Cambridge Cycling Campaign motion on helmets and hi-viz overwhelmingly backed by members

Motion urging withdrawal of support for events requiring helmets and hi-viz passed by 44 votes to 10

by Simon_MacMichael   November 8, 2012  

White cycle helmet

Members of Cambridge Cycling Campaign have overwhelmingly voted to withdraw support for events requiring cyclists to wear helmets or hi-viz clothing. The motion, which we reported on last week, was carried by 44 votes to 10 at the group’s Annual General Meeting yesterday, according to Cambridge News.

As a result, no events or other initiatives that necessitate helmets or hi-viz clothing, or imply that they should be worn, will be promoted through its website. The motion, which was inspired by a similar approach taken by Lothian cycle campaigners Spokes earlier this year.

A spokesman for the group told Cambridge News “The campaign has a position that we are neutral on helmets and hi-vis clothing – it is a personal choice.

“We have many people in the campaign who wear helmets and hi-vis clothing.

“Event organisers who wish to have Cambridge Cycling Campaign help to promote their event will have to think hard about their guidance to participants.”

Mary Goode, chief executive of brain injury charity Headway Cambridgeshire, told Cambridge News she failed to understand the reasons behind the decision, asking,

“Why would cyclists make themselves more vulnerable by not wearing protective clothing?

“Cyclists, as a matter of course, will be checking their bike to ensure it is fit-for-purpose and roadworthy, and we would hope everyone would encourage the young in particular, to have road sense and an understanding of the Highway Code, so why would the Cambridge Cycling Campaign not take the same care about protecting their brain?

The motion had been proposed by Simon Nuttall, a committee member and adult cycle trainer, and seconded by Heather Coleman, and read:

Cambridge Cycling Campaign supports all cyclists as they go about their lawful business on the public road. We note that the law does not require helmets or high visibility clothing. The image of cyclists presented to the public has become so strongly skewed towards riders wearing those items that the legitimacy and status of those who do not wear them is being undermined. In order to help restore the balance the campaign reserves the right to decline to promote events or activities where helmets or high visibility clothing are required or implied.

45 user comments

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Is that the heart of the argument ? That the majority of injuries aren't head related so why bother wearing one ? I've honestly never heard that before.

We don't know what happened, but if we found out he did hit his head and escaped unscathed what would your opinion be then ?

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
8th November 2012 - 14:28

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I wear a lid. That is my choice. I am not forced to wear one, and would object to that compulsion.

Whether I wear one or not, I would rather not be hit by a car. My safety would be greatly enhanced by drivers driving properly.

People in the Netherlands tend not to ride with hats on because they don't expect to get hit by cars.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [160 posts]
8th November 2012 - 14:33

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Just heard Shane Sutton was hit this morning on the A6 and suffered severe bruising of the brain

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
8th November 2012 - 14:44

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colinth wrote:
Just heard Shane Sutton was hit this morning on the A6 and suffered severe bruising of the brain

Not a good 24 hours for high profile cyclists

To completely step aside from the lid argument for a moment I hope they both recover quickly and have no long-lasting effects

posted by mad_scot_rider [546 posts]
8th November 2012 - 15:04

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colinth wrote:
Is that the heart of the argument ? That the majority of injuries aren't head related so why bother wearing one ? I've honestly never heard that before.

We don't know what happened, but if we found out he did hit his head and escaped unscathed what would your opinion be then ?

Once again - that would be anecdotal - as in, yes in this case it helped, but that might not always be the case

However I hope everyone on this board is aware of the rating/testing of helmets and therefore exactly how much use they are in real-world collision situations

Also I concede it's not the *whole* heart of the argument - but if it's not *at* the heart or pretty close, then it should be

posted by mad_scot_rider [546 posts]
8th November 2012 - 15:05

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The point is the CCC are saying that we have a choice whether we wish to wear a lid or not, I don't always wear one it depends what ride im on, thats my choice and i'm aware of the risks.However if i choose to participate in an event i should not have to be dictated to whether i wear a helmet or hi-viz clothing. Just cause you have your hi-viz garb on it doesnt necessarily mean you will be seen as your surroundings have a part in it. Wiggins was tagged because a driver did not pay due care and attention when pulling out onto a road, no argument dangerous driving prosecute and as for drivers on phones don't get me started. The real issue is the roads are busy and we all want to get to our destination lets do it safely within the law and the highway code. (oh Eutopia)

posted by theincrediblebike [41 posts]
8th November 2012 - 15:26

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Sounds like they're both going to be OK which is the main priority, feel bad for saying it but is there any hope that 2 such high profile collisions might just prompt some action from Government ? I know it's unlikely seeing as people being actually killed barely raises an eyebrow in some circles when it's a cyclist but in the age of celebrity, maybe, just maybe ?

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
8th November 2012 - 16:01

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colinth wrote:
Is that the heart of the argument ? That the majority of injuries aren't head related so why bother wearing one ? I've honestly never heard that before.

We don't know what happened, but if we found out he did hit his head and escaped unscathed what would your opinion be then ?

Then you are either dishonest (as people who say "I honestly" usually are) or you have lived a very sheltered life.

There is an Everest of fact and statistics which support the proposition that a cycle helmet is far less beneficial than most people think, and certainly should not be compulsory. See www.cyclehelmets.org for details.

posted by Paul M [308 posts]
8th November 2012 - 16:20

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Hi Paul M

While I don't disagree with any of your points, I feel uncomfortable about starting down the road of ad hominem attacks

If we can all stick to tackling the ball and not the player it'll be easier to have a civilised debate

posted by mad_scot_rider [546 posts]
8th November 2012 - 16:30

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Paul M wrote:
colinth wrote:
Is that the heart of the argument ? That the majority of injuries aren't head related so why bother wearing one ? I've honestly never heard that before.

We don't know what happened, but if we found out he did hit his head and escaped unscathed what would your opinion be then ?

Then you are either dishonest (as people who say "I honestly" usually are) or you have lived a very sheltered life.

There is an Everest of fact and statistics which support the proposition that a cycle helmet is far less beneficial than most people think, and certainly should not be compulsory. See www.cyclehelmets.org for details.

Paul

I'm not dishonest, and haven't heard that put forward as the main point against helmets / compulsion before. For the record, the main arguments I've heard are compulsion reduces the number of cyclists, gives drivers a false sense of security, and that helmets are not that effective against head injuries over a certain speed.

The website that you kindly promoted has no mention anywhere on it's main page that the "heart of the argument" is that most cyling injuries are not head related. Indeed, it makes more references to the points that I thought were the main arguments against.

If you believe not knowing the ins and outs of the arguments for or against helmets means you've lived "a sheltered life" (god knows why), then you clearly need to broaden your interests, and check your facts before being abusive

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
8th November 2012 - 16:44

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Quote:
... the main arguments I've heard are compulsion reduces the number of cyclists, gives drivers a false sense of security, and that helmets are not that effective against head injuries over a certain speed ...

You've heard all that and still favour compulsion - hmmm

Quote:
... that the "heart of the argument" is ...

My term, not his - again, I strongly believe it is part and parcel of the key points made in many cases

Quote:
... before being abusive ...

Hardly. It wasn't civil certainly, but bearing in mind the tone of some comments made earlier, it smacks of feigned indignation to call what Paul M said "abusive"

posted by mad_scot_rider [546 posts]
8th November 2012 - 16:55

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mad_scot_rider wrote:
Quote:
... the main arguments I've heard are compulsion reduces the number of cyclists, gives drivers a false sense of security, and that helmets are not that effective against head injuries over a certain speed ...

You've heard all that and still favour compulsion - hmmm

Quote:
... that the "heart of the argument" is ...

My term, not his - again, I strongly believe it is part and parcel of the key points made in many cases

Quote:
... before being abusive ...

Hardly. It wasn't civil certainly, but bearing in mind the tone of some comments made earlier, it smacks of feigned indignation to call what Paul M said "abusive"

1) where did I say I favour compulsion

2) your term which he used still not a main point according to the source he quoted as evidence

3) I personally think being called dishonest is offensive, most honest people would

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
8th November 2012 - 16:56

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colinth wrote:
For the record, the main arguments I've heard are compulsion reduces the number of cyclists, gives drivers a false sense of security, and that helmets are not that effective against head injuries over a certain speed.

The main argument is that helmets are not a reliable safety measure in a collision or fall. Many people are ignorant of the limitations to a helmets protection but push helmets as the best solution to cyclists' safety. I can't speak for everyone but my opposition to mandatory helmets is that it does nothing at all for my safety as I always wear one. The best thing to improve my safety would be to do something about those people who drive around like fricking lunatics and run into things (i.e. me).

Helmets may help alleviate the effects of a collision but the best thing to do is prevent the collision in the first place. This is what people mean when they talk about the 'elephant in the room'.

To quote Chris Boardman, who summed it up nicely on the BBC this summer:
The emphasis shouldn’t be just on the cyclist. We’re creating a symptom without looking at the cause. If someone gets shot on the street, the answer isn’t that everyone should wear body armour. You say – ‘hang on a minute, maybe we need to look at the reasons behind this?’.

posted by qwerky [134 posts]
8th November 2012 - 17:09

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colinth wrote:
1) where did I say I favour compulsion

The fact that we were debating compulsion and you jumped in with ...

Quote:
How do you know it didn't help him? Surely the fact that he was in an accident and escape without a head injury is more of an argument for helmets than against them ? Don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion though

... could reasonably allow us to infer your position. No?

Also I don't recall getting all touchy about your attack at the end of that quote - other than to point out your logical fallacy - all I'm asking is if ALL of us can avoid personal remarks/attacks and stick to the issue

posted by mad_scot_rider [546 posts]
8th November 2012 - 17:21

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mad_scot_rider wrote:
colinth wrote:
1) where did I say I favour compulsion

The fact that we were debating compulsion and you jumped in with ...

Quote:
How do you know it didn't help him? Surely the fact that he was in an accident and escape without a head injury is more of an argument for helmets than against them ? Don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion though

... could reasonably allow us to infer your position. No?

Also I don't recall getting all touchy about your attack at the end of that quote - other than to point out your logical fallacy - all I'm asking is if ALL of us can avoid personal remarks/attacks and stick to the issue

No, not really. I wear a helmet and favour promotion of wearing them, but not compulsion. I don't really buy the argument that drivers take less care, if anything I think there's an increasingly dangerous attitude of "not wearing a helmet so got what you deserve". I also think there's increasingly less relevance in helmet use meaning less people cycle, it might have been an issue 5 or 10 years ago, but now it's probably more common than not to wear one so there's less of an "I look like an idiot" syndrome.

Agreed on the personal stuff, apologies if I started it

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
8th November 2012 - 17:44

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'And by the way - as always - an anecdote, no matter how true, poignant and heart-breaking - is not a good basis for policy
'

That is all that ever needs saying on this subject. Applause.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
8th November 2012 - 19:42

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andyp wrote:
'And by the way - as always - an anecdote, no matter how true, poignant and heart-breaking - is not a good basis for policy
'

That is all that ever needs saying on this subject. Applause.

Yes, exactly. I stayed off this thread until now because I knew it would degenerate and I couldn't be arsed.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2188 posts]
8th November 2012 - 22:27

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I like my head, I like my life. If you don't like yours go ahead and don't wear a helmet.

If we ever both fall off our bikes at least I have a slightly higher chance of surviving without major head injuries that will make me a potatoe.

CCC have it wrong in my opinion, they are basically saying they do not care about cycling safely.

posted by Nzlucas [89 posts]
8th November 2012 - 23:45

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We are all cyclists, we want to promote cycling and it's not in the interests of the cycling industry to deter cycling. So why not ask the helmet manufacturers to be explicit what their product is and is not designed to achieve.
it seems to me many of those proposing compulsory helmets are under the impression that helmets will save cyclists lives in collision with cars, allowing drivers to be irresponsible, blame the victim stuff.
I almost always wear a helmet but I'm under no illusion about what use it will be if I'm hit by a car. And the last time I fell off a bike was 1979 before helmets were around.
CCC have it right it's about compulsion so I don't understand how you come to your conclusion that they do not care about cycling safety.

posted by misterbee [9 posts]
9th November 2012 - 0:21

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Safety equipment at cycling events is usually mandated by the insurers and not by the organisers, so the CCC's position is unlikely to have any effect.

Worse, whilst I appreciate that they are opposing compulsion not safety equipment, that is not how some may see it.

Every cyclist injured whilst not wearing safety gear is more ammunition for legal compulsion, so why discourage others from wearing it?

posted by ontheroad [9 posts]
9th November 2012 - 2:05

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"and we would hope everyone would encourage the young in particular, to have road sense" (Mary Goode)

so the reason young people can't ride to school or to their friend's houses or local parks is that they need more road sense, helmets and reflective clothing?

yesterday as i cycled to meet my daughter from school a driver agressively forced another car directly at me (continously on horn and tailgating/revving a slowing car ) - when i caught up with the offending car and asked if they were trying to get me killed - the classic answer was "what do you mean" - you forced the other car to pull out into my path "i didn't see you" - i was wearing a reflective top - i cycle home on the pavements with my daughter - why? - not because she lacks a protective helmet, reflective clothing or road sense - the focus on helmets/reflective clothing is like saying that you need to improve literacy so people can read the warnings on cigarette packets - ie pointless and not the issue

(incidentally in Oz(Victoria) so helmet compulsary - but at 35kmph my understanding of what was going to happen helped more than any protection)

posted by antigee [148 posts]
9th November 2012 - 4:05

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ontheroad wrote:
Safety equipment at cycling events is usually mandated by the insurers and not by the organisers, so the CCC's position is unlikely to have any effect.

Worse, whilst I appreciate that they are opposing compulsion not safety equipment, that is not how some may see it.

Every cyclist injured whilst not wearing safety gear is more ammunition for legal compulsion, so why discourage others from wearing it?

Spot on comments...

posted by Manx Rider [18 posts]
9th November 2012 - 11:59

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I don't get why this issue raises everyone's hackles so much?

We're all on this site slating disrespectful and/or dangerous drivers day in and day out. There are always calls for being able to share the roads and play well together.

So why do we all act like they just shot our puppy whenever suggestions are made to try to create a situation where we can ride on the road without the inconvenience of being run over?

Hi-vis clothing and a helmet seem like fairly reasonable (and common sense) suggestions. If we really want the government to commit funds to designing decent cycle routes and factoring us into their traffic plans, surely we can agree to protect our skulls and try to be more easily seen by other road users?

Hardly worth frothing at the mouth is it?

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
9th November 2012 - 12:28

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mad_scot_rider wrote:

Interestingly I note that loud-mouth Wiggins (cf. his ill-advised and insensitive comments after cyclist death during Olympic Games) wasn't helped by his helmet when a 4 ton van tried to roll over him last night - funny that

That's probably because he was wearing a helmet on his head and not his hand or his ribs.

Fortunately, cycling injuries involving the head are comparatively rare compared with that old favourite, the broken collarbone, which is just one reason why helmet compulsion is pointless.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
9th November 2012 - 13:06

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Lacticlegs wrote:

So why do we all act like they just shot our puppy whenever suggestions are made to try to create a situation where we can ride on the road without the inconvenience of being run over?

Hi-vis clothing and a helmet ....

In what way does wearing a helmet stop you being run over? And why is hi-viz more visible than bright but more tasteful colours, lights or retroflectives, the Holy Grail of cyclist visibility.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
9th November 2012 - 13:08

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Riding a bike is not inherently dangerous. Cycling is a normal activity which ought to be able to be undertaken by normal people without any special equipment except a bicycle (and lights if riding in darkness or poor visibility).

All road users have a duty to look properly and adjust their speed and actions to suit the conditions (including road layouts, road condition, weather, other road users, volume of traffic and anything else that might be on the road). When they fail to do that people sometimes get hurt or killed (including motorists, pedestrians and cyclists).

Those responsible must be made to bear that responsibility - it really is as simple as that.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [221 posts]
9th November 2012 - 14:20

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jarderich wrote:
Finally, I walked from Cambridge station to the town centre and back last Saturday and judging by the standard of the vast majority of the riding I saw CCC, would be better off throwing their efforts at improving riding standards in their city instead of trying to maintain a clearly flawed principle.

Wow. Cambridge is the city with the highest % of cyclists in the whole of the UK, and your attitude to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign is not "well done" but "you would be better off improving riding standards". Hey, maybe you could add something about jumping red lights and riding on the pavement too.

With friends like this...

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [134 posts]
9th November 2012 - 14:54

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The efficacy of helmets to provide any kind of protection in non-linear impacts over 12mph is unproven so you have just as much protection wearing a towel wrapped around your head.

This stiff foam in helmets doesn't look like it'd compress fast, I'd bet on the towel being far more effective.

The phrase 'Anecdotal evidence' is an oxymoron, anyone who thinks helmets are worthwhile should read up on the subject, this is a very good starting point:
http://beta.ctc.org.uk/files/cycle-helmets-evidencebrf_1.pdf

Main points against helmets:
1. Psychology: Drivers drive worse around cyclists wearing helmets.
2. Psychology: Cyclists cycle more dangerously when wearing a helmet.
3. The helmet debate makes people think cycling is far more dangerous than it actually is, this puts a lot of people off of cycling.
4. Walking is roughly as dangerous as cycling, no-one is advocating helmets for walking.
5. The benefits of cycling to peoples health far far outweigh the practically non-existent benefit of wearing a helmet.
6. With regards to head injuries, helmets can exacerbate rotational brain injuries - yes, helmets can make the most common kind of brain injury WORSE, in these situations, the helmet is not lessening the damage, it is making the brain injury worse. The reason for this is the larger surface area of the helmet catches the ground more easily.
7. Children have accidentally hung themselves from the helmet straps, This has been fixed with newer helmet designs AFAIK.
8. They make your head hotter during the hottest parts of summer, this can't be a good thing.
9. They are ineffective over 12mph.
10. The time spent telling people to wear helmets would be far better spent warning them not to cycle down the left of HGVs, cycling in the door-zone and not shoulder-checking - I see helmet wearers make these mistakes on a daily basis.

Have I missed anything Smile ?

I'm all for bright coloured clothing though, too many cyclists cycling round at night dressed from head to foot in black and with puny barely visible lights or worse, no lights.

posted by kie7077 [452 posts]
9th November 2012 - 20:36

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"I don't get why this issue raises everyone's hackles so much?" posted above

its the implicit assertion that cyclists that don't wear helmets AND high viz are a danger to themselves and surprisingly also a danger to other road users

here is how i see it:

if you want to possibly mitigate head injuries when cycling choose to wear a helmet

wear clothing appropriate to the conditions, use lights appropriate to the conditions. (full stop)

drive with care and consideration for more vulnerable road users, be prepared to slow down if unsure what a pedestrian or cyclist intends to do, be aware when your visibility of other roade users may be poor - maybe start your journey earlier and don't try to drive to meet a deadline time.

the last point will reduce injuries and accidents to cyclists and peds more than the first two

posted by antigee [148 posts]
9th November 2012 - 23:29

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The biggest loser here is going to be charity's who arrange cycle events. They are required by law to provide insurance for everyone taking part. The insurance companies are the ones who dictate what steps riders need to take to be covered, and wearing helmets is mandatory. Well done to CCC for NOT SUPPORTING CHARITY.

As for wearing hi viz and helmets, my safety while on my bike is MY responsability. Dont try and pan it off on drivers, complaining when they fail to see you, if you are not even willing to put on a hi viz. Do your bit first, then complain when others dont.

posted by mornic [4 posts]
12th November 2012 - 18:27

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