The Helmet Debate Nothing has been more hotly debated or more polarizing than the debate about the merits of mandatory helmet laws. en-us <function copyright at 0x564ef50> Tue, 27 Aug 2013 19:23:03 GMT It's simple!! c4206bc4-0f88-11e3-8beb-1231394043be Tue, 27 Aug 2013 19:23:03 GMT I am with Mikael fc7c0fba-da1d-11e1-8f01-1231394043be Wed, 02 May 2012 11:06:42 GMT yes it is...
This review on the efficacy of bicycle helmets against brain injury

describes this research and shows,

"The testing and design of standard helmets reflect the discredited theory that linear acceleration is the dominant cause of brain injury and to neglect rotation."

Focusing on helmets doesn't make cyclists safer, it results in increased danger to cyclists]]> fc772770-da1d-11e1-a2d8-1231394043be Sat, 22 Oct 2011 07:15:34 GMT
the brain injury research is there Good luck, Eric]]> fc771d7a-da1d-11e1-926e-1231394043be Fri, 21 Oct 2011 14:48:53 GMT pro choice fc756ea8-da1d-11e1-b7a8-1231394043be Fri, 19 Aug 2011 13:08:12 GMT Here in River City (That's Richmond VA to the rest of you)
My theory is that people are not stupid, and whether they recognize it or not, they constantly assess risk in all their activities, and make hat are generally very rational decisions. That's why, for example, no one feels vulnerable going to a bar without a helmet, even though walking home from the bar poses a greater risk of traumatic brain injury than cycling in general. Same thing for pedestrians, and even, dare I say, DRIVERS> The reason is that most of the key causative factors in accidents in all these activities are within the control of the individual. The individual can rationally decide, based on their own behavior while cycling, drinking, walking, swimming, whatever, whether or not additional protection is worthwhile.]]> fc74a86a-da1d-11e1-a3f5-1231394043be Wed, 29 Jun 2011 08:27:30 GMT
Helmet laws have made safety worse It has been an unexpected failure at many levels.

1. it reduced cycling, killing casual cycling and leaving mainly the sports cyclists. Cycling is not popular and seen mostly as week-end activity, not a mode of transport. Cyclists are not popular, they are seen as freaks.

2. It has made cycling safety worse. The risk of serious death and injuries increased by 50%. This is mainly because helmets increase the risk of accidents, through safety in numbers and risk compensation. Essentially, a 50% increase in accidents cannot be compensated by a thin layer of polystyrene.

3. It has created a huge animosity among the cyclists, with some sport cyclists who believe that the helmet law vindicates their intolerance of cyclists who prefer not to wear a helmet. The polystyrene hat has become almost a religious fetish, with few people questioning what less than one inch of polystyrene can really do to prevent serious injuries.

4. This obsession with helmets has taken away the focus from measures that are far more important for cycling safety, like separation from car traffic, motorists behaviour, cyclists skill training, and reducing the risk of accident. Australia is a far more dangerous place to cycle than in Europe where they don't wear helmets. So why not focus on what works instead?

The helmet hasn't worked. It is an embarrassing failure. I would encourage anyone considering supporting to have a good look at what actually happened in real life, rather than relying on theories that seem "obvious". This topic is far from obvious .
]]> fc747d68-da1d-11e1-b6f5-1231394043be Sun, 19 Jun 2011 03:21:28 GMT
Statistics vs Experience Where statistics fail is when they are used to make individual decisions, or worse, to force decisions on individuals. Remember the hue and cry when the FDA said that breast exams were not useful for women of a certain age? That may have been true statistically, but it was not a solid basis for an individual deciding not to have an exam. Unfortunately, proclamations like that one tend to influence policy and regulation. For example, It's not hard to imagine insurance companies refusing to cover exams based on such a statistic. But it should be an individual decision.
Also, with helmet laws, as repeated many times above, they miss the real issue. Safety begins with the rider's exercise of care. I have not seen any analysis, but I would not be surprised if a cross-tabulation or a regression analysis showed that helmet use was not the dominant variable in crashes and fatalities. Your chance of a fatal or disabling accident is overwhelmingly dominated by how and where you ride.
So - Thanks to the author for this balanced perspective, and to all the comments, which were for the most part, civil and thoughtful. Sadly, these discussions too often degenerate into name calling and condescending one liners.
]]> fc746efe-da1d-11e1-8deb-1231394043be Wed, 15 Jun 2011 08:44:08 GMT
Laws and common sense
Seat belts: If cars are forced to go slower and they were actually safe, you would not need a seat belt. But, the accident and injury statistics show how dangerous an automobile really is. Not to mention the detrimental effects caused by pollution and sedentary lifestyle that goes along with the auto culture.

To make an argument about refusing to wear a helmet and not get medical coverage;
shall we deny treatment to people who smoke, consume alcohol, drugs or unhealthy foods, or refuses to excercise?]]> fc745f54-da1d-11e1-a6df-1231394043be Tue, 14 Jun 2011 09:37:25 GMT
cyclists live longer
mandating helmet use results in less people cycling, poorer health, and shorter life spans.

mandating helmet use has also resulted in no less injury or fatalities to cyclists to boot ]]> fc745dd8-da1d-11e1-abe2-1231394043be Tue, 14 Jun 2011 05:21:07 GMT
Helmet debate is in the wrong direction
We have mandatory Seat belt laws, motorcycle helmets, mandatory auto insurance, look it would be great if the goverment wasn't all of our business, but sometimes it is a necessity and we are the government! Oh yes, and mandatory Medical Insurance. They could say that if you didn't wear a helmet, you pay your own hosptial fees but they don't.]]> fc7452f2-da1d-11e1-b97a-1231394043be Mon, 13 Jun 2011 21:29:35 GMT
good reason
One is that they can't provide adequate protection in collisions with motor vehicles. Many people think they can, but they can't.

Another is wearing a helmet is a sign that cycling is dangerous. It's not.

Another reason is that this perception that cycling is risky, discourages people from riding bikes.

It's not that wearing helmets is wrong, it's more that the attitude about helmets is wrong.

Wear one if you like but don't think cycling is more dangerous than it is and don't think a helmet can do more than it can, and by no means should you disrespect anothers choice to go without a helmet. The safest cyclists in the world don't use them.]]> fc7433a8-da1d-11e1-b4a7-1231394043be Thu, 09 Jun 2011 07:29:25 GMT
Mandatory Helmets- NO/YES fc740720-da1d-11e1-9e5e-1231394043be Wed, 08 Jun 2011 15:02:03 GMT yes, well...
In the meantime, we should consider what a helmet law is really saying; that you’re better off not cycling at all than cycling without a helmet...

In BC, this no helmet, no bike rule has some teeth to it. A police officer can not only fine a cyclist for not wearing a helmet, they can seize a bike of a cyclist not wearing a helmet.

No helmet, no bike. Is this good public policy?]]> fc741198-da1d-11e1-9e07-1231394043be Wed, 01 Jun 2011 13:23:43 GMT
Choice, but wise choice
Yes accidents may be just that, accidents. But if I am ever in an accident I want the highest chance possible of coming out of that accident alive or not brain damaged. If this means wearing a helmet then thats what I'll do.]]> fc740e78-da1d-11e1-a41c-1231394043be Wed, 01 Jun 2011 11:23:08 GMT
Resist compulsory helmet laws
I think it's always worth asking "who benefits?", when it come to these types of laws. The question is equivalent to "follow the money". Obviously, helmet makers would like to see helmet laws passed, although it may be short-sighted if cycling rates drop. Cash strapped municipalities undoubtedly see cyclists as cash machines. Politicians love helmet laws! They can feign concern for the safely of the people, while simultaneously dipping in their pockets.

We do not need new barriers to entry to cycling.]]> fc740c7a-da1d-11e1-b03e-1231394043be Wed, 01 Jun 2011 09:18:19 GMT
Facile solution to a complicated problem
The problem with mandatory helmet laws is that they permit people to claim that they are doing something to protect cyclists, when in fact they are avoiding the larger issues: how to design safe and convenient facilities for non-motorized travel. Pedestrians and cyclists want the same things as cars: to have quick, safe, and convenient access to their chosen destinations.

Gas prices are going up for good. We will all need to rethink how much we travel, and how. It is time that we start seriously considering how to invest in a better and more sustainable future. ]]> fc7408ec-da1d-11e1-bce0-1231394043be Tue, 31 May 2011 11:11:37 GMT
Please repeal fc7403d8-da1d-11e1-9821-1231394043be Tue, 31 May 2011 10:56:27 GMT Choice
Few, if any pro-choice advocates are arguing that cyclists must remove their helmets but what they are saying is that their right of choice being taken away is wrong.

For this right to be removed there must be a justified need and effective solution for the designated problem. Short of this, cyclists should be left to their own discretion as to what action they wish to take and not have smothers will forced upon them.]]> fc7400c2-da1d-11e1-8041-1231394043be Tue, 31 May 2011 10:38:17 GMT
The argument is that a helmet will not save you from a serious crash. Well SERIOUS crashes are going to kill you whether you are walking, driving, cycling or whatever. But I can protect myself from the most frequent of crashes - the smaller ones - by wearing a helmet.

AND using the Dutch example if not quite fair. In Holland, Denmark etc. the Bike is #1 on the roads. Cars and pedestrians give way to the bike. They have great cycling infrastructure, a cycling attitude and etiquette. Something sorely lacking in N. America.]]> fc73feba-da1d-11e1-851a-1231394043be Tue, 31 May 2011 09:55:00 GMT
questionable research
Having had seen the advance press preceding BCs helmet law, read the bills debate in the legislature, speaking to several key individuals that brought forth the law and now finally reading the minutes, reports, correspondences of the organization formed to lobby for the law, I would say that is the promoters of the helmet law that were exploiting questionable research.

The only research presented by the group was a single study of questionable validity and the numbers presented by the group were admitted to by the authors to be incorrect. In fact this only study has been admitted by the Snell Foundation to be used as promotion for sales of helmets, not for independent analysis of a helmets effectiveness.

It seems helmet skeptics base their skepticism on quality research and helmet promotors base their faith in helmets on questionable research]]> fc73fd0c-da1d-11e1-bbb5-1231394043be Tue, 31 May 2011 09:53:19 GMT
Quite simple...
Many I know in BC would wear a helmet whether it was law or not, however they are strongly against it being mandated.

Also, my not wanting to wear a helmet has nothing to do with civil liberties. I just see little use in them. Any time I've fallen off my bike I'd be better served with shoulder and/or elbow pads...even knee pads.
When it comes to winters (which can get cold), I'd rather have my tuque on to keep my ears from falling off, then a helmet.]]> fc73fb36-da1d-11e1-8a11-1231394043be Mon, 30 May 2011 05:34:04 GMT
Helmet Promotion is Unethical
Lie #1 scares potential cyclists off their bikes, thus increasing the risk to those who remain, and lie #2 leads to cyclists taking more risks in the mistaken belief that they are well protected.

It is therefore not ethically defensible to promote either of these perceptions, let alone enshrine them in law.]]> fc73f672-da1d-11e1-9904-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 19:11:53 GMT
purpose achieved?
No. Even with the reduction of people cycling, and more people wearing helmets than ever before, deaths in fact, increased for the first 3 years following legislation.

Helmet legislators hedged their bets though. They predicted if legislation would not pass, there would be a reverse of the historical trend of downward fatalities for cyclists; that deaths should increase in the future.

]]> fc73f4c4-da1d-11e1-ba3c-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 19:09:08 GMT
BC affected
There has been some information to come forth that can help us understand some of the impact BC has felt as a result of legislation though. ICBC shows an immediate, and unprecedented drop of 35% in the amounts of motor vehicle - bicycle collisions immediately after the passing of the law. So unless helmet use has prevented collisions from occurring, there was a drop in cyclists immediately following the implementation of the law.

There has been a notable increase that has been documented several years post law however, and this may have more to do with police not enforcing the law with as much vigor as it was when the law was first introduced. Stats Canada completed a study that pegged BCs helmet use at 60%, a drop when compared to the study funded by the government post law that showed BCs helmet use at 76% overall. ICBC hold records that show helmet use even lower, at 55%.

One of the most contentious issues with our legislation involved the stated purpose of the legislation which was to reduce death and serious injury to cyclists. It was reasoned that helmet could help acheive this goal because one, just one study claimed helmet use reduces the chances of head injury by 85%. What few knew at the time was that the 85% figure only applied to children under 5 years old (10 - 14 year olds had a reduction of only 23%) and that the study did not include a single collision with a motor vehicle, and nearly every death or serious injury to a cyclist came from a collision with a motor vehicle.

So yes, statistics and studies do matter in BC. If police enforced our helmet law today, there would be a significant reduction in the amount of people cycling, just as there was when the law was first passed. ]]> fc73edc6-da1d-11e1-96e2-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 18:29:42 GMT
Certainly there are studies that associated declines in numbers of cyclists riding in some jurisdictions with helmet laws, and that is unfortunate. I think in some of those places, bicycle use rebounded from the initial drop and I think a more useful analysis would have been, in any event, to assess the change in miles ridden, not just the numbers of cyclists. It is not a positive development to lose the casual cyclists, but most who make a positive choice for cycling will not be dissauded by helmet laws.

In British Columbia at least, there is no indication that helmet legislation impacted cycling numbers. Participation continues to grow and helmet laws are almost certainly here to stay, notwithstanding the wishful thinking of those who believe the challenges those laws face in other jurisdictions will lead to a repeal in B.C.

The threats to an unprotected head often may be elevated by speed, but the real damage is the distance of the fall. You can do significant damage falling from a bike at low speed. The acceleration forces on your head can be fatal, and unlike most other activities mentioned in various comments, bicycles are inherently unstable. They do not stand on their own without the gyroscopic effects of forward motion (unless you are good at track stands), so it is more dangerous than walking.

There are good reasons, many cited, for being skeptical of helmet laws - the health benefits of riding far outweigh the risks and there are certainly problems with helmet laws that will frustrate bike share programs. Fair comment. Still, I find the reliance on questionable health research to bolster the argument is about as credible as the quacks who dismiss links between smoking and cancers. The distinction between fatalities or not is also a little simplistic. You don't have to die to render yourself impotent in the debate. Hard to argue that your civil liberties have been enhanced by reducing your IQ to the low 20s after a head injury.

Argue your point on the issue of civil liberties, but the misuse of statistics or the clutching at studies to claim that helmets don't provide protection will, for the most part, alienate decison makers and others in the community who presumably you want to listen to you. You have to decide whether you want to rant against injustice or advance your cause.

I've had my own crashes and can only contemplate what might have happened to my head without a helmet; I've known a few who have died while riding for whom a helmet may have made a difference. I also have known a few cyclists who have had life altering crashes.

Stick to the civil liberties argument, on most other issues the debate is over.

John Luton, Victoria, BC]]> fc73e6fa-da1d-11e1-8cea-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 18:01:45 GMT
yes fc73e59c-da1d-11e1-a486-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 12:19:43 GMT European head injury data? fc73d3cc-da1d-11e1-a391-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 09:42:56 GMT disagree/agree
I do agree with idea that perception, rather than fact, is what drives the desire to place a helmet upon a head.

If people understood that cycling is safe, and if they understood the limitations of a helmet, fewer people would wear them. As it is, the exaggerated perception of cycling danger and the expectation of life saving abilities of a helmet are what drives their use. False assumptions, both]]> fc73d0de-da1d-11e1-9f3c-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 07:13:26 GMT
Helmet or not is not the question fc73bdd8-da1d-11e1-b330-1231394043be Thu, 26 May 2011 01:40:35 GMT Helmet laws a manifestation of the nanny state fc73cf4e-da1d-11e1-b921-1231394043be Wed, 25 May 2011 17:51:45 GMT Well done fc73bc0c-da1d-11e1-83e7-1231394043be Wed, 25 May 2011 15:57:10 GMT a matter of choice and etiquette
Also, some have pointed out that not wearing a helmet (especially with a nicer bike) might signify that you are riding a stolen bike... ]]> fc73cd96-da1d-11e1-9a82-1231394043be Wed, 25 May 2011 11:41:57 GMT
Helmet laws a mistake The assessment of Australian helmet law shows the outcome was negative for both health and safety.

The result for New Zealand is very similar. For the USA there are also concerns.

The UK’s National Children’s Bureau (NCB) provided a detailed review in 2005 stating “the case for helmets is far from sound”, “the benefits of helmets need further investigation before even a policy supporting promotion can be unequivocally supported” and “the case has not yet been convincingly made for compulsory use or promotion of cycle helmets.”

The ECF (European Cycling Federation) stated “the evidence from Australia and New Zealand suggests that the wearing of helmets might even make cycling more dangerous,” indicating safety was actually reduced. Erke and Elvik (Norwegian researchers) 2007 stated: “There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent.”

Data for children shows their safety has been reduced. Robinson 1996 report, Table 5 shows data for children in Victoria. The equivalent number of injuries for pre law level of number of cyclists increased from 897 in 1990 to 1035 in 1992. The increased injury rate was 15%.

For New South Wales their survey data also showed reduced cycling following legislation in 1991.
Children counted
1991 – 6788
1992 – 4234
1993 – 3798
A reduction of 44% occurred.

Robinson 1996 report, Table 2 shows data for children in NSW. The equivalent number of injuries for pre law level of number of cyclists increased from 1310 in 1991 to 2083 in 1993. Their helmet laws discouraged cycling and reduced children’s safety. The increased injury rate was 59%.

For New Zealand it was reported “Of particular concern are children and adolescents who have experienced the greatest increase in the risk of cycling injuries despite a substantial decline in the amount of cycling over the past two decades’.

Police figures for NZ show 9618 tickets were issued in 2010 for not wearing a helmet. In Victoria, Australia they issued more than 19000 in the first 12 months of their law .
Curnow reporting on Australia concluded, “Compulsion to wear a bicycle helmet is detrimental to public health”.

Accidental hanging is still occurring among young children who wear bicycle helmets while engaging in activities other than bicycle riding. Worldwide, the toll of deaths has now reached at least 14, with examples in the USA, Canada, Australia and Scandinavia.

Helmet laws for bicyclists are a mistake.

Clarke CF, The Case against bicycle helmets and legislation, VeloCity, Munich 2007..

Curnow WJ, Bicycle helmets and public health in Australia, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2008 Apr;19(1):10-15. Gill T, Cycling and Children and Young People – A review, National Children’s Bureau, 2005
European Cycling Federation. ‘Improving bicycle safety without making helmet use compulsory;
Brussels, Belgium. 1998.
Erke A, Elvik R, Making Vision Zero real: Preventing Pedestrian Accidents And Making Them Less Severe, Oslo June 2007. page 28 … 7-nett.pdf
Robinson DL; Head injuries and bicycle helmet laws; Accid Anal Prev, 28, 4: p 463-475, 1996
]]> fc73b158-da1d-11e1-bac4-1231394043be Wed, 25 May 2011 11:18:41 GMT
Article misses important points!
The first? Bicycling does NOT cause significant risk of serious head injuries. In the U.S. it causes fewer than 1% of HI fatalties, whereas motoring causes about 50% and walking around the home causes about 40%. And it's not just because there are few bicyclists. Pedestrians die at more than triple the rate of bicyclists, per mile. (And BTW, head trauma is the cause of over half of _all_ accidental fatalities, not just those of bicyclists.) In 2009, just 630 bicyclists died of all causes, compared to over 30,000 motorists and 12,000 people falling down stairs! Bicycling is simply not very dangerous, despite the fear mongering. It is safer than many other common no-helmet activities, and its benefits (exercise, pollution reduction, etc.) greatly outweigh any tiny risks.

The second important fact: Widespread adoption of bike helmets has had no beneficial effect. As explained in a July 29, 2001 article in the New York Times (based on data posted at ) head injuries per cyclist did not fall when helmets became heavily promoted and their use soared. Instead, head injuries actually rose significantly. This is probably because bike helmets are certified to protect only gentle impacts less than 13 mph, and then only if the impact is perfectly centered. They cannot work for most serious crashes, and they have not worked in any population that has adopted them widely, even though every person who dents their helmet seems to believe it has saved their life!

To summarize: Don't assume bicycling is dangerous, and don't assume helmets are wonderfully effective. Bicycling is NOT dangerous enough to require helmets, even in non-cycling countries like the U.S. And bike helmets have NOT proven to be effective. They are an ineffective solution to an imaginary problem.

Promotion of helmets has scared people away from this benign mode of transport. We should let bike helmets and their promotion die the same death as the tall bicycle flippy-flags of the 1970s.]]> fc739b8c-da1d-11e1-8732-1231394043be Wed, 25 May 2011 09:14:27 GMT
helmets fc73c512-da1d-11e1-926d-1231394043be Tue, 24 May 2011 20:24:17 GMT helmet laws are a health and safety disaster Since helmet compulsion was introduced in 1994, rates of cycling continued to fall, most cyclists started wearing helmets, and injury rates rose.
Is that what we want more of?
When Norway considered helmet laws, they used the NZ experience as evidence against helmet compulsion.
If you want more people cycling, resist helmet laws. They are hard to get ride of, so beware.]]> fc7396be-da1d-11e1-909c-1231394043be Tue, 24 May 2011 18:56:02 GMT