Helmet and accident experience, round helmet seems better

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Doug, Jan 22, 2003.

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  1. Doug

    Doug Guest

    Hey all,

    I recently suffered a fairly serious biking accident, my first, while not wearing a helmet. I
    suffered a third degree shoulder separation and by the grace of God no worse it appears (1
    month out).

    I was heading north on a beach bike path. No pedestrian shoulder. a concrete wall was to my right
    (cordoning off a power plant). Sand was off the left edge of the path.

    A family was heading opposite, the parents walking, the kids riding small bikes, with no other
    traffic of which to speak. I did not notice the kid at all until a split second before he made his
    move. I was doing about 16 mph against a decent head wind. I can't recall if I was in the drops with
    two fingers on the levers or on the hoods. As we almost passed, one kid drove directly across my
    lane, having swerved through the lane stripes in a whim of play.

    It was the wall, the kid, the parents, or braking. In that fraction of a second I hit the brakes too
    hard and went head over, my bike flipping with me still clipped to my feet. I was upside down
    vertical when my head hit, saw a flash of light, and landed on my back. I somehow rolled over my
    right shoulder when landing, causing its injury.

    I think my speed saved me from a serious neck injury. If slower, I may not have rotated fully.
    Perhaps the bike clipped to my feet also helped me rotate more.

    The point of all this:

    In researching helmets, I read about the importance of not having protrusions, to minimize the
    chance of catching the ground and injuring the neck, the ideal shape being smooth round. In the
    case of my accident, I indeed think a helmet with the commonly found pointed rear end could have
    been a disaster. If that rear point had caught when I was upside down vertical, my neck may have
    been bent and jerked, injuring it seriously. For me there is no question: I don't care about the
    better styling of the slick helmets with pointed rears (and sides too). It'll be strictly round
    shapes for me.

    Doug
     
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  2. Victory

    Victory Guest

    Safer to ride in the streets, than on those multi-use paths, from my experience.
     
  3. Tim McTeague

    Tim McTeague Guest

    For me there is no question: I don't
    > care about the better styling of the slick helmets with pointed rears (and sides too). It'll be
    > strictly round shapes for me.
    >
    > Doug

    Well, in my mind there is question. My guess is that it was the impact of your shoulder hitting
    pavement that caused the dislocation. From your description I don't see where the lip on the back of
    the helmet had anything to do with your injury. Now if you were sliding on pavement and the back of
    the helmet "snagged" a break in the pavement I could see how it may result in some kind of neck
    injury. The rear beaks are pretty much just styling in my opinion but I am not going to lose much
    sleep fretting about what degree of hazard they pose. If seems you were easily convinced by the
    wrong evidence. I read a story about a dog, that chased cars all it's life, who one day ran down a
    street it had never been on before. It was hit by the car it was chasing but survived it's wounds.
    For the rest of it's days, it continued to chase cars, just none down that fated street. In a simple
    dog's mind the only thing that was different that day was the street. Much as we may not want to
    admit it, human brains pretty much function, on a primal level, in the same way.

    Tim McTeague
     
  4. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "Doug" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Hey all,
    >
    > I recently suffered a fairly serious biking accident, my first, while not wearing a helmet. I
    > suffered a third degree shoulder separation and by the grace of God no worse it appears (1
    > month out).

    OUCH! You have my sympathies. You're going to receive plenty of critcism here though, so hang on!

    >
    > I was heading north on a beach bike path. No pedestrian shoulder. a concrete wall was to my right
    > (cordoning off a power plant). Sand was off the left edge of the path.

    Bike (this really wasn't a bike path, per se, but a "multi-use path) paths as training
    places ... bad.

    > A family was heading opposite, the parents walking, the kids riding small bikes, with no other
    > traffic of which to speak. I did not notice the kid at all until a split second before he made his
    > move. I was doing about 16 mph against a decent head wind. I can't recall if I was in the drops
    > with two fingers on the levers or on the hoods. As we almost passed, one kid drove directly across
    > my lane, having swerved through the lane stripes in a whim of play.

    16mph on "bike path" passing family unit with kids (head still down fighting the wind?) ... bad.
    Somehow not noticing the approaching kid even though they were (in addition to you) the only people
    around ... bad.

    >
    > It was the wall, the kid, the parents, or braking. In that fraction of a second I hit the brakes
    > too hard and went head over, my bike flipping with me still clipped to my feet. I was upside down
    > vertical when my head hit, saw a flash of light, and landed on my back. I somehow rolled over my
    > right shoulder when landing, causing its injury.

    Your head and shoulder probably hit at the same time after your front wheel slid out from braking. I
    will bet there is sand on that path.

    > I think my speed saved me from a serious neck injury. If slower, I may not have rotated fully.
    > Perhaps the bike clipped to my feet also helped me rotate more.

    Doubt it. Your natural reflexes might've helped, but beyond that it's always pure chance once you're
    airborn. You might be able to "tuck and roll" but you can't be sure you won't be sliding and you
    won't have a choice as to the obstacles that await you.

    >
    > The point of all this:
    >
    > In researching helmets, I read about the importance of not having protrusions, to minimize the
    > chance of catching the ground and injuring the neck, the ideal shape being smooth round. In the
    > case of my accident, I indeed think a helmet with the commonly found pointed rear end could have
    > been a disaster. If that rear point had caught when I was upside down vertical, my neck may have
    > been bent and jerked, injuring it seriously. For me there is no question: I don't care about the
    > better styling of the slick helmets with pointed rears (and sides too). It'll be strictly round
    > shapes for me.>

    You're drawing way too much from this one experience. You ought to be focusing on the concepts I
    mentioned above.

    Heal well.

    Robin Hubert
     
  5. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >In researching helmets, I read about the importance of not having protrusions, to minimize the
    >chance of catching the ground and injuring the neck, the ideal shape being smooth round.

    I took a header windsurfing. One of those crashes when people on the beach say "Ouch! That
    must've hurt".

    Moderately messed up my neck and my take is that the helmet had a role in that as it's larger
    outline caught the water and exerted a twisting motion on my neck.

    I'm not against helmets - wear one all the time when biking - but your experience rings true to me.
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  6. H. M. Leary

    H. M. Leary Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, "ViCtory" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Safer to ride in the streets, than on those multi-use paths, from my experience.
    >
    >

    Thats the truth!

    I won¹t ride the MUP between Memorial and Labor Day. Too many joggers bladers and those damn side by
    side baby strollers. They all look at a bicycle as if it doesn¹t belong here.

    This AM I was alone on the trail. Of course it was about 10 degrees and a lot of the path is still
    lightly covered in snow. Had a great ride.

    HAND

    --
    ³Freedom Is a Light for Which Many Have Died in Darkness³

    - Tomb of the unknown - American Revolution
     
  7. Phil Holman

    Phil Holman Guest

    "Robin Hubert" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > "Doug" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > > Hey all,
    > >
    > > I recently suffered a fairly serious biking accident, my first,
    while
    > > not wearing a helmet. I suffered a third degree shoulder separation and by the grace of God no
    > > worse it appears (1 month out).
    >
    > OUCH! You have my sympathies. You're going to receive plenty of
    critcism
    > here though, so hang on!

    A helmet issue, front wheel braking and multi use pathways all rolled into one. Where does one
    start? It's interesting to consider what you could have done in this situation to improve your
    chances of avoiding a crash. I'm not addressing the preventative measures already suggested (the
    advice is good none the less) because inevitabaly one comes across situations totally unexpected.
    I'm of the opinion that hitting the brakes is not always the best reaction and so the question
    arises what would one do next time when presented with a similar situation. Avoiding the child is
    tops and staying upright is also high on the list. I've picked my way through some serious bike
    pileups and avoided some potentially nasty traffic incidents through keeping cool and threading my
    way through. My message is therefore to have a game plan for every situation you can think of.

    Phil Holman
     
  8. Erik Freitag

    Erik Freitag Guest

    In <[email protected]> Tim McTeague wrote:
    > For me there is no question: I don't
    >> care about the better styling of the slick helmets with pointed rears (and sides too). It'll be
    >> strictly round shapes for me.
    >>
    >> Doug
    >
    > Well, in my mind there is question. My guess is that it was the impact of your shoulder hitting
    > pavement that caused the dislocation. From your description I don't see where the lip on the back
    > of the helmet had anything to do with your injury.

    Did you notice this part of Doug's post?

    >I recently suffered a fairly serious biking accident, my first, while not wearing a helmet.
     
  9. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    > but your experience rings true to me.

    Oops! Make that "your line of thought rings true to me."

    I, too, missed the part about not wearing a helmet during that crash.
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  10. Doug

    Doug Guest

    >> I suffered a third degree shoulder separation
    >
    >OUCH! You have my sympathies. You're going to receive plenty of critcism here though, so hang on!

    Thanks. The crit is fine, I'm not immune from having to learn some lessons from bad happenings.

    >> I was heading north on a beach bike path.
    >
    >Bike (this really wasn't a bike path, per se, but a "multi-use path) paths as training
    >places ... bad.

    Yes, I know what you're saying. In this case it actually was a bike only path and painted as such. I
    think that is the key to why the guy's homeowner's insurance has been so quick and
    non-confrontational with me.
    >
    >16mph on "bike path" passing family unit with kids (head still down fighting the wind?) ... bad.
    >Somehow not noticing the approaching kid even though they were (in addition to you) the only people
    >around ... bad.

    Valid. I didn't even recognize the parents were walking until moments before. The kid was between
    the dad in front and the mom in back, then turned and popped out.

    >Your head and shoulder probably hit at the same time after your front wheel slid out from braking.
    >I will bet there is sand on that path.

    The stretch of path is old, rough asphalt. From experience, when there is sand along that stretch,
    it nestles into the crags and doesn't affect traction.

    I'm most concerned with two issues: 1, paying closer attention to my surroundings. 2, panic braking
    techniques.

    >Heal well.

    Thank you.

    Doug
     
  11. Doug

    Doug Guest

    >>I read about the importance of not having protrusions, to minimize the chance of catching the
    >>ground and injuring the neck, the ideal shape being smooth round.
    >
    >Moderately messed up my neck and my take is that the helmet had a role in that as it's larger
    >outline caught the water and exerted a twisting motion on my neck.
    >
    >I'm not against helmets - wear one all the time when biking - but your experience rings true to me.

    Pete,

    Yes, that's what I read. Catching the ground or water and twisting or torquing the neck. I'm fairly
    well convinced, almost beyond what inconclusive studies could tell me.

    At the least, if we ask why helmets have those pointed rears, what is the answer? I don't know. Is
    it strictly for style? To evoke the aero styling of TT helmets?

    I'm not convinced helmets would help much at all in most bike accidents and have never worn one.
    Even in the case of a simple concussion I'm not convinced a helmet is terribly useful. But I could
    have cracked my skull in this case. If a rounded shape, I don't see how one could hurt.

    Doug
     
  12. Doug

    Doug Guest

    > Safer to ride in the streets, than on those multi-use paths, from my experience.

    It could very well be. My instincts told me cars and bikes made for a dangerous mix, but I have
    to rethink.

    Doug
     
  13. Tim McTeague

    Tim McTeague Guest

    My bad, that's what I get for speed reading!

    Tim

    "Erik Freitag" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > In <[email protected]> Tim McTeague wrote:
    > > For me there is no question: I don't
    > >> care about the better styling of the slick helmets with pointed rears (and sides too). It'll be
    > >> strictly round shapes for me.
    > >>
    > >> Doug
    > >
    > > Well, in my mind there is question. My guess is that it was the impact of your shoulder hitting
    > > pavement that caused the dislocation. From your description I don't see where the lip on the
    > > back of the helmet had anything to do with your injury.
    >
    > Did you notice this part of Doug's post?
    >
    > >I recently suffered a fairly serious biking accident, my first, while not wearing a helmet.
     
  14. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    > I recently suffered a fairly serious biking accident, my first, while not wearing a helmet. I
    > suffered a third degree shoulder separation and by the grace of God no worse it appears (1
    > month out).

    > <snip> In that fraction of a second I hit the brakes too hard and went head over, my bike
    > flipping with me still clipped to my feet. I was upside down vertical when my head hit, saw a
    > flash of light, and landed on my back. I somehow rolled over my right shoulder when landing,
    > causing its injury.

    You probably didn't land on your back, if you separated your shoulder that severely. You probably
    landed mostly on your right shoulder, driving your shoulderblade down and away from your collarbone
    and teraing the ligaments. I'd bet there was a pretty promounced "pop" when it happened.

    All I can say is OUCH! and you have my sympathy. I separated my right shoulder in a crash at the
    velodrome when I hit a fallen rider and was dumped headfirst into the infield. I only had a first
    degree AV separation and that was quite painful enough, thank you very much.

    > In researching helmets, I read about the importance of not having protrusions, to minimize the
    > chance of catching the ground and injuring the neck, the ideal shape being smooth round. In the
    > case of my accident, I indeed think a helmet with the commonly found pointed rear end could have
    > been a disaster. If that rear point had caught when I was upside down vertical, my neck may have
    > been bent and jerked, injuring it seriously. For me there is no question: I don't care about the
    > better styling of the slick helmets with pointed rears (and sides too). It'll be strictly round
    > shapes for me.

    The problem with "information" on bike helmets, both pro and con, is that most of the "data" is
    speculative at best and just plain worthless at worst. There is ultimately no conclusive proof that
    helmets offer any significant protection nor any conclusive proof that they don't. So far, anyway.
    And there is even less proof about helmet shapes. There are too many variables involved in a bike
    accident where your head hits something.

    There is one known thing: the marketing of helmets by helmet makers and support by well-meaning
    busybodies has served to reinforce the notion that bicycling is a frightfully dangerous pastime that
    should only be partaken in full body armor and completely out of the realm of automobiles. Parents
    are now so fearful for their children's safety that they may not even buy their children bicycles
    nor teach them how to ride- and certainly won't let them ride anywhere by themselves for
    transportation or fun because it's "too dangerous." As a result, participation in cycling continues
    to plummet in the U.S. and the
    U.K., and possibly other places as well.

    I rode a bike for 25 years without a helmet and never suffered a brain injury despite the occasional
    crash. When I started racing (age 33) I started wearing a helmet more or less habitually to get used
    to the thing- never suffered a brain injury despite the occasional crash. Crashing is far more
    likely in a bike race, I have discovered, than in any other form of riding a bike. What a surprise.
    Now I no longer race, and I wear a helmet most times (group rides almost always, sometimes on solo
    rides). Frankly I feel no safer wearing a helmet and no less safe without one, but it's become
    habitual to where one. I probably won't buy another helmet in my lifetime, though, I'm guessing
    because I really see little benefit based on the available information.
     
  15. Doug

    Doug Guest

    >A helmet issue, front wheel braking and multi use pathways all rolled into one. Where does
    >one start?
    >
    >My message is therefore to have a game plan for every situation you can think of.

    Indeed I have given this thought and it deserves more. Placing my hands and fingers for braking is a
    good first Q. Before I was always at the brake ready, save for flat out truly empty stretches. Now I
    wonder if I should only be at the ready with the rear wheels, or not be ready at all. It is too
    easy, for me anyway, to grab those brakes. Perhaps better to plan to evade. Is less than great brake
    pad material better? That is blasphemous of course, but I wonder. Greater lever force being
    necessary in that case. Or simply backing off the cables, requiring a longer pull. By definition,
    we're talking about panic, no thought, stopping. With thought almost any brake pads or lever throws
    will work acceptably. But what can I do to minimize the risk of no thought braking?

    In the case of downhilling I had thought before about getting suddenly trapped by cars or facing a
    huge pothole. I've paid attention to dump areas as a result, ie grass or dirt to fall into, or
    shoulders to enter, and have of course paid close attention to cars. But that was 25-40 mph stuff of
    "serious" risk in my mind. I've learned the hard way that flats at 16 can be seriously risky too.

    Doug
     
  16. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >I'm not convinced helmets would help much at all in most bike accidents and have never worn one.

    I had an outlook something like that for about 20 years. Did a *lot* of road miles thinking that if
    I can't feel the wind in my hair, what's the point?

    My additude adjustment came one day when I was riding my ATB. Was coming up a slight rise, lost the
    front wheel on some slippery mud, and went "splat" sideways.

    Layed there stunned for a few minutes, then sat up to find the pointed corner of some larger boulder
    protruding about five inches out of the ground roughly three inches from where the side of my melon
    went "splat". Looked like a mini pyramid-of-Gaze sitting there.

    I then realized that three inches was all that was between me eating dinner that night and my
    carcass being dinner that afternoon.

    That plus seeing a video tape of a guy dying right before the camera when he fell off a
    windsurfer/skateboard doing about 3 mph and cracked his skull on the edge of a concrete curb sort of
    decided me.

    Since then I've worn a helmet fairly religiously when cycling and, also since then, I've retired two
    helmets from being speared by deadheads poking out of low tree limbs. Not to suggest that one of
    those would've killed me, but I definately feel that I'm ahead of the game now...
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  17. Depeator

    Depeator Guest

    > I'm not convinced helmets would help much at all in most bike accidents and have never worn one.
    > Even in the case of a simple concussion I'm not convinced a helmet is terribly useful. But I could
    > have cracked my skull in this case. If a rounded shape, I don't see how one could hurt.
    >
    > Doug

    I agree. I'm not convinced either that helmets help much in most bike accidents. But they definitely
    do protect your head in at least some accidents. IMHO that's enough reason for wearing one.

    Last summer I crashed on my daily after work ride at a speed of about 35 mph - riding downhill I hit
    the brakes - there was sand on the road that hadn't been there the day before. My head hit the road
    so hard the helmet cracked. I also broke two ribs and my collar bone, plus severe abrasions. My
    doctor said that I'd probably be dead if I hadn't worn a helmet. I always thought helmets were for
    sissies - not anymore.

    In some cases accidents happen so fast that you can't react fast enough to keep your head safely
    above ground. Or when you hit the ground the force of your impact is so great that you can't prevent
    your head hitting the ground - as might happen when a car hits you and sends you flying.

    Even if a helmet proves useless in most accidents - it might save your life the next time you crash.

    Carsten
     
  18. Doug

    Doug Guest

    On Sun, 19 Jan 2003 14:33:58 -0600, Tim McNamara <[email protected]> wrote:

    >> I suffered a third degree shoulder separation

    >You probably didn't land on your back, if you separated your shoulder that severely. You probably
    >landed mostly on your right shoulder, driving your shoulderblade down and away from your
    >collarbone and

    Yes, you're right. I meant to say I ended up flat on my back, as opposed to crumpled on my side. I
    went over the bars without twisting my body to either side, if I recall correctly anyway.

    >All I can say is OUCH! and you have my sympathy.

    Thanks, accepted.

    >The problem with "information" on bike helmets, both pro and con, is that most of the "data" is
    >speculative at best and just plain worthless at worst. There is ultimately no conclusive proof that
    >helmets offer any significant protection nor any conclusive proof that they don't. So far, anyway.
    >And there is even less proof about helmet shapes. There are too many variables involved in a bike
    >accident where your head hits something.

    Yes, all so true.

    Doug
     
  19. Doug wrote:
    >
    > Indeed I have given this thought and it deserves more. Placing my hands and fingers for braking is
    > a good first Q. Before I was always at the brake ready, save for flat out truly empty stretches.
    > Now I wonder if I should only be at the ready with the rear wheels, or not be ready at all. It is
    > too easy, for me anyway, to grab those brakes. Perhaps better to plan to evade. Is less than great
    > brake pad material better? That is blasphemous of course, but I wonder. Greater lever force being
    > necessary in that case. Or simply backing off the cables, requiring a longer pull. By definition,
    > we're talking about panic, no thought, stopping. With thought almost any brake pads or lever
    > throws will work acceptably. But what can I do to minimize the risk of no thought braking?

    I'd say you want good brakes. Rather than working to weaken your braking system, I'd suggest working
    to practice your skills. Get to an empty parking lot and practice braking. Start slow and gentle, do
    many, many trials, and gradually increase the deceleration until you can stop as quickly as
    physically possible.

    The limit is when your rear wheel is just beginning to lose contact with the ground, which is the
    beginning of a "header" - going over the bars. This means that in a quick stop, almost all the
    braking should be done by the front wheel. Some say _all_ braking should be done in front, but if
    you've got some rear brake, the slight skidding that happens just before rear liftoff will warn you
    to slacken off on the front brake, to prevent going over the bars.

    You can also practice shifting your weight back by sliding your butt off the seat. This helps a bit.
    But above all, practice, and remember your practice when you ride. When the panic situation arises,
    you will have built up the reflexes.

    > In the case of downhilling I had thought before about getting suddenly trapped by cars or facing a
    > huge pothole.

    I think you're unlikely to brake before a pothole on a fast downhill. I'd be thinking about steering
    around it, or in the worst case, jumping
    it. That's another skill to practice.

    --
    Frank Krygowski [email protected]
     
  20. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    At least you "know" that cars are not going to suddenly jump across the yellow line and plow into
    you without at least some warning...

    I've ridden the Washington and Old Dominion Rails to Trails path in the DC area and have found that
    I prefer dealing with the cars. Much more predictable.

    "Doug" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > Safer to ride in the streets, than on those multi-use paths, from my experience.
    >
    > It could very well be. My instincts told me cars and bikes made for a dangerous mix, but I have to
    > rethink.
    >
    > Doug
     
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