Helmets: to wear, or not to wear?



framism

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Apr 24, 2006
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dhk said:
Sorry, but these vaguely-worded generalizations sound totally ignorant to me. We all know that helmets provide a degree of protection against any head injury.

We assume that. I'm now not totally convinced that they do. Did you read the whole website, or just that page? It's very interesting, no matter the choice to wear a helmet or not.

The notion that I'm more likely to crash when wearing a helmet is ridiculous. I haven't ridden without a helmet in 30 years, and still am very aware of the possibility of crashing whenever the road is slick, sandy or rough, or when I'm bombing downhill at 50 mph and the warning sign has the upcoming turn marked at 25.

I believe what is being referred to is not the individual, but the group. For every safety aware individual like yourself, there's an individual who doesn't even consider safety. That individual, when wearing a helmet, is likely to "risk compensate".

Not sure what "extremely small" risk is, but head-injury is one of the primary causes of death in cycling accidents.

This data - from Sécurité Routière; CERTU (Centre d'études sur les réseaux, les transports, l'urbanisme et les consturctions publiques). March 2005. - suggests otherwise.

The health benefits of cycling are the same whether I'm wearing a helmet or not; just that going bare-headed increases the risk of something very unhealthy occurring.

The health benefits of cycling are the same whether a helmet is being worn or not. That is, if one is cycling. This is the concern for compulsory helmet legislation; it reduces the number of cyclists. Going bare-headed does not increase the risk of something unhealthy occurring. If one is in an accident, wearing a helmet may well counter some damage, but the issue is contentious enough not to be able to state it as fact.

Agree on the final summary: learning to ride well and avoiding crashes is the best defense. But again, what does that have to do with helmet use?

It implies that wearing a helmet does not necessarily make you safe. I see the information being there for us to make an informed choice to wear a helmet or not.

I have been fortunate never to have received a serious injury in 30 years of riding, but I understand that I can be in an accident on my next ride, either due to a mistake on my part, or caused by another rider or driver. Anyone who thinks they are too good or too experienced a rider to ever crash is really fooling themselves.

Totally. Awareness is the bedrock of safety.
 

framism

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Apr 24, 2006
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Thanks Insight Driver, some informative and balanced information. Cheers!

I especially enjoyed this:

* 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 bicycling, risk compensation theory negates health gains, scientific studies are defective, the overall road environment needs to be improved.
* The way in which the debate has been conducted is unhelpful to those wishing to make a balanced judgement on the issue.

from the UK Department for Transport, (No.30)Bicycle helmets: review of effectiveness

and

What about the stories of a helmet saving someones life?
We've heard these anecdotes, but the stories you won't hear are the more frequent ones of bareheaded cyclists falling off their bikes without incurring head injuries. They don't lend themselves well to story-telling.

from here.
 

daniels

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Apr 23, 2004
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Jeez, isnt it obvious that wearing a helmet is safer than not? I simply can't understand why anyone would think that riding without a helmet is safer. Sure, helmets aren't perfect, and in some cases nothing will help you (like getting hit by a semi trailer) but some protection is surely better than nothing.

As for the "stories" about bareheaded cyclists surviving crashes... what do they prove? Are you saying that a cyclist with a helmet on wouldn't survive the same crash?

Oh, and yes, I have been hit by a car before. My helmet cracked down the side and I didn't even suffer a concussion. I think I would have been worse off if I wasn't wearing a helmet don't you? My brother probably would have been seriously injured as a child if he wasn't wearing a helmet when riding a bike as well.
 

framism

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Apr 24, 2006
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daniels said:
As for the "stories" about bareheaded cyclists surviving crashes... what do they prove? Are you saying that a cyclist with a helmet on wouldn't survive the same crash?

Oh, and yes, I have been hit by a car before. My helmet cracked down the side and I didn't even suffer a concussion. I think I would have been worse off if I wasn't wearing a helmet don't you? My brother probably would have been seriously injured as a child if he wasn't wearing a helmet when riding a bike as well.

The "stories" of unhelmeted riders surviving crashes proves as much as the stories of helmeted riders surviving crashes: absolutely nothing. A cracked helmet does not necessarily imply that the skull would have been cracked if a helmet hadn't been worn; a cracked helmet equals a cracked helmet, nothing more, nothing less.

Last week I went to a meeting in central London. I saw messenger after messenger, many of whom weren't wearing helmets. At the time I thought, what crazy fools they are to be zipping around dense traffic without wearing one! Now, after reading a variety of information of the effectiveness of bike helmets and gaining a rudimentary understanding of the science of bike helmets, I'm not so quick to think them crazy fools. I'm not convinced that I should wear a helmet, but nor am I convinced that I'm safer without them; I choose, for now, not to wear a helmet because I realise that I ride more riskily when wearing one than when I am not.

framism
 

dhk

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Sep 1, 2003
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Read the policy page of the website, which said they are concerned that helmet promotion labels cycling as a dangerous activity, and hence discourages new riders. The fact is that yes, cycling is a dangerous activity. All new potential riders should be warned that they face serious injury or death every time they go on the road.

The data you quoted on head injury rates looks very questionable also. Here's a link you may want to study: http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm Note the % of cycling deaths due to traumatic brain injury in the US, as well as the relative number of fatalities of cyclists with and without helmets.

Again, it's your choice whether you want to bear the risk of cycling without a helmet, but the arguement that you're as safe or safer without one just doesn't fly anymore.
 

framism

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Apr 24, 2006
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Definitely worth visiting both for balance; helmets.org is pro-helmet, whereas cyclehelmets.org tends to lean the other way:

Whilst cyclehelmets.org strives to be objective in its selection of information for presentation, there is more helmet-sceptic material on this web site than that supportive of helmets. This is in part a matter of copyright (we provide references to journals but cannot generally give direct access), but largely because there is a far wider range of arguments and sources that cast doubt upon one or more aspects of helmet efficacy. cyclehelmets.org is not helmet-sceptic on principle, but because pro-helmet predictions are so often contradicted by real-world experience.
 

Insight Driver

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framism said:
Definitely worth visiting both for balance; helmets.org is pro-helmet, whereas cyclehelmets.org tends to lean the other way:

Let us try to constrain this debate into one narrow question: Will there be less deaths by cyclists in a population where everyone wears helmets versus a population where no one wears a helmet? Look all over for statistics that would give weight to the answer one way or another. Filter out all other factors. Would the answer be that helmets will save some cyclists from death?

What percentage of cyclists will have a head injury while cycling? In all my years of riding and crashing I've never bumped my head. I have always worn a helmet, except when I was a child since helmet laws were not in existance at that time.

Filter out all the debate and the choice really boils down to perceived risk. Those who perceive the risk is too low to justify wearing a helmet versus those who perceive the risk high enough to justify wearing a helmet. Anything that adds to that choice is just rationalizing the decision.
 

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