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Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

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Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby Sandi » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:52 pm

Just jump on your bike and go. The benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1. Per mile walked, pedestrians are as likely to to take a blow to the head as cyclists.

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.

....

He adds: “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby massimo » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:43 pm

So riding a bike without a helmet is better for you than being a sedentary fat ass? Wow, that's amazing.

Is riding a bike without a helmet safer than riding a bike with a helmet? Show me THAT science.

I don't really care either way. I ride frequently with and without a helmet. Depends on the situation.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby Igor » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:45 pm

The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.


Or to put it another way, you are at least three times more likely to injure yourself on a bicycle than as a pedestrian, per hour.

The only thing more annoying than bad math is hoping the reader is bad at math. The fact that it often works doesn't make it any less annoying.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby fennel » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:05 pm

I was once a science experiment in bike-born ballistics.
I T-boned a Delta 88 land barge that lurched in front of me while I was on a fast descent. I flipped, and flew a few car-lengths beyond. After that, I began to wear a helmet.

(Afterward, the front fork tips were almost touching the bottom bracket. It bent but didn't break. Good steel. Good brazing.)
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby Igor » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:26 pm

fennel wrote:I was once a science experiment in bike-born ballistics.
I T-boned a Delta 88 land barge that lurched in front of me while I was on a fast descent. I flipped, and flew a few car-lengths beyond. After that, I began to wear a helmet.

(Afterward, the front fork tips were almost touching the bottom bracket. It bent but didn't break. Good steel. Good brazing.)


Just think how badly you would have been injured if you had t-boned the 88 when walking.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:28 pm

Igor wrote:Just think how badly you would have been injured if you had t-boned the 88 when walking.

With or without a helmet?
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby kurt_w » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:39 pm

Hey, thanks for posting that link to the NY Times article. I bike a lot, and wouldn't ride without a helmet myself. But after reading that, I'm more open to the idea that at least in some circumstances, it makes sense for urban bike-share programs to de-emphasize helmets. Not sure whether I'm convinced, exactly, but It's got me curious.

I do think that helmets are essential for motorcyclists. Personal anecdotes aren't a substitute for statistics and I don't really want to get into talking about private family stuff. But ... Please ... If you ride a motorcycle, please wear a helmet.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby doppel » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:57 pm

When Confucius was asked about a man t-boning an 88 he said:

"It is better for a man to t-bone an 88 than to let the 88 t-bone him."
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby ArturoBandini » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:53 pm

Igor wrote:
The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.

Or to put it another way, you are at least three times more likely to injure yourself on a bicycle than as a pedestrian, per hour.

The only thing more annoying than bad math is hoping the reader is bad at math. The fact that it often works doesn't make it any less annoying.
Huh? When I am biking or walking in the city, I usually do it for a specific distance (e.g. the X miles between points A and B), not for a specific amount of time. I imagine that other people do the same as well. Thus, the risk-per-distance metric is perfectly valid.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:01 am

fennel wrote:(Afterward, the front fork tips were almost touching the bottom bracket. It bent but didn't break. Good steel. Good brazing.)
I'm puzzled. What made the steel bike better in this situation than one made from some other material? Any existent bike would end up in the scrap heap after an accident like this, no matter the quality of the materials or workmanship. Bending to the point of inoperability renders a bike "broken" just as well as would a cracked fork crown or head tube.

Helmets? I wear mine every time. Everyone else can do whatever they like.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby kurt_w » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:41 am

ArturoBandini wrote: When I am biking or walking in the city, I usually do it for a specific distance (e.g. the X miles between points A and B), not for a specific amount of time. I imagine that other people do the same as well. Thus, the risk-per-distance metric is perfectly valid.


I'm not sure that generalization would hold, actually. For example, most bike commuters probably have a limited time they're willing to spend on their daily commute. If for some reason biking ceased to be an option, they probably wouldn't just switch to walking, at the cost of tripling their commute time. They'd take a car, ride the bus, or find a place to live that was closer to work.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby Dust Mite Rodeo » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:26 am

When I was a kid, helmets hadn't been invented yet. Yet we all made it to adulthood without any brain damage brain damage.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby kurt_w » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:29 am

Dust Mite Rodeo wrote:Yet we all made it to adulthood without any brain damage brain damage.


Hmmmm.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby Michael Patrick » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:01 am

I spent my 18th birthday in intensive care after getting T-boned by a car the day before. They had the "DOA" box checked on both pages of the police report, and then they scratched it out apparently when they were able to revive me. I had severe head injuries and was bleeding out both ears. I was not wearing a helmet.

My daughter was trying to argue against wearing a helmet. I pulled out my copy of the police report and showed it to her. The look on her face as she realized how close she came to not coming into this world was priceless... and now she wears a helmet every time.
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Re: Lose the Helmet: Enjoy the Bike Ride

Postby HawkHead » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:36 am

Sandi wrote:Just jump on your bike and go. The benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1. Per mile walked, pedestrians are as likely to to take a blow to the head as cyclists.

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.

....

He adds: “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.


This is completely ridiculous logic.

I am a huge bike fan. I have easily ridden over 20,000 miles in my life and have only gotten in one accident. I was 12 years old and wasn't wearing a helmet. They had to put 30 stitched in my head to fix me up. I bled like a stuck pig and passed out from blood loss. I will never bike without a helmet again.

The logic of this article is like arguing about air bags in cars. I have never had an air bag deploy in any car I have ever been in. In fact the only accident I have been in the air bags didn't go off because a deer hit the side of my car and flipped over my hood and door. That is hundreds of thousands of miles.

Just because you don't use a safety feature doesn't mean having it is a waste.

If putting a helmet on stops you from biking you are lazy, plain and simple. The helmet doesn't stop people from biking.
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