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A can of worms - do helmets work?

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A can of worms - do helmets work?

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Old 04-07-09, 04:02 AM
  #151  
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Old 04-07-09, 04:27 AM
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Sigh, you all do know there is a huge thread on A & S on this subject?

Do you know that in nations where they actually think that bikes are transportation, most people don't wear helmets? We don't wear them riding horses either. (if that made no sense - I live in a rural part of a third world nation, and yes we do use horses for transportation) In all our time in this area I have only heard to two significant accidents with bikes. One was when a drunk road off the bridge into the river and drowned, and another, just a week ago, who was killed while riding at night with no light by a motorcycle. (and the fault was deemed to be the motorcycle since no one has lights here except me)

But, if you are racing, or engaged in sports, you are pushing the edge of your ability and probably will fall out of control - hence a helmet makes sense. Also, if you don't ride that often, it also makes sense.

But, if you are going to make the argument that I just might fall, well, I am 50 years old and I assure you I fall a lot more walking than I do riding, and the distance to the ground is a lot more. My solution is to go slower when riding, well within my abilities. Been working for more than 40 years now. Not so well on my walking.

If you want a good causal effect, look into speed and doing stupid things. Speed kills - and no helmet will change that. You would do much, much better trying to convince people not to go 50 MPH down a hill, that would make a big difference, but I notice that rarely is that mentioned and if someone does say they went really fast down hill, you don't hear people saying "what!?, are you wanting to be an organ donor?!" But be an old geezer just pedaling around and people think that you are asking for it.

Generally speaking, people aren't very good at accessing risk. Riding without a helmet isn't particularly risky. Some of the activities that you do that make you want to have a helmet, are. You might want to think about the activities - or perhaps just go with bubble wrap.

Kids should have helmets on because they are learning and because many kids do risky things with their bikes. (I did)
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Old 04-07-09, 08:02 AM
  #153  
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Originally Posted by ryanlovesyou View Post
I hope you're joking.... or maybe all those 25mph faceplants knocked a screw loose. This is just terrible logic.
nah, this is just a nub that says 25mph when they mean like 8-10mph, and thinks all crashing is faceplanting. just like so many riders that think they go 40mph evertime they are on a flat because it feels fast. nub is almost certainly overstating speed, experience but is probably kind of ugly nonetheless, in the face. That expression of stubborn stupid can stick, just like mom said.
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Old 04-07-09, 08:15 AM
  #154  
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Originally Posted by cyrano138 View Post
The guy above me responded very well, so this isn't meant to take anything away from him.

The null result here, if the methods of research are solid, is not being used to prove that helmets don't work, but rather to falsify the suggestion that helmets save cyclists' lives
YOUR DATA DON'T DO THIS . THAT"S THE WHOLE POINT. It's a null result.


You are basing conclusions on null results. That is my point that is dumb in the scientific world. You can argue all you want, but you would need to show a significant difference some how some way, not an insignificant difference. Re-read the wiki page. I'm sorry I should have known better to try to help people understand science. Anyways, keep thinking that these data falsify anything. They don't, they won't, and they never can. You don't need to wear a helmet but don't invoke science as the reason, because this is simply not how you are supposed to interpret data. You would fail any intro stats class by making your conclusions. You say you falsified something, you haven't! Non-significant differences mean "Of no consequence." THIS IS A STATISTICAL FACT!
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Old 04-07-09, 08:31 AM
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When I was kid I was taking a turn too tight and it was wet. Bike slipped out from under me and I went down HARD on my head. Cracked my helmet. Would have most likely suffered a pretty serious head injury. I was fine. Helmets work.

And I say the same thing about people who think they're good at driving so they don't need to wear seat belts(yeah, I've heard people say that). Not everyone else on the road is a good driver, and simply enough, accidents happen. A ****ing deer to could side swipe you (it happens) and you would most likely be better off with a helmet than without one.

Why does this have to be so complicated? Helmets wrap your head in styrofoam and plastic and do a good job of absorbing a brute force impact to your head.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:43 AM
  #156  
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it is complicated precisely because it is not clear that helmets actualy do protect one's head in a meaningful way, and because we have to balance advocacy of helmet use with overall benefit to mankind that comes from an increase in bike usage (since helmet promotion decreases ridership).
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Old 04-07-09, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
it is complicated precisely because it is not clear that helmets actualy do protect one's head in a meaningful way, and because we have to balance advocacy of helmet use with overall benefit to mankind that comes from an increase in bike usage (since helmet promotion decreases ridership).

This helmet promotion decreases ridership, in terms of public costs (money) this is good. If you are not willing to ride a bike because you won't wear a helmet, then you won't get in an accident and hurt your head. The choice to ride a bike without a helmet can have severe costs (money) either the government has to pay for their healthcare or members of the same insurance program do. If you don't wear a helmet and you get in an brain altering accident, someone has to pay for your medical care (maybe even your family). It's that simple. Yeah, I want people to ride bikes too, but we should do it responsibly. I used to ride without a helmet and I never hurt my head, but a lecturer in my program went on one time to ride his bike without a helmet, he got into a very severe accident, has a good amount of cognitive deficiencies, and struggles everyday with his decision (he almost died and was in a coma for a good month). But in addition to his personal costs, he cost his healthcare provider. Your brain is who you are, if you mess it up you'll never be the same person that you are now. If that is the risk you are willing to take then so be it. And this is probably not a risk for people who ride 10mph and slower, but if you ever get those pedals spinning and get your bike in the near 30s, then one tire puncture, on chain slip, could send you headfirst to a new personality. But then again it may not, the data presented at the beginning of this article are scientifically meaningless. Hell they even make cool hipster helmets now. Put an argyle sticker on it and enjoy. If you do a job where you use your brain not your body (even bike mechanics) then you lose your brain, you've lost your ability to make money.
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Old 04-07-09, 12:07 PM
  #158  
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the positive reaction to the OP's post is full of flawed logic. it's called "the nirvana fallacy". The Nirvana Fallacy is when you dismiss anything in the real world because you compare it to an unrealistic, perfect alternative, by which it pales in comparison.


most bike accidents do not cause sever head injuries. ok lets accept it as fact. the matter for dispute is not the head injuries in light of the total amount of accidents if we want to determine the usefulness of helmets. it should be accidents involving head injuries (while using a helmet) in light of the total amount of head injuries from bike accidents.

another faulty bit of logic here is to assume that a head injury is equal to any other injury that could be sustained on a bike. of course we dont wear full padded armor on our bikes. but frankly put, most body parts that are likely to get damaged in a bike accident can heal properly without much worry about life altering permanent damage. the same cannot be said about the human head.
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Old 04-07-09, 05:26 PM
  #159  
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Originally Posted by Drwecki View Post
YOUR DATA DON'T DO THIS . THAT"S THE WHOLE POINT. It's a null result.


You are basing conclusions on null results. That is my point that is dumb in the scientific world. You can argue all you want, but you would need to show a significant difference some how some way, not an insignificant difference. Re-read the wiki page. I'm sorry I should have known better to try to help people understand science. Anyways, keep thinking that these data falsify anything. They don't, they won't, and they never can. You don't need to wear a helmet but don't invoke science as the reason, because this is simply not how you are supposed to interpret data. You would fail any intro stats class by making your conclusions. You say you falsified something, you haven't! Non-significant differences mean "Of no consequence." THIS IS A STATISTICAL FACT!
Okay, fair enough. I shot myself in the foot by using the word 'falsification'. I did not use the correct word. This is not a falsification, a proof by counterexample. It is not a proof (or disproof in this case) at all, but I've been saying this all along.

I stand by the rest of what I said. In this case, a positive correlation was hypothesized and none was observed. To say that the null result is useless because it doesn't disprove anything is crazy. Again, the Michelson-Morley experiment produced a null result, but it was hardly useless. It may not have proved that we're not surrounded by a medium through which light travels. But based on what people understood about disturbance of a medium, the original hypothesis needed to be reevaluated.
The experiment, if the method was sound, should have produced a positive correlation, but observed none, and so the hypothesis was less likely to be correct.

To borrow an example from the Simpsons--I sell you a rock that I say keeps bears from attacking you. You buy it and, sure enough, you are free from bear attacks. But then someone else comes along and says, "That rock doesn't work," and takes it away, and you still aren't attacked by any bears. Does this disprove the original hypothesis: that the rock was keeping bears at bay? No. It's possible hunting season started the day I took the rock away and most or all of the bears were killed. It's also possible that even though I took the rock away in March, most of the bears were still hibernating because of a late winter. But given the likelihood of either of these explanations or lack of it, it would be prudent at this point to suspend your slavish devotion to the original hypothesis until some corroborating evidence could be observed.

Again, the hypothesis here, that helmets save a significant number of cyclists' lives, isn't disproved by the null return, but given the fact that no corroborating evidence has been produced, and given the unlikely nature of alternative explanations of the data, it's time to reevaluate the original hypothesis: the idea that helmets are somehow a necessary part of bicycle safety equipment.

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Old 04-07-09, 06:12 PM
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this may have been covered. no pun intended. while i will agree that wearing a helmet will increase the overall size of your head, i cant see the weight issue. the weight of the helmet i wear has to measured on one of those scales at the register in the grocery store. what is that like twice the weight of a balloon i blew up myself? i had another annalogy, but this is a family page just my opinion, but i think having more accidents while wearing a helmet may be due to a lot of people thinking, oh i have a helmet. now i can do stupid stuff. what are they putting in that helmet, goulash???? supposed to be a brain in there somewhere.
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Old 04-07-09, 06:49 PM
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I don't like wearing one, but do anyway (I pancaked from a good 6 feet in the air, bouncing on my belly and front of helmet once-almost bunny hopping a chain at full speed on asphalt ) I would have at least had a nasty gash maybe a concussion or worse without it. I also skidded and flipped down the asphalt at 50+ once without and ended up with a cracked skull and ridiculous road rash. (I actually was thrown from a rolling vehicle not a bike, but for comparison it is just like a high speed high side) so yeah.
wear a helmet, at least where speed is concerned, or sharing the road with cars.
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Old 04-07-09, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Drwecki View Post
This helmet promotion decreases ridership, in terms of public costs (money) this is good. If you are not willing to ride a bike because you won't wear a helmet, then you won't get in an accident and hurt your head.
You are still not getting the point! The point is that research shows that crashes where one may sustain a head injury are very rare. And that the negative of those head injuries would be vastly outweighed by the positive health and safety benefits of more people riding bikes!

It boils down to something like this. Which would you prefer:


a) helmets are promoted/mandated, this makes cycling seem dangerous, few people ride bikes because their parents were afraid to let them do such a dangerous thing and so a whole generation grows up without becoming bike riders, instead people get fat and drive cars (which pollute and make the streets unsafe for bikes and pedestrians), but the few people who fall on their heads are protected slightly because they had a helmet on...

vs.


b) helmet use is ignored and cycling is promoted as the safe activity that it really is (when one looks at the true statistics), many people ride bicycles and stay more fit and this decreases the cost to society, while also making it safer to ride bikes because there are so many on the road that car drivers are more accommodating. The occasional person sustains a head injury that a helmet may have helped, but overall the costs to society are still lower because of the health benefits of having so many more cyclists on the road than in case "A".


Case "B" is what you have in countries with high cycling populations, and Case "A" is what you have in the USA. Cycling is NOT dangerous. It's like walking. Stop telling people it's dangerous and that they need helmets to do it, because this scares people away from cycling.
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Old 04-07-09, 07:30 PM
  #163  
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Head without helmet hitting pavement versus head with helmet hitting pavement. Easy choice for me. Especially after I hit a few trees and cracked a helmet while mountain bike riding, long before I had a road bike or ss/fg.
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Old 04-07-09, 07:31 PM
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Agreed with pacificaslim. I wear a cap and i'm fine with that.
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Old 04-07-09, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
Head without helmet hitting pavement versus head with helmet hitting pavement. Easy choice for me.

That's great. But just so we're clear here: it's not all about you/me. Naturally people are free to make personal choices. The only debate is about public policy and advocacy. And whether if we ignored helmet promotion if the very few heads that will hit the pavement without a helmet on is worth it if it means that millions of more people will be riding bikes than would be riding them if we scared them off by making cycling seem like something that is so dangerous that it requires a helmet.
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Old 04-07-09, 08:06 PM
  #166  
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Originally Posted by aMull View Post
Agreed with pacificaslim. I wear a cap and i'm fine with that.
I wear a helmet and I'm fine with you wearing just a hat.


Why can't we all just get along?
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Old 04-07-09, 08:14 PM
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Never said i didn't like you babe.
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Old 04-07-09, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
You are still not getting the point! The point is that research shows that crashes where one may sustain a head injury are very rare. And that the negative of those head injuries would be vastly outweighed by the positive health and safety benefits of more people riding bikes!

It boils down to something like this. Which would you prefer:


a) helmets are promoted/mandated, this makes cycling seem dangerous, few people ride bikes because their parents were afraid to let them do such a dangerous thing and so a whole generation grows up without becoming bike riders, instead people get fat and drive cars (which pollute and make the streets unsafe for bikes and pedestrians), but the few people who fall on their heads are protected slightly because they had a helmet on...

vs.


b) helmet use is ignored and cycling is promoted as the safe activity that it really is (when one looks at the true statistics), many people ride bicycles and stay more fit and this decreases the cost to society, while also making it safer to ride bikes because there are so many on the road that car drivers are more accommodating. The occasional person sustains a head injury that a helmet may have helped, but overall the costs to society are still lower because of the health benefits of having so many more cyclists on the road than in case "A".


Case "B" is what you have in countries with high cycling populations, and Case "A" is what you have in the USA. Cycling is NOT dangerous. It's like walking. Stop telling people it's dangerous and that they need helmets to do it, because this scares people away from cycling.


I'm sorry me not agreeing with you is not missing the point. I brought up a totally new one. Can you fathom that, someone has a different idea than you? I get what you're saying, it just sound very far from truth. For example...I can name at least 6 differences between the US and France or any other country that may lead to lower levels of biking.. 1 Spread of country, 2 Availability of parking, 3 availability of cars, 4 gas prices (much higher over there), 5 bike parking, 6 quality of the average bike (the american kid gets a huffy,,,what a bummer)... Anyways, any one of these can cause the observed difference that you are attributing to promoting helmet use...I've never seen a bike helmet ad argue you shouldn't bike. In fact the message is be safe and you can bike, not don't bike...You'd actually need to run an experiment (get a group of people who don't bike) show one group a video of bike safety helmet and another a video of seatbelt safety (or some other appropriate control..so the only difference is being exposed to helmet propoganda). Then give them a chance to bike or something like that. Your argument is definitely not as airtight as you think.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:13 PM
  #169  
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Originally Posted by cyrano138 View Post
Okay, fair enough. I shot myself in the foot by using the word 'falsification'. I did not use the correct word. This is not a falsification, a proof by counterexample. It is not a proof (or disproof in this case) at all, but I've been saying this all along.

I stand by the rest of what I said. In this case, a positive correlation was hypothesized and none was observed. To say that the null result is useless because it doesn't disprove anything is crazy. Again, the Michelson-Morley experiment produced a null result, but it was hardly useless. It may not have proved that we're not surrounded by a medium through which light travels. But based on what people understood about disturbance of a medium, the original hypothesis needed to be reevaluated.
The experiment, if the method was sound, should have produced a positive correlation, but observed none, and so the hypothesis was less likely to be correct.

To borrow an example from the Simpsons--I sell you a rock that I say keeps bears from attacking you. You buy it and, sure enough, you are free from bear attacks. But then someone else comes along and says, "That rock doesn't work," and takes it away, and you still aren't attacked by any bears. Does this disprove the original hypothesis: that the rock was keeping bears at bay? No. It's possible hunting season started the day I took the rock away and most or all of the bears were killed. It's also possible that even though I took the rock away in March, most of the bears were still hibernating because of a late winter. But given the likelihood of either of these explanations or lack of it, it would be prudent at this point to suspend your slavish devotion to the original hypothesis until some corroborating evidence could be observed.

Again, the hypothesis here, that helmets save a significant number of cyclists' lives, isn't disproved by the null return, but given the fact that no corroborating evidence has been produced, and given the unlikely nature of alternative explanations of the data, it's time to reevaluate the original hypothesis: the idea that helmets are somehow a necessary part of bicycle safety equipment.
The way I understand science and null results (this is infact what I do on a daily basis, and I have infact published a few papers and I have in fact dealt with null results in my work). Nevermind how much of a di(k you were with the bear rock comment, come on I never said anything about correlation/coincidence/or causation at all. But any null result cannot be trusted because it can be caused by either A) the existence of no difference or B) poor methods. If a poor methodological concern is found, it should be addressed. The poor methods, including accidents that don't involve the head, has not been adequately addressed. The poor inflexibility of the con people is not seeing that we actually have agreed on much. 1 helmets don't protect when the accident doesn't involve the head 2. Most accidents don't involve the head and 3. when an accident involves the head a helmet would be helpful. The problem is that I personally think 2 is so obvious that it's not worth discussing and 3 is also so obvious that my heart is telling me this data will show large advantages in this specific situation. here's the kicker helmets are made for situation 3. But the con people are somehow against this...Anyways..

Now guess what it's time to quit hiding behind data, we've poked holes in it..massive holes. And it's time for you to make a decision. A real world decisions. If you're advocating no wearing a helmet, would you be willing to put your money where your mouth is and be found liable for your spreading of this idea? That is, if someone takes your advice and gets in an accident and has Brain damage, can they sue you? A lot of people read these posts, some under the age of 15 (who are not legally considered capable for making their own decisions and whose frontal lobes are not fully formed and thus there's biological support for this argument).

Also, now lets think about you and your soul. You find out that someone died after reading your convincing arguments, how would you feel? Like you convinced someone to not wear a helmet, and they died because of your advice....is this something you're willing to live with. This is where science and reality don't always merge.

A null result that may suggest that helmets don't do anything or may suggest that poor methods were used (poor data sampling in this case); is this strong enough for you to persuade people to not wear helmets? Is there not enough doubt in the null finding that you don't question the thing you are advocating. If you believe in it fully, then state your real name, your real address, your real phone number.

As for the null result thing, I'm a popperian, so a null result is not acceptable. Set your null to helmets protect against brain damage, and disprove this! That's the theory behind helmets. These data do not falsify this null. Which is the important null. Scientists don't interpret null results because they are liable for the conclusions that are drawn (i.e. they are viewed as a schmuck when bad things happen as a result of their poor research). The case in point is the ****** bad that said lead was safe and doesn't harm children...He based his findings on null results, just like you are..

As for the people not biking because of it, again, what is your value of a life? I mean one person dies that is an invaluable loss (according to philosophers like Kant anyways). But it's a tangent. The first data don't suggest helmets don't work. The second data suggest that there is a down side to helmets, but no one said helmets were angles. It's like this. Sex without a condom sucks, but Aids is worse. There are down sides to everything, but does this minor downside mean that we shouldn't promote bike safety? No!
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Old 04-07-09, 09:18 PM
  #170  
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Read this thread again. Look at the studies of helmet laws vs. cycling participation. Read the article I linked to about Copenhagen. This is not "my argument." It's not about my opinion vs. your opinion since we shouldn't be talking about ourselves or anecdotal evidence here when we have studies on the books that look at the big picture.

BTW, I'm not saying that bike helmet ads tell people they shouldn't bike. It's more subtle than that of course. Bike helmet ads and laws tell give people the impression that cycling is dangerous. After all, if it weren't dangerous, we wouldn't need a helmet! So even though statistics show that cycling is not dangerous and falls to the head are very, very, very, very rare, people start to think it is dangerous because helmets are associated with it. Then they are afraid to let their kids ride, and the next generation has lower ridership than the previous. Bummer.
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Old 04-08-09, 05:09 AM
  #171  
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
That's great. But just so we're clear here: it's not all about you/me. Naturally people are free to make personal choices. The only debate is about public policy and advocacy. And whether if we ignored helmet promotion if the very few heads that will hit the pavement without a helmet on is worth it if it means that millions of more people will be riding bikes than would be riding them if we scared them off by making cycling seem like something that is so dangerous that it requires a helmet.
It's actually much more dangerous, but everything else just makes you sweaty. We should be in full leathers, and full face helmets. Maybe there is armor that doesn't effect your cycling motion, but it's big kesh.
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Old 04-08-09, 06:43 AM
  #172  
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
Read this thread again. Look at the studies of helmet laws vs. cycling participation. Read the article I linked to about Copenhagen. This is not "my argument." It's not about my opinion vs. your opinion since we shouldn't be talking about ourselves or anecdotal evidence here when we have studies on the books that look at the big picture.

BTW, I'm not saying that bike helmet ads tell people they shouldn't bike. It's more subtle than that of course. Bike helmet ads and laws tell give people the impression that cycling is dangerous. After all, if it weren't dangerous, we wouldn't need a helmet! So even though statistics show that cycling is not dangerous and falls to the head are very, very, very, very rare, people start to think it is dangerous because helmets are associated with it. Then they are afraid to let their kids ride, and the next generation has lower ridership than the previous. Bummer.
One study does not make something true, I was saying a better way to show this is with an experiment. Your argument is tangential to the original one.
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Old 04-08-09, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
That's great. But just so we're clear here: it's not all about you/me. Naturally people are free to make personal choices. The only debate is about public policy and advocacy. And whether if we ignored helmet promotion if the very few heads that will hit the pavement without a helmet on is worth it if it means that millions of more people will be riding bikes than would be riding them if we scared them off by making cycling seem like something that is so dangerous that it requires a helmet.
I disagree with the notion that requiring helmets makes cycling seem so dangerous as to put people off.

What keeps people from riding is the fact that they are fat and they'll get sweaty and the saddle hurts their butt.
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Old 04-08-09, 11:04 AM
  #174  
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Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
I disagree with the notion that requiring helmets makes cycling seem so dangerous as to put people off.

What keeps people from riding is the fact that they are fat and they'll get sweaty and the saddle hurts their butt.
Exactly. They might use the helmet as an excuse, but in reality they are just plain old too lazy to ride.
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Old 04-08-09, 05:49 PM
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As I've very clearly mentioned before, we are talking about kids here, not old, lazy adults. Requiring helmets for kids tells parents that cycling is dangerous (even though a real look at the data will prove it isn't any more dangerous than activities which we don't require helmets for). If cycling seems dangerous, parents are therefore less likely to allow their kids to ride bikes (to school for example). The kids grow up to become adults that were never turned on to cycling in the first place and very unlikely to take it up in adulthood. That is how requiring helmets cuts down on bike usage.
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