How to stir up a hornets nest

by stumps   May 28, 2012  

Whilst at work on Friday a colleague on his bike was hit by a car.

He basically got flung onto the bonnet and headbutted the car's windscreen and bodywork. His helmet split and he was thrown back into the road. Fortunately he only suffered minor cuts and bruises.

Now for the hornet part - the consultant has said that after he had a ct scan and all the rest done that the helmet, in his opinion, stopped serious if not life threatening injuries. Remember this is a senior consultant in the trauma unit.

This thread is NOT being posted for people to start arguing over helemts and their use but just for cyclists to sit and think about whether they put a helmet on or not when they next go cycling. I feel that without the helmet my friend and colleague might not be here today.

Please think hard about your choice when you next go out cheers folks.

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Can only agree. Having worked in a regional trauma unit for six years I have seen the results of cyclists wearing and not wearing helmets. Safe to say that those wearing helmets always faired a lot better.

posted by Psycling [49 posts]
28th May 2012 - 19:58

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As i said originally this was not meant to stimulate arguements between everyone, as we all having different views and rightly so.

The topic has been covered numerous times already and in all honesty if no one else responds i'm not bothered its just to highlight what happened, get people to think and hopefully sway a few doubters Big Grin

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2664 posts]
28th May 2012 - 20:08

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I'm on the fence and have been for many years about using my helmet, I tend to stay on the side of caution when on the road. If I though for one second that going without a helmet was safer then I'd not wear one, but I've yet to see anything that proves it either way in ALL circumstances.

When I'm going for a wee ride along the old railway line where there are no motorised vehicle's allowed or have access to, I don't wear a helmet.

Glad he's alright and was wearing a helmet at the time.

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posted by Gkam84 [8684 posts]
28th May 2012 - 20:39

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I don't even think about it any more. Going out without one would feel weird, like when you go out without the usual wallet/phone/keys. I wouldn't be able to focus because I'd have a niggle in the back of my head about why I felt different; the equivalent of that little panic when you check your pockets.

When I was a kid my mates laughed at me because my parents wanted me to wear one, but these days no-one even notices.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2938 posts]
28th May 2012 - 20:53

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Personally I always wear a helmet. Years ago, when there weren't many about, I didn't and was hit by a car. The Dr that put me back together said I was very, very fortunate not to be dead or paralysed. After that I have always worn a helmet.

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
28th May 2012 - 21:01

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I don't wear a helmet but do think it's a good idea to wear one. Maybe I should go and buy one tomorrow.....

Thanks for the post.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
28th May 2012 - 21:53

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Really glad that your colleague did not suffer serious head trauma. And hoping that he makes a full recovery.

Whether we wear or don't wear helmets will always need to be a personal decision. I still feel that more could be done by the government to make our roads safer my reigning in the motorists who show no regard for vunerable road users. The other day I lost count of the number of vehicles that passed me at excessive speed with inches to spare. On a couple of occassions I could feel myself being pulled into their slipstream. If I or they were to swerve that was it. In contrast, two emergency vehicles passed me by moving into the other lane and slowing down as they passed.

Maybe driving tuition should have the learner stand by a track and watch a vehicle drive into a Crash Test Dummy so they can witness that they will be in control of a possible letal weapon. Maybe also meet victims from collisions and hear how their lives have been affected.

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
28th May 2012 - 21:54

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i split a helmet into 2 pieces when i got hit by a van. i was riding perfectly safely and following the road rules. the driver who hit me wasnt. the point here is you can say 'i ride safetly so i dont need a helmet' the chances are you may well be but its not generally going to be you hitting yourself its the people on the road who seem to put the actual act of driving about 3rd way down the list of priorities.

i reckon i would be dead or at least twitching and shouting at cheese if i had not worn a helmet.

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
28th May 2012 - 22:05

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stumps wrote:
As i said originally this was not meant to stimulate arguements between everyone, as we all having different views and rightly so.
Big Grin

So why post it then? Wink

Used to wear a helmet, but after years of writing about them and the evidence, and researching how they are tested - I stopped. I now only wear one when my head is cold, I'm riding somewhere where I'm likely to fall of, or the rules of what I'm doing require me to wear one.

You can wheel out as many consultants as you like it won't sway this sceptic - basically I think it's up to everyone to make their own choice on this based on their riding style, and their perceived sense of risk/threat.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
28th May 2012 - 22:51

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Glad your friend is okay too stumps… I should have said that first

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
28th May 2012 - 23:27

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i've crashed and been crashed into many times and never once hit my head, smashed or even scuffed a helmet, if i've been wearing one at the time

just sayin, for anecdotal evidence balance

think hard about your choice

Smile

posted by VecchioJo [739 posts]
28th May 2012 - 23:35

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following on from Jo then, although we're coming from different places it seems to me the bottom line is that we agree with Stumps - think about your choice and make the one that feels right for you, which might well as it is for Stumps be based on personal experience rather than stats.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
29th May 2012 - 0:01

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While I'm glad your friend is alright I don't like your post because:

#1 If the helmet split then it wasn't operating within the parameters for which it was designed. They're supposed to crush, not split.

#2 Posting this and then saying "don't argue about it" is disingenuous.

http://cyclehelmets.org/1081.html

posted by Ush [377 posts]
29th May 2012 - 0:02

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I've never been in an accident where I've needed my helmet, but then again I've never been in a car where I've needed my seat belt.

I'm sure just as many will argue that they'd suffered bruising and crush injuries as a result of wearing a seat belt but there's nothing to predict what injuries they 'may' have suffered had they not been strapped in.

For me, it's the same with helmets and the one thing I constantly think of while riding country lanes is that any bramble or branch could hit me and cause me minor injury that could cause me to crash - remember, the majority of us rely on balance and/or gyroscopic stability to maintain our forward motion.

I'm pretty certain that if I got whipped across the forehead at 25mph by an overhanging branch it would cause me to alter my course with dramatic circumstances - I'd rather have the confidence to take the hit on my protective equipment (plus I always ride with eye wear) than try to swerve with potentially fatal consequences. The bottom of the internet is full of comments about wobbly cyclists and how unpredictable we can be, and I don't wish to fuel that fire.

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posted by andylul [411 posts]
29th May 2012 - 9:14

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Saying that, if I rode through a hornet's nest, I'm sure my helmet would not afford me much protection from the stings Smile

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posted by andylul [411 posts]
29th May 2012 - 9:15

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Ush wrote:
While I'm glad your friend is alright I don't like your post because:

#1 If the helmet split then it wasn't operating within the parameters for which it was designed. They're supposed to crush, not split.

#2 Posting this and then saying "don't argue about it" is disingenuous.

http://cyclehelmets.org/1081.html

Ush, i appreciate your points but i'm not aware of the build quality of helmets, he was wearing a "met" helmet so i cant comment.

I only posted the item so people could think about it and to show how easy serious accidents can happen. I dont want people to argue as it gets us nowhere and as i stated everyone is entitled to their views.

I apologise if you feel that the post is inappropriate.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2664 posts]
29th May 2012 - 10:00

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Another life saved. I can't think of a single rational reason not to wear a helmet. Was knocked off once in a race and was told when I came out of surgery that without question the helmet saved my life. I always wear one.

Here's the rub. I have a son with a wobbly riding style and little road awareness. I make him wear a helmet. He says it's "not cool" and that he "looks like an idiot".

So is it all about what 'other people' think about you?

Sod other people - I'll stay safe thanks... Cool

Ironbloke

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posted by ironbloke [61 posts]
29th May 2012 - 10:03

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It has been said that if you think you don't need a helmet to protect your brain then you are probably right Wink

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
29th May 2012 - 10:37

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andylul wrote:
Saying that, if I rode through a hornet's nest, I'm sure my helmet would not afford me much protection from the stings Smile

yeah, especially a road lid with big vents. I've swallowed up all kinds of flying insects with mine up to and including a giant bumblebee. if you're going to ride near a hornet's nest, probably best to stick a piss pot lid on Smile

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
29th May 2012 - 11:43

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I'm yet to be convinced by statistical arguments either way. Both sides seem to present flawed data, so I can't draw a reasonable conclusion from this evidence.

However, I do always wear a helmet, and have been (very)thankful for the protection it afforded my bonce after a particularly nasty downhill spill. The 'perception of risk' thing, I'm not sure I buy. Agreed, in Copenhagen/Amsterdam/etc. most people don't wear them. But the reality of UK riding is quite different to these utopias.

On the other hand, I'm not in favour of mandating helmets by law, because (a) I'm a cyclist, which is a shorthand way of saying I'm a grumpily independent thinker who doesn't like being told what to do by meddling civil servants (and, by the way, I AM a civil servant...); and (b) it addresses the question of cycling safety from completely the wrong end, foisting the responsibility for brain-damage on the non-helmet wearer rather than the light-jumping, mobile-phone-using white van driver (with apologies to white van drivers). It would significantly set back the cycle-safety debate whihc has been advancing nicely over the past few years.

Incidentally, trauma medics will only ever experience the consequences of crashes, which screams of confirmation bias. Given the key counter-argument (by which I am not convinced) that helmet-wearing increases public perception of risk and thus reduces participation, with knock-on effects on general public health isn't something that will concern your average A&E doctor. Which is to say that while the opinion of these professionals is valuable, it's hardly the bottom line on the debate.

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posted by Ghedebrav [1019 posts]
29th May 2012 - 12:18

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dave_atkinson wrote:
andylul wrote:
Saying that, if I rode through a hornet's nest, I'm sure my helmet would not afford me much protection from the stings Smile

yeah, especially a road lid with big vents. I've swallowed up all kinds of flying insects with mine up to and including a giant bumblebee. if you're going to ride near a hornet's nest, probably best to stick a piss pot lid on Smile

Road cyclists - the only animal that 'eats' wasps...

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posted by andylul [411 posts]
29th May 2012 - 12:19

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On that note Andy, on my first ride on the Tarmac I saw a large flying creature heading my way but past me, then at the last second it made a bee line (pun intended) down my throat!

It got caught and whether psychological or not, I am convinced I could feel its legs wriggling in my throat. After a stop and lots of coughing, spluttering and spitting (sorry to anyone that witnessed that btw) it was still stuck so I forced it down with jelly babies and water!

My very own bush tucker trial!

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
29th May 2012 - 12:40

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I must admit - I do usually wear a helmet, but only to keep my wife happy

In over 5 years of 'serious commuting' (have fun defining that!) I have had three nasty accidents - only one of which involved my noggin in any way, when I face planted thanks to a pathway lemming and got a concussion *despite* my helmet

Take from that what you will

posted by mad_scot_rider [536 posts]
29th May 2012 - 12:42

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Quote:
I only posted the item so people could think about it and to show how easy serious accidents can happen.

Sorry if I seemed grumpy in response. I don't think we need to be telling each other how dangerous cycling is ... it's not. I get enough people banging on about it and it annoys me. I think we should all assume that we've all made our own rational choices as adults and just not mention such an uncertain or contentious topic at all. Anyway, best wishes to you.

posted by Ush [377 posts]
29th May 2012 - 13:26

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So you're allowed to give anecdotes, from a biased source, telling people to wear a helmet, but no one is allowed to reply with a contrary opinion? Nice...

Trauma consultants are:

a) Biased, by the nature of their job, to consider only a small sample of accidents, those which had the most severe outcome. They do not get to see a representative set of accidents and outcomes.

b) Though medical consultants have some scientific and statistical training, they are not scientists nor are they statisticians. While they may have great medical expertise in their field, they can be quite inexperienced at producing scientifically and statistically rigorous conclusions.

Saying "X says so" is arguing by appeal to authority (rather than reason or fact). That the authority being appealed to isn't even working in a relevant field makes this an appeal to *false* authority.

Seeing as it seems to be acceptable to argue by anecdote, I was knocked down by a car. I wasn't wearing a helmet. I hit my head, but I was OK. Many people, in fact, have fallen or been knocked off bikes and hit their heads and have been fine. There are likely about as many such anecdotes as there are for helmet-wearing. Each, of themselves, is meaningless.

The best thing to do is to look at the science. On just the question of helmets alone, while it is clear that helmets reduce head injury it is *not clear* they reduce injury *overall*. This is because other injuries (neck, face) *increase* amongst helmet wearers. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000145751100008X).

Further, it is frankly stupid to consider just head injuries as the only outcome. The outcome that matters is *overall health*. If cyclists wearing helmets saves 1 head, but then costs 1000 hearts because of people being put off cycling then you have a worse overall public health outcome. I don't know of societal-level studies, but there have been computer model studies which suggest this is the case.

Going on about the need to wear helmets, as appears to be so common here in the UK - including by some cyclists, may be counter-productive. It helps reinforce the notion held by many here that cycling is dangerous. So likely depresses cycling rates. It deflects attention from the fact that helmets make little difference to overall injury rates, that the *root* cause of cyclist injuries tends to be motorised, vehicular traffic and the lack of segregation between them and cyclists.

E.g. the Netherlands has very high rates of cycling and very low rates of helmet use, compared to the UK. Despite this, the Netherlands has *much* better outcomes. They have significantly lower cyclist injury rates, despite the lack of helmets - so we know, for a *fact* that cycle-helmets are *not* a pre-requisite for safe cycling. Further, though their obesity rates have been rising, as everywhere, theirs are still significantly lower than in the UK (circa 11% v 25% - I don't have exact figures).

The obsession in the UK on safety "talismans" - i.e. helmets and hi-viz - is sad and tragic. It seems to be a consequence of a broad feeling that cycling is odd & dangerous, which leads to low cycling rates, which leads to the remaining cyclists feeling threatened by other road users who lack understanding. It seems many cyclists, unable to affect substantive change in the road environment and road safety because of their dwindled numbers, turn towards ineffective safety equipment, to try reassure themselves. The really sad part is that in doing so, they may be helping reinforce the "Cycling is dangerous!!" culture that prevails in the UK - so helping to keep cycling rates depressed and making it hard for real change!

What's really sad is when those talisman-embracing cyclists, no doubt well-intentioned, believe they should lecture other cyclists for not similarly investing their hopes in dubious bits of styrofoam.

(Another version of this rant is at http://pjakma.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/the-case-against-bicycle-helmets-... - which has some more links to interesting studies and articles).

posted by Paul J [557 posts]
29th May 2012 - 14:37

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One thing I've noticed lately is that when the media report a fatality/serious injury of a cyclist they are very quick to highlight in grave tones that the "cyclist was not wearing a helmet" When they do not highlight this "misdemeanour" you can be guaranteed that the victim was in fact wearing a helmet and all the other gumph that we are persuaded to wear by the authorities.

Every day when I go out on the bike it is a battle of nerves, sheer grit and determination to cycle assertively and force motorists to take notice of me. And all the govt can do is propose bills to make me wear a helmet for my "safety" rather than grasp the nettle and put the onus of road safety on the motorist.

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
29th May 2012 - 17:39

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There are some wide ranging and completely well explained posts both for and against the use of helmets which is what i hoped for and not someone using the post to rant about how "they are right" and everyone else is wrong.

The use of helmets will always be down to individual choice and rightly or wrongly i dont think the govt should bring in legislation saying that we must wear a lid.

Better road craft by drivers and better road systems and cycle paths are the answer.

Thanks to everyone who contributed Big Grin

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2664 posts]
30th May 2012 - 16:36

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How do they fare in Holland, where hardly anyone wears a helmet?

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posted by cavasta [197 posts]
30th May 2012 - 19:22

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