to the mix.

At a minimum it would add more a whole base for more discussion, as if that is needed.

https://dsc.discovery.com/tv/mythbusters/
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Old 02-27-12, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
Your link (eg, the "teenage brain" one) backs it up!
What do you think it says?

It doesn't say risk/reward assessment is unique to teens; on the contrary, it says that because teens weigh it differently than adults (therefore it must imply adults do as well) by placing more value on reward (the article goes on to explain why this may be from an evolutionary perspective) they are more likely to engage in riskier behavior. My posting this was merely meant to show that risk/reward assessment is real, and when something changes that balance it directly impacts action decided upon based on it. Simple stuff.
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Old 02-27-12, 07:09 PM
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As a bald man, I consider my helmet a fashion accessory and skin care device.
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Old 02-27-12, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
You're omitting the "no consensus" argument, which basically amounts to "I can find a study which contradicts the rest of the literature on the subject, so there is no consensus." Of course, pretty much without exception, people whose job it is to evaluate the evidence as a whole, such as the CDC, the IIHS, etc. etc. ad nauseum all conclude that (a) helmets are effective at preventing more than just minor injury, and (b) helmet promotion is an effective public health measure. The consensus among professional statisticians and risk evaluators is in fact overwhelming.

The "no consensus" claptrap is virtually identical to the arguments used by creationists or global warming deniers, i.e. that it is impossible to conclude anything at all as long as a vocal and politically motivated minority tries to blow smoke and raise specious objections to consensus data. This is a fundamentally anti-scientific perspective which is unfortunately becoming ubitquitous, largely fueled by crackpots with too much time and bandwidth for their own good. A central common theme in this kind of argument is the dismissal of any existing consensus on the part of any kind of scientific authority, bolstered by anti-government paranoia and conspiracy theory. This has absolutely nothing to do with reasoned evaluation of evidence, which admits the possibility that consensus data can err, but places a high bar for concluding that it is in fact in error.
Utterly ridiculous. We aren't talking about one or two studies in opposition. Look through this thread, especially in the first few pages when evidence was being summarized occasionally. There is plenty to go around.

And as I said, it depends what you are asserting. When you are talking about kids, riskier riding, and a certain degree of injury, I'd agree that there is not much opposition there (note in particular that I am saying while there are studies to the contrary, those actually are few and far between, so I don't really doubt it, which is contrary to your assessment); what I disagree with with, is that the evidence is clear that they prevent more serious injury like brain damage, concussion, and death. When you start to get into those more grandiose claims, there is more contrary evidence. Then I think it's fair to point that out.

Also I would note both in the case of global warming denial and creationism there is political will and money for forwarding those positions. Where is the will and money behind "getting people out of helmets"? Who stands to benefit from that? Why do you think that position would exist as politically motivated? Couldn't it just be that someone disagrees with you and has evidence as to why they believe that? Keep in mind, not everyone is just trying to justify "bad behavior"; I'm a former helmet wearer myself. When I stopped to think about it and looked at the evidence, I wasn't convinced that I and most other commuters/city slickers stand to gain much, and I felt the argument that it hurts cycling was persuasive. As a cycling advocate, I feel it hurts efforts to normalize cycling; this might be worth it if it really saved lives, especially at levels claimed, but I don't think the evidence of that is clear. There have been too many situations where helmet should have shown a drop in fatalities and didn't to be terribly convincing to me. In short, I don't think a lid is needed for regular cycling anymore than regular walking; talk about racing or playing football, and the answer may change.

I'm not driven by any ideology. I even still don a lid in certain conditions where I think I may stand to benefit (first rain when the road is slippery in particular). Just not for daily riding.

Last edited by sudo bike; 02-27-12 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 02-27-12, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by shawmutt
Playing devil's advocate here--why is it so important to argue about this over and over again?

Why not just wear them or not wear them and be done with it?
Probably because there's a good deal of evidence that wearing a helmet makes cycling more dangerous.

Here's how that might work. An overwhelmingly huge factor in bike safety is numbers: if the number of cyclists doubles, the risk to cyclists goes down by a third to a half. For this reason, mandating the use of helmets has been proven many times to increase the risk of cyclist death. (The mechanism is something along the lines of: if cyclists wear helmets, then some people just don't want to wear them, and will choose to take the car instead, and others will note that dangerous extreme athletes wear helmets and cyclists wear helmets and therefore cycling is a dangerous extreme sport, and will choose to take the car instead.) Here's the not-so-huge leap: if pressure from government to wear a helmet increases the risk to cyclists, then so does pressure from the community. So each person who wears a helmet may be making cycling more dangerous for all of us.

In other words: it benefits me and my loved ones and all of society if you stop wearing that accursed thing.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by fugue137
An overwhelmingly huge factor in bike safety is numbers: if the number of cyclists doubles, the risk to cyclists goes down by a third to a half.
Claimed but never proven by a valid study that considers other possible factors with collisions. My experience has been the opposite of your safety in numbers claim.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CB HI
Claimed but never proven by a valid study that considers other possible factors with collisions. My experience has been the opposite of your safety in numbers claim.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_in_numbers

Substantial independent evidence shows that the number of pedestrians or bicyclists injured increases at a slower rate than would be expected based on their numbers. That is, the risk to the individual pedestrian or bicyclist decreases where there is more people walking or bicycling

A Cycling Transportation Engineer has disputed that conclusion... Another author has written that, while such data shows a degree of correlation, conclusions of causality may very well be based on a statistically spurious relationship...
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Old 02-28-12, 12:30 AM
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I forget how many skiers died this year in Colorado while wearing a helmet, 3 for sure maybe 5? I think helmets are great for visibility but they produce so much wind noise that I can't traffic behind me and that's danger. The only time I feel an absolute need for a helmet is when I'm riding with a herd of cyclists or riding on ice.
Otherwise I'll continue to wear dorky small brimmed hats and accept the scorn of real cyclist. I have had spectacular crashes without a helmet and am still fine. I have opened my head up and bled profusely while wearing a helmet.

One thing they can't study is- do drivers give helmet-less bikers more room because they're not wearing a helmet?
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Old 02-28-12, 08:12 AM
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fugue

That is a false assumption. No matter how many more people start biking it does not cause less accidents. It is the same as flipping a coin. Even if you have flipped a coin 10 times and it came up heads every time, the odds of the 11th flip is still 50 50 that it will be heads or tails.

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Old 02-28-12, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
It is the same as flipping a coin. Even if you have flipped a coin 10 times and it came up heads every time, the odds of the 11th flip is still 50 50 that it will be heads or tails.
Riding a bike is nothing like this.
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Old 02-28-12, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
You're omitting the "no consensus" argument, which basically amounts to "I can find a study which contradicts the rest of the literature on the subject, so there is no consensus." Of course, pretty much without exception, people whose job it is to evaluate the evidence as a whole, such as the CDC, the IIHS, etc. etc. ad nauseum all conclude that (a) helmets are effective at preventing more than just minor injury, and (b) helmet promotion is an effective public health measure. The consensus among professional statisticians and risk evaluators is in fact overwhelming.

The "no consensus" claptrap is virtually identical to the arguments used by creationists or global warming deniers, i.e. that it is impossible to conclude anything at all as long as a vocal and politically motivated minority tries to blow smoke and raise specious objections to consensus data. This is a fundamentally anti-scientific perspective which is unfortunately becoming ubitquitous, largely fueled by crackpots with too much time and bandwidth for their own good. A central common theme in this kind of argument is the dismissal of any existing consensus on the part of any kind of scientific authority, bolstered by anti-government paranoia and conspiracy theory. This has absolutely nothing to do with reasoned evaluation of evidence, which admits the possibility that consensus data can err, but places a high bar for concluding that it is in fact in error.
Quite right. The irony is that you could post dozens of peer-reviewed research articles and multiple meta-analyses or literature reviews, as well as a lengthy list of medical, health, and safety groups, all concluding the same fundamental thing about helmets, and will you ever get anything comparable as a reply?

Last edited by Six-Shooter; 02-28-12 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 02-28-12, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by fugue137
So each person who wears a helmet may be making cycling more dangerous for all of us.

In other words: it benefits me and my loved ones and all of society if you stop wearing that accursed thing.


Another "argument" to add to the list: "If you wear a helmet, you're endangering all of society!"
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Old 02-28-12, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
well, maybe your research is limited in scope, and shouldn't quality, trump quantity?
Which is why I post data and conclusions from actual scientists and researchers and statisticians published in recognized, peer-reviewed journals, government reports, and the like instead of anonymous second- or third-hand propaganda or my own personal guesses, like some people resort to in this thread.

Now, if you want quality evidence, here are some results from meta-analyses/Cochrane reviews. First, please note that these are considered the most reliable type of medical evidence:

https://phpartners.org/tutorial/04-eb...pts/4.2.7.html
https://www.mclibrary.duke.edu/subjec...bmpyramid.html
etc.

"This formal summarisation of studies of individual cyclists in various settings has confirmed
the clear benefits of helmets in terms of injury risk. The upper bounds of the 95% confidence
intervals provide conservative risk reduction estimates of at least 45% for head injury, 33%
for brain injury, 27% for facial injury and 29% for fatal injury." https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roa...ic_Crash_5.pdf

"Helmets provide a 63 to 88% reduction in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists. Helmets provide equal levels of protection for crashes involving motor vehicles (69%) and crashes from all other causes (68%). Injuries to the upper and mid facial areas are reduced 65%." https://www.thecochranelibrary.com/us...d/CD001855.pdf

"Do bicycle helmets reduce the risk of injury to the head, face, or neck? With respect to head injury, the answer is clearly yes....As far as facial injury is concerned, evidence suggests the protective effect is smaller, but on balance there does seem to be a slight protective effect. The risk of neck injury does not seem to be reduced by bicycle helmets." https://www.cycle-helmets.com/elvik.pdf

Last edited by Six-Shooter; 02-28-12 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 02-28-12, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Six-Shooter
Which is why I post data and conclusions from actual scientists and researchers and statisticians published in recognized, peer-reviewed journals, government reports, and the like instead of second- or third-hand propaganda or my own personal guesses...
right here is where you shoot yourself in the foot.

As much as you may not like to admit it, contrary studies have been conducted by actual scientists, researchers, statisticians published in recognized, peer-reviewed journals, government reports. Many of them have been linked in this thread. Just a few days after your arrival in the thread I posted a couple of national government reports with links to actual scientists, researchers and statisticians that have been published in recognized, peer-reviewed journals that stand in contrast to your data

By not acknowledging this, you show your position as to be narrow and either ignorant, or deceitful.

For an independent view in how this debate has been conducted, the UK Department for Transport undertook a review and found,

'The way in which the debate has been conducted is unhelpful to those wishing to make a balanced judgement on the issue.'

The pro- bicycle helmet group base their argument overwhelmingly on one major point: that there is scientific evidence that, in the event of a fall, helmets substantially reduce head injury.

The anti- helmet group base their argument on a wider range of issues including: compulsory helmet wearing leads to a decline in cycling, 'risk compensation' theory negates health gains, scientific studies are defective, the overall road environment needs to be improved.
The only problem I see with this observation is the label "anti-helmet". Very few people in favor of choice are against anothers choice to wear a helmet.

The issue is, are helmets as effective as the promotors claim? It seems the pro-helmet group are standing on a single leg, and that leg has rot in it. Not complete rot, to be sure, but enough rot to call into question the support of the argument.

I'm rather taken aback at how quickly legitimate, quality research is dismissed, unless of course one is looking for particular results to begin with. When someone cites the TRT 85% figure and then goes on about quality research, I have to think that person doesn't know what good quality research looks like.

I think it would be plain to see if helmets were effective at preventing injury when entire populations adopted their use overnight. This has happened and the effects have been elusive.

There are much more effective ways to achieve the goal of safety than promoting helmet use and there are areas in the world where the safety of cyclists is far greater than others. To no surprise to me, helmets have little to no role in these safer areas.

Last edited by closetbiker; 02-28-12 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 02-28-12, 11:07 AM
  #1624  
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Originally Posted by fugue137
Probably because there's a good deal of evidence that wearing a helmet makes cycling more dangerous.
...
In other words: it benefits me and my loved ones and all of society if you stop wearing that accursed thing.
Awesome: a bare-header blatantly stating what all the rest of y'all are tiptoeing around. Helmet users -- not just helmet laws or those condoning them -- are making cycling more dangerous.

fugue = agent provocateur, perhaps?
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Old 02-28-12, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker
I'd say someone who insults another for not doing what they think they should is trying to intimidate that person into behavior they think is more appropriate.
...and you think all you bareheaders hanging out here are not guilty of the same thing...?

Originally Posted by closetbiker
Further, as to my post, I've seen it happen. First the questioning comes (Why aren't you wearing a helmet?),
Sure...

Originally Posted by closetbiker
then the insults (if you had any sense, you'd be wearing a helmet),
Wait, wut?!?

Originally Posted by closetbiker
then the organization needed to get the others to do what they "should" (Every province and territory should enact all-ages helmet legislation)
Um... not so much. What percentage of the world has helmet laws? What percentage of helmet wearers are involved in pushes for such legislation?

I'm not so sure you should be extrapolating your insular, local experience out to the world at large.

Originally Posted by closetbiker
If those who promote helmet use could acknowledge that a dissenting opinion has merit, maybe the respect for another opinion would quell the "cyclists should wear helmets" argument and maybe that is why the dissenting opinion isn't recognized.
More fantasy on your part. Dissenting opinion regarding this matter is routinely recognized.
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