Re: Helmet saves life of bike store owner hit by car......

  • Thread starter Steven M. Scharf
  • Start date



S

Steven M. Scharf

Guest
"psycholist" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]

> You're free to believe whatever foolish thing you want to believe. I'm

not arguing for mandatory helmet laws. I just know that I'm very glad I had
my helmet on when I was hit. And it's my opinion that any serious cyclist
who logs serious mileage is playing a foolish game of roulette if they
believe they'll never get hit. And let me ask you something. If you knew
you were going to get hit, would you rather be wearing a helmet or not?

The more valuable statistics are those that look at bicycle accidents that
involved head injury, and then break them down into the percentage of
victims that were wearing helmets versus the percentage of victims that were
not wearing helmets. The studies that attempt measure total number of head
injuries before and after the implementation of mandatory helmet laws are
hopelessly flawed, since there are so many other variables that come into
play.

In the major U.S. study of severity of head injuries in crashes where head
injuries were sustained:

Helmeted
----------
92% minor
0% none
8% severe

Non Helmeted
---------------
65%
7%
28%

So the bottom line is that if you are involved in a crash where there are
head injuries, you are four times as likely to have a severe injury if you
aren't wearing a helmet.

I am certainly not in favor of mandatory helmet laws, each person is a free
agent and can do what they want, as long as they are prepared for the
consequences. But a lot of cyclists seem to be deluding themselves with
regard to helmets, by bringing up all sorts of side issues, such as the fact
(which no one argues with), that there are other measures that can be taken
to reduce accidents and injuries by larger amounts that helmets reduce them
(neglecting to state the reductions are not exclusive, they are additive).
Why don't they just say that they don't like wearing helmets, and that they
are perfectly willing to accept the extra risk? They seem to be determined
to somehow prove that their decision to not wear a helmet does not expose
them to any greater risk at all, which of course is nonsense.

The real world figures show that there is a significant benefit from helmet
use in the reduction of head injuries when crashes occur. To a logical
person, this would dictate the use of a helmet.

But since there are so few crashes with head injuries to begin with,
statistically there is not data that shows that cycling while wearing a
helmet is any safer overall. Unfortunately, this statistic won't protect you
if you are one of the unfortunate few that is involved in an accident
involving head injuries, and you can be involved in one of these through no
fault of your own.

At this point someone will pipe in that maybe we should require helmet use
in cars, that helmet laws will reduce the number of cyclists, that better
law enforcement against errant drives is needed, that some cyclists don't
wear the helmet properly, etc., etc. Great side-issues, but ultimately
irrelevant.

Steve
http://bicyclelighting.com
"Believe what you're told. There'd be chaos if everyone thought for oneself"
World Famous Top Dog Hot Dog Stand, Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose
 
D

Dan

Guest
"Steven M. Scharf" <[email protected]> wrote in
news:[email protected]:

> "psycholist" <[email protected]> wrote in message
> news:[email protected]
>
>> You're free to believe whatever foolish thing you want to believe.
>>

There is nothing wrong with advocating safety, those that want to argue
this point are scared for different reasons. Very good points! Very good
post. If I don't want to wear a helmet, it's my choice, I choose to wear
one but I don't want laws to change my choice. When the injuries increase,
tax-payers will want satisfaction in the form of stricter laws. In this
state, you don't have to wear a helmet for a motorcycle but you do have to
have a special insurance posted on your license tag that covers your
stupidity.
 
F

Frank Krygowski

Guest
Steven M. Scharf wrote:

> The more valuable statistics are those that look at bicycle accidents that
> involved head injury, and then break them down into the percentage of
> victims that were wearing helmets versus the percentage of victims that were
> not wearing helmets. The studies that attempt measure total number of head
> injuries before and after the implementation of mandatory helmet laws are
> hopelessly flawed, since there are so many other variables that come into
> play.


Not so. The Scuffham study from New Zealand was able to examine a time
period of just three years, when helmet use went from about 20% to as
high as 90%. No helmet benefit was detected. It's not realistic to
think there could have been some similarly rapid counterbalancing change
that went undetected! ( Scuffham, P.A., Langley, J. D., Trend in
Cycling Injuries in New Zealand Under Voluntary Helmet Use, 1997,
Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol 29, No 1) See
http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/scuffham.html.


>
> In the major U.S. study of severity of head injuries in crashes where head
> injuries were sustained:
>
> Helmeted
> ----------
> 92% minor
> 0% none
> 8% severe
>
> Non Helmeted
> ---------------
> 65%
> 7%
> 28%


What's the source of this data?

In my years of study of this issue, I've found that you must examine the
methodology of the various studies, because serious weaknesses easily
creep in. For example, "case-control" studies of emergency room
presentations usually show benefit for helmet use; but those studies are
by definition of self-selected subjects, something that's absolutely
forbidden in any other medical study. It's pretty obvious that the
"cases" and the "controls" are usually different in many ways besides
helmet use!

The other weakness that sometimes creeps in is simply bad helmet wearing
data. Riley Geary is a statistics expert who's studied this issue
extensively (see Institute for Traffic Safety Analysis) and concluded
that the great majority of police data on helmet wearing of bike victims
is simply mistaken, because of a quirk in the forms used to report the data.


> So the bottom line is that if you are involved in a crash where there are
> head injuries, you are four times as likely to have a severe injury if you
> aren't wearing a helmet.


This isn't "the bottom line." For the best data, look at places where
helmet laws are enforced for the entire population. Be sure to crunch
the numbers _per remaining rider_ (since helmet proponents typically
look at raw numbers of head injuries, ignoring the fact that MHLs cause
large riding reductions). When you do that, you get a helmet benefit
against serious injuries which is low to negative.


>
> I am certainly not in favor of mandatory helmet laws, each person is a free
> agent and can do what they want, as long as they are prepared for the
> consequences. But a lot of cyclists seem to be deluding themselves with
> regard to helmets, by bringing up all sorts of side issues, such as the fact
> (which no one argues with), that there are other measures that can be taken
> to reduce accidents and injuries by larger amounts that helmets reduce them
> (neglecting to state the reductions are not exclusive, they are additive).
> Why don't they just say that they don't like wearing helmets, and that they
> are perfectly willing to accept the extra risk? They seem to be determined
> to somehow prove that their decision to not wear a helmet does not expose
> them to any greater risk at all, which of course is nonsense.
>
> The real world figures show that there is a significant benefit from helmet
> use in the reduction of head injuries when crashes occur. To a logical
> person, this would dictate the use of a helmet.
>
> But since there are so few crashes with head injuries to begin with,
> statistically there is not data that shows that cycling while wearing a
> helmet is any safer overall.


That last point is a good one - and it colors everything above.

What helmet promoters have done is ruin the image of cycling. They make
it seem that riding a bike without a helmet is VERY likely to result in
incapacitation due to serious head injury.

In actual fact, that risk is miniscule. Even _if_ helmets prevented 85%
of serious head injuries (an absolutely ludicrous claim, based on a
ridiculously poor and tiny study) the effect would be negligible in any
realistic sense. That is, your lifetime risk of serious head injury
might go from 0.00000000001% down to 0.0000000000015%, loosely speaking.

Meanwhile, the discouragement of cycling inherent with this
fearmongering is certain to overpower any societal benefit from the
helmets. One famous researcher (Mayer Hillman) computed the benefit to
risk ratio for helmetless cycling as 20:1 in favor of bicycling, based
on years of life gained versus lost. It doesn't take much
discouragement of cycling to eat up any supposed benefits!


Unfortunately, this statistic won't protect you
> if you are one of the unfortunate few that is involved in an accident
> involving head injuries, and you can be involved in one of these through no
> fault of your own.


I've always felt the same way about meteorite strikes! ;-)


>
> At this point someone will pipe in that maybe we should require helmet use
> in cars, that helmet laws will reduce the number of cyclists, that better
> law enforcement against errant drives is needed, that some cyclists don't
> wear the helmet properly, etc., etc. Great side-issues, but ultimately
> irrelevant.


Helmet use in cars? Irrelevant only if you don't worry about the
per-hour risk of the victim (which is almost exactly the same) or the
total cost to society (which is much worse for car head injuries).

Motor vehicle head injury fatalities in the US are way up in the tens of
thousands. Figures are rough, but a good estimate is about 30,000 per
year.

Bike head injury fatalities are about 500.

So much worry about the latter; so little about the former! Personally,
I _do_ think this is odd! It's like weatherstripping your front door,
but ignoring the 8 foot square hole in your roof!


--
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com.
Substitute cc dot ysu dot
edu]
 
J

Just zis Guy, you know?

Guest
On Tue, 09 Nov 2004 16:20:10 GMT, "Steven M. Scharf"
<[email protected]> wrote:

>the bottom line is that if you are involved in a crash where there are
>head injuries, you are four times as likely to have a severe injury if you
>aren't wearing a helmet.


Although to be fair the populations are different. And the
probnabiolity of the crash happening in the first place (i.e. risk
compensation is ignored). After all, if you look at the CPSC's
figures, as helmet use rose from 18% to 50% and cycling declined by
21%, the head injury rate increased by 10%. So your figures obviously
don't tell the whole story.

They also don't address the simple and obvious fact that, overall,
cycling is actually quite safe.

Guy
--
May contain traces of irony. Contents liable to settle after posting.
http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk

88% of helmet statistics are made up, 65% of them at Washington University
 
M

Mike Jacoubowsky

Guest
> Not so. The Scuffham study from New Zealand was able to examine a time
> period of just three years, when helmet use went from about 20% to as high
> as 90%. No helmet benefit was detected. It's not realistic to think
> there could have been some similarly rapid counterbalancing change that
> went undetected! ( Scuffham, P.A., Langley, J. D., Trend in Cycling
> Injuries in New Zealand Under Voluntary Helmet Use, 1997, Accident
> Analysis and Prevention, Vol 29, No 1) See
> http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/scuffham.html.


Please don't link to something where it's a one-paragraph dead-end link with
the most-interesting statement being...

"Discussion of the results includes possible explanation for the absence of
a decline in the percentage of serious head injury among cyclists as cycle
helmet wearing has increased."

....without any way to find out more. That one sentence teases us with the
only thing we really want to know about, but no way to get to it. Regardless
of which side of the helmet debate you're on, you want to know more about
what that sentence refers to.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles
www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
 
F

Frank Krygowski

Guest
Mike Jacoubowsky wrote:

>>Not so. The Scuffham study from New Zealand was able to examine a time
>>period of just three years, when helmet use went from about 20% to as high
>>as 90%. No helmet benefit was detected. It's not realistic to think
>>there could have been some similarly rapid counterbalancing change that
>>went undetected! ( Scuffham, P.A., Langley, J. D., Trend in Cycling
>>Injuries in New Zealand Under Voluntary Helmet Use, 1997, Accident
>>Analysis and Prevention, Vol 29, No 1) See
>>http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/scuffham.html.

>
>
> Please don't link to something where it's a one-paragraph dead-end link with
> the most-interesting statement being...
>
> "Discussion of the results includes possible explanation for the absence of
> a decline in the percentage of serious head injury among cyclists as cycle
> helmet wearing has increased."
>
> ...without any way to find out more. That one sentence teases us with the
> only thing we really want to know about, but no way to get to it. Regardless
> of which side of the helmet debate you're on, you want to know more about
> what that sentence refers to.
>


The entire study isn't available online unless you're connected to an
institution that pays the journal's expensive online subscription fee.
My institution does, but copyright laws prohibit posting the entire
study. Hence my link to the abstract.

Later, I can post some further quotes from the study. Going by memory,
they briefly examined several reasons helmets weren't working as
promised, and rejected them all. Their final words on that point were
something like "What is clear is that bicycle helmets aren't producing
the benefits expected."

And that was understatement. The benefits they found from this very
large study were actually zero.

--
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com.
Substitute cc dot ysu dot
edu]
 
F

Frank Krygowski

Guest
Frank Krygowski wrote:

>
> Later, I can post some further quotes from the study. Going by memory,
> they briefly examined several reasons helmets weren't working as
> promised, and rejected them all. Their final words on that point were
> something like "What is clear is that bicycle helmets aren't producing
> the benefits expected."
>
> And that was understatement. The benefits they found from this very
> large study were actually zero.


OK, here are more quotes from that study - manually typed, so forgive
the typos:

"There was no difference in the incidence of head injuries to cyclists
in the periods [of time during which there were] 'no helmets' or 'some
helmets' compared to ... when helmet wearing was high."

....

"Our results revealed that increasing helmet wearing has had little
association with serious head injures to cyclists as a percentage of all
serious injuries to cyclists for all three age groups studied. This
result was consistent even when we disaggregated all cycle crashes into
cycle only crashes, short-stay admissions, long-stay admissions, or used
the observed level of helmet wearing for these disaggregated groups.

....

"What is clear from our findings, and to a lesser extent from teh
Melbourne findings, is that cycle helmets are not achieving the gains
which were expected of them. Why this is so is a matter for spectulation
but clearly those involved in promoting this strategy need to consider
how to improve their effectiveness."

---------------------------------------------------------------

Really, those quotes from these pro-helmet researchers don't tell the
story very well. They give the conclusions, but they don't help you
understand the research or the paper.

The paper is very thick with mathematics and statistics. It's a
scientific study not intended for casual reading. But if you get it
from a library, the graphs in it are easy to understand. Briefly,
helmet use shot up tremendously from March 1989 to March 1992. This is
clearly shown in one graph.

The researchers tracked down essentially all hospital records for their
country's hospitalized cyclists. They wanted to show that the surge in
helmet use caused a significant drop in the percentage of cyclists
hospitalized because of head injury. (They worked it as percentages,
because by this time it was known that promoting helmets caused drops in
cycling.)

They plotted 3 graphs: for kids, teens and adults, showing the
percentage in hospitals because of head injuries. There's a little up &
down variation in the graphs (just like stock market graphs - there's
always random variation) and the graphs all gradually slope down, ever
since 1980 (way before helmets were popular - and you see the same in
pedestrian graphs). But there is no detectable change when helmet use
jumped way up.

There's no detectable change by looking at the graphs, and there was no
change that was detectable by the sophisticated statistics software
package they used, although the paper makes clear that they checked
their data every way possible. The results are inescapable: helmet use
tripled, or (for kids) quadrupled; but the helmets did nothing against
serious injuries.

The paper is "Trends in Cycle Injury in New Zealand under Voluntary
Helmet Use." Paul A. Scuffham, et. al. Accident Analysis & Prevention,
Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 1-9, 1997. Your librarian can get you a copy, for
(at most) a small fee.



--
--------------------+
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
replace with cc.ysu dot edu]
 
M

Mike Jacoubowsky

Guest
> There's no detectable change by looking at the graphs, and there was no
> change that was detectable by the sophisticated statistics software
> package they used, although the paper makes clear that they checked their
> data every way possible. The results are inescapable: helmet use tripled,
> or (for kids) quadrupled; but the helmets did nothing against serious
> injuries.
>
> The paper is "Trends in Cycle Injury in New Zealand under Voluntary Helmet
> Use." Paul A. Scuffham, et. al. Accident Analysis & Prevention, Vol. 29,
> No. 1, pp. 1-9, 1997. Your librarian can get you a copy, for (at most) a
> small fee.


Frank: Thanks for summarizing the article. I'm still not seing the
"discussion of the results" with "possible explanations" but that's probably
in the meat of the report somewhere.

It's a tough one at least partly because the nature of cycling changes when
helmets are required (helmet requirements inevitably result in a drop in
cycling). So one of the questions I'd have would be this- does the nature of
cycling (type of trip) change when helmets are required? Does helmet use,
for example, skew towards (or against) recreational cycling? Commuting?
Errands?

For what it's worth, I wouldn't consider riding around the block without a
helmet on, but I'm completely against mandatory helmet laws, for a number of
reasons including-

#1: They reduce the likelihood of people riding a bike which, aside from
entirely selfish concerns (I do own a bike shop, after all!), concerns me
because I see obesity and generally being out of shape as far more dangerous
to the average person than not wearing a helmet.

#2: The laws, at least locally, are selectively enforced, if at all. This is
a major issue when the laws require only that those under 18 wear helmets;
we're telling our kids that it's OK to disobey laws at an early age (because
they're unlikely to suffer any consequences). If a law is on the books, it
should be enforced. If it's a law that shouldn't be enforced, it shouldn't
be on the books.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles
www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
 
P

Peter Keller

Guest
On Thu, 11 Nov 2004 07:21:10 +0000, Mike Jacoubowsky wrote:

>> There's no detectable change by looking at the graphs, and there was no
>> change that was detectable by the sophisticated statistics software
>> package they used, although the paper makes clear that they checked their
>> data every way possible. The results are inescapable: helmet use tripled,
>> or (for kids) quadrupled; but the helmets did nothing against serious
>> injuries.
>>
>> The paper is "Trends in Cycle Injury in New Zealand under Voluntary Helmet
>> Use." Paul A. Scuffham, et. al. Accident Analysis & Prevention, Vol. 29,
>> No. 1, pp. 1-9, 1997. Your librarian can get you a copy, for (at most) a
>> small fee.

>
> Frank: Thanks for summarizing the article. I'm still not seing the
> "discussion of the results" with "possible explanations" but that's probably
> in the meat of the report somewhere.
>
> It's a tough one at least partly because the nature of cycling changes when
> helmets are required (helmet requirements inevitably result in a drop in
> cycling). So one of the questions I'd have would be this- does the nature of
> cycling (type of trip) change when helmets are required? Does helmet use,
> for example, skew towards (or against) recreational cycling? Commuting?
> Errands?
>
> For what it's worth, I wouldn't consider riding around the block without a
> helmet on, but I'm completely against mandatory helmet laws, for a number of
> reasons including-
>
> #1: They reduce the likelihood of people riding a bike which, aside from
> entirely selfish concerns (I do own a bike shop, after all!), concerns me
> because I see obesity and generally being out of shape as far more dangerous
> to the average person than not wearing a helmet.
>
> #2: The laws, at least locally, are selectively enforced, if at all. This is
> a major issue when the laws require only that those under 18 wear helmets;
> we're telling our kids that it's OK to disobey laws at an early age (because
> they're unlikely to suffer any consequences). If a law is on the books, it
> should be enforced. If it's a law that shouldn't be enforced, it shouldn't
> be on the books.
>
> --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles
> www.ChainReactionBicycles.com


Mike,
Greetings from New Zealand where the MHL is savagely enforced for all ages.
We have noticed a decline in bicycling overall by about 34% since the law
was enacted 10 years ago, divided as
Not much for adult males
About 90% (Horrible, isn't it?) for adult women, and
about 80% for children.
The head injury numbers have declined about 19%, so the head injury rate
has gone up. Reasons for ythis are unclear, and could be due to changing
demographics of bicyclists and increasing numbers of SUVs on the roads as
much as any harmful effects that helmets might have.
I definitely think the Mandatory Helmet Law is evil, harmful and
counterproductive.
However, I also believe that anyone who thinks s/he wants to wear a
helmet, should (properly) wear one, but also realise that wearing one does
not absolve the wearer from the obligation to bicycle safely because of
the very limited protection it affords.

Peter

--
If you are careful enough in life, nothing bad -- or
good -- will ever happen to you.
 
J

Just zis Guy, you know?

Guest
On Thu, 11 Nov 2004 07:21:10 GMT, "Mike Jacoubowsky"
<[email protected]> wrote:

>It's a tough one at least partly because the nature of cycling changes when
>helmets are required (helmet requirements inevitably result in a drop in
>cycling). So one of the questions I'd have would be this- does the nature of
>cycling (type of trip) change when helmets are required? Does helmet use,
>for example, skew towards (or against) recreational cycling? Commuting?
>Errands?


The Australians have some data for that; a decade after compulsion
their numerical levels of cycling are up to around pre-law levels
(albeit against a background of increased population) but the recovery
has been mainly middle-aged people and leisure cycling. Utility
cycling, especially by teens, remains well below pre-law levels.

Guy
--
May contain traces of irony. Contents liable to settle after posting.
http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk

88% of helmet statistics are made up, 65% of them at Washington University
 
F

Frank Krygowski

Guest
Mike Jacoubowsky wrote:

>... So one of the questions I'd have would be this- does the nature of
> cycling (type of trip) change when helmets are required? Does helmet use,
> for example, skew towards (or against) recreational cycling? Commuting?
> Errands?


I've never seen that directly addressed. What I've read (and Guy has
mentioned) is that the effect of the law varies on different population
groups. Guy mentioned that women stop cycling in very large numbers. I
recall that teenage girls stop cycling almost entirely, and teenage boys
nearly as much.

ISTM that the group that would be least affected are (probably) those
reading this. My bet is that a majority of folks reading rec.bicycles.*
are avid hobby cyclists. My bet is most belong to bike clubs.

Well, bike clubs led the way in making helmets part of the official or
unofficial "uniform." Even for a recreational/touring club, it's rare
to see someone show up for a ride without the Full Mating Plumage:
Lycra, trademark jersey, special shoes, special gloves, special glasses
and of course, special hat.

I think those people won't be impacted by a MHL; so my guess is bike
riding will skew toward long recreational or training rides on country
roads. My guess is there would be a big drop in riding to school,
riding to a buddy's house to play basketball, riding to the mall to hang
out, riding to the library, or just buzzing around the neighborhoods to
see what's up.

> #2: The laws, at least locally, are selectively enforced, if at all. This is
> a major issue when the laws require only that those under 18 wear helmets;
> we're telling our kids that it's OK to disobey laws at an early age (because
> they're unlikely to suffer any consequences). If a law is on the books, it
> should be enforced. If it's a law that shouldn't be enforced, it shouldn't
> be on the books.


I absolutely agree with the latter point. I'll add, I live less than
ten miles from a state with a kid's MHL. When I ride there, I see most
kids still don't wear helmets. But when I pass through low-income
neighborhoods, I see _no_ black kids wearing helmets.

If a cop wanted to stop any 15-year-old black kid for any reason, he can
do it, as long as that kid's on a bike. I think this is bad.

--
--------------------+
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
replace with cc.ysu dot edu]