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Yes, I'm back, and I'm talking about helmets again - just as I said I would do when I came across anything new on the topic.

Feel free to ignore this post if you:

1. are not particularly interested

2. (your) mind is closed to considering any new evidence

3. you feel I should shut-up because my opinion doesn't agree with conventional North American thinking on this topic.

4. you feel posters who have a different take on something should remain quiet.

That said, for anyone still reading, I thought this interesting research that not only clearly demonstrates that traffic passes closer to helmeted cyclists, but also that traffic passes closer to male cyclists than female cyclists.

Apparently drivers assume that helmeted cyclists are more experienced, when as Dr Walker, a British traffic psychologist explains, there's really no reason to believe this is so.

Walker's research also looks at driver's attitudes, and some of the stereotypes they seem to have towards cyclists in general.

In a recent interview, when asked if he normally wears a helmet when cycling. Dr Walker responded simply "Not usually."

Here's an excerpt from a recent article on the research. For the article itself see link below:

"Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.

Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath in the UK, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.

Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.

He found that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get particularly close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.

Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without

The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention."


http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/uob-wah091106.php

Helmeted cyclists take greater risks because they feel helmets offer more protection than they actually do. If this wasn't bad enough in itself, we now know that passing traffic is taking greater risks.

Think about that next time you tie that that sweat-inducing plastic hat to your head.

Me, I'm looking forward to Florida in a few weeks.

After a summer of stinging perspiration in the eyes from that wretched piece of yellow styrofoam, and struggling to keep my bike upright while trying to tie the helmet to the bike lock, I'm looking forward to Florida, where a head can breathe.

And a trusty, old-but-comfortable baseball hat will once again serve double duty protecting both eyes, or back of neck from sun.
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jammerh writes:
Feel free to ignore this post if you:

1. are not particularly interested

2. (your) mind is closed to considering any new evidence

3. you feel I should shut-up because my opinion doesn't agree with conventional North American thinking on this topic.

4. you feel posters who have a different take on something should remain quiet.


Like walking into an NRA meeting with a gun control T-shirt? Or a bottle of vodka and car keys in hand into a MADD meeting perhaps?

jammerh writes:
Helmeted cyclists take greater risks because they feel helmets offer more protection than they actually do. If this wasn't bad enough in itself, we now know that passing traffic is taking greater risks.

Where was this actually stated in your link? This seems to be your opinion unless you have advance knowledge of the actual article beyond information provided in that link. The way you present the link and then this conclusion is at best misleading and at worst intentional deceit. So before we continue on this line how about a citation or explanation to your statement?

Next let's talk about this journal. The journal is Accident Analysis & Prevention. The link cites: This research has been accepted for publication in Accident Analysis & Prevention, the world's top-rated peer-reviewed ergonomics journal. The journal's actual website (http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/336/description#description) lists the journal's impact factor for 2005 at 1.717. As a comparison the New England Journal of Medicine has an impact factor of 44.016, Science is 30.927 and Nature is 29.273.

So what is a journal's impact factor? http://www.bioreference.net/impact/
Journal Impact Factor is from Journal Citation Report (JCR), a product of Thomson ISI (Institute for Scientific Information). JCR provides quantitative tools for ranking, evaluating, categorizing, and comparing journals. The impact factor is one of these; it is a measure of the frequency with which the "average article" in a journal has been cited in a particular year or period.

An impact factor of 1.717 isn't that impressive. There are many flaws with the impact factor system but it's certainly a commonly mentioned piece of information when judging how to rank a journal. Good research gets into better journals "in general." That's why it's better to be published a few times in a good journal than many times in a bad journal.

Let's get to the link itself now. Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.

While it's unfortunate he was hit twice, I don't see how in any context this could lead to statistically significant results where it would affect policy-change on any broad level. At best this could be pilot data for more extensive epidemiologic investigation. Looking at his actual data he was hit by a truck and a bus. The link states that drivers of these types of vehicles passed closer in general. There is no mention in the advance release how this is affected by helmet usage. All I take from the information so far is that drivers of trucks and buses pass closer in general.

However, the advance release also states: Riding position and helmet wearing accounted for 8% of the variance in overtaking proximities.

Without seeing his actual data analysis section I interpret this as an R-squared of 0.08. That means there are another 92% of the variation in distance between vehicles and cyclists that is accounted by other factors. Helmet use is clearly not a huge part of this model.

Before this next part I'll start of by stating I am not an expert in traumatic brain injury epidemiology and how it relates to bicycle helmet use. If you demonstrate somewhat more interest than you have in the past with your other martyrdom posts in actually having a informed and substantiated discussion I'll do a more extensive literature search. In the meantime plugging "traumatic brain injury" and "bicycle helmet" into Google yields the following:

From the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/od/perfplan/2000/2000xbicycle.htm
Bicycle helmets are a proven intervention that reduce the risk of bicycle-related head injury by about 80 percent, yet bicycle helmets are not worn by most riders.

www.usa.safekids.org/content_documents/ACF160.pdf
A helmet is the simplest, most cost-effective way to prevent wheel-related TBI. Helmets can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.

This was a UK study. Last time I heard people in the UK were still driving on the left side of the road. There may be problems with generalizability of left sided driving results in this context to the right sided driving patterns in the US.

All the other nitpicking aside, you are at best distorting and at worst deliberating misrepresenting the point of the study in your post. From the advance release overview of the main results (http://www.drianwalker.com/overtaking/) I'll quote: "Motorists might profitably be warned not to make assumptions about a bicyclist's likely experience, or their likely actions during an overtaking manoeuvre, based on their appearance, as in reality gender and helmet-wearing will not be particularly valid signs of experience."

There is no attempt to claim that not wearing a helmet is safer in this link or the advance release. I'll say it again. There is no attempt to claim that not wearing a helmet is safer in this link or the advance release. Why do you think the author did this? Because he knows his study is not powered to affect this type of conclusion. It's only when people like you come along and misinterpret the data that things can go really badly.

jammerh writes:
After a summer of stinging perspiration in the eyes from that wretched piece of yellow styrofoam, and struggling to keep my bike upright while trying to tie the helmet to the bike lock, I'm looking forward to Florida, where a head can breathe.

Listen, you're an adult. Do what you like. If you must have bad data to support your decision-making have at it. But please, make sure that you don't tax the system's resources with care necessary after any type of traumatic brain injury event by ensuring you have plenty of money available in the event that you are involved in an accident.
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Lets put this guys study into perspective: the man was hit by two moving vehicles!

Since I started real cycling in 1988 I have been hit by exactly 0 vehicles.

How many people on this board have been hit by vehicles despite years and years and years of cycling?

It happens, but it is unusual and rare, and yet this guy gets hit by two moving vehicles in short order. I think he is hardly cycling in a normal manner.

Tinker
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DH was changing lanes and his bike tire got caught in the space between the 2 pieces of cement they use on the access roads here. He went head first over the handlebars. Glad he was wearing his helmet.

electrasmom (don't need a car to hit you to go head over heels over your handlebars)
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I got hit by a truck once, and knocked into a guard rail and I still have tha scar across my stomach that I got from it. I had a helmet on but didn't need it, maybe body armor, a kevlar vest, would have helped.

Another time, I have no idea what happened. I remember leaving work and the next thing a remember was entering the door of my house telling my wife I think I was in an accident. I was pretty bloody and my helmet was destroyed. The bicycle was in pretty bad shape also. I have no idea what happened, where on the 10 mile ride home it happened, nor how I managed to get the rest of the way home, but I am pretty glad that, whatever did happen, I had that soon to be destroyed helmet on when it did happen.
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Lurker, "Where was this actually stated in your link? This seems to be your opinion unless you have advance knowledge of the actual article beyond information provided in that link. The way you present the link and then this conclusion is at best misleading and at worst intentional deceit. So before we continue on this line how about a citation or explanation to your statement?"

It isn't stated in the information provided in the link. It is an assertion I am making in the same way I made an assertion that drivers tend to pass closer to cyclists in previous posts - which does seem to be be verified by the information I've linked.

Instead of agreeing there might be some basis for my arguments you continue to focus on anything you can in a rather desperate attempt to discredit. This is a pretty good indication you're not sincerely addressing the issue, but rather trying to state what you believe will be popular in order to garner recs.

It's a serious issue, and I believe it deserves better than this kind of grandstanding.

"Good research gets into better journals..."

Sorry if this journal just isn't good enough for you.

"Listen, you're an adult. Do what you like. If you must have bad data to support your decision-making have at it. But please, make sure that you don't tax the system's resources with care necessary after any type of traumatic brain injury event by ensuring you have plenty of money available in the event that you are involved in an accident."

Yeah, I know I'm an adult. Your condescending tone, and abosolute refusal to acknowledge that there might be some validity to Dr Walker's work is no big surprise.

Make sure you don't tax the systems' precious resources by having drivers pass too close to you.



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I'll give you a little leeway, but given the content of your post which addresses none of the design, statistics or conclusions of the study you cited, this follow-up is primarily targetted for the remainder of the reading audience.

jammerh writes:
It isn't stated in the information provided in the link. It is an assertion I am making in the same way I made an assertion that drivers tend to pass closer to cyclists in previous posts - which does seem to be be verified by the information I've linked.

From the overview of the main results (http://www.drianwalker.com/overtaking/overtakingprobrief.pdf):

Riding position and helmet wearing accounted for 8% of the variance in overtaking proximities.

Again, without seeing his full statistical analysis segment this translates to me as an R-squared of 0.08. If you read it in plain english it means that there are other factors accounting for 92% of the variance in overtaking proximity. What does this verify? It verifies that there are numerous other factors not accounted for by this study that determine the distance at which a vehicle passes a bicycle.

If you're going to cite studies be prepared to defend your position. That's how science works. That's what research is used for. That means you will have to engage in intelligent debate about your position by utilizing a systematic study of a question with the ability to generalize the results.

jammerh writes:
Instead of agreeing there might be some basis for my arguments you continue to focus on anything you can in a rather desperate attempt to discredit. This is a pretty good indication you're not sincerely addressing the issue, but rather trying to state what you believe will be popular in order to garner recs.

If you don't understand or can't analyze study design you better learn really quickly before you attempt to use a study in anything but a lowest level "well I read this study once" discussion. You will get called out on trying to use bad data. Most of the time the results/discussion of the paper will guide your understanding of the statistics and if necessary you can always seek expert advice in the matter.

If you like the study you cited, feel free to defend the design and conclusions. But you have not addressed any of my initial comments.

jammerh writes:
Sorry if this journal just isn't good enough for you.

Here's a suggestion. If you don't like my comment about impact score you can always locate other ergonomics journals and list their relative impact scores since per the press release this is supposed to be the "top" ergonomics journal. You could cite national/international professional organizations and whether this is one of their professional journals.

In other words, do some work.

jammerh writes:
It's a serious issue, and I believe it deserves better than this kind of grandstanding.

Yes it does, but apparently you've had quite a history on this board dredging this topic up over and over.

9/19/05: Are Helmets All They're Cracked Up To Be?
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23049634

9/19/05: Hey - A Helmet Saved My Life...
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23050237

9/21/05: Thanks For The Feedback
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23060059

10/26/05: 725 Cyclists Killed Last Year
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23212888
Note that you actually posted the following in this thread:You've made a convert out of me. I'll continue wearing my helmet. Thanks to all who cared enough to try to drum some sense into this stubborn old Fool's head.

4/17/06: Helmet Mythology
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23983838

4/19/06: No Helmets - No Apologies
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23992613

4/27/06: Helmet Use Should Be Optonal
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24027114

5/17/06: The Need To Think Critically
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24113307
I suggest you go back to the links you posted in this post and review how to think critically as you admonished others to do.

5/19/06: Difference Between Perception And Reality
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24123199

9/12/06: The present thread!

Here's a suggestion for you (and for the general reading audience) go back to your post (http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23049634) where you cite the following link: http://www.cyclehelmets.org/mf.html#1052 and read their synopsis of helmet use. That site does a much better job than I ever could of summarizing some of the debate about the effectiveness of cycle helmets.

You should always go back to the primary literature and review it for yourself. You chose to bring this particular study up vs. the numerous others on that site. I think this study isn't that great. Clearly BMJ is interested in the topic. Why isn't this study in BJM vs. some lower-tiered ergonomics journal?

jammerh writes:
Your condescending tone, and abosolute refusal to acknowledge that there might be some validity to Dr Walker's work is no big surprise.

If it's valid defend it. If you can't learn how to. You've had over a year since you started down this road to gain a basic understanding of how to interpret and dissect literature.

If you can't handle critical analysis of literature, don't try to cite it.

Since you keep droning on about this same topic I suggest you become an expert. And that means understanding the literature to date by having a basic understanding of epidemiology, statistics and study design.

Otherwise you're the most dangerous thing on earth: an ignorant advocate with Google access.
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Otherwise you're the most dangerous thing on earth: an ignorant advocate with Google access.

*rec*
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Obviously there is only one thing to do after reading this study. Get a helmet with a wig glued to the outside :-)
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Obviously there is only one thing to do after reading this study. Get a helmet with a wig glued to the outside :-)

Don't forget to shave your legs while you're at it.

BB
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Tossing out more with regard to riding and helmets, the October issue of M.B.A. (Mountain Bike Action) listed the following on page 15 in terms of riding and helmets:

•Percentage of helmet sales in a ranking of all mountain biking accessory products = #1

•Percentage of the bicyclists killed each year who were not wearing helmets = 95%

No surprise that mountain bikers rank a helmet as the #1 accessory simply due to the nature of off road riding. And it's probably no surprise that of those cyclists killed each year, 95% of them were not wearing a lid.

BB
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"If you're going to cite studies be prepared to defend your position."

Oh, really?

I'm really not particularly interested in arguing. Sorry, but I tried that a while back, and it took a while, but I finally realized that responding posters - like most people - take a position based on gut-reaction, then spend a lot of time rationalizing their positions.

So, you'll have to forgive me if I present something and then try to let it go at that. Anyone interested in the topic can read what I post if they choose. If not that's fine with me.

"If it's valid defend it. If you can't learn how to."

I defend it as well as I'm able in the context of my own priorities and time limitations. As stated above, I'm not really interested in a long argument. I like to present an idea and describe my views on it with a few comments, then leave it at that. You're welcome to respond with a different point of view. If you've been around awhile you know criticism, and even confrontation to any post is no big surprise.

There should be room for many views on these boards, and no poster should be expected to participate any more than he, or she, wants to or has time for.

Because you don't have time to debate a topic indefinitely shouldn't be taken as necessarily an indication that you are wrong, or that your view is completely without merit.

Numbers don't equate truth. Some of us are more motivated to say what we believe will be popular in an effort to win recs. By saying what we believe people want to hear, rather than offering constructive (ie helpful) in a sincere effort to try to understand the issue better we put others on the defenisve and create an atmosphere of confrontation.

Debating an issue in that context is pretty hopeless.

So, I'll continue to post on topics that suit me, to the extent I am able, and in my own way thank you very much. You can ignore me, and I would encourage those who don't like me, or those who feel I talk about helmets too much, or feel I don't defend what I say well enough to do just that.

I'm not particularly interested in writing for, or debating with posters who appear too quick to judge, and I'm not interested in responding to people who choose to criticize the person rather than dealing with the issue.

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"Otherwise you're the most dangerous thing on earth: an ignorant advocate with Google access"

You seem to be suggesting someone is "ignorant" simply because he, or she has a point of view that disagrees with yours.

Stooping to personal attack is a pretty good indication someone has run out of ideas.
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You seem to be suggesting someone is "ignorant" simply because he, or she has a point of view that disagrees with yours.

No. You posted your view, and offered as evidence a link to a study. Lurker1999 responded and very politely pointed out that the study doesn't support your position at all. You then go on to say that you are not interested in debate. I think that the word 'ignorant' correctly describes you. It's not a personal attack, it's an accurate description of you.

Refusing to debate an idea when faced with evidence that your arguement is full of holes is also a pretty good indication you have run out of ideas.
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Feel free to cycle without a helmet to your heart's desire. I don't support helmet laws. This is still a free country in some ways. My children and I wear helmets whenever we ride and we never ride on busy streets.

An interesting case occurred here recently when it was erroneously repotted that a cyclist had been killed by a car. Later reports revealed that he simply lost control on a rolling residential street and hit his head on the pavement as he fell. I still have a helmet that was dented by a bridge years ago and my kids have seen it. I felt no pain at all when I lost control on a sharp bike path curve that day.

-Wes
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"Otherwise you're the most dangerous thing on earth: an ignorant advocate with Google access"
--------------------------------------------
You seem to be suggesting someone is "ignorant" simply because he, or she has a point of view that disagrees with yours.


I'm not sure your comment is directed at me since you quoted someone else in a direct response to my post. vuelta did a good job of explaining why someone would agree Lurk1999's post so I don't need to add to it. I don't have a problem with posters that disagree with my point of view. I do have a problem with posters who never admit they're were wrong on an issue. I'm wrong sometimes and I'll say it when it happens.

Stooping to personal attack is a pretty good indication someone has run out of ideas.

It may not be the nicest thing to do but sometimes it is the only thing left when someone has stuck their fingers in their ears and is yelling I can't hear you.

IF
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When will you fall off your bike?

No one knows. I've had at least 2 cars in my day veer over the line to come at me. Both missed. I had one car rev his engine at me, a huge truck, inching forward. Didn't hit me. In a race as I was taking off for a break away my back wheel came out of the frame throwing me on the ground. Last summer as I was riding up a little hill I went blank and next thing I knew I was going down the other side on the grass/crappy pavement on the side of the road and pooof.

In none of these incidents did the helmet do me any good at all. I've never landed on my noggin, although I did fracture a collar bone once on a mountain bike ride.

Still, I wear the helmet because there is no telling when you may go down and when it may be the difference between vegetable and nasty concussion that you recover from in a few weeks.

Each to their own but with bike helmets so light and comfortable these days, the decision is an easy one to make.

Tinker
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By saying what we believe people want to hear, rather than offering constructive (ie helpful) in a sincere effort to try to understand the issue better we put others on the defenisve and create an atmosphere of confrontation.

Debating an issue in that context is pretty hopeless.

I would encourage those who don't like me, or those who feel I talk about helmets too much, or feel I don't defend what I say well enough to do just that.

I'm not particularly interested in writing for, or debating with posters who appear too quick to judge, and I'm not interested in responding to people who choose to criticize the person rather than dealing with the issue.


Hmmmmmm...sounds to me like you are trying to turn the tables away from your not-much-of-a-discussion (you have to find better scientific evidence than what you've linked for a viable discussion to take place) to more of a "BooHoo, everyone's ganging up on MEEEEEEEEEEE" type of defense. You're taking the comments made personally, and, you have to admit that when you constantly bring up how worthless helmets are on a cycling board loaded with many who have been cycling for decades and wearing a helmet and having a story or 2 or 3 about how a helmet saved his/her head from looking like a 3-week-old rotten cantalope sittin' in a compost pile that you leave yourself open for a variety of comments many not agreeable.

See, like the boy who cried Wolf one too many times, even if you do find some real, honest-to-God evidence about helmets being dangerous (like maybe a NIH study for example), few will take you seriously.

Nancy
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Each to their own but with bike helmets so light and comfortable these days, the decision is an easy one to make.

That's what makes our friend's description of riding with a helmet so funny to me. You'd think he was wearing a cement helmet lined with goose down by the exagerated overly dramatic way he describes it.

I've played football (helmets, pads ie hot and heavy), been a bicycle cop (helmet, bullet resistant vest, 30 lbs of gear ie hot and heavy) as well as a member of a mechanized infantry unit in the Army (helmets, long sleeve shirts, long pants, boots, lots of heavy gear ie hot and heavy).

I can't imagine how miserable it would be serving as a teammate, cop, or military person with a guy who whines this much about a friggin' bicycle helmet. Get a life!

I think this advice has been given to you about 200 times in about 10 different threads on this SAME subject...DON'T WEAR A HELMET. WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU DO. (If it's against the law where you live and it affects you SO much, MOVE!)

MESuther13
(Who thinks some people need to get a backbone and just deal with it.)
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Sorry, you can only recommend a post to the Best of once.


That's what makes our friend's description of riding with a helmet so funny to me. You'd think he was wearing a cement helmet lined with goose down by the exagerated overly dramatic way he describes it.

I've played football (helmets, pads ie hot and heavy), been a bicycle cop (helmet, bullet resistant vest, 30 lbs of gear ie hot and heavy) as well as a member of a mechanized infantry unit in the Army (helmets, long sleeve shirts, long pants, boots, lots of heavy gear ie hot and heavy).

I can't imagine how miserable it would be serving as a teammate, cop, or military person with a guy who whines this much about a friggin' bicycle helmet. Get a life!

I think this advice has been given to you about 200 times in about 10 different threads on this SAME subject...DON'T WEAR A HELMET. WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU DO. (If it's against the law where you live and it affects you SO much, MOVE!)

MESuther13
(Who thinks some people need to get a backbone and just deal with it.)




I've turned the OP "off", but I am seeing that he's still at it, huh?

From other responses to his posts I've seen on other boards here on TMF, this appears to be a constant and normal pattern with him. Some people are just too damn dense to "get it".

He just likes to argue. Everyone should just not respond to his "baiting" when he posts - ever.



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This incessant helmet stuff is giving me a head ache. Let's move on.
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This incessant helmet stuff is giving me a head ache. Let's move on.

Come on now, don't be the censor guy, just put it on ignore if you don't want to participate. This is a "discussion board" and you don't get to pick what everyone else wants to discuss, you can either participate or not participate. If you want to discuss a different topic then start one. Don't tell everyone else to end one.

MESuther13
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This whole study is falwed in that it assumes that the driver sees the cyclists in the first place. Problem is, i'll bet the first thing alot of drivers say after hitting a cyclist is "I didnt even see him".

For me personally, I ride across downtown San Francisco for my daily commute to work. I'm much less afraid of the cars coming up behind me than I am of the ones that take a right turn into me as i ride by. They won't see me thus this study is irrelevant.

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I don't think it's as flawed as you think. If drivers really aren't seeing cyclists consciously, then why the difference between riders with helmets and those without?

I think that's part of the study, people may indeed "say" they didn't see the rider, and if true than something subconcious causes them to drive closer.

Leaving the helmet aspect out of this comment, for myself, when riding the 1.5 lane backroads (not really 2 lanes and space), I almost always observe the oncoming driver start slowing coming closer to my side, until they finally correct and get back over to their side.

I think it's the looking while driving syndrome, people usually start moving the direction they look. Perhaps these colorful helments grabs their attention in the wrong way.

All the potential accidents I avoid are almost always the driver having a terrible sense of space and timing even though they see me.

I think they lie when they say "I didn't see", but no way are they going to say "I thought I could make it"
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I don't think it's as flawed as you think. If drivers really aren't seeing cyclists consciously, then why the difference between riders with helmets and those without?

Chance. It's still just a correlation analysis.

I think it's the looking while driving syndrome, people usually start moving the direction they look. Perhaps these colorful helments grabs their attention in the wrong way.

Now that's an interesting hypothesis. Maybe black matte helmets are the solution.
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Now that's an interesting hypothesis. Maybe black matte helmets are the solution.
--------------------------------

Now there's a great use for the hair in a can!!!

Paint that on the helmet!

Oh wait - they'd probably swerve to look at the guy riding the bike with an enourmous head.
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Oh wait - they'd probably swerve to look at the guy riding the bike with an enourmous head.

I hear we'll all be using HGH soon enough anyway, soon nobody will notice.
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