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Photo of mangled helmet shared more than 30 million times after cyclist walks away from crash

Ben Hobbs was hit by recycling truck but had miraculous escape - thanks, he says, to helmet

A cyclist who was run down by a recycling truck and narrowly avoided being killed has said a shared a graphic photo online of his mangled helmet online could warn others of the dangers of riding without one.

Ben Hobbs, 46, was riding to work near his home in Devon in March when he was hit by the truck. He was knocked off and suffered a broken spine, broken ribs, broken sternum and a head injury.

The photo of the Specialized Echelon helmet has since been shared more than 30 million times and sparked intense debate online.

He told the Western Daily News: "It's quite surprising that the image has had such an impact. It has been shared around the county and I'm really grateful for that.

"I've heard cyclists say that helmets are not the be all and end all because they only cover certain places but the helmet certainly worked for me."

He said: "I don't know what speed I was going at when the driver cut across in front of me but I didn't have time to stop.

"I was on my way to work and it was about 9am when the accident happened. There were a few people who stopped to help and a fantastic first aider who had to stop me from trying to get up.

"People kept telling me that I was in a mess but I didn't know what was going on. I kept trying to get up and I didn't know I had a serious spinal injury.

"I don't remember much but the first thing I can clearly remember is being in the ambulance. In the hospital I still didn't accept that it had happened to me and kept trying to get out of bed in the night.

"By day three a nurse sat down with me and said you've broken your back and you need to stay in bed."

The father of two is still recovering rom his injuries at home.

He said: "My head injury was right on the top of my head. The helmet has done the job for me.

"I'm a good rider and I'm confident. Nothing like this has happened to me before and I've been riding since I was four or five.

"I ride about 6,000 miles a year in Devon and commute to work everyday which is about 13 miles. I had just finished doing a complete overhaul of my bike and it was in 100 per cent condition.

"You've got no control of what will happen when you are on the roads. As a cyclist I make a balanced decision and go by the theory that you need to expect the unexpected. You don't know what people are going to do."

Mark Walker, a first responder for South Western Ambulance Service, shared the photo on his Facebook page after he was sent it by a colleague.

He said: "He is a lucky man. If it had been his head that had hit the van he wouldn't be here today. He was wearing the helmet in the correct position and it took the pressure of the impact.

"This is a powerful image and that shows the importance of wearing a helmet when cycling on the road."

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133 comments

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kie7077 replied to burtthebike | 8 years ago
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burtthebike wrote:

Oh dear, here we go again.

On one side we have the helmet zealots, telling us that a picture of a shattered helmet proves that they work, and on the other, the helmet deniers, holding up their rather less convincing evidence that at a population level, helmets don't work.

Hmmm, so which to believe, the people with only anecdotal evidence, which isn't evidence at all, but incredibly emotionally appealing, or the people with hard scientific, proven evidence?

The persistence of the myth of helmet effectiveness has to be worthy of doctoral thesis surely?

All a big red herring, if you want to wear a helmet, fine but don't go insisting everyone should wear one all the time because that does more harm than good - it puts people off of cycling. Mandatory helmet law is the enemy of cyclists and fitness.

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Barrybiker replied to pmr | 8 years ago
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Your,e ever so smart.

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Simon E replied to Migstu | 8 years ago
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Migstu wrote:

Well this is fun
So, where is the evidence that helmets are so very ineffective please?
If a child can die after a walking pace knock to the head on a kerb...and an adult can too...we've all heard the freak accident stories then we can conclude that our skulls are pretty darn fragile.
So what next ......decide that unless a helmet can save you from any impact with a truck then best not bother .....pretty daft logic..But if that's your choice then good luck,and you may well need it !

Your post shows the very attitude I was referring to.

There's plenty of evidence but you don't want to believe it so there's no point putting it under your nose.

And no, that's not a cop-out. I simply have very limited time to waste on people who don't want to listen.

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Aapje replied to Low Speed Wobble | 8 years ago
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Low Speed Wobble wrote:

I DO NOT wear a helmet not because it will save my life in the event of a fall of some kind, but because it may save my life. And because it looks cool.

Since helmets may also cause deaths, my adapted quote of your post is just as true.

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RTB replied to andyp | 8 years ago
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andyp wrote:

'Afraid it is, basic science says so. '

Can you point me towards this science please? As a scientist, this sounds like utter shit, but it's important to have an open mind and review the evidence.

Basic science Andy...velocity, mass, variables, vectors, proportionality, laws of physics, applied laws of physics. As a scientist you should be capable of postulating it from source, it's kind of obvious (if you know science of course).

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RTB replied to greenlight | 8 years ago
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greenlight wrote:

You want to know why people in Amsterdam don't wear helmets? they don't need to, they have proper cycling infrastructure.

All you write is consistent with what Chris Boardman advocates which in essence is that too much of the debate in improving cycling safety (because there are dangers) is focused disproportionately on helmets to the detriment of other measures, some of which you list.

I would agree with that (Boardman and you). Logical and well reasoned. However, a number of 'flat-earthers' have hijacked that to justify an anti-helmet position which is a misrepresentation of both Boardman and his arguments.

The sentence I captured from your quote says it all. At no point does your piece make a case for not wearing helmets, it's a parallel argument. In fact that sentence cries out the case for the opposite.

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RTB replied to andyp | 8 years ago
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andyp wrote:

'Basic science Andy...velocity, mass, variables, vectors, proportionality, laws of physics, applied laws of physics. As a scientist you should be capable of postulating it from source, it's kind of obvious (if you know science of course).'

To then apply these to define some kind of arbitrary 'X is more dangerous than Y' is of course very poor science. HTH.

I didn't. It was others (the flat earth anti-helmet crew like joeinpoole) who actually introduced that comparison.

QED. Thanks for reinforcing and making my point (inadvertent though it was).

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RTB replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:

Perhaps the accident did happen, perhaps the paramedic did make a comment.

Get over yourself will you? Given the 'flat earth', conspiracy theory stuff we've had from you so far I don't think we should place much credence on what you believe. [FWIW it happened as described (Thu 10/7/14) with a 22 minute delay, all recorded & logged on Strava.]

And you suggest I am the one who is misguided. Only in farrell's (flat) world...

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RTB replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:

Also, your references to products strikes me as odd.

Jaguar XF, Zipp Wheels. Nobody really needs to know that.

It's like dealing with a marketing Bot.

Funny you just strike me as odd.

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mrmo replied to urbane | 8 years ago
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urbane wrote:

A helmet is supposed to get some damage, even total, in a crash, just like the crumple zones in cars, so that you that you get less damage, therefore the dismissive attitude from some commenters is obvious cognitive bias or complacency.
.

But structurally the helmet should not rupture, if it has failed in a manner that exceeds its design, it will have absorbed some energy, but the failure mode and transmission of energy is no longer controlled.

The crumple zone in a car is designed to absorb energy in a controlled way.

It is not about bias or complacency, but rather the opposite, it is an understanding that helmets really aren't that effective in a serious accident. trip over, bang your head against a branch, fine, get hit by a car doing 50 not so.

Simple question about priorities.

Would you rather be hit by a car wearing a helmet or not get hit by a car, whilst not wearing a helmet?

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adamthekiwi replied to OldRidgeback | 8 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:
crikey wrote:
Quote:

The only strangers I care about are non human

I've seen videos about that and I'm sure it's illegal outside the Isle of Wight.

I think it might be legal in Norfolk too.

I think it's a legal requirement in Norfolk.

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earth replied to jacknorell | 8 years ago
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jacknorell wrote:
ronin wrote:

The solution is simple:

If everyone wears a helmet, (regardless of your persuasion), then it won't be an excuse anymore for non-action/blaming cyclists.

Then, without excuses they'll have to improve the infrastructure for cyclists. After that's done, wear if you want, don't wear if you don't want.

No, just like in Australia, the number of cyclists will be so much lower that the modal share doesn't justify the spend.

Oh, and incidents won't go down, nor will # of lethal injuries as the frequency per cyclist will become greater...

Only Netherlands & Denmark has really dealt with this stuff on a national level (Malmo in Sweden does very well too) and it's certainly not by mandating (or recommending) helmets... they're simply not important for safety or health benefits.

When I went to Malmo I witnessed people leaving their bikes outside shops and work places without even locking them. They would come back to their bike some time later, get on and just ride away.

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RTB replied to kie7077 | 8 years ago
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kie7077 wrote:

- it puts people off of cycling. Mandatory helmet law is the enemy of cyclists and fitness.

There you have it in 1.5 sentences the sum total of why so many numpties come on here spouting their flat earth nonsense that helmets make no difference to deceitfully mask their true objective. 'Stuff the people eh, as long as my agenda gets serviced, that's all that matters'.

I am a cyclist. I am fit. I wear a helmet. It is not my enemy. One day it may be my indispensable friend.

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RTB replied to Aapje | 8 years ago
0 likes
Aapje wrote:

I DO NOT wear a helmet not because it will save my life in the event of a fall of some kind, but because it may save my life. And because it looks cool.

Since helmets may also cause deaths, my adapted quote of your post is just as true.[/quote]

Possible but minute compared to the lives they will save (cf motor bikes).

Last summer I saw a cyclist bounce off the windscreen of a Jag XF (cyclist's fault he ran a light). Frightening, really frightening and very sobering. The smashed in windscreen was an exact match to his helmet. He survived thankfully (and the Jag driver was refreshingly marvellous btw).

When he had been loaded into the ambulance the paramedic made two observations:

1. The helmet saved the cyclist from more serious head trauma (than had he not been wearing one) and that if he could make the law he would mandate helmets based on what he had seen in his job. (Personally I do not support legislation).

2. The vital role of helmets in holding any trauma in place enabling faster and more accurate diagnosis and course of action. Interestingly he said that the first thing they do with limb or torso injuries, where applicable, is to splint them. He said the helmet frequently does that job at source and they can focus attention on augmenting with a neck brace. He said they rarely, if ever, remove helmets before reaching the hospital because of the benefits they bring in that 'golden hour'.

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Simon E replied to RTB | 8 years ago
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RTB wrote:
farrell wrote:

Also, your references to products strikes me as odd.

Jaguar XF, Zipp Wheels. Nobody really needs to know that.

It's like dealing with a marketing Bot.

Funny you just strike me as odd.

It has taken a while for you to descend to insults but, looking at your other posts, it was only a matter of time.

Stick to facts. Insults merely make you look ignorant or a troll.

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atgni replied to mrmo | 8 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
urbane wrote:

A helmet is supposed to get some damage, even total, in a crash, just like the crumple zones in cars, so that you that you get less damage, therefore the dismissive attitude from some commenters is obvious cognitive bias or complacency.
.

But structurally the helmet should not rupture, if it has failed in a manner that exceeds its design, it will have absorbed some energy, but the failure mode and transmission of energy is no longer controlled.

The crumple zone in a car is designed to absorb energy in a controlled way.

Up to a point that the crumple zone's design criteria is exceeded and the transmission of energy is no longer controlled.

You're saying the same thing but claiming it proves a different point.

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Joeinpoole replied to RTB | 8 years ago
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RTB wrote:

There you have it in 1.5 sentences the sum total of why so many numpties come on here spouting their flat earth nonsense that helmets make no difference to deceitfully mask their true objective. 'Stuff the people eh, as long as my agenda gets serviced, that's all that matters'.

I am a cyclist. I am fit. I wear a helmet. It is not my enemy. One day it may be my indispensable friend.

I hope you also wear your helmet when walking, using stairs or travelling in a motor vehicle. By your own logic you should. Your helmet in those situations is not your enemy. One day it may be your indispensable friend.

Why don't helmet-evangelising numpties like you understand that cycling is no more dangerous than many other daily activities that we all do without wearing helmets?

Six times more people die from falls on stairs than from cycling each year in the UK. So why aren't you evangelising the use of your "indispensable friend" on stairs?

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farrell replied to RTB | 8 years ago
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RTB wrote:

Possible but minute compared to the lives they will save (cf motor bikes).

Last summer I saw a cyclist bounce off the windscreen of a Jag XF (cyclist's fault he ran a light). Frightening, really frightening and very sobering. The smashed in windscreen was an exact match to his helmet. He survived thankfully (and the Jag driver was refreshingly marvellous btw).

When he had been loaded into the ambulance the paramedic made two observations:

1. The helmet saved the cyclist from more serious head trauma (than had he not been wearing one) and that if he could make the law he would mandate helmets based on what he had seen in his job. (Personally I do not support legislation).

2. The vital role of helmets in holding any trauma in place enabling faster and more accurate diagnosis and course of action. Interestingly he said that the first thing they do with limb or torso injuries, where applicable, is to splint them. He said the helmet frequently does that job at source and they can focus attention on augmenting with a neck brace. He said they rarely, if ever, remove helmets before reaching the hospital because of the benefits they bring in that 'golden hour'.

If I'm ever in a similar situation, I hope I get a better paramedic than him.
Or rather, a paramedic that concentrates on doing his job and getting me to the hospital, not playing to the gallery and speculating on the usefulness of helmets.

I must say, this flat earther finds it ridiculously handy that you managed to witness such an accident and also managed to bump in to a paramedic who was willing to delay the transfer of a seriously ill patient to hospital in order provide you with anecdotes and opinions that inexplicably match and mirror your own misguided beliefs oh-so-perfectly.

What are the chances?

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atgni replied to Joeinpoole | 8 years ago
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Joeinpoole wrote:

Six times more people die from falls on stairs than from cycling each year in the UK. So why aren't you evangelising the use of your "indispensable friend" on stairs?

Do you not think those falling down stairs and those wiped out on cycles may be from slightly different cohorts?

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RTB replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:

If I'm ever in a similar situation, I hope I get a better paramedic than him.
Or rather, a paramedic that concentrates on doing his job and getting me to the hospital, not playing to the gallery and speculating on the usefulness of helmets.

I must say, this flat earther finds it ridiculously handy that you managed to witness such an accident and also managed to bump in to a paramedic who was willing to delay the transfer of a seriously ill patient to hospital in order provide you with anecdotes and opinions that inexplicably match and mirror your own misguided beliefs oh-so-perfectly.

What are the chances?

That's verging on pathetic farrell & I hope you never have to experience or witness such a thing. You know the worst part of it that I remember above all were the noises: the screeching, the sickening thud, the splintering carbon of his Zipp wheel/forks, his muffled scream, the loud wail of his riding companion and then silent shock. It was horrible and a blessed relief that he survived it.

The paramedics (plural) were great, professional, did a marvellous job and spoke in parallel whilst we helped slip the stretcher under him whilst they stabilised him and his colleagues loaded him into the ambulance. Very condescending and flippant of you to suggest otherwise and you weren't even there so your judgment doesn't count for much.

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mrmo replied to atgni | 8 years ago
0 likes
atgni wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:

Six times more people die from falls on stairs than from cycling each year in the UK. So why aren't you evangelising the use of your "indispensable friend" on stairs?

Do you not think those falling down stairs and those wiped out on cycles may be from slightly different cohorts?

They shouldn't be, people are people, I ride a bike I have tripped on a carpet and fallen down stairs before, shit happens. shall we move on to accidents involving showers and baths, or are you about to argue they are different cohorts as well?

And if we move on, those who die on cycling, who are they? racing accidents and there have been a few, mtbers again a few. Riding to work and hit by HGV? rather to many and it is here that helmets really are pointless.

No one? says do not wear a helmet, what people say is, if you actually bother to read the evidence, helmets are helpful in a few accidents, they might stop you getting some cuts and bruises but that is about it. If the point of helmets was safety why have the standards been reduced? Why are they so less protective than those worn by moped riders? If most fatal accidents involve a motorised vehicle why is little being done to separate bikes and cars?

Maybe the whole helmet debate, is a nice way of getting cyclists to argue amongst themselves, to waste their time and their energy. It simply allows politicians a way out, it gives courts, drivers, CPS, police, etc etc a nice easy excuse. s/he wasn't wearing a helmet it's their fault. They never have to look at why the accident happened, car jumping a light, speeding, driver applying makeup, etc etc etc.

One other point, how many accidents are there, I suspect you will not be able to answer that question with any certainty as no one collects near miss figures.

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kie7077 replied to RTB | 8 years ago
0 likes

@RTB, You should read this evidence based report:

Cycle Helmets - CTC

I don't think there's any point in anyone arguing with you any further as you don't seem to understand peoples arguments on the matter of compulsory helmets. You keep reducing the argument down to wearing a helmet can protect the head. That is not the point.

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atgni replied to mrmo | 8 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:
atgni wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:

Six times more people die from falls on stairs than from cycling each year in the UK. So why aren't you evangelising the use of your "indispensable friend" on stairs?

Do you not think those falling down stairs and those wiped out on cycles may be from slightly different cohorts?

They shouldn't be, people are people, I ride a bike I have tripped on a carpet and fallen down stairs before, shit happens. shall we move on to accidents involving showers and baths, or are you about to argue they are different cohorts as well?

One other point, how many accidents are there, I suspect you will not be able to answer that question with any certainty as no one collects near miss figures.

I suspect they are different cohorts. The ONS tables show deaths from head injuries increasing with age. I would suspect (I'm not looking the figures up) that the cycling figures tail off at earlier ages that the head injury deaths.

If you want to know a statistic for accidents look it up.

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mrmo replied to atgni | 8 years ago
0 likes
atgni wrote:

If you want to know a statistic for accidents look it up.

I suspect that falls do increase, my SO works with the elderly and they are continually falling and outcomes worse. What might bruise a 20year old results In a broken hip for a 70 year old for instance.

So the elderly person is hospitalised the youngster off down the pub to tell the story of their stupidity.

So it is always going to be hard to correlate IMO.

In reverse, younger people ride bikes, it should be people of all ages but sadly in the UK it simply isn't happening! So young people are the ones getting injured.

For me the simply use of statistics is always going to be an issue, how many accidents, how many minor, how many serious and how many deaths. We know the deaths, we have a fair idea of serious but the minor????

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farrell replied to RTB | 8 years ago
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RTB wrote:

I hope you never have to experience or witness such a thing.

In the interests of openness , I have actually experienced a similar thing, I was hit by two cars in one go. Across the bonnet and windscreen and then whalloped by a car going in the other direction.

I had heavy concussion that left me bandy for a good two or three days as well as other assorted injuries.

The real worst part though was this:

I was doing a rather cheeky sideline of liberating "jazz mags" from work and flogging them on at school, so whilst I'm lay out in the middle of what is a pretty busy road with a crowd of people round me the paramedic decided to have a quick check inside my jacket and empty out the contents.

I was mortified.

He kept the magazine though, the rum sod.

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RTB replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:
RTB wrote:

I hope you never have to experience or witness such a thing.

In the interests of openness , I have actually experienced a similar thing, I was hit by two cars in one go. Across the bonnet and windscreen and then whalloped by a car going in the other direction.

I had heavy concussion that left me bandy for a good two or three days as well as other assorted injuries.

The real worst part though was this:

I was doing a rather cheeky sideline of liberating "jazz mags" from work and flogging them on at school, so whilst I'm lay out in the middle of what is a pretty busy road with a crowd of people round me the paramedic decided to have a quick check inside my jacket and empty out the contents.

I was mortified.

He kept the magazine though, the rum sod.

& a few spokes short in a buckled wheel. That's a bit sick really, funny it ain't.

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farrell replied to RTB | 8 years ago
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RTB wrote:

& a few spokes short in a buckled wheel. That's a bit sick really, funny it ain't.

I have no idea what you mean.

I suspect you don't either.

Whilst you're figuring it out, perhaps you could point me in the direction of where I was being 'flat earthist'?

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RTB replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:

I have no idea what you mean.

I suspect you don't either.

Whilst you're figuring it out, perhaps you could point me in the direction of where I was being 'flat earthist'?

Seriously farrell I'm out of time for all this 'dumbing-down'. Just had to explain to Aapje (good grief) why Einstein's special theory, which he/she tried to quote and even got that wrong, does not apply as well as explaining the difference between mass and weight (give me strength).

You have a keyboard, I suggest you do your own research to find what you seek.

Don't fall off the edge now...

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farrell replied to RTB | 8 years ago
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RTB wrote:

Seriously farrell I'm out of time for all this 'dumbing-down'. Just had to explain to Aapje (good grief) why Einstein's special theory, which he/she tried to quote and even got that wrong, does not apply as well as explaining the difference between mass and weight (give me strength).

You have a keyboard, I suggest you do your own research to find what you seek.

Don't fall off the edge now...

ctrl+F farrell

I've just gone through this thread not found a single post of mine on this thread that could be classed as being 'flat earthist'. So, far from asking you to 'dumb down, I'm pointing out that you have either dreamt up something that you wanted to read or you have confused my posts with someone else's.

Or you've heard someone using the flat earth term and have decided to use it without fully understanding what it means.

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RTB replied to Joeinpoole | 8 years ago
0 likes
Joeinpoole wrote:

Why don't helmet-evangelising numpties like you understand that cycling is no more dangerous than many other daily activities that we all do without wearing helmets?

Ah Mr. Angry from the pub, I remember you from before. That's the point isn't it cycling IS more dangerous than many other daily activities. Absurd and irresponsible to suggest otherwise. Pure physics (applied for that matter too) and increased variables provides the obvious science behind that even if instinct fails or is ignored.

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