I never ride without wearing a helmet, but found this interesting.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage...But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And — Catch-22 — a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.PF
"The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule."I've not been to Copenhagen, but in Amsterdam most of the bicycles are utilitarian single speed coaster brake beasts pedaled along at walking pace by people going to/from work and shopping, and not the 21 speed titanium/carbon fiber wonders of modern science hustled at 35 mph by fitness freaks.~aj
Yeah I think there's a pretty big difference. Not wearing one while taking a leisurely roll around a park at 3-5 mph isn't a huge deal to me. But if you're out on a road bike in any form of traffic without a helmet, I consider you a prime Darwin Award candidate.- C -
Having known someone who ended up with brain damage while riding at fairly low speed without a helmet (because of a dog and NOT traffic), these studies don't mean much to me. Just because a traumatic event is a rare one doesn't mean we shouldn't take precautions against them.The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.The implication that those cities are the safest because of low helmet use or that helmet use has anything but a minuscule correlation to safety is ridiculous. Those cities are primarily safe because of culture and infrastructure.
It's interesting to observe the conflict between liberal nanny statism and the liberal impulse to do anything to increase bike usage.Usually in such conflicts liberals wind up sacrificing personal safety.As an example, the liberal nanny state has gone to great lengths to remove mercury from homes. Until the compact florescent light came along, which contains mercury in a package that is easily broken.Now, of course, many liberal nanny state programs MANDATE the use of compact florescent or other energy saving lights because it supports other liberal policy goals.Incidentally, I saw this article in the NYT on line and hustled over here to post the article, only to discover others had already done that!Seattle Pioneer
Yes, those liberal/conservative nanny states even want you to wear seat belts. Anything to save lives or reduce medical costs.
Hi PF, thanks for posting that. I'd just finished reading it myself and thought I should link it to the board because I believe it brought out a lot of the same points I've been trying to make on this board in recent years.At least it's nice to see someone somewhere shares some of those views - even if they received little consideration here.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage......One of the most important considerations here is the extent to which helmet laws discourage bicycle use.I think we all would like to see more people enjoy biking and perhaps fewer cars in our cities. To that extent maybe we can agree that we need to try at least, to see what we can do to make cycling more accessible.It should be obvious that many people believe helmets help, and no one should be discouraged from wearing a helmet if they feel safer that way. My problem has always been with mandatory helmet laws, and not optional helmet use.This article brings out one point I hadn't in my arguments and that's the idea that helmet laws help encourage the perception that cycling is more dangerous than it really is. By forcing people to wear helmets we create an atmosphere in which many people withdraw from the activity completely.We can't easily measure how many people are turned off of cycling out of either fear, or the fact that a helmet creates one more thing you have to do in order to participate. There can be a big difference between getting a bike and going, and getting a bike and then looking for a helmet...The requirement makes cycling less accessible and a less spontaneous activity in a time when physical activity can be very important to health.How can we say helmets save lives when forcing people to use them could be contributing - if even in a small way to an even more sedentary lifestyle? Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke kill many millions every year. And lack of physical activity is a factor in each of these.Do helmets really save more lives than they destroy? That isn't clear.Until it is we don't need laws forcing mandatory helmet use.
Those cities are primarily safe because of culture and infrastructure. I am currently working in the Netherlands, not Amsterdam...but further north.I ride a bike to/from work every day, as do about 400 others who work in my building.CULTURE cannot be overstressed.Nearly everyone who drives here, grew up riding a bike here, and probably were presented with a bicycle about the same time they leared to walk.Driver's license age is 18, and as everyone is ON a bike, daily until that age, as drivers they are very, very, very aware of bicycles.Bicycles almost always have and are given right of way.A bicycle on the sidewalk is regarded much the same as if one drove a motorcycle on the sidewalk- why would you? A bicycle is a Road Vehicle...and in the US (overall) it is just not considered that waypeace & fietst
Hi Tconi, "CULTURE cannot be overstressed.Nearly everyone who drives here, grew up riding a bike here, and probably were presented with a bicycle about the same time they leared to walk."Sounds good. And pretty much in line with my impression although I haven't been to europe since the 80s. I was impressed even then with how much respect cyclists were given. In German cities and towns bike lanes often used some combination of sidewalk and a bike lane in the street. Where cyclists were to go was clearly deliniated."Culture" is a broad term that can mean a lot of different things to each of us. The way I see it we share a lot of cultural similarities and cultural differences with europeans. As for "everyone who drives" having grown up riding a bike, and having been "presnted with a bike at about the same time as they learned to walk".I don't know anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, that anyone didn't grow up riding a bike. I have mixed feelings about riding on the sidewalk myself. In states and provinces where I grew up and spent much of my adult life biking it was taboo to ride on the sidewalk. But here in Florida, cyclists have the option of riding on the sidewalk or the street, and there are times when I'm glad to get off a busy city street where large vehicles are whizzing past at up to 60mph.You might say it's a different culture.I'd call it a different attitude. Cyclists seem to get more respect in some places than others. I'm not sure it's just a Europe, vs US thing, or something that varies from region to region with greater awareness of environmental concerns.
there is s huge difference between learning to ride at 7 and learning to ride at 1-2.In most of eh US, when kids ride it is a recreational activity - after school/weekendsIn NL, it IS transportation. there are very few school buses - kids ride 3-5 miles to school at age 10 without a second thught.Most people - even up through their 80s ride their bike to the grocery store...In he US, yeah- kids ride, but at 16, when they can drive - many of them never get on a bike again.*Here they are 18 before the car is even an option, and getting a license is about $2k, so many wait until later. and gas is close to $8/gallon...But a huge part of it is also that everyone here knows the expectations - There is no surprise when 2 vehicles (motorised or not) encounter each other at an intersection- the bicyclists always do the same thing. Everyone know who has he right of way in any given situation.In the US, probably any given set of ten bicyclists/motorists would make different decsions in right-of-way scenarios.peace & reasonst*personal anecdata - I have had the same bike for 20 years, and ride occasionally when in the US. I ride every day in NL.My older son (22) has not been on a bicycle since he was 11 i thinkMy 12 year old (because of the street on which we live) has never learned...
See, I just don't get why that matters. I understand that the rate of accidents (# accidents per minute riding) goes down. But this is like arguing that it would be okay not to wear a seatbelt just because there aren't too many cars on the road in your country. Will you probably come away from the ride accident free? Yes. Is it smart not to wear safety gear that could save your life and/or preserve your quality of life? Um, no.Wearing a helmet used to be a stigma in this country too. When I learned to ride, no one rode with helmets. It wasn't cool, so no one did it. Now, I don't let my kids on a bike without a helmet, and no one makes fun of them. I still see kids riding without helmets, but the stigma is far different these days...no less than half the people that see those kids without a helmet think "That's just stupid," as opposed to back in my day, when almost everyone would see the kid with a helmet and think "What a dork."Social acceptance can change. It's a horrendously weak and flawed argument to say we shouldn't do something simply because it's not socially accepted.- C -
"Will you probably come away from the ride accident free? Yes. Is it smart not to wear safety gear that could save your life and/or preserve your quality of life? Um, no."Most accidents happen in the home. Most fatal accidents could be prevented if we all wear helmets 24/7. I've always wondered why people single out bicycles, motorcycles, cars etc as places that they can best save lives.
Hi C, not sure what the "that" in your first line refers to, or even which post you're responding to, but for the benefit of anyone who may be new or still interested in this topic (its one we talked about at great length over the years here) the question, as I see it remains one of the legitimacy of laws which force cyclists to wear helmets.As for seatbelts, they're not helmets. To suggest one thing is like another means we can see similarities in aspects of their use. It doesn't mean helmets are completely like seatbelts. There are big differences. Helmets should be considered on the basis of their own merits and not lumped in with all safety equipment.Pumping yourself up with football padding might make you even "safer" at least in some respects but I don't think anyone is advocating that. And for good reason. All that padding would be an encumberance. It would make you slower to react, and probably result in a lot of overheating.Some of this happens with helmets, and the effect can be even more significant depending on where you bike, how far and hard you ride, and the local climate.Helmets don't protect against the major cause of head injuries which result in fatalities. Those are concussions in which the brain cells are killed by shearing into each other, or against the wall of the skull. This is by far the most common form of head injury and it takes place on impact when the head is suddenly jarred.Helmet use can actually make - especially younger cyclists over confident with regard to their safety. To the extent both cyclists and drivers passing them have been shown to take greater risks (passing closer and at greater speed) helmets may do more damage than they prevent.In addition to this, to the extent that people who might be inclined to use a bicycle but are put off by the requirement of a helmet (along with the dangerousness that being forced to a helmet helps engender), you really have to question their value.I know I personally, would be more inclined to drive than take my bike if forced to wear a helmet, and I don't think I'm alone in that feeling. And that means more pollution, and greater risk to the few who do continue to bike.So, this isn't as cut and dried as some would have us believe. And we shouldn't assume that because everyone's doing it, it must make sense. The validity of an idea isn't determined by the number of people who believe it.No one's suggesting we shouldn't do something because it's "socially unacceptable". Indeed, helmets may be more the norm than not - at least in some circles.If someone wants to wear padding while riding because they believe it will help them that's their business. It's when they assume* that because they believe it helps that it's necessarily good for everyone else that we need to question the validity of helmets and laws enforcing their use. * an assumption because there is no verifiable evidence to support the idea that helmets help reduce head injury.
Actually, most accidents happen on the highway, but many accidents do take place in the home, and many places have a high incidence of pedestrian injury as well as injuries to cyclists.The argument for helmet use in the home, or on the sidewalk might sound silly to you, but there's no real reason we shouldn't have laws for those situations if we feel we need laws to force cyclists to wear helmets. To the extent these people suffer head injuries they'd benefit from wearing helmets - wouldn't they? The point is that there's no real reason to discriminate against cyclists. Either helmets work, or they don't. If they work and they help with head injuries then you need to apply the law equally to all who are vulnerable to head injuries - not just the people who choose to bike.
Look, I just moved. I hadn't been out on a bike in months. I decided to put the cleats on and take a 30 minute ride as a start back. I couldn't find my helmet or sunglasses as they were still packed away somewhere. So I CHOSE to take the 10 mile ride, in traffic, up and down rolling hills, without the helmet instead of not taking the ride.My choice. Had I found my helmet I would have worn it.I missed my sunglasses. I really did not miss my helmet. But I was most concerned with some object flying into my eye and causing real damage (not unheard of) and the tearing in my eyes.As for the helmet, I really did not notice a difference between having it on or not having it on, other than people think its weird these days not wearing helmet, and my hair might have looked good (albeit no whistle from any passing appreciator of same).Point being, it is MY CHOICE. Point also being, there was no appreciable difference between wearing or not wearing the helmet in regard to effort, coolness, comfort, or sensation. It was all the same. Last point being, it was my cycling glasses that I did really miss.The PR campaign for helmets, and the pros using helmets, and the ethic of helmets that is embedded in the culture now is far more persuasive than any law, and almost everyone wears helmets nowadays, just because it is weird not to.So can the law on it for adults, and go ride. We are almost unanimously going to wear them w out a law. And hark, I did find my helmet and glasses just a few boxes over. I will wear them every other time I go for a ride. But I am very glad it was my choice to take that little ride without having to be a law breaker as well. I needed it after being sick for weeks (still a bit sick), and being just before Christmas was just the tonic I needed to get revved back up.Tinker
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