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HGV drivers also being stopped in Road Safety Week project

Met Police stopping unhelmetted cyclists to provide “advice and education”

As part of Road Safety Week, the Metropolitan Police is stopping cyclists and lorry drivers in three locations in central, east and south London to offer “education and advice” to cyclists who are seen riding dangerously. Conrtoversially, the police are also stopping cyctlists who are not wearing helmets.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard told road.cc that cyclists were being stopped “where there are concerns about their behaviour - for instance cutting corners, performing other dangerous manoeuvres or wearing headphones while riding.”

He also acknowledged that officers were stopping riders who were not wearing helmets. While there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle in the UK, the spokesman said: “If you want to be safe it’s a very good idea to put one on.” That’s an opinion that some in the cycling community might perhaps take issue with.

London Assembly member Jenny Jones told road.cc she had contacted the Met and a superintendent had agreed that helmets and high vis are not required by law.

Baroness Jones said: "The Met’s ‘advice’ on cyclists wearing a helmet and high vis is not based on any scientific research. As an informed cyclist I ride my bike without either. Their efforts would be better focussed on enforcing the laws we have, for example on not driving vehicles while using a mobile, not driving a vehicle into ASLs when the lights are red, which would make our roads much safer. 

"Clearing our roads of illegal and dangerous drivers has to be the priority, not hassling cyclists who are obeying the law."

Scotland Yard said that the intention was not enforcement and when asked if, for example, a cyclist riding through a red light would be issued a fixed penalty notice, said that no fixed penalty notices had been issued to cyclists. “It’s about advice and education rather than cracking down,” said the spokesman.

A total of 45 officers are involved in the operation, and police are also stopping lorry drivers. Their vehicles have been checked for any issues and in one instance a lorry was found to have a dangerously over-inflated tyre that left it unfit to continue its journey.

According to LBC, police at one location have stopped 20 HGVs and found a total of 60 offences, including vehicles in dangerous condition and drivers who had been working too long. 

Chief-Superintendent Glyn Jones, who is in charge of the operation, told LBC: "If you're going to cycle in London, wear a helmet, wear high-vis, make sure your bike has the right lights, don't wear headphones and obey the rules of the road.

"That way you will be a lot safer."

In a ten-day period to last Thursday, five cyclists were killed in collisions with large vehicles on London's roads. It is not known how many of them were wearing helmets or whether their riding was a factor in the crashes.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

133 comments

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darranmoore [35 posts] 4 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

Oh dear God is this STILL going on?!

STOP. TALKING. ABOUT. HELMET. LAWS.
Anecdotal shit about whether or not a helmet would or wouldn't have helped in any one accident isn't the point here. That debate has been had.

The point here is that the police seem to be stopping cyclists to advise them to wear helmets in a week where 6 cyclists have been killed by lorries/buses as a way of getting round dealing with the main problem - tons of lethal metal! And that's not upsetting anyone? Oh no, we'd rather have an argument about a bit of polystyrene. Epic fail.

CL but the article is "London police stopping cyclists without helmets in "advice & education" exercise" so it is a relevant discussion in the theme of article, plenty of scope to discuss the other factors leading to this police measure.

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giff77 [1291 posts] 4 years ago
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darranmoore wrote:

For the belligerent and ignorant flamers of my earlier post...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613092421.htm

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/10/02/impact-tes...

Seriously? Data from a nation where cycling plummeted after legislation! I've no problems with folk choosing to wear helmets and hi viz. knock yourselves out. But when we have the police stopping and 'advising' cyclists what they should wear. Where those who choose not to wear helmets are called idiots and dickheads. And the chain retailers pressing you to buy a helmet when you buy a bike. It all becomes a bit ridiculous.

I've been cycling for near enough 40 years. I can count on one hand the number of times I've fallen off and never on my head. In fact, in the last 7 years (50,000 commuting miles) I've fallen of once and that was when a ped stepped out in front of me and I pulled my shoulder.

The authorities are incredibly reticent to deal with the real issues at hand - speeding, tailgating, punishment passes. And even when it does come to the courts the judges/sheriffs would sooner blame the victim for their attire rather than deal with the motorist appropriately.

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Ush [1051 posts] 4 years ago
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darranmoore wrote:

Risk assessment yields a factor based on severity of injury x likelihood of occurrence x exposure. You work out where and when to wear a lid?

Yes. That's the point. Exactly.

And by the way, where do you and your brother get your pedestrian helmets? Have you ever considered motorcycle helmets?

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darranmoore [35 posts] 4 years ago
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Ush wrote:
darranmoore wrote:

Risk assessment yields a factor based on severity of injury x likelihood of occurrence x exposure. You work out where and when to wear a lid?

Yes. That's the point. Exactly.

And by the way, where do you and your brother get your pedestrian helmets? Have you ever considered motorcycle helmets?

Ush I'm afraid I'm missing your point?

Exposure at home = low
Exposure cycling = high

I got my cycling helmet @ LBS and I always wear motorcycle helmet on my motorcycle, I find too hot for cycling, not enough vents. I wear AM or DH lid when hitting the gravity muddy stuff if you interested in?

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giff77 [1291 posts] 4 years ago
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I knew this link was somewhere. Not a bit of polystyrene anywhere. Lookout for the brilliant recovery around 1'41" or so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqo4hwnJt6Y

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darranmoore [35 posts] 4 years ago
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Walking paced comedy falls to justify the non-use of cycle helmets? Howay come on  3 Haha...

Great vid though, drift was awesome!

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John Stevenson [311 posts] 4 years ago
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@darranmoore

You might want to read through the posts here:

http://road.cc/content/news/98455-wiggle-rides-twitter-storm-over-make-h...

The reason you're getting an, ahem, robust response is that you're not saying anything new, and it's all been countered thoroughly before.

The gripping hand in this discussion is this. In jurisdictions where helmet use has been made mandatory, or where it has become the norm in the last couple of decades, the rate of cyclist deaths and serious injuries has not declined significantly.

That trumps tests based on theoretical models of skulls or studies that reflect ER physicians' expectation bias.

For whatever reason - the ineffectiveness of helmets, risk compensation by the rider, risk compensation by drivers passing closer to riders - helmets fail to protect riders against serious injuries at the whole population level.

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darranmoore [35 posts] 4 years ago
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John Stevenson wrote:

@darranmoore

You might want to read through the posts here:

http://road.cc/content/news/98455-wiggle-rides-twitter-storm-over-make-h...

The reason you're getting an, ahem, robust response is that you're not saying anything new, and it's all been countered thoroughly before.

The gripping hand in this discussion is this. In jurisdictions where helmet use has been made mandatory, or where it has become the norm in the last couple of decades, the rate of cyclist deaths and serious injuries has not declined significantly.

That trumps tests based on theoretical models of skulls or studies that reflect ER physicians' expectation bias.

For whatever reason - the ineffectiveness of helmets, risk compensation by the rider, risk compensation by drivers passing closer to riders - helmets fail to protect riders against serious injuries at the whole population level.

Thanks JS very good points made and very eloquently delivered. I will follow your posted link and have a read. Interests in points you raise. Thanks for comments...

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kie7077 [936 posts] 4 years ago
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giff77 wrote:
utm_swest wrote:
giff77 wrote:

utm_swest. How the hell did you manage to land head first if your bike slid from under you? Normally your arms break your fall unless you hit the kerb or a pothole and perform a face plant. Learn to fall mate.

Thanks for the advice, I'll bear that in mind next time.

No problems mate.  4 I'll not even charge you for it.

Nahh, real pro's land on their butt - clenched of course  4

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Joeinpoole [450 posts] 4 years ago
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darranmoore wrote:

For the belligerent and ignorant flamers of my earlier post...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613092421.htm

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/10/02/impact-tes...

On the same page as your first link is a report saying "Benefit of Cycle Helmet Laws to Reduce Head Injuries Still Uncertain"

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514213148.htm

I note that you are very selective in your 'research'. If you find something that supports your pet theory about polystyrene hats then you promulgate it __ if it doesn't then you ignore it.

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Sakurashinmachi [49 posts] 4 years ago
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It's a pity for your argument that cycling rates haven't plummeted in Australia, and NSW didn't see a 50% drop in young people cycling because the study you are presumably, vaguely, quoting from in a kind of folklore way, was done in Melbourne and showed only a minor drop for school age kids (and no study of why that might've been the case) and the other Australian study beloved of anti-helmet activists in the UK was withdrawn by the journal that published it after it was proven to be completely wrong.

As for cycling not being safer in Australia after mandatory helmets the facts say otherwise.

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Northernbike [229 posts] 4 years ago
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Sakurashinmachi wrote:

It's a pity for your argument that cycling rates haven't plummeted in Australia, and NSW didn't see a 50% drop in young people cycling because the study you are presumably, vaguely, quoting from in a kind of folklore way, was done in Melbourne and showed only a minor drop for school age kids (and no study of why that might've been the case) and the other Australian study beloved of anti-helmet activists in the UK was withdrawn by the journal that published it after it was proven to be completely wrong.

As for cycling not being safer in Australia after mandatory helmets the facts say otherwise.

There are no anti-helmet activists in the UK. I have heard a lot or people claim helmets should be compulsory but never ever heard anyone say they should be banned. There are just folks who are pro-choice, such as myself, and folks who are anti-choice, as I take it you are. This article is not, in any case, about whether helmets are any good or not, or whether they should be compulsory or not, it is about the police stopping people for doing something which is entirely legal and where there is no suspicion that any crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed.

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farrell [1946 posts] 4 years ago
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Sakurashinmachi wrote:

It's a pity for your argument that cycling rates haven't plummeted in Australia, and NSW didn't see a 50% drop in young people cycling because the study you are presumably, vaguely, quoting from in a kind of folklore way, was done in Melbourne and showed only a minor drop for school age kids (and no study of why that might've been the case) and the other Australian study beloved of anti-helmet activists in the UK was withdrawn by the journal that published it after it was proven to be completely wrong.

As for cycling not being safer in Australia after mandatory helmets the facts say otherwise.

I just googled "cycling levels Australia" and found these:

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/11/australian-cycling-levels-prepost.html

Quote:

New South Wales Law commenced 1 January 1991 adults, 1 July 1991 children

Prior to the law, cycling was growing strongly in New South Wales, with an increase of 250 per cent during the 1980s in Sydney (BFA, 1992).

Children
Matched official surveys counted 6,072 child cyclists (under 16) passing survey sites in April 1991, before the helmets law commenced to apply to them on 1 July, and 3,887 and 3,478 passing the same sites in April 1992 and 1993, declines of 36 and 43 per cent respectively (Smith and Milthorpe, 1993). The largest recorded reduction in cycling was among secondary female students in Sydney: 214 in 1991 down to 20 in 1993, a drop of 90.6 per cent. The decline in the number of children observed cycling was 5 times that of the number who started to wear a cycle helmet (569 v 2,658).

http://cyclehelmets.org/1194.html

Could you provide your "facts" that prove that cycling in Australia is now safer than it was before mandatory helmet laws?

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crazy-legs [958 posts] 4 years ago
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Quote:

This article is not, in any case, about whether helmets are any good or not, or whether they should be compulsory or not, it is about the police stopping people for doing something which is entirely legal and where there is no suspicion that any crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed.

Thank God someone else gets it!!

Anyone discussing helmet compulsion in Australia, anecdotal stories of how their helmet once saved their life when they slipped on some ice...GO AWAY.
Don't get angry about that, it's been done to death!

We're talking about police stopping people who are committing no crime whatsoever and those people being advised to wear helmets and hi-vis. All while, in the background, lorries and cars are thundering past.

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farrell [1946 posts] 4 years ago
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The police stopping cyclists for not wearing helmets?

No, you're right, I can't see how anybody has made the gargantuan mental leap from that to helmet compulsion.

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northstar [1107 posts] 4 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:
Quote:

This article is not, in any case, about whether helmets are any good or not, or whether they should be compulsory or not, it is about the police stopping people for doing something which is entirely legal and where there is no suspicion that any crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed.

Thank God someone else gets it!!

There's plenty of people who "get it" long before you waded in but as per usual these comments section divert into a free for all by people who should know better...

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BikeBud [259 posts] 4 years ago
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I can see why people are irritated by the "advice and information" stops, as it seems to put the onus on cyclists to be entirely responsible for their safety. At the same time, I don't think an outpouring of anger at these measures is particularly helpful.

Some attention is finally being paid to cyclist safety - it is on the agenda and resource has been diverted to considering the safety of cyclists. Let's make sure it stays on the agenda and help to guide the thinking on safety to get the right resources & actions put in place. We won't gain credibility by shouting and swearing.

My personal preference is to wear hi-viz and use lights most of the time. I'd rather do as much as possible to ensure drivers see me. If a driver is dangerous around me I can quite happily challenge them on the basis that I've done everything possible to keep myself safe. I sometimes choose to ride on the road instead of cycle paths, where those cycle paths are rough, unlit, busy with a high volume of pedestrians or require me to negotiate more junctions than the road would etc. Freedom of choice is important, but we need to tell the authorities what we need them to do, not simply shout at them about what not to do.

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allez neg [496 posts] 4 years ago
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I would hazard a guess that the bulk of people who have bothered to look at this here website, register as a user and post a comment would identify as cyclists, is that a fair assumption?

(I have not done so at train.cc.com despite me using them as a means of getting to work)

I like bikes, I use trains. There's a difference.

How many of the people plod stopped identify as cyclists as opposed to people merely using a bike to get around. I don't see the harm in what plod are doing, especially as the article also says they are stopping those they see committing offences and also HGV drivers too.

As an aside, I wonder what accident rates are like in Cambridge in comparison? Lots of bikes and cars, all nationalities, narrow roads etc.

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Paul J [948 posts] 4 years ago
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Darran,

Note those studies are of impacts on helmets in constrained laboratory conditions. There is no doubt that helmets can be shown to reduce forces transmitted in lab impacts. Also, there is little doubt that some real-world accidents will be similar to those lab impacts.

However, safety and injury prevention in the real-world is about *much* more than just a head-form striking a flat surface or an anvil in a drop test. There are *many* more factors at play:

- the heads have brains that can control the situation, and also can respond in unexpected ways to perceived changes in risk.

- the environment contains other actors who also have brains, and can show similar odd adaptations to how they perceive others and risks.

So there are quite a few reasons why results seen in controlled, drop-test lab studies need not transfer to the much more complex and variable world of human reality. Indeed, because the humans may adapt in strange ways due to risk compensation, the reliance on helmets can even lead to perverse results, contrary to what would be hoped from the lab studies.

Now, the *real-world* data overwhelmingly shows that helmets DO NOT solve the problem of cyclist safety. Indeed, there is actually an *inverse* correlation between levels of helmet use and cyclist safety, and cycling participation. Helmets laws in particular have a devastating effect on cycling participation, but the correlation exists even in non-law countries (e.g. UK).

That's not to say wearing a helmet, of itself, can make any single cyclist less safe, but certainly at a broad, societal level, strong cultures of helmet use are a clear symptom of *failure* when it comes to cyclist safety. The real-world experiments have been done now, and the results are crystal clear:

Helmets WILL NOT fix cyclist safety problems in a society.

To advocate otherwise is to advocate against extremely clear data from those countries that have tried, be it with helmet laws or with strong cultural pressures on cyclists to wear helmets (e.g. the UK). To advocate for helmet laws is to advocate for a measure that has been *proven* to be useless at saving cyclists, but proven to be excellent at *destroying* cycling.

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jstreetley [62 posts] 4 years ago
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Seems to me the most important thing here is that they didn't find any cyclists to give a ticket to, but 60 lorry offences across 20 lorries. Scary!

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FluffyKittenofT... [1972 posts] 4 years ago
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The UK has higher helmet use than the Netherlands yet has three times the casualty rate.

Australia has compulsory helmets and almost nobody cycles in that country, so whether or not the law has reduced cycling still further (people seem to keep arguing about this), there is no way you can cite that country as a model to follow. Its transport culture is disastrous.

They suffer the much more significant health problems caused by car-centricity (Australians are the fattest people in the developed world after the US, apparently, even worse than us, something which surprises me).

What keeps getting ignored in all this is that the major health risks are all associated with car use. The health damage caused by car use (via accidents, physical inactivity, _and_ pollution, both local and global) dwarfs any tiny difference in health outcomes that come from cyclists wearing or not wearing helmets.

Why are the police not stopping drivers and asking them if their journey is really necessary and do they really need to do it in a car? That would be the equivalent of challenging non-hemleted cyclists.

I don't see why people are unable to see how silly it is to keep banging on about helmets for cyclists while ignoring the much more urgent problem of stopping people from driving so much. A culture of driving is a health emergency, a culture of cycling-without-helmets is not.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1972 posts] 4 years ago
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BikeBud wrote:

Some attention is finally being paid to cyclist safety - it is on the agenda and resource has been diverted to considering the safety of cyclists. Let's make sure it stays on the agenda and help to guide the thinking on safety to get the right resources & actions put in place. We won't gain credibility by shouting and swearing.

Well, shouting and swearing where the police are involved will get you arrested, so I agree its not the best way to respond to this!

But its not about 'paying attention to cyclist safety', because the helmet issue is not what causes road-related deaths. This is about making a show of doing something, but making sure it looks"even handed" so as not to antagonise motorists. It looks like a case of just joining in the victim blaming and looking as if they are doing something.

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crazy-legs [958 posts] 4 years ago
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This blog is well worth a read:
http://primlystable.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/dead-cyclists-missing-helmets...

(not my blog by the way, I saw it linked to on Twitter).

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giff77 [1291 posts] 4 years ago
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Excellent piece. Sums up my thoughts exactly.

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BikeBud [259 posts] 4 years ago
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That'll be the "guide the thinking" bit, and the "get the right resources and actions put in place" bit ;o)

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BikeBud [259 posts] 4 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

This blog is well worth a read:
http://primlystable.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/dead-cyclists-missing-helmets...

(not my blog by the way, I saw it linked to on Twitter).

Good piece. Thanks.

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Mescale [7 posts] 4 years ago
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darranmoore wrote:

please explain to me why someone would not wear one given choice? Is it believed they are less safe or no percieved improvement in safety? I would welcome a straight understanding without sarcasm, please.

Do helmets make it safer to cycle?

Answer: No one knows.

There is evidence to show that people who feel they are safer take more risks, thus making the chance of an accident higher, there is evidence to say that other road users are more careful around cyclists who do not wear helmets, because they are less protected.

So maybe helmets make the wearer less safe because they take more risks because they percieve themselves as safer.

Maybe Helmets make the wearer less safe because car drivers see them as more protected and so less important to be careful around.

But the evidence isn't really conclusive so well it is as much down to opinion.

What if instead we think; What is the efficacy of a helmet?

First read up the information about helmets you get with one.

A helmet will only help you if it fits, if it is worn correctly, if it is in-date, and if you land on your head (at a velocity within the helmet's ability to dissipate the energy which is not infinite.)

That is a lot of ifs.

It also means that we don't really have any way of telling if helmets are effective.
If someone has a crash dies and was wearing a helmet, is it because helmets are not useful in crashes?
It could easily be because they weren't wearing it correctly. (I see plenty of incorrectly worn helmets every day when I ride) Often it can be because they are the wrong size.
Helmets are good for a few years after that they need to be replaced, how many helmets do you think are in use that are out of date?

And maybe the crash was just not survivable with or without a helmet.

Most of these issues mean that in any accident where a helmet fails to protect the cyclist means that its not the helmets fault it didn't, its because the helmet wasn't used correctly.

How much energy can a bicycle helmet disspate? In a simple impact in the most idealised situation on a flat surface no sharp edges, with a normally massed person, how much energy can be disspated, and hence, what is the maximum velocity that a helmet can absorb the energy from a crash?

Does anyone know. Is this data available somewhere? I guess its defined by the BS standard for bicycle helmets.

In an idealised low speed crash where you land nicely on your helmet, and there are no spiky bits, no corners, then I expect there is a chance a helmet can help.

Is this what the mandatory bike helmet is required for, idiots falling off bikes at slow speeds? No the helmet is being touted as a solution for riding in traffic where speeds of cars are 30 mph+, cars weighing 2 tonnes, busses, and lorries even bigger. That can impart a greater amount of energy to you and your head that a bike helmet will not help you survive. Well maybe I mean maybe your body gets run over but by some fluke your head only has a slow impact with the ground thus saving your brain cage. Alas this is not the kind of safety we were looking for. If you die of other injuries it is no good if your brain is OK.

So what we have then is a bicycle helmet which has no proof that is is actually making cycling safer. Of course everyone knows wearing a helmet makes things safer. Just like we all know the earth is flat, the sun goes around the earth. and all those other patently obvious things we don't need to question.

Plenty of people wear a helmet to be safe whilst simultaneously not wearing them correctly, wearing then when they are out of date, if they've been accidently damaged (they're expensive man) Or in conditions that they don't help.

Helmets are as often a safety placebo as anything else.

What if we consider the likelihood of experiencing a fatal head injury?

Most fatal head injuries happen in the bathroom, more fatal head injuries occur to car drivers and pedestrians than to cyclists.

So our situation is this.

We don't know if helmets are safer.

We do plenty of more dangerous things without wearing a helmet.

We typically do not use helmets in a way which actually allows them to work anyway.

The illusion of safety can cause helmet wearers to take more risks and car drivers to take more risks around cyclists.

We know that many people do not cycle because they feel they should wear a helmet.

Yet we have no proof that helmets are actually beneficial to cycling.

See this is the argument.

There is no proof or data and little chance of it occur, there is plenty of opinion, and poor studies.

In the end the more important thing is to cycle like a small god on wheels, so even if there is a SUV with an person with an attitude problem in it, they wouldn't dare hit you as they can see as you ride, you are a bronzed colossus who stands astride, not only them,but all of mankind, indeed you may in fact be the very personification of god in human form, and so they will completely not run you over and may even give you a thumbs up because you are so awesome.

All you need to do is ride a cool bike, wear a silly hat and smile a lot.

These things will save you from death on a bicycle.

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Annabella [7 posts] 4 years ago
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I think helmets should be the law im quite sure it would save a lot of lifes . I myself is a very keen cyclist and go out in all weathers (not ice) and im always wear a helmet I don't feel save without one.

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Tony [132 posts] 4 years ago
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Can anyone tell me where to get one of these cycling helmets that the police are promoting that can ward off a 30 ton truck if it runs over me?  39

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felixcat [486 posts] 4 years ago
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Annabella wrote:

I think helmets should be the law im quite sure it would save a lot of lifes . I myself is a very keen cyclist and go out in all weathers (not ice) and im always wear a helmet I don't feel save without one.

A good test of helmet efficacy would be to make them compulsory, so that the wearing rate went up by a large amount, say 30% to 95%. We could then see whether the cyclist casualty rate went down.
If the claims by helmet enthusiasts are correct, claims of up to 85% efficacy, it would show. there could be no dispute about whether helmets work.
This "experiment" has been tried, in Oz and NZ, on large numbers of cyclists. The result was no change in casualty rates.
You may be sure helmets would save lives but the evidence is against you.
If you want to force me into a foam hat you need better evidence.

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