Home
British Cycling policy advisor responds to criticism, saying it "obscures real issues"...

Chris Boardman’s appearance on BBC Breakfast this morning has provoked a flurry of complaints about his not wearing a cycle helmet – even though the segment began with him explaining why he chose not to do so. In a detailed explanation this afternoon, Boardman says that while the reaction was "understandable," it is also "unfortunate because it obscures what I believe are the real issues."

The early morning TV show is featuring a report on cycling each day this week. It is broadcast from Salford, close to the Manchester headquarters of British Cycling, where former Olympic champion Boardman is policy advisor.

Prior to going on a bike ride with him, presenter Louise Minchin asked Boardman, “Viewers will notice I will be wearing a helmet but you won’t. Why not?”

He replied: “It’s a very long answer and more time than we’ve got here," before summarising his position briefly.

“It discourages people from riding a bike, you’re as safe riding a bike as you are walking, statistically, you’re much safer than you are going in your own bathroom and you don’t wear a helmet there," he explained.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with helmets, but it’s not in the top ten things that you can do to keep safe.

“We’re going to look at all of those things, but for me, I want bikes to be for normal people in normal clothes.

“About 0.5 per cent of people wear one in the Netherlands, yet it’s the safest country in the world,” he added.

“There’s a reason for that.”

Despite his explanation, the backlash on social media was predictable, many pointing out that the Netherlands already has the type of infrastructure that Boardman and others are campaigning for in the UK.

One Facebook user, John Stimpson, said: “Chris Boardman wearing no helmet and riding in black jacket and jeans. For an item on cycling safety you can't get more stupid.”

Another, Toni Smith, said: “How can you show a piece about cycling safety when the ex-champion is not wearing any safety gear? This is not acceptable! Please in the future choose an ambassador who practices what they preach!”

Many others leapt to his defence, however, with Morgan Lewis saying: “For all those people expressing outrage, I wonder if you have spent the same amount of time looking at the evidence about helmets over the years as Chris Boardman has. His view is not idly held. There is a lot of knee-jerking in these comments.”

Jonathan Richards pointed out: “About two thirds of fatalities WITHIN cars are caused by head injuries - why not a call for compulsory helmets for those travelling in cars? And as for pedestrians ....”

Meanwhile, Chris Myrie couldn’t resist asking: “Does this mean his £80 endorsed helmets from Halfords are useless?”

There was a similar division in reaction to his comments on Twitter, where Boardman himself tweeted this morning after the show: “Hi All, rather than try to address the helmet debate (again) I'm going to pen something for people to read and point you to it this PM.”

That response has now been published on the British Cycling website. Boardman acknowledged the BBC Breakfast piece had “got a lot of people fired up,” and that “my riding a bicycle in normal clothing, looking like a normal person was greeted by some with cries of horror. It’s both understandable and unfortunate because it obscures what I believe are the real issues.”

Foremost among those issues is why some cyclists in the UK believe they should have to wear a helmet while cycling in the first place, he said.

“People wear helmets and high vis as they feel it’s all they can do to keep themselves safe. It shows just how far away Britain is from embracing cycling as a normal and convenient form of transport,” he added.

Pointing to the example of Utrecht in the Netherlands and providing a link to a video of people cycling there he went on: “I’m willing to bet that even those that swear by helmets and high vis would feel comfortable discarding their body armour in such an environment. And that’s the point; in Utrecht they have addressed the real dangers to cyclists.”

While he admitted that the situation in the UK is vastly different, he said helmet compulsion was not the answer, citing drops of between 30 and 50 per cent in countries such as Australia and New Zealand that had introduced such legislation.

“If cycling looks and feels normal, more people will cycle,” he said. The more people cycle, the safer they are - the safety in numbers effect. The more people cycle, the more lives will be saved from amongst the 37,000 that die each year from obesity-related illnesses. Never mind the more than 27,000 that die annually from pollution-related illnesses.”

Boardman said he understands “exactly why people feel so passionately about helmets or high vis,” and “why people wish to use them,” but said he would not promote helmets or hi-vis nor be drawn into a debate on a topic that he considers “isn’t even in the top 10 things that will really keep people who want to cycle safe.”

He added: “I want cycling in the UK to be like it is in Utrecht or Copenhagen and more recently New York City – an everyday thing that people can do in everyday clothes whether you are eight or 80 years old. I want cycling to be a normal thing that normal people do in normal clothes. Is that wrong?”

In the BBC Breakfast report itself, Boardman outlined his top tips for cycling safely including planning your route, how to negotiate junctions and roundabouts safely, road position, stopping at red lights and giving large vehicles plenty of space and not going up the left-hand side of them.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

285 comments

Avatar
3wheelsgood [63 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

The only time I wear a helmet or hi-vis is when I am waving a chainsaw around; usually up a tree. I have been cycling for fifty four years - including several spells as a ''pushie'' in London - I guess I have just been in possession of the most extraordinary good fortune having never suffered the slightest injury.
I did once experience an unplanned free-fall from a very unco-operative Chestnut; the helmet certainly prevented a serious head trauma but the bleddy hi-vis was bleddy useless - five broken ribs!!!! Ouch!!!

Avatar
dalbyka [10 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I choose to wear a helmet to ride. I saw a friend have an innocuous accident on a cycle path... he landed head first and then onto his arm. His head was fine, his elbow was smashed. My Dad suffered a serious head injury falling backwards from the 5th stair in his house. My point is nothing is predictable and we make our own choices based on our own circumstances and beliefs. I don't agree with compulsory and I would love to see the day we have a cycling infrastructure the likes of the Netherlands. I may even choose not to wear a helmet.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2091 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:

If it splits it's because the impact was to gtreat for the styrofoam to compress. It has failed.

Oh god not this again - yes it has structurally failed, no you can't say whether it had any benefit unless you examine the foam structure near the rupture and even then it's not that simple.

oozaveared50j wrote:

is the sort of impact a small child might suffer at very low speed. The calculation is the standard one for impact that you learned at schools ie half mass times velocity squared over two.

That's for total conversion of kinetic energy to impact energy.... you know that. Collisions with cars, yep - almost certainly bloody useless. Stand-alone accidents (such as the fall you talked about at 15mph) may or may not impart more energy - but you don't know because you don't know the strike details - but the helmet may (or not) absorb a significant amount of the potential impact energy anyway and/or may have reduced the deceleration of the head.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Felix how can you write "helmets don't work on the roads" at the end whilst at the beginning write "The answers to your questions (about helmets mitigating potential head trauma caused through cycling) are indeed inescapapable".

It is a contradiction!

A better comparison for cycling, seeing as you want to peddle that line, is skiing. Speeds are similar (non-propelled common mass (weight) object acting under the forces of gravity) and even though the incidents of crashes, actually and statistically, are higher for skiing than cycling the impacts of head traumas are not dissimilar. Very few, if any, of the posts, have referenced medical expert data for head trauma.

It is inconceivable for me to cycle without a helmet and most of the races/events or groups I cycle with will not allow riders to participate without using helmets.

I wish I had applied the same criteria to my skiing when several years ago I hit an ice block in poor light and endured a high speed crash (flipped in the air) without a helmet bouncing my skull heavily on the downslope. I was lucky that I escaped with only mild concussion but it hurt like **** with headaches for weeks. The two medics that I saw in the aftermath left me in little doubt that I had acted negligently by not wearing a suitable helmet. They should know, they see the outcomes every day.

Avatar
kamoshika [234 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

You make the same mistake as so many others on here by confusing objectives, i.e. wanting to promote cycling (entirely laudable) with the use of helmets as an inhibitor (different subject entirely).

But the two are inextricably linked! The promotion (or worse, the mandating) of helmets for cycling reinforces the view that cycling is a dangerous activity, which in turn can and does discourage people from cycling, working against the promotion of cycling.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Reply to: posted by oozaveared [677 posts]
5th November 2014 - 12:45

I have a degree in engineering and your calculations are wrong. Far too simplistic for a start (you cannot simply use F=ma =>/2 = E (in joules) to work out the force and energy imparted to the head in an impact) and your implicit assumptions are so incorrect to make it fundamentally flawed.

Kinetic energy in this case, as measured in joules, is applied to (and dissipated across) the whole object, i.e. not just the head (primary assumption that you made incorrectly). In order to correctly calculate it you would probably need to do a FEA using a range of scenarios around that - as the professionals do.

Of course a helmet will do you no good in an impact with a car - an air filled Michelin suit wouldn't help you either. Why would you argue the obvious? Not once did I argue or suggest they would.

Snell standards do cover cycling btw if you care to visit their site. A simple look inside your cycle helmet, if you have one  1 will confirm that to you.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

You make the same mistake as so many others on here by confusing objectives, i.e. wanting to promote cycling (entirely laudable) with the use of helmets as an inhibitor (different subject entirely).

But the two are inextricably linked! The promotion (or worse, the mandating) of helmets for cycling reinforces the view that cycling is a dangerous activity, which in turn can and does discourage people from cycling, working against the promotion of cycling.

No Graham they are not "inextricably linked" they are tenuously (loosely) linked at the most.

So many posters on here seem to be peddling the argument, like Boardman, 'don't force people to wear cycling helmets lest you will disincentivise them from taking up cycling'. It is so lame it is naff.

It is big levers like Olympic & TdF success, increased TV exposure, high profile women's teams and stars like Vicky, Laura, Dani and Joanna that incentivise people (notably women) to take up the sport/pastime not in/out red-herrings like use of helmets which are, as most would acknowledge, an inherently sensible measure.

Avatar
kamoshika [234 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

A better comparison for cycling, seeing as you want to peddle that line, is skiing. Speeds are similar (non-propelled common mass (weight) object acting under the forces of gravity) and even though the incidents of crashes, actually and statistically, are higher for skiing than cycling the impacts of head traumas are not dissimilar. Very few, if any, of the posts, have referenced medical expert data for head trauma.

It is inconceivable for me to cycle without a helmet and most of the races/events or groups I cycle with will not allow riders to participate without using helmets.

I wish I had applied the same criteria to my skiing when several years ago I hit an ice block in poor light and endured a high speed crash (flipped in the air) without a helmet bouncing my skull heavily on the downslope. I was lucky that I escaped with only mild concussion but it hurt like **** with headaches for weeks. The two medics that I saw in the aftermath left me in little doubt that I had acted negligently by not wearing a suitable helmet. They should know, they see the outcomes every day.

You say yourself that the likelihood of crashing while skiing is higher. Therefore the risk of a head injury is higher, so the use of the use of helmets is more justified. For the most part people who take part in skiing are doing it as a sporting activity, so a fairer comparison would be with sport cycling, as opposed to utility cycling which is the main focus of what CB is talking about. There will always be exceptions (as there are with skiers) but I'd say the majority of people cycling as a sport use a helmet regularly. A better comparison for utility cycling might be cross country skiing. How many people do you see cross country skiing with a helmet on? Very few, because the risks are much smaller. Yes - there is a chance that you could fall and hit your head while cross country skiing, just as there is a chance (as has been pointed out several times above) that you could sustain a head injury walking along the street, climbing the stairs, driving a car. If you go down the road of any risk of head injury, however small, being justification for wearing a helmet, then we'd all put one on when we got out of bed in the morning and not take it off until we go to bed at night.

Avatar
kamoshika [234 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

You make the same mistake as so many others on here by confusing objectives, i.e. wanting to promote cycling (entirely laudable) with the use of helmets as an inhibitor (different subject entirely).

But the two are inextricably linked! The promotion (or worse, the mandating) of helmets for cycling reinforces the view that cycling is a dangerous activity, which in turn can and does discourage people from cycling, working against the promotion of cycling.

No Graham they are not "inextricably linked" they are tenuously (loosely) linked at the most.

So many posters on here seem to be peddling the argument, like Boardman, 'don't force people to wear cycling helmets lest you will disincentivise them from taking up cycling'. It is so lame it is naff.

It is big levers like Olympic & TdF success, increased TV exposure, high profile women's teams and stars like Vicky, Laura, Dani and Joanna that incentivise people (notably women) to take up the sport/pastime not in/out red-herrings like use of helmets which are, as most would acknowledge, an inherently sensible measure.

"so lame it's naff"? Isn't it backed up by the figures from places that have brought in helmet laws?

I suspect that being forced or encouraged to wear a helmet has a stronger influence on people's desire to start utility cycling than seeing lycra-clad sports men and women competing in the Olympics. The levels of influence are probably different for people taking up cycling as a sport, but what CB is talking about is normal people in normal clothes, cycling to get around. Very different things.

Avatar
kamoshika [234 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

No Graham they are not "inextricably linked" they are tenuously (loosely) linked at the most.

Out of interest, which bit would you dispute - that telling people that they should wear a helmet reinforces the view that cycling is dangerous, or that holding the view that cycling is dangerous makes people less likely to cycle?

Avatar
Matt eaton [741 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

You make the same mistake as so many others on here by confusing objectives, i.e. wanting to promote cycling (entirely laudable) with the use of helmets as an inhibitor (different subject entirely).

But the two are inextricably linked! The promotion (or worse, the mandating) of helmets for cycling reinforces the view that cycling is a dangerous activity, which in turn can and does discourage people from cycling, working against the promotion of cycling.

No Graham they are not "inextricably linked" they are tenuously (loosely) linked at the most.

So many posters on here seem to be peddling the argument, like Boardman, 'don't force people to wear cycling helmets lest you will disincentivise them from taking up cycling'. It is so lame it is naff.

It is big levers like Olympic & TdF success, increased TV exposure, high profile women's teams and stars like Vicky, Laura, Dani and Joanna that incentivise people (notably women) to take up the sport/pastime not in/out red-herrings like use of helmets which are, as most would acknowledge, an inherently sensible measure.

I agree with you on this but only when we are talking about encouraging cycling as a sport/pastime. For sports cyclists a helmet is part of the uniform and in this branch of cycling the helmet debate is a non-issue (does it even exist?). I honestly don't think there are many who choose not to race or ride sportives because of the helmet compulsion that exists.

However, when we are talking about getting people to cycle to work/school/the shops etc. it doesn't apply. I don't believe that the Olympics or the Tours are major drivers for utility cycling. If anything they probably do it a disservice by portraying cycling as something only for the super-fit who are brave enough to descend at 50+mph.

I'd also conceed that there is nothing unsensible about wearing a helmet when cycling. There's also nothing unsensible about wearing one when walking, driving, running, climbing stairs or binge-drinking. The important point is about net impact of helmet use/compulsion/psudo compulsion on the attidude of the general public towards cycling.

Avatar
a.jumper [850 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

Snell standards do cover cycling btw if you care to visit their site. A simple look inside your cycle helmet, if you have one  1 will confirm that to you.

Not if you bought it recently, it probably won't! Most helmet producers now prefer to pass only the minimum CPSC or EN standards and not the tougher Snell tests. The biggest difference is that Snell simulate falling onto a large rock - an idealised smooth rock, but still better than no rock.

Avatar
felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

Felix how can you write "helmets don't work on the roads" at the end whilst at the beginning write "The answers to your questions (about helmets mitigating potential head trauma caused through cycling) are indeed inescapapable".

It is a contradiction!

It is impossible to be sure that helmets could not mitigate some injuries, just as it is impossible to be sure that they do not exacerbate others. All we can be sure is that in the countrywide experiments in helmet compulsion no net benefit can be shown, only a small possible disbenefit. Why this is is debatable. My own belief is that risk compensation plays a large part, as well helmets making very little difference in the event of a crash.
As to skiing, I would want to see much better statistics before making any conclusions. I suspect skiers, like cyclists and indeed any sentient being absorb safety benefits as performance benefits. That is, they do things with helmets that they would not do without.
Your medics may see many injuries but they are trained in repair, not in avoidance of injury. I would no more take a doctor's views on injury prevention than a panel beater's, especially since a doctor may have an inflated idea about his omniscience.

Avatar
mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
a.jumper wrote:

Not if you bought it recently, it probably won't! Most helmet producers now prefer to pass only the minimum CPSC or EN standards and not the tougher Snell tests. The biggest difference is that Snell simulate falling onto a large rock - an idealised smooth rock, but still better than no rock.

I think, that Specialized are the only mainstream brand still using Snell and they use an old snell standard rather than the newer harder one.

Avatar
mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

On the skiing thing, i am sure i read recently a study that made the point that helmets are getting more common but there is no change in rates of head injuries. Make of that what you will.

Avatar
felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:

On the skiing thing, i am sure i read recently a study that made the point that helmets are getting more common but there is no change in rates of head injuries. Make of that what you will.

This is what you would expect if you looked at cycle helmet wearing. Neither compulsion nor voluntary wearing has had the hoped for effect.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

A better comparison for cycling, seeing as you want to peddle that line, is skiing. Speeds are similar (non-propelled common mass (weight) object acting under the forces of gravity) and even though the incidents of crashes, actually and statistically, are higher for skiing than cycling the impacts of head traumas are not dissimilar. Very few, if any, of the posts, have referenced medical expert data for head trauma.

It is inconceivable for me to cycle without a helmet and most of the races/events or groups I cycle with will not allow riders to participate without using helmets.

I wish I had applied the same criteria to my skiing when several years ago I hit an ice block in poor light and endured a high speed crash (flipped in the air) without a helmet bouncing my skull heavily on the downslope. I was lucky that I escaped with only mild concussion but it hurt like **** with headaches for weeks. The two medics that I saw in the aftermath left me in little doubt that I had acted negligently by not wearing a suitable helmet. They should know, they see the outcomes every day.

You say yourself that the likelihood of crashing while skiing is higher. Therefore the risk of a head injury is higher, so the use of the use of helmets is more justified. For the most part people who take part in skiing are doing it as a sporting activity, so a fairer comparison would be with sport cycling, as opposed to utility cycling which is the main focus of what CB is talking about. There will always be exceptions (as there are with skiers) but I'd say the majority of people cycling as a sport use a helmet regularly. A better comparison for utility cycling might be cross country skiing. How many people do you see cross country skiing with a helmet on? Very few, because the risks are much smaller. Yes - there is a chance that you could fall and hit your head while cross country skiing, just as there is a chance (as has been pointed out several times above) that you could sustain a head injury walking along the street, climbing the stairs, driving a car. If you go down the road of any risk of head injury, however small, being justification for wearing a helmet, then we'd all put one on when we got out of bed in the morning and not take it off until we go to bed at night.

Good point on the analogy with nordic/alpine skiing but where it breaks down is that most nordic skiers I have seen are highly competent (skilled) and I do not see anywhere near the same level of competence with occasional cyclists, quite a few of whom look decidedly unstable and not in total control of their bikes.

I had such an incident last week in the Great Park where I was riding steadily at over 40kmh and a lady cycling with family group wandered (wobbled) from their side of the road (flat section btw) right across the road. I always stay alert for such situations and called out from a good distance away whereupon she unnecessarily jerked the bike back the other way nearly coming a cropper with her own group. She was at relatively low speed and without a helmet (just the kids had them interestingly). It was all safe in the end and I thanked them as I passed by but she could have been another statistic without even coming into contact with me.

Avatar
oozaveared [937 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

A better comparison for cycling, seeing as you want to peddle that line, is skiing. Speeds are similar (non-propelled common mass (weight) object acting under the forces of gravity) and even though the incidents of crashes, actually and statistically, are higher for skiing than cycling the impacts of head traumas are not dissimilar. Very few, if any, of the posts, have referenced medical expert data for head trauma.

It is inconceivable for me to cycle without a helmet and most of the races/events or groups I cycle with will not allow riders to participate without using helmets.

I wish I had applied the same criteria to my skiing when several years ago I hit an ice block in poor light and endured a high speed crash (flipped in the air) without a helmet bouncing my skull heavily on the downslope. I was lucky that I escaped with only mild concussion but it hurt like **** with headaches for weeks. The two medics that I saw in the aftermath left me in little doubt that I had acted negligently by not wearing a suitable helmet. They should know, they see the outcomes every day.

You say yourself that the likelihood of crashing while skiing is higher. Therefore the risk of a head injury is higher, so the use of the use of helmets is more justified. For the most part people who take part in skiing are doing it as a sporting activity, so a fairer comparison would be with sport cycling, as opposed to utility cycling which is the main focus of what CB is talking about. There will always be exceptions (as there are with skiers) but I'd say the majority of people cycling as a sport use a helmet regularly. A better comparison for utility cycling might be cross country skiing. How many people do you see cross country skiing with a helmet on? Very few, because the risks are much smaller. Yes - there is a chance that you could fall and hit your head while cross country skiing, just as there is a chance (as has been pointed out several times above) that you could sustain a head injury walking along the street, climbing the stairs, driving a car. If you go down the road of any risk of head injury, however small, being justification for wearing a helmet, then we'd all put one on when we got out of bed in the morning and not take it off until we go to bed at night.

Good point on the analogy with nordic/alpine skiing but where it breaks down is that most nordic skiers I have seen are highly competent (skilled) and I do not see anywhere near the same level of competence with occasional cyclists, quite a few of whom look decidedly unstable and not in total control of their bikes.

and it further breaks down because Ski helmets are very substantially more protective than cycle helmets. they are designed and constructed differently and they work differently.

Of course if you want to wear a ski helmet or a motorcycle helmet tell me how that works for you cycling. I suspect the enthusiasm would soon wear off. But you don't mind wearing a cycle helmet because it's light and comfortable almost designed as if lightness and comfort were the main criteria and not protection.....oh wait a minute.

Then of course there's the fact that you were high speed skiing in the dark. So again we have this idea that cycling is an extreme sport practiced by very fit people travelling quite fast. Further missing the whole point of what Chris Boardman is saying ie that if cycling were like it was in NL then it would be a heck of a lot of people travelling quite sedately as a form of completely benign transport. Why don't you mention the fact that whole hoards of people from young to old go skiing and are quite content to ski nicely down a slope without pushing the limits. You know just travelling along nicely.

But every time we have to come back to people that want to push the sporting line that because they ride fast or ski difficult slopes in the dark that Mrs Jones popping to the shop for some chops for dinner has to be kitted out like she's on an adventure.

Some of you guys aren't getting this are you?

Avatar
mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:
mrmo wrote:

1. should we be discouraging laziness and inactivity in general life?

[RTB] Entirely different subject to whether helmets should be worn or not and as is often the case with you here and others you focus on the symptom of the problem not the root cause. Of course obesity and lack of exercise is at epidemic proportions but what the hell has that got to do with wearing helmets for cycling or not?

No it is a totally relevant question. Are roads dangerous? Are roads dangerous because of how some use them?

If you mandate helmets and reduce number of cyclists, as studies show it is what happens, journeys will still be made, but by car, more cars will make the roads MORE dangerous for those that remain cycling and for pedestrians.

There is nothing black and white in this argument, helmets might help IF you crash, will do precious little if a car hits you, mandating helmets will reduce cycling numbers. Will make a declaration that cycling is dangerous and not something that "normal" people should do.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

No Graham they are not "inextricably linked" they are tenuously (loosely) linked at the most.

Out of interest, which bit would you dispute - that telling people that they should wear a helmet reinforces the view that cycling is dangerous, or that holding the view that cycling is dangerous makes people less likely to cycle?

Neither of these paradigms is my point or concern. I have a libertarian perspective: free speech; free choice. There is no law or planned law (that I know of) to compulsorise the use of cycling helmets nor would I push for one - in fact I am very ambivalent about this part of the debate.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:
RTB wrote:
mrmo wrote:

1. should we be discouraging laziness and inactivity in general life?

[RTB] Entirely different subject to whether helmets should be worn or not and as is often the case with you here and others you focus on the symptom of the problem not the root cause. Of course obesity and lack of exercise is at epidemic proportions but what the hell has that got to do with wearing helmets for cycling or not?

No it is a totally relevant question. Are roads dangerous? Are roads dangerous because of how some use them?

If you mandate helmets and reduce number of cyclists, as studies show it is what happens, journeys will still be made, but by car, more cars will make the roads MORE dangerous for those that remain cycling and for pedestrians.

There is nothing black and white in this argument, helmets might help IF you crash, will do precious little if a car hits you, mandating helmets will reduce cycling numbers. Will make a declaration that cycling is dangerous and not something that "normal" people should do.

Where did I say "mandate helmets" or where have I said/suggested a helmet will protect you when hit by a car? If you believe I said either of these you either misread or misunderstood.

Avatar
mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

Where did I say "mandate helmets" or where have I said/suggested a helmet will protect you when hit by a car? If you believe I said either of these you either misread or misunderstood.

Re-read your points, you are suggesting at every point that everyone should wear a helmet that there are no down sides.

Most people here are arguing that helmets are bad for UTILITY cycling, As far as sport cycling goes the UCI set the rules, which means helmets, even if the standards are crap.

Avatar
oozaveared [937 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

Reply to: posted by oozaveared [677 posts]
5th November 2014 - 12:45

I have a degree in engineering and your calculations are wrong. Far too simplistic for a start (you cannot simply use F=ma =>/2 = E (in joules) to work out the force and energy imparted to the head in an impact) and your implicit assumptions are so incorrect to make it fundamentally flawed.

Kinetic energy in this case, as measured in joules, is applied to (and dissipated across) the whole object, i.e. not just the head (primary assumption that you made incorrectly). In order to correctly calculate it you would probably need to do a FEA using a range of scenarios around that - as the professionals do.

Of course a helmet will do you no good in an impact with a car - an air filled Michelin suit wouldn't help you either. Why would you argue the obvious? Not once did I argue or suggest they would.

Snell standards do cover cycling btw if you care to visit their site. A simple look inside your cycle helmet, if you have one  1 will confirm that to you.

Of course it's a simplistic formula. I pointed you at the website with the full research findings and references. Oh you didn't look at that? Thought you'd get the "I'm an engineer" card out. Look we can make it as complicated as you like but it doesn't change the fact that the helmet is only rated for 50 J and please tell the boys and girls in as complex way as you like whether that's quite a lot of impact protection or sweet FA: ie more like the amount to protect a small child in a relatively low speed crash. or the sort of amount that might benefit an adult in a much faster crash?

and I mention that it won't protect you in a crash with a vehicle because that's the reason why people, generally non cyclists, advocate their use on the road. Yes incredible as it seems a lot of people advocate compulsory helmet use because they think it protects cyclists when they are hit by vehicles. Look at the news reports. Cyclist killed by left turning lorry. Not wearing a helmet. Cyclist killed in dual carriageway hit at 60mph by a lorry - not wearing a helmet. The implication being that you can survive being hit by a 38 tonne lorry at 60mph generating an impact force of nearly 7,000,000 joules if only you were wearing a styrofoam helmet rated for 50.

Now Mr "this is ever so complicated I'm an engineer you know" are you telling us dunces that a helmet will make a blind bit of difference if you get hit by a vehicle.

Use complicated words if you like but what's the answer?

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:
RTB wrote:
graham_f wrote:
RTB wrote:

A better comparison for cycling, seeing as you want to peddle that line, is skiing. Speeds are similar (non-propelled common mass (weight) object acting under the forces of gravity) and even though the incidents of crashes, actually and statistically, are higher for skiing than cycling the impacts of head traumas are not dissimilar. Very few, if any, of the posts, have referenced medical expert data for head trauma.

It is inconceivable for me to cycle without a helmet and most of the races/events or groups I cycle with will not allow riders to participate without using helmets.

I wish I had applied the same criteria to my skiing when several years ago I hit an ice block in poor light and endured a high speed crash (flipped in the air) without a helmet bouncing my skull heavily on the downslope. I was lucky that I escaped with only mild concussion but it hurt like **** with headaches for weeks. The two medics that I saw in the aftermath left me in little doubt that I had acted negligently by not wearing a suitable helmet. They should know, they see the outcomes every day.

You say yourself that the likelihood of crashing while skiing is higher. Therefore the risk of a head injury is higher, so the use of the use of helmets is more justified. For the most part people who take part in skiing are doing it as a sporting activity, so a fairer comparison would be with sport cycling, as opposed to utility cycling which is the main focus of what CB is talking about. There will always be exceptions (as there are with skiers) but I'd say the majority of people cycling as a sport use a helmet regularly. A better comparison for utility cycling might be cross country skiing. How many people do you see cross country skiing with a helmet on? Very few, because the risks are much smaller. Yes - there is a chance that you could fall and hit your head while cross country skiing, just as there is a chance (as has been pointed out several times above) that you could sustain a head injury walking along the street, climbing the stairs, driving a car. If you go down the road of any risk of head injury, however small, being justification for wearing a helmet, then we'd all put one on when we got out of bed in the morning and not take it off until we go to bed at night.

Good point on the analogy with nordic/alpine skiing but where it breaks down is that most nordic skiers I have seen are highly competent (skilled) and I do not see anywhere near the same level of competence with occasional cyclists, quite a few of whom look decidedly unstable and not in total control of their bikes.

and it further breaks down because Ski helmets are very substantially more protective than cycle helmets. they are designed and constructed differently and they work differently.

Of course if you want to wear a ski helmet or a motorcycle helmet tell me how that works for you cycling. I suspect the enthusiasm would soon wear off. But you don't mind wearing a cycle helmet because it's light and comfortable almost designed as if lightness and comfort were the main criteria and not protection.....oh wait a minute.

Then of course there's the fact that you were high speed skiing in the dark. So again we have this idea that cycling is an extreme sport practiced by very fit people travelling quite fast. Further missing the whole point of what Chris Boardman is saying ie that if cycling were like it was in NL then it would be a heck of a lot of people travelling quite sedately as a form of completely benign transport. Why don't you mention the fact that whole hoards of people from young to old go skiing and are quite content to ski nicely down a slope without pushing the limits. You know just travelling along nicely.

But every time we have to come back to people that want to push the sporting line that because they ride fast or ski difficult slopes in the dark that Mrs Jones popping to the shop for some chops for dinner has to be kitted out like she's on an adventure.

Some of you guys aren't getting this are you?

Oh dear oozaveared did I touch a nerve when I degaussed your physics lesson? It was you afterall who went into that space not me and it did cry out to be addressed given how incorrect it was.

Sorry to hijack your monicker (Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand) 'Physics' is like a church - many attend, but few understand... Btw FWIW I don't understand physics properly either but it is nice to go back to church once in a while  1

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:
RTB wrote:

Reply to: posted by oozaveared [677 posts]
5th November 2014 - 12:45

I have a degree in engineering and your calculations are wrong. Far too simplistic for a start (you cannot simply use F=ma =>/2 = E (in joules) to work out the force and energy imparted to the head in an impact) and your implicit assumptions are so incorrect to make it fundamentally flawed.

Kinetic energy in this case, as measured in joules, is applied to (and dissipated across) the whole object, i.e. not just the head (primary assumption that you made incorrectly). In order to correctly calculate it you would probably need to do a FEA using a range of scenarios around that - as the professionals do.

Of course a helmet will do you no good in an impact with a car - an air filled Michelin suit wouldn't help you either. Why would you argue the obvious? Not once did I argue or suggest they would.

Snell standards do cover cycling btw if you care to visit their site. A simple look inside your cycle helmet, if you have one  1 will confirm that to you.

Of course it's a simplistic formula. I pointed you at the website with the full research findings and references. Oh you didn't look at that? Thought you'd get the "I'm an engineer" card out. Look we can make it as complicated as you like but it doesn't change the fact that the helmet is only rated for 50 J and please tell the boys and girls in as complex way as you like whether that's quite a lot of impact protection or sweet FA: ie more like the amount to protect a small child in a relatively low speed crash. or the sort of amount that might benefit an adult in a much faster crash?

and I mention that it won't protect you in a crash with a vehicle because that's the reason why people, generally non cyclists, advocate their use on the road. Yes incredible as it seems a lot of people advocate compulsory helmet use because they think it protects cyclists when they are hit by vehicles. Look at the news reports. Cyclist killed by left turning lorry. Not wearing a helmet. Cyclist killed in dual carriageway hit at 60mph by a lorry - not wearing a helmet. The implication being that you can survive being hit by a 38 tonne lorry at 60mph generating an impact force of nearly 7,000,000 joules if only you were wearing a styrofoam helmet rated for 50.

Now Mr "this is ever so complicated I'm an engineer you know" are you telling us dunces that a helmet will make a blind bit of difference if you get hit by a vehicle.

Use complicated words if you like but what's the answer?

WTF?! I was just correcting your bad physics, sorry if you put yourself out of your depth, you did that to yourself.  21

Avatar
felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

There is a very strong correlation between helmet wearing, low cycle use and high cycling casualty rates.

The helmet countries, USA, NZ, SA, Oz have low rates of cycling, and high cyclist casualty rates.

The cycling countries, like Denmark and especially the Netherlands have low rates of helmet wearing and of cyclist casualties.

We are somewhere between these groups. I know which way I would like us to change.

Avatar
RTB [192 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:
RTB wrote:

Where did I say "mandate helmets" or where have I said/suggested a helmet will protect you when hit by a car? If you believe I said either of these you either misread or misunderstood.

Re-read your points, you are suggesting at every point that everyone should wear a helmet that there are no down sides.

Most people here are arguing that helmets are bad for UTILITY cycling, As far as sport cycling goes the UCI set the rules, which means helmets, even if the standards are crap.

Nope didn't say that either. As I did say I believe in free choice including whether to wear a helmet or not. I would always wear a helmet and support the case that wearing a helmet is a good thing irrespective of cycling type.

Why would you possibly say "helmets are bad for UTILITY cycling". How could they be bad (other than some tenuous argument that they put people off cycling)?

Further why would you say "UCI set the rules, which means helmets, even if the standards are crap"?

Avatar
mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

I would always wear a helmet and support the case that wearing a helmet is a good thing irrespective of cycling type.

See, you are saying wear a helmet, everyone else is saying it isn't clear cut.

There is precious little evidence that helmets really work. There is plenty of evidence that helmets are detrimental to people cycling.

Avatar
kamoshika [234 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:
graham_f wrote:

Out of interest, which bit would you dispute - that telling people that they should wear a helmet reinforces the view that cycling is dangerous, or that holding the view that cycling is dangerous makes people less likely to cycle?

Neither of these paradigms is my point or concern. I have a libertarian perspective: free speech; free choice. There is no law or planned law (that I know of) to compulsorise the use of cycling helmets nor would I push for one - in fact I am very ambivalent about this part of the debate.

But you were disputing the promotion of helmet wearing having a detrimental effect on the promotion of cycling:

RTB wrote:
graham_f wrote:

But the two are inextricably linked! The promotion (or worse, the mandating) of helmets for cycling reinforces the view that cycling is a dangerous activity, which in turn can and does discourage people from cycling, working against the promotion of cycling.

No Graham they are not "inextricably linked" they are tenuously (loosely) linked at the most.

So many posters on here seem to be peddling the argument, like Boardman, 'don't force people to wear cycling helmets lest you will disincentivise them from taking up cycling'. It is so lame it is naff.

My argument is that by promoting helmet use you put people off cycling. That is based on the two premises above - that promoting helmet use reinforces the view that cycling is dangerous, and that thinking cycling is dangerous puts people off doing it. If you disagree with my argument, that suggests that you disagree with one or both of those premises, or the link between them. I'm curious to know which it is.

Avatar
felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

Why would you possibly say "helmets are bad for UTILITY cycling". How could they be bad (other than some tenuous argument that they put people off cycling)?

Not tenuous at all. Helmet laws have been followed by a reduction in cycling everywhere they have been enacted.
Laws have a date of enactment so it is easier to show the effect on cycling when compared with helmet promotion, but there is evidence that promotion affects cycling rates.
Do you remember BeHIT's poster for schools, showing a skull in a helmet?

Pages