PK and Gonzalez - sit down and have a pint



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J

Just Zis Guy

Guest
Sorry, lads. I know I've been a bit aggressive. Please see it in context.

I was thinking about this on the way home (good things, bikes, encourage a calmer mindset). Here's
how it is:

At the moment someone is trying to get a bill passed in parliament which would make it a crime
for me to allow my children to ride a pedal cycle without a helmet in the park. No distinction is
made between bikes, tricycles, four-wheeled pedal go-karts or indeed unicycles. That pisses me
off. A lot.

This bill will probably fail, thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Next year they
will be back. And the lesson from everywhere else is that they will keep coming back until they
succeed - unless we can firmly establish in the minds of those who matter the fact that the
obsession with helmets has completely obscured the real issue of how to prevent crashes happening
in the first place.

The reason parks are included in the Martlew bill is that most child cyclist head injuries happen
off-road. And roads are included because most of the serious injuries are on the road. Most needs to
be seen in context: the current rate of serious child cyclist head injuries amounts to around one
every 2-3 months per A&E unit, and the fatality rate even on the road is substantially lower than
for child pedestrians, despite the presence in the age group under consideration of the young men
aged 15-19 whose risk-taking behaviour is known to be highest in most areas. Just look at their
fatality rate when they start driving.

Why do the helmet lobby discount training? Recently I found one paper which suggests this is because
it is not effective in changing play behaviour. But the most serious injuries happen on the roads,
so surely if we modify road behaviour and the worst injuries are prevented, we have won?

The Martlew Bill was originally drafted by BHIT, who have a long history of presenting the largest
figure they can find as if it were representative of all available data. Most of the MPs they have
"got at" have not been told that a contrary position exists, apparently contrary to the requirements
of the Charity Commissioners on political lobbying by charities. They have been given nearly a
quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers' money to prove that you can increase helmet wearing,
reduce injuries and not deter cycling - and thus far there is no published result. Angela Lee's
latest paper falls back on TRT to assert benefit, and then bases a call for compulsion on the fact
that BHIT have proved that helmet promotion increases helmet use bu not by enough. She claims
reduced injury figures in Reading, but gives no figures. To cap it all she gives a figure for deaths
of 50 per annum from an "anonymous" source when the actual figure for 2002 was 22, and the ten year
average is 36, with a downward trend.

So I am working hard to kill the Martlew bill in the best way possible: a way which actually changes
the focus to look at what really benefits cyclist safety, rather than making people wear helmets and
then wondering why that didn't work and where all the cyclists ahve gone. As an engineer the obvious
solution is to tackle the source of the problem before trying an expensive corrective measure.
Quality by design not by inspection is received wisdom - why cyclist safety by injury mitigation not
by crash prevention?

I am currently dealing here and outside urc with three communities.

One is regular cyclists, most of whom are Just Folks. Most of them (like me) wear helmets some of
the time, not all of the time, and all of them (like us?) are strongly opposed to compulsion for a
number of reasons. Many (like me) were originally pro-helmet and have moved to a more sceptical
stance often following discussions in this NG.

Another is activists opposing the Martlew Bill. At present a lot of MPs oppose it either on
libertarian grounds, or on grounds of practicality due to low present wearing rates. This is weak: I
want to ensure that when the bill comes round again they have much more robust reasons to oppose it.
Most MPs, like most of the population, have no idea that there is even a contrary position to be
argued. One reason they don't know is because the people they pay to tell them, researchers in
Universities, are so busy trying to reproduce Thompson, Rivara and Thompson that they are not even
trying to establish whether there are better ways of establishing cyclist safety. I have spent quite
a lot of time searching for sources and have only come across one reference to date describing a
weak study of training initiatives.

Ironically if the public were more aware of the contrary position, it might reduce one of the
primary means by which it is thought that the benefit is eroded...

The third community is True Believers. If you show them the graph of head injury rates for New
Zealand, and point out that cyclist head injury rates correlate better with the general population
than with helmet use, they quote Thompson, Rivara and Thompson's original 88% figure at you. Their
normal parting shot is "anybody who doesn't wear a helmet has nothing to protect." I get flames from
them and mostly tell them to go away and read the other half of the story.

Now, I used to be a True Believer - though not to the extent of advocating compulsion for adults. I
did once think it was justified for children. I thought this because I - in common with most people
- had no idea there was a contrary position to be argued. The sources I trusted, like the
Government, told me that helmets save umpteen percent of head injuries, and I had leaflets in the
library telling me the same thing, so it had to be true. I think it was Tony Raven who set me right,
but whatever: the figures from Australia came as a real shock.

There were two reasons for it being a real shock. The first was that I had no idea that such data
even existed, because nobody had hinted it was there. The second was that not only was this data
well known in professional circles, the response of many helmet advocates to it was simply to
repudiate it. Not to rebut, but simply to assert that it was wrong. Or to ignore it.

My exchange with Angela Lee in the Reading Chronicle last year is probably the main reason why I
have moved to a position of disbelieving pro-helmet claims rather than just treating them with
caution. I won't rehash it here, but BHIT have been given nearly a quarter of a million pounds of
taxpayers' money, and the best they can do is apparently a bit of shroud-waving and quoting TRT (and
some grossly exaggerated statistics for danger).

But of course not all helmet advocates are BeHIT. So I am working through a large number of studies
on both sides of the argument, because although I have read widely before I haven't kept references
since it was largely for my own benefit. Once or twice I've found my memory at fault, but for the
most part it's just as I remmeber it: there is, at the population level, simply no support for a
substantial protective effect from helmets. There is, at the small scale, some evidence of effect.
And these researchers, being paid by Governments with our money, are so busy quoting each other and
trying to reproduce TRT and failing that nobody is actually investigating the question which I (and
I think everybody here) asked as soon as I saw the disparity between the two sets of figures: why?

Wouldn't you like to know why the massively positive results of the hospital studies are so
completely at odds with data in whole populations? I would. We are talking about large claims here:
the average for pro-helmt studies is about 2/3 of injuries saved, but if you look at child
pedestrian and child cyclist head injury data for various countries with various increases in helmet
use, the effect is statistically insignificant. I would go as far as to say that if you plot the
rates for pedestrians and cyclists from most of the countries for which data is available, you would
be challenged to say which rate was which. Whatever happens to helmet use. And every tme I ask why I
either get told that there is no provable benefit, which I know, or that "studies" show a massive
protective effect, which I also know.

We can speculate about risk compensation and torsional injuries and failure modes and so on, but we
can't quote hard data because the people who have the budgets to research these issues not only
aren't studying them, many of them simply deny that the disparity exists.

They are quite happy to discount the possibility of risk compensation, as per Research Report 30
(now at last being corrected), but that is their sole response to the observed facts.

I'm an engineer. I know that if you have two sets of irreconcilable data, you have some explaining
to do. It indicates incorrect assumptions, a failure of analysis or some other problem. And in the
case of helmets, the some other problem could easily be accounted for by the fact that the pro
studies are all small-scale, and while they represent themselves as case-control studies, actually
they are not: the cases and the controls often differ very substantially. I am not a statistician,
but I know that for accuracy you need big numbers. And the studies with the biggest numbers - the
whole population data - show no overall benefit.

Moreover, I know that the burden of proof is on those who are proposing change. And "because
Thompson, Rivara and Thompson said so" no longer works as proof.

Guy
===
May contain traces of irony. Contents liable to settle after posting.
http://chapmancentral.demon.co.uk
 
P

Pk

Guest
Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:
> Sorry, lads. I know I've been a bit aggressive. Please see it in context.
>
> I was thinking about this on the way home (good things, bikes, encourage a calmer mindset). Here's
> how it is:

Big snip.

I know all that, you've said it all many times in many different ways.

I've been involved in organising a number of successful campaigns against proposed action by the
local council, and one in supporting the council's proposals against vociferous protests from a
minority resident group. So far I have a 100% success rate. 4 different campaigns in 3 different
policy areas.

The most important thing to be is right.

The second is be able to prove it.

The third is say it in a way that is clear, simply understood and unarguably correct.

It is on this last one that much of what you say gives me problems. You are here preaching to people
who are almost all convinced by the anti compulsion arguments. Yet, you make some of us bridle at
your over statement of your case and your paranoia wrt some articles. Take yesterday's Irish article
- you could have taken that as supporting the anti compulsion case as "..it clearly shows that
across Europe governments allocate a low priority .... only 3/20 have such a policy the rest prefer
to focus on areas that matter" Instead, you look at one or two lines in the article that refer to
helmets and twist the sense of the piece. You could even have used it "... even such strident pro-
hemeteers as NN & NN illustrated the low priority that should be attached to helmet
legislation....when they identified a long list of higher priority areas for legislation in Ireland"
! They are then left trying to defend their ambiguity and conflicting positions rather than you
trying to defend your over spin of the article!

pk
 
M

Michael Macclan

Guest
On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 00:30:58 +0000 (UTC), PK wrote:

> Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:
>> Sorry, lads. I know I've been a bit aggressive. Please see it in context.
>>
>> I was thinking about this on the way home (good things, bikes, encourage a calmer mindset).
>> Here's how it is:
>
>
> Big snip.
>
> I know all that, you've said it all many times in many different ways.
>
> I've been involved in organising a number of successful campaigns against proposed action by the
> local council, and one in supporting the council's proposals against vociferous protests from a
> minority resident group. So far I have a 100% success rate. 4 different campaigns in 3 different
> policy areas.
>
> The most important thing to be is right.
>
> The second is be able to prove it.
>
> The third is say it in a way that is clear, simply understood and unarguably correct.
>
> It is on this last one that much of what you say gives me problems. You are here preaching to
> people who are almost all convinced by the anti compulsion arguments. Yet, you make some of us
> bridle at your over statement of your case and your paranoia wrt some articles. Take yesterday's
> Irish article - you could have taken that as supporting the anti compulsion case as "..it clearly
> shows that across Europe governments allocate a low priority .... only 3/20 have such a policy the
> rest prefer to focus on areas that matter" Instead, you look at one or two lines in the article
> that refer to helmets and twist the sense of the piece. You could even have used it "... even such
> strident pro-hemeteers as NN & NN illustrated the low priority that should be attached to helmet
> legislation....when they identified a long list of higher priority areas for legislation in
> Ireland" ! They are then left trying to defend their ambiguity and conflicting positions rather
> than you trying to defend your over spin of the article!
>
> pk

I'm another one who tends to think that Guy makes problems for himself. Look at the following quote
from his original post:

> the current rate of serious child cyclist head injuries amounts to around one every 2-3 months per
> A&E unit,

To me, this looks like an attempt to make a small number out of a large number. Instead of
concentrating on the substance of Guy's arguments I've been trying to work out how many serious
child cyclist head injuries there are in total every year. How many A&E units are there? 500, 1000,
10000? So are there 2400, 4800, 48000 serious child cyclist head injuries?
--
Michael MacClancy Random putdown - "A modest little person, with much to be modest about."- Winston
Churchill www.macclancy.demon.co.uk www.macclancy.co.uk
 
T

Thomas

Guest
"PK" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:
> > Sorry, lads. I know I've been a bit aggressive. Please see it in context.
> >
> > I was thinking about this on the way home (good things, bikes, encourage a calmer mindset).
> > Here's how it is:
>
>
> Big snip.
>
> I know all that, you've said it all many times in many different ways.
>
> I've been involved in organising a number of successful campaigns against proposed action by the
> local council, and one in supporting the council's proposals against vociferous protests from a
> minority resident group. So
far
> I have a 100% success rate. 4 different campaigns in 3 different policy areas.
>
> The most important thing to be is right.
>
> The second is be able to prove it.

Could disagree with you more - you can't have one without the other. Even then, in many cases, you
are left with people arguing over their personal stances, as opposed to what may be best for
everyone. Just think of the damage the fundamental Christians are currently doing to the world over
the desire to be "right".

> The third is say it in a way that is clear, simply understood and
unarguably
> correct.

Agreed.

> It is on this last one that much of what you say gives me problems. You
are
> here preaching to people who are almost all convinced by the anti
compulsion
> arguments. Yet, you make some of us bridle at your over statement of your case and your paranoia
> wrt some articles. Take yesterday's Irish article - you could have taken that as supporting the
> anti compulsion case as "..it clearly shows that across Europe governments allocate a low priority
> .... only 3/20 have such a policy the rest prefer to focus on areas that
matter"
> Instead, you look at one or two lines in the article that refer to helmets and twist the sense of
> the piece. You could even have used it "... even
such
> strident pro-hemeteers as NN & NN illustrated the low priority that should be attached to helmet
> legislation....when they identified a long list of higher priority areas for legislation in
> Ireland" ! They are then left trying to defend their ambiguity and conflicting positions rather
> than you trying to defend your over spin of the article!

Erm... doesn't that highlighted sentance merely imply that, in the grand scheme of things, helmet
policy doesn't match that of increasing the number of coppers on the street in order of importance?

Tom.
 
A

Alex Ferrier

Guest
Michael MacClancy wrote:
>
> I'm another one who tends to think that Guy makes problems for himself. Look at the following
> quote from his original post:
>

<AOL> The over zealousness and vehemence remind me of his arch enemy, Paul Smith. I tend to view all
such extreme stances as skewed by their proponents determination to foist their viewpoints on others
and disregard them summarily.

Guy, maybe you should change that bit in your sig. from "May contain traces of irony" to "May
contain traces of spittle" ;-)

--
Alex BMW R1150GS DIAABTCOD#3 MSWF#4 UKRMFBC#6 Ibw#35 BOB#8 http://www.team-ukrm.co.uk Windy's
"little soldier"
 
T

Tony Raven

Guest
Michael MacClancy wrote:
>
> To me, this looks like an attempt to make a small number out of a large number. Instead of
> concentrating on the substance of Guy's arguments I've been trying to work out how many serious
> child cyclist head injuries there are in total every year. How many A&E units are there? 500,
> 1000, 10000? So are there 2400, 4800, 48000 serious child cyclist head injuries?

The answer is to be found in at the bottom of http://www.parliament.the-stationery-
office.co.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/cm031110/text/31110w04.htm in answer to a Parliamentary Question
on the subject

Tony
 
M

Mark Thompson

Guest
> The answer is to be found in at the bottom of
>
http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/cm031110/ text/31110w04.htm
> in answer to a Parliamentary Question on the subject

Because I know what it is to be lazy:

Financial year Number of admissions of children under 16

1995-96 2,333 1996-97 2,781 1997-98 3,349 1998-99 2,711 1999-00 3,115 2000-01 3,489 2001-02 3,372

Due to changes in coding methodology it is only possible to provide the last seven years of data.
Calendar year Deaths from head injuries in cyclists All deathsin cyclists

1993 19 30 1994 27 39 1995 31 43 1996 34 47 1997 25 35 1998 18 29 1999 20 32 2000 14 24 2001 12 19
2002 10 19

Data for 2001 and 2002 may not be directly comparable to those for previous years, due to changes in
coding methodology in 2001. The figures should therefore be interpreted with caution.

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P

Philo

Guest
"Mark Thompson" <[email protected] (change warm for hot)> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

[Snip}
> Calendar year Deaths from head injuries - cyclists All deaths - cyclists
>
> 1993 19 30 1994 27 39 1995 31 43 1996 34 47 1997 25 35 1998 18 29 1999 20 32 2000 14 24 2001 12 19
> 2002 10 19
>
> Data for 2001 and 2002 may not be directly comparable to those for previous years, due to changes
> in coding methodology in 2001. The figures should therefore be interpreted with caution.
>

Those numbers got me thinking, so I had a quick look at the ROSPA website for something similar. In
2000, there were 27 drownings in home baths. It's reassuring to know that we're more likely to
drown in our bath than die on the bike. Should I be taking precautions in the bath, or feel safe
without a helmet?

PhilO
 
C

Colin Blackburn

Guest
On 10 Feb 2004 06:37:21 -0800, PhilO <[email protected]> wrote:

> Those numbers got me thinking, so I had a quick look at the ROSPA website for something similar.
> In 2000, there were 27 drownings in home baths. It's reassuring to know that we're more likely to
> drown in our bath than die on the bike. Should I be taking precautions in the bath,

Always wear breathing apparatus when operating a bath. Oh, and a helmet in case you slip on the lino
when getting out.

Colin
--
 
P

Pk

Guest
PhilO wrote:
>
> It's reassuring to know that we're more likely to drown in our bath than die on the bike. Should I
> be taking precautions in the bath, or feel safe without a helmet?

I very much doubt that to be the case..... time of exposure, clumping at old and young engs of age
specrtum....

try again!

pk
 
T

Tony Raven

Guest
PhilO wrote:
>
> Those numbers got me thinking, so I had a quick look at the ROSPA website for something similar.
> In 2000, there were 27 drownings in home baths. It's reassuring to know that we're more likely to
> drown in our bath than die on the bike. Should I be taking precautions in the bath, or feel safe
> without a helmet?
>

Many years ago UKAEA did a tongue in cheek safety analysis of water. Based on the minimum quantity
needed to kill someone by inhalation they worked out the destructive potential of various bodies of
water and suggested appropriate safety measures. One bathful has the potential to kill a lot of
people and a reservoir could wipe out the entire UK population.

Tony
 
G

Gonzalez

Guest
Guy wrote:

>> the current rate of serious child cyclist head injuries amounts to around one every 2-3 months
>> per A&E unit,

Michael wrote:

>To me, this looks like an attempt to make a small number out of a large number. Instead of
>concentrating on the substance of Guy's arguments I've been trying to work out how many serious
>child cyclist head injuries there are in total every year. How many A&E units are there? 500, 1000,
>10000? So are there 2400, 4800, 48000 serious child cyclist head injuries?

I too find it very frustrating, almost dishonest.

It is a similar tactic to that used by Paul Smith, the pro smoking lobby in the 80s, and many others
trying to disprove a clear link.

Not all is bad, however. Tony and Guy and used reasoned argument to persuade me that aggressive
helmet promotion campaigns are not a good idea.
 
T

Tony Raven

Guest
Gonzalez wrote:
>
> Tony and Guy and used reasoned argument to persuade me that aggressive helmet promotion campaigns
> are not a good idea.

You make it sound like a hair salon has persuaded you (a helmet does mess up the styling
after all) ;-)

Tony (and not Guy)
 
A

Ambrose Nankive

Guest
In news:[email protected],
Gonzalez <[email protected]> typed:
> Guy wrote:
>
>>> the current rate of serious child cyclist head injuries amounts to around one every 2-3 months
>>> per A&E unit,
>
> Michael wrote:
>
>> To me, this looks like an attempt to make a small number out of a large number. Instead of
>> concentrating on the substance of Guy's arguments I've been trying to work out how many serious
>> child cyclist head injuries there are in total every year. How many A&E units are there? 500,
>> 1000, 10000? So are there 2400, 4800, 48000 serious child cyclist head injuries?
>
> I too find it very frustrating, almost dishonest.
>
> It is a similar tactic to that used by Paul Smith, the pro smoking lobby in the 80s, and many
> others trying to disprove a clear link.
>
> Not all is bad, however. Tony and Guy and used reasoned argument to persuade me that aggressive
> helmet promotion campaigns are not a good idea.

That's only because Tony & Guy know you won't visit them for a haircut if you're going to mess it up
under your helmet anyway. Think of the vested interests of the barbers.

A
 
G

Gonzalez

Guest
On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 18:01:38 -0000, "Tony Raven"
<[email protected]> wrote:

>Gonzalez wrote:
>>
>> Tony and Guy and used reasoned argument to persuade me that aggressive helmet promotion
>> campaigns are not a good idea.
>
>You make it sound like a hair salon has persuaded you (a helmet does mess up the styling
>after all) ;-)
>
>Tony (and not Guy)

At first I typed "Guy and Tony", later deleting "Tony" and adding "Tony and" in front of Guy (hence
the "and" left in which I should have deleted also) - I was going to make the link to the hair salon
myself, but felt it was obvious enough without drawing attention to it.

Little things like this please my little mind.
 
P

Philo

Guest
"PK" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> PhilO wrote:
> >
> > It's reassuring to know that we're more likely to drown in our bath than die on the bike.
>
> I very much doubt that to be the case..... time of exposure, clumping at old and young engs of age
> specrtum....
>
>
> try again!
>
> pk

Challenge accepted!

How about swimming? 33 people drowned whilst swimming in 2001 (ROSPA). There were 19 cyclist deaths
in the same year.

Let's face it - cycling is safe so why do we need to be forced to wear protective equipment?

PhilO
 
P

Pk

Guest
PhilO wrote:
>>
> Challenge accepted!
>
> How about swimming? 33 people drowned whilst swimming in 2001 (ROSPA). There were 19 cyclist
> deaths in the same year.

not comparable occupations. Stop swimming = drown. Stop cycling = stand up. How many of the swimming
deaths involved an accident with an object?

Try again? (;-) (;-)

> Let's face it - cycling is safe so why do we need to be forced to wear protective equipment?

I don't think they should be forced, personal choice rules.

Nice to see you acknowledge that a helmet is protective equipment.

pk
 
M

Mark Thompson

Guest
"PK" <> not comparable occupations. Stop swimming = drown. Stop cycling = stand up.
> How many of the swimming deaths involved an accident with an object?

Ah, but armbands are 100% effective in stopping people drowning. Stop peddling - slow down and fall
off. Stop swimming - float about looking mildly stupid.

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J

James Annan

Guest
PK wrote:

> PhilO wrote:
>
>>Challenge accepted!
>>
>>How about swimming? 33 people drowned whilst swimming in 2001 (ROSPA). There were 19 cyclist
>>deaths in the same year.
>

>
> Nice to see you acknowledge that a helmet is protective equipment.
>
>

I think we may have just discovered an occupation where a chunk of expanded polystyrene really would
have significant protective effect. Compulsory full-face helmets for swimmers, anyone?

James
 
P

Philo

Guest
"PK" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> PhilO wrote:
> >>
> > Challenge accepted!
> >
> > How about swimming? 33 people drowned whilst swimming in 2001 (ROSPA). There were 19 cyclist
> > deaths in the same year.
>
> not comparable occupations. Stop swimming = drown. Stop cycling = stand up. How many of the
> swimming deaths involved an accident with an object?
>
> Try again? (;-) (;-)
>
> pk

What do you want?

I can give some figures from the dti for things that we consider safe but still kill as many or more
than cycling does: Electric blankets cause fires killing 20 a year Saucepans (including chip pans)
kill 19 a year Heating appliance kill over 50 a year through CO poisoning etc.

Maybe a better example is use of ladders at home? That kills over 50 a year, but how many of us use
a helmet when up a ladder at home? Also, if BHIT can be funded, where is LHIT? I'd think more time
is spent cycling than up ladders, so the risk per minute must be much higher.

Cycling isn't dangerous - or do you think it is?

PhilO
 
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