December 2, 2010

December 2, 2010

Comments (200)

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hit the nail on it's head

I don't think I could have put it any better Tracey. Fear stops people from riding bicycles and helmet campaigns are all about installing fear into people about bicycle riding. After all, why would someone wear protective gear if they did not fear injury?

The trouble is, this is an irrational fear as people on bicycles have no more risk of injury than people who walk. Another problem is there is little clear evidence helmets have been effective at reducing injury for cyclists.

Attention given helmets takes away from more effective ways to keep cyclists safe (like safe infrastructure), so stop wasting time suggesting cyclists need to wear helmets, that just makes things worse.

Brad more than 1 year ago

safer streets and paths the answer not this rhetoric

Safe cycling infrastructure is the answer. A helmet will not stop the people who really want to cycle, fear will do that. Those who use a helmet as an excuse not to cycle either don't want to, aren't able to or are too lazy to cycle. Stop wasting time in anti-helmet sentiments, put them where they'll be useful and work towards more infrastructure that's safe, then maybe helmets wouldn't have to be mandated as they are now. This was the politicians Bandaid way back when cycling was considered a waste and they didn't want to spend money on getting people healthy and out of cars.

Tracey more than 1 year ago

Stop the fear mongering

Jay Paul,

A cheap adverting stunt, shame on you. This is definetley not going to make anyone safer.
Safe roads does. Insurance companies rely of fear to sell policies. Please don't discourage cycling like this. Pay for advertising space to spread your fear.

ch1 more than 1 year ago

Balance For Cyclists

One very important statistic. Only 30% of cyclist injuries result in a hospital visit involve a motor vehicle. Car/bicycle collisions get all of the attention because that is what sells newspapers and TV advertising. Helmets cut down on all head related trauma by 70%. Check out Balance for Cyclists if you are concerned about what you'd do if you suffered a STBI. www.balanceins.com.

Jay Paul more than 1 year ago

Studies; not again!

Pete, what about all the studies, that finds helmets don't work in the real world, or they discourage cycling that makes the roads more dangerous; (fewer cyclists) and that cycling's health benefits outweighs risks by 20:1. Are those irrelevant?

ch1 more than 1 year ago

If you ride a bike, a helmet is essential.

Completely bogus arguments in an attempt to be humorous. Culture of fear? What a joke! Cyclists are far more likely to impact the ground with their heads, than anything else. Speed is not that relevant. I've broken a helmets (they are designed as crumple zones) while riding at less than 5mph in a park setting, at at 20mph in a bike lane, and a third time when a motorist cut me off and I went endo. This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. All one has to do is google studies on bike helmet efficacy. They reduce serious head injuries by about 70%.

Pete more than 1 year ago

good point

gordon,

Race car drivers do wear helmets in cars. Bicycle helmets are poorly designed and tested for real world situations. Their protection level is probably as questionable as you mentioned as would be for helmets in cars.

However, large cars do provide an advantage when colliding with a smaller vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist, for the occupants of the larger car. It does not make them safer, though. In roll-overs, or when the vehicle strikes a solid object, larger cars and pickup trucks seems quite more dangerous than smaller vehicles; as the laws of physics would indicate. Also, SUVs and trucks with a higher centre of gravity roll over easier than smaller cars. This type of accident is a major cause of head and neck injuries. Car accidents are responsible for 50-70% of all head injuries, and cyling accidents, less than 1%.

Your large vehicle only provide more protection in very limited situations. For this minimal protection, people have to suffer the health effects of the pollution caused by cars, others have to die in wars, etc. Cars also need very expensive infrastructure to operate on; roads parking lots, etc.

Bicycle communting and recreation solve many of these problems. More cycling causes
a reduction in pollution, safer roads and need much less infrastructure. This translates to major savings on health bills. This has been proved over and over in bicycle friendly countries. All those countries have one thing in commom; nobody wears bicycle helmets. Cycling itself is safe and makes it safer for everybody else. The helmet discourages cycling and draws the attention away from the real safety issues. Thanks

ch1 more than 1 year ago

applied formula to autos?

Ch1, you have brought up a good point, but you ignore the fact that autos are not designed to be driven with helmets. Imagine this everyday scenario, put on a helmet and climb into the car, bump your head on the a pillar or roof and injure your neck; not all injuries are related to crashing.
As a point of note regarding automobiles, i drive a 6000 lb [3 tonne] vehicle because i have seen and experienced the results of a small car hitting a large one; physics prevails and the people in the small one always loses. I figure it is a small fuel use cost increase compared to the costs of living after a major injury. If you go check out crash test ratings, they always equal mass cars are hitting one another; i have not seen one that compares vehicles with one twice the mass of the other.
I know we cannot mandate sanity nor prevent ignorant or destructive individuals from living or proliferating, that is why the rest of us must weight the cost when involving ourselves in activities where we are at the whim of those around us.

gordon more than 1 year ago

applied formula

gordon, the risk of injury is way higher when driving a car than riding a bike. Why don't you use your formula to determine whether you should wear a helmet while driving? There are injuries of which the severity increases due to helmet use, like neck injuries and injuries where the head is struck at an oblige angle. Your assumtion that the helmet will protect may be incorrect.

ch1 more than 1 year ago

So why do we really wear helmets?

Mr. Anderson brings in some good thought provoking statistics regarding walking, cycling, and automobile driving although the injury rate per hour or trip cycling vs cars would have been a more interesting statistic. Hopefully we all realize that there are situations that will literally kill us as the result of some on else's decision; yes there are bad people out there. I have been an avid cyclist for many years, have raced competitively, and encourage everyone in my family to ride and wear a helmet. I am on my 4rd helmet; first two damaged due to crashing and the third one just got old and did not fit properly. The damaged ones were due to unfavorable circumstances and poor choices I made while mountain biking. However, the primary reason i ride with a helmet is to protect from head injury [i get paid for what I think not what i do] caused by someone else making a decision that causes me to experience a crash. I agree that the primary risk in cycling [like driving a car] involves the other people around you and their actions. It would really suck if i could have prevented major brain or neck trauma after crashing when a pedestrian caused a car to swerve and hit me just by wearing a properly fitting helmet. I do not think that fear drives me to wear a helmet, but evaluating the risk = probability x consequence equation should lead everyone to a good decision on this topic; this assumes that the data we use is real and true and not manipulated to make things look better or worse than they really are.

gordon more than 1 year ago

Real safety

Ed, how do you explain the 30,000+ fatalities on U.S. roads every year in relation to seatbelt use? Cycling has a far superior safety record than automobile use, especially in countries where there are no bicycle helmet use. I think we should focus on making the roads safer. In my mind the best way to do that is to promote cycling and safe infrastructure. Engineers have failed to make cars or the roads safe. Safety device propaganda does not make the roads safer, since it does not solve the real problems.
Comparing a seatbelt to a bicycle helmet really does not improve bicycle safety. Thanks...

ch1 more than 1 year ago

Mandatory? No. But...

I know of many cyclists who have crashed and most, with or without helmets, have walked away. I know of two cyclists that had brain damage from a crash, one permanent and one made a 'full' recovery after a few years. Neither had their helmet on at the time of the crash.Pedestrians and cyclists face many of the same obstacles... the difference is that the cyclist is moving much faster and more prone to a head injury. We have hockey players wear them, football players, and I believe it is foolish for cyclists not to. I don't think they should be mandatory, but I don't think seatbelts should be either. To each his own; let each person decide their own risk levels. Me? I hate the helmets but I'll continue wearing mine.

Ed White more than 1 year ago

Whatever

TheCementKillah, do you iinsult everyone that differs from you in opinion, or will you also insult people who refuses to wear helmets in cars or when walking; which are more dangerous activities than cycling?

The majority of cyclists around the world do not wear helmets, for really good reasons! Cycling is safe!

ch1 more than 1 year ago

hypocritical

yes, well no one is saying "stuff" doesn't happen, but as bicycle helmets can provide essentially the same protection for pedestrians as for cyclists, and statistics show pedestrians are at equal or greater risk of injury as cyclists, one would be more than a little hypocritical to suggest only cyclists, and not pedestrians should wear helmets at all times

Brad more than 1 year ago

No helmet

What Eugene Blesing said!

Let me drop a 20lb chunk of pavement on your skull from 3' while you're wearing a cheap $15.00 Bell helmet from Walmart....then let me do it without. Convinced?

With that said, I don't think you should be forced to wear a helmet...chances may be slim you'll have a life-saving experience with a helmet, no matter how may hours you ride...but only an idiot says that those experiences don't happen. So, I encourage YOU not to wear a helmet...and don't let YOUR monkey-ass kids wear them either.

TheCementKillah more than 1 year ago

What's the difference?

I failed to find any evidence or research that indicate that a helmet can protect a bicycle racer better than anybody else. There are bike commuters that go just as fast or faster without the lycra or the light bike. The speed difference between fast or slow pedalling does not seem too significant. The same limitations of a helmet applies to everyone.
It does not protect significantly and any law requiring a helmet is unreaslist.

My children cycle without helmets. They tend to do less risky things without the helmet than some kids with helmets. I have also noticed that a very high percentage of children does not wear their helmets properly, even under adult supervision. A bicycle helmet cannot be worn properly because the strap will choke you if you strap it on tight enough that it will stay on your head during a significant impact.

Helmets do not prevent rotational injuries, it can increase their severity.

ch1 more than 1 year ago

time and place for everything

New to the biking world but have participated in many activities. To me and my view only is that if competing or training for an event or for the health aspect then a helmet would be a good use. While road racing or training your tend to travel at a higher speed which would produce more force in an impact. If commuting speeds tend to be slower and the mindset of a cyclist is in a different space as when training. So to each is own but that is my view. Also I do believe kids should wear them. Let's be honest we all were bike daredevils when we were younger and that aspect is enough for me for kids to wear helmet. We all did those crazy things that when we did wipe out, and we were, the helmet would have at least taken some of the sting off.

~O~ more than 1 year ago

Disagree to perceived safty of helmet

Eugene Blesing,

What about the fact that helmets cause an increase in rotational forces on the brain which will cause an injury to be more severe. The same hold true for some neck injuries. Also a helmet is designed for simple falls that will protect you against focal injuries. There is no helmet on the market that will protect you against rotational injuries, which accounts to almost 75% of brain injuries. A helmet will not protect from the violent forces involved in case a car hits a person on a bicycle..

The health benefits of cycling outweighs the risks by 20:1, according to the British Medical Association. That means to me that cycling is safer that most activities in life. Helmet promotion makes this safe activity look dangerous. Driving a car is one the most dangerous things in everyday life despite all the mandated safety equipment. Where are the helmets for cars?

ch1 more than 1 year ago

this:

It is one thing to state as a counterpoint to the fear waves, that we are all just worried to death about everything, that wearing a helmet is un-necessary and an over reaction. It is quite another to say," don't wear a helmet. You don't need it.

In the seventies, we were driving 50 mph on the highway, and 25 everywhere else. There were 70% fewer drivers on the roads, no cell phones or texting, and neighborhoods still flourished with families. Since then, everything has sped up.

Bikes are faster. We are faster. Helmets do save lives. We wear them to protect ourselves from ourselves, from cars that don't care. I have personally broken helmets into 6 pieces with my head. You don't get up or walk away from that without a helmet on. I promise.

Bikes don't hurt people, people hurt themselves and bikes!

Eugene Blesing more than 1 year ago

Not jumping on the bandwagon.

I was so tempted to jump on the "comment to the subject line" bandwagon. As someone who has cycled for almost 40 years... most of my adult life. Both as a need of transportation, as a means to get and stay healthy and fit, as cycling advocate... and really one who wished I lived in a more cycling friendly community than NE Florida (one of the most dangerous places in the US to cycle) I had to take to look, and watch what Mikael had to say. I really find it hard to believe that anyone who is committed to cycling as a safe and effected mode of transportation. In my humble opinion, if one is looking for an excuse not to cycle... they will find one. I have been wearing a "helmet" since the "hairnet" cycling helmet came out.

Now I'm not going to sit here and microscopically analyze the benefits of not wearing a helmet against wearing one but for myself, I will continue to cycle both as a form of recreation and as a form of commuting to and from work... and do so *with* a helmet. Peddle on brothers and sisters around the world!

Bill more than 1 year ago

Helmets are more than crash protection

I agree with the presenter that a bicycle helmet offers minimal protection in many types of crashes. Bicycle helmets could be more protective, but they would be cumbersome. So the current design concept is a compromise between offering some protection but still being light and sorta comfortable.

I think it is wrong to encourage helmet use by scare tactics. Bicycling IS a very safe activity and risk of injury is minimal. But head trauma is so serious and costly in every way that even the minimal protection offered by a bike helmet is reasonable. I think helmets ought to be promoted on a completely different basis.

My helmet is also a visibility devise - it is bright yellow and festooned with reflective tape. I've attached small LED lights front and back to further enhance night-time visibility. I have a rear mirror mounted on my helmet - being able to scan behind me is a positive cue, a reward, if you will, that encourages my habit of wearing a helmet. I challenge helmet manufacturers to come up with other cues and rewards, built into the helmet, that would provide further desirable functionality. At minimal cost, a rear camera could be built into a helmet; a clear visor could also serve as a data display, activated by voice command. Too costly/futuristic? I disagree. These devices already exist in today's modern cell phones. Google has already designed a clear screen display that is being evaluated for use as vision optics. The point is that helmets ought to be promoted without scaring bicyclists, and opportunities abound for ways to do that.

Frank Schwende more than 1 year ago

Love the bike... love my helmet

There are so many points in this presentation. I agree with almost all of them, except for the idea that wearing helmets is somehow... bad.

I can get behind the idea that it gives a false sense of security when it comes to some types of injuries. I can get behind the idea that it shouldn't be required. But wearing a helmet is not BAD. Not by a long shot.

I have my own story to tell here.

When I was 8, I was riding my bike around the cul-de-sac where I lived. I turned into the driveway, and my bike skidded on some gravel and slid out sideways from under me. I sliced my head open at my eyebrow. Broke my glasses. If I hadn't been wearing glasses, I'd probably have lost an eye.

This was in the early 1980's, so... no helmet.

Didn't get on a bike again until last year, when we got bike sharing in my city and I was intrigued. I'm now very, very into urban cycling, and promote it vigorously to anybody who will listen. I think it's fantastic, and a wonderful replacement for being a pedestrian (I never was a driver, don't believe in driving). I think there should be more cycling and more cycling infrastructure, and I love that I live in a (relatively) cycle-friendly city. I fully believe that cycling is the greatest thing for health that there is, and I'm fully behind the statement that cars are far, far more dangerous than bicycles could ever be.

And I wear a helmet. The helmet fits right over the spot on my eyebrow that still has no hair from where the stitches went in.

So, anyway, that's my story, and that's my choice.

Katie more than 1 year ago

Missing the Point

I think the point to this speech was not that bike helmets should not be worn or that they will never ever help. But rather bicycle riding should be promoted without mentioning a helmet as a requirement in order to increase cyclists numbers because even without a helmet it is a safer and healthier mode of transport than a motor vehicle.

Jon more than 1 year ago

Stop trying to scare me

It is remarkable that the fear mongering in cycling is so common and widespread in North America. You hear " helmet saved my life almost every time a person has any light scratch on the helmet. The persistence of horror phrases like "splattering of grey matter" or how stupid you are not wearing a helmet etc. does not seem to come up in bicycle conversations anywhere else. People in Holland usually tell you how their hands got scratched when they fell off their bike.

Victoria British Columbia is a very good example, where Police Officers are constantly harrassing cyclists for not wearing helmets, while far more serious traffic violations are overlooked. Terms like "you'll be fed through a tube" and "society will suffer because of you" are terms used by the to scare cyclists. Police Officers also remarkably had a friend or family member whose head exploded like a watermelon because they fell off a bicycle without a helmet or some other horror phrase. I vote Victoria BC as the helmet zealot capitol of the world! Look at the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition's website for proof.
Their famous catch phrase "No helmet, no ride" for their organized bike rides.
This is why the province of British Columbia are one of the few places in the world who has a helmet law.; based on fear mongering.

Why is this not happening in Europe or South America where people don't wear helmets? There is a serious problem here.

ch1 more than 1 year ago

speculation

Your claim that your helmet saved your life Arnaldo, is pure speculation.
The conditions you describe in which a helmet can help prevent serious injury are far beyond a helmets limits.
EPS is far more fragile than you think.

Brad more than 1 year ago

SAVED BY A HELMET

A bike helmet saved my life coming downhill on the Brooklyn Bridge at full speed once. I broke a collarbone but was able to ride back home, where a friend drove me to the ER. My helmet had a nice dent where my temple hit the ground. I agree with Mikael on scare tactics by the "Safety industry" but if we should take anything from his talk is how inadequate and inadequately tested bike helmets actually are. I don't know how he rides, or how people in Europe ride, but when you ride in the middle of traffic at speeds that can reach 45kmh not using a helmet is just plain stupid. I'm thinking of wearing some knee and elbow pads too, actually.

Arnaldo more than 1 year ago

Bike Helmets

I live in Lexington, Ky which I find is not a "Bike Friendly" city, and have had many a scarey situation where I was glad I have a helmet on. If it doesn't save my life....I at least want something to help keep my brains from getting splattered across Joe Blow's car because he doesn't think bikes should be sharing the road with cars, trucks, buses, etc. which is how a vast majority of Kentuckians feel, whether they want to openly admit it, or not. it's almost "every man for himself" on Kentucky roads.

Jack Reed more than 1 year ago

car vs bike injury

Shaneybo,

Car accidents are responsible for 50 - 70% of all brain injuries. Cycling accidents less than 1%.

ch1 more than 1 year ago

ok for helmets if motorists wear them too inside the car

I am for it for cyclists to wear helmets only if the motorists wear them inside their cars. Make sense, no?

Shaneybo more than 1 year ago

Hey Cheryl,

More people are alive because they rode bicycles than alive because they wore helmets. The efficacy of bicycle use is clear; helmet use, not so much

Brad more than 1 year ago

How did it help?

Cheryl,

How did the helmets save your kids' lives?

ch1 more than 1 year ago

helmets

Anyone who doesn't wear a helmet needs their heads examined. Two of my three children are alive because they wore theirs. Why take a chance of scattering your grey matter on the concrete when you don't have to?

Cheryl more than 1 year ago

missing the point

I think th epoint you're missing Kerrie, is that seat belts and condoms have been proven to be effective, at least much more effective than helmet use.

And by the way, you've taught your daughter that riding a bike is dangerous, something that she will likely carry with her for the rest of her life. Thanks for that.

Brad more than 2 years ago

Screw helmets, and seatbelts! Condoms too...

I told my 5 year old that if she wanted to bike to the park, she had to wear a helmet. She didn't argue with me or decide not to go, she just put her helmet on. You see, my 5 year understands that protecting yourself is always the wiser choice.
By your logic, people shouldn't have to wear seat belts because there were far fewer vehicle fatalities 50 years ago, when seat belts weren't mandatory. Athletes should also discard their jock straps and cups, they just get in the way, and hockey and football players should definitely get rid of their helmets because there were far fewer concussions in the earlier days of the sport, when they went without head protection.
Helmets are simply common sense, but as the old saying goes, common sense isn't very common.

Kerrie Jaques more than 2 years ago

One factor everyone misses

There was a really good study that showed that drivers are less cautious if cyclists are wearing helmets, and therefore drive closer causing more accidents. Tests show that if you get in an accident, a helmet helps, but you will also get in more accidents if you wear one, so it really isn't clear which is safer.

Luke more than 2 years ago

Inconclusive

Tom LeTourneau,

The data does not explain why the injury and death rate among cyclists are so much lower in Denmark and Holland where there are virtually ZERO use of bicycle helmets.

I would suggest the studies are pretty inconclusive. The problem lies somewhere else.

These studies do not count the health benefits of a single cyclist as a result of the healthier lifestyle from cycling.

The studies also do not the measure the adverse health effects of people that get scared away from cycling because of the dangerization of cycling through helmet promotions by mostly the non-cycling corporate media; promoting the car for advertising revenue.

The studies also do not consider the safety effects of increased cycling; "safety in numbers"
which is one of the reasons that cycling is so safe in the abovementioned countries.

Thanks

ch1 more than 2 years ago

Balance

Judgement should be reserved until after a balanced assessment has been undertaken.

For a good over-all look at the issue, read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet

Brad more than 2 years ago

Safety Studies

It might be worth your reading:

http://depts.washington.edu/hiprc/practices/topic/bicycles/helmeteffect.html

Are we to believe them?

Thanks!

Tom

Tom LeTourneau more than 2 years ago

honesty

Donovan, your opinion could be respected a little more if you were just a little more honest.
I don't doubt that you have seen injured cyclists, but are you really presenting their numbers in an honest fashion? Are cyclists over-represented in your assessment, because we all know that it is simple falls while on foot, motor vehicle collisions and assaults that make up over 90% of head injury victims.
You also assume wearing helmets would have prevented the injuries you've seen, yet data from ICBC shows that despite a doubling of helmet use post law, head injury, as percentage of total injuries, did not change.
You also do not mention those conditions you do not see as a result of the benefits from fitness as a result of cycling. I've seen people die from emphysema, heart disease, complications from diabetis, cancer, and it isn't pretty either. You don't see the people who are better off from cycling without helmets, so your view is not a balanced one, wouldn't you say?
Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not arguing against helmet use, I'm arguing for effective ways in which to reduce the injuries cyclists can receive, and the helmet has proven to be a very ineffective method of injury reduction, while at the same time been shown to be a very effective way to reduce the amount of people cycling

Brad more than 2 years ago

Respectfully Disagree

I saw this video and I did my best to stay open minded while I watched and listened. I used to be very anti-helmet, justifing to myself that I never wore a helmet when I bicycled in my youth or even thought about it. That opinion changed the day I started working in Radiology at Vancouver General Hospital. Everyday in the ER I see bicyclist after bicyclist come into our department for head and spine injuries and I've witnessed the difference with patients who wear helmets and those that don't. Here in British Columbia it's a law to wear a helmet (although I never seen a police officer give out any tickets) but it's a pretty slacked law. I wear one for my safety not because of advertising, legislative law or someone trying to force me to wear one. You could say I've simply been scared straight from my work but I want to add this... what riders don't see is the burden that a brain/spine injury puts on family,friends, the health care system and the taxpayers. I am willing to admit that I don't like wearing a helmet but the idea of having a injury will make me wear a helmet ALWAYS. What I do is I make my helmet a part of me. I make my helmet part of my personality with stickers, marking etc...

This is simply my view on cycling with a helmet. I wouldn't force it on anyone else but after watching this video I thought I'd share another perspective, my perspective.

Donovan more than 2 years ago

That is...

That is, the reason I do not wear a helmet while driving or walking around is that the risk of head injury is so very small, and protective quality of the protection so questionable, the precaution isn't worth the effort

Brad more than 2 years ago

I will tell

Seat belts are different than bike helmets, but I have similar reasons for not wearing a helmet when I'm in a car, or walking around.

Brad more than 2 years ago

Do Tell

Hey I would love to hear those reasons for not wearing a helmet. Do you have similar ones for not wearing seat belts in cars.

RBarr more than 2 years ago

Money & Control

Great presentation! It's all about control and mney. The culture of fear being taught covers just about every aspect of our lives. What's the latest flu strain about to decimate the world. Quick . . . go get a flu shot/jab. Who's going to suicide out at the bus station. Maybe everyone going into a supermarket should be ogled and/or groped.And it is all for control of the people and money. It reduces the independence of culture and accustoms them to being told what to do at the same time as money being made off the endeavor. And that money always filters to the top.


It is much the same as being constantly told to "ask an expert" or "check with your doctor." We become non-thinking individuals who can only do something if we have been advised to do so by "the authorities/experts." We are to the point where this mindless advise is now parroted even by those who have no vested interest in the activity, ie. "don't forget your helmet."

Keep up your good work!!! Oh, your websites ARE THE BEST. What a wonderful discovery. I'll do my participation here in Ft. Worth, Texas and other nearby places. Long live bicycle TRANSPORTATION.

John Parsons more than 2 years ago

Poor bike handler

I ride my bike a lot - basically if I have to get someplace within a 10km radius. Always have. I wear a helmut because a/ they are available and b/ admittedly, I'm not a great bike handler and I fall off my bike more often then I like - cars travelling too close - hitting curbs - loose gravel - poor road surfaces. I agree that there is a movement against cyclists which is unfortunate and ironically self-destructive (polluting the air we need for survival). Ride a bike because you like to, because it feels good - wear a helmut if you want - or don't if you don't like 'em. Mikael is right - he's spent way too much time thinking about this.

tam more than 2 years ago

Should I wear one or not?

Helmets. I run a small tour company in which 90% of all tours are done on bicycle. Helmets are provided on demand - I keep a stck of these which I have replaced twice; not because of use but for "fashion purposes". And you know what? I've discovered that "investing" in helmets is disastrous: no one ask for them. Over 80% of our customers come from bicycle-friendly countries such as Denmark, Holland, Sweden and Western US, which tells you these people know whats best for them. In my opinion the way to avoid (or try to) accidents is by using common sense; drive safely, be polite to pedestrians and drivers. Behave. And enjoy cycling!

Jaume Saladrigas Cussons more than 2 years ago

It's a wonder...

Our great grandparents, our grandparents, our parents, and we all didn't die from not wearing helmets.

I am a non-helmet wearer, but I do suggest however, that we MUST tune and maintain our bikes regularly as things do fail and can cause injury. And yes, don't tell me to wear one for all your good reasons to do so. I have my own good reasons for doing the contrary.

ted more than 2 years ago

Wear a helmet!

But stop the promotion.

Arne more than 2 years ago

Bowl Heads

I am sixty, ride all year round in Canada (yes, through snow) and have never worn a helmet. What could be simpler than staying upright on a bike? I'd be more likely to slip and fall walking on ice than riding over it. Mountain bike with wide tires, low psi in winter. If you fall, land on hip or shoulder, in winter those parts are well padded anyway. In summer, losing skin off legs in a fall is far more likely than bonking head. But who would wear leather jeans to ride a bicycle? See, helmets are ludicrous. They are for scaredy cats or maybe unco-ordinated types who think it will make them safer. But these conformists should try a few days without one to know the sweet joy of wind blowing freely through their hair. Then, choose joy over fear.

Vanessa more than 2 years ago

Surely it's up to the individual...

In the long run, whether they are mandatory or not, it is an individual's choice to wear a helmet. Me - I certainly wouldn't venture onto London's streets where I live without it on, but on the flip side, when I was living in Holland I never bothered...it was about the perceived risk which was minimal, and I don't think there is a more lovely place to ride than Holland. That said, when I took a cycling holiday there I did a cartwheel when not yet used to the different balance of all the loaded panniers...and I'm glad I had my helmet on!

From my point of view it's a simple, relatively unintrusive piece of protection. Helmets are never going to be the solution in all situations as like nearly all protective equipment they have their limitations, but I'd certainly prefer to have one on IF I happen to hit the deck.

As for Brad's comment about people stopping cycling because of compulsory helmets - I'm not going to dispute it because I believe it's true...but for someone to decide not to cycle simply because they have to wear a helmet just seems more than a little daft.

Matt Brown more than 2 years ago

Travelled the world without one

Lots of back and forth in these comments. But the most vociferous seem to be from those advocating helmet usage, using anecdotal evidence from themselves and others they know.
So to balance out that I'll let you know that I travelled the world with my bike, just to be clear, I didn't tour between towns and cities with my life packed into panniers, I flew between big cities and then commenced to use my bike as my main form of transportation, around said city.
I didn't wear a helmet unless legally I had to. I had no accidents and I did not feel endangered on the mean streets of London, Barcelona, Rio, Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Stockholm, New York, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle to name a few and felt no need to wear a helmet in any of them, whilst on my bike, riding from A-B.
I love cycling, and I've had accidents on my bike, some my own fault, most not, and in none of them would wearing a helmet have made any difference to my injuries.

I choose to not wear a helmet.

Whether there is cycling infrastructure or not, riding a bike and using it as your main form of transportation, is not inherently a dangerous activity, and should not require any safety equipment.

I do not care whether anyone chooses to wear a helmet, I do care about them telling me that I am a fool to not wear one, or those who advocate to make it illegal not to wear one.

Cornelius B more than 2 years ago

Beg to differ...

Sorry Jean, but my opinion as to why few wear helmets in an area that is proven to be the safest in the world for cycling is that cycling is seen as a "normal" activity for transport, as "normal" as walking, much as it is in most places in the world.

The fact that an industry has convinced some people that helmets should be worn while riding a bicycle, and not while walking, shows that these people have been convinced there is a level of danger on a bike that isn't present while walking (or driving, which despite the use of crumple zones, seat belts and air bags, is the leading cause of head injury)

I'm not saying cyclists don't fall, but I am saying others do it far more frequently and there isn't the same stigma associated with it.

I'm also saying helmets have little to do with safety, it has more to with convincing people that cycling is dangerous and a helmet is the cure for that danger.

Brad more than 2 years ago

more

Because there is better cycling infrastructure there, we haven't got it here in North America.

Besides I'm human and have fallen down 3 times off bike within the last 8 yrs., 2 incidents on black ice. In quiet areas. My helmet did lightly touch the pavement in 1 of the falls. I was actually cycling ....slow! But my bike slid out from under me. Latest fall was 4 wks. ago in early morning on a path with no one around. There was black ice.

I have been cycling for the last 20 years several times per week. I am car-free, so my lifestyle is cycling. (I actually I was hit by a car as a pedestrian in front of a life insurance building as a teen..)

I'm not a perfect little robot where nothing can happen. I accept my possible weakness, not my invincibility. In fact, most experienced cyclists I know (and they are not racers), have fallen at least once as adults off their bike. These are bike tourers, commuters, etc. who cycle several times per wk.

In the women's cycling thread I gave earlier, several accidents happened when no one else was around and the cyclist wasn't going fast.

Look, why do we even have women's shelters (for domestic violence) and suicide hot lines? Why bother spending money on such services..for a minority of population who are directly affected? Because it's preventive, to save further "costs" of life, mental health to victim and to those in their family. Having these services are no guarantee of saving lives, injury, but there is some reduction.

Same for helmets ...for low impact head impact situations. No guarantees, but there are already several anecdotes in this thread of a cracked helmet that indicated an impact was enough, yet prevented much further damage.

There's no point putting down people in this thread who have fallen and damaged their helmets, yet were saved from greater injury.

And this is not fear mongering. It's just taking a small precaution. Why get bent out of shape for taking precautions?

HOnest, more family members and friends are cycling in my world....because they see just how possible it is. they wear helmets. I don't tell them. I learn later of their cycling conversion. :)

Jean more than 2 years ago

Doesn't matter

Rich, as much as your personal experience may mean to you, it doesn't necessarily mean all that much to anyone else. In other words, just because you've hit your head, that doesn't mean others have the same thing happen to them. I've put over 100,000 miles on my bicycles and never hit my head but that doesn't mean it's never going to happen to me or that others aren't going to hit theirs.

You should also consider that because a relatively fragile piece of plastic and foam were damaged in a fall, that doesn't mean your relatively more robust head would have suffered more than minor damage.

The best evidence we have of the effectiveness of helmets has been in Australia and New Zealand where governments have enforced strict helmet use. The prediced decline in head injuries as a result of imposing helmet use on its population never materialized but what did happen is people stopped cycling.

Oh yeah, and plenty of cyclists wearing helmets have ended up being vegetables. Some of them have died as well, so wake up, face reality and learn of the limitations of helmets and of the relative risk of cycling. When you learn about that, maybe you can then see that those who insist on helmet use are saying riding a bike is dangerous, when for the average cyclist, it really isn't at all

Brad more than 2 years ago

What a bunch of total idiots

Stephan Geras really? Do you ride? What control do you exert over the rest of the world that you can control what others are doing? It's super easy to crash on a bicycle. A moment of inattention (on yours or others part) and boom, you're a projectile flying through the air. How fast do you think you have to be travelling to cause a head injury?

I have crashed my head into the ground on a few occasions (I've ridden tens of thousands of miles) and given the damage to my helmet I can tell you it save me from a serious head injury.

The only people that I see riding without helmets are hipsters and fashionistas. All serious riders I know, ALL OF THEM, ride with helmets.

Should have to wear a helmet. No. I don't give a damn if you die or end up a vegetable.

But to claim they don't work is to ignore reality.

Rich more than 2 years ago

Make sure

Jean,

If you ignore facts or statistics, how are you going to know which choices are best to protect you and your loved ones?

Can you explain why people in Holland of which all of them ride without helmets are so safe?

ch1 more than 2 years ago

From regular cyclists worldwide

This is an international women's cycling forum, with a thread on helmets, several personal stories of accidents and cracked helmets, saved by the helmet. One member still is lightly head injured since she can no longer negotiate a spiral staircase.

http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=44268&highlight=helmet+injury

I no longer care about statistics, etc. to define whatever might reduce the possibility of being a burden to loved ones (and financial costs) if one becomes seriously injured in the head.

Jean more than 2 years ago

helmets

You know what's most sickening? The unmititgated belief in some technology proposed to save lives. The only real thing that saves lives is your attention! your skill! your attention! soft riding without Aggression!. Give way, be smart, be quick, be defensive!!!! Helmeuts don't prevent acts of sheer stupidity and bad judgement. Bad judgement based on priviledge, dangerous!

stephan Geras more than 2 years ago

Say no to the Helmet bullies!

Well, Peter, It's your choice what to believe, but I believe the academically rigorous research by bodies such as the British Medical Association and many others (University of London only this week too), over 'as far as I'm concerned' anecdotes, or the dubious 'statistics' bandied about by so-called research bodies funded directly or indirectly by the helmet industry.
Helmets for cyclists would cost many hundreds of lives per year in the UK (through the 30-50% drop in cycle use), and save maybe 2 or 3 lives. Helmets for vehicle occupants could save up to 2000 lives per year. That's just here in Britain.
Fortunately I live in Europe, tha land of the free, so I can make my choice without being shouted at in the street and generally hassled and nagged at for my choice, which has been my experience every time I have cycled in North America. So rude!
BTW, I myself am deeply unfashionable, definately not a hipster, or vain. I have also cycled for nearly 50 years all over the world. Yes, Ive fallen off a couple of times. No sweat.
If I had worn a helmet as a vehicle passenger though, I maybe wouldn't have had that 6 month stay in hospital after the big roll-over of 1984.

Rowan De Bonaire more than 2 years ago

Say no to the Helmet bullies!

Well, Peter, It's your choice what to believe, but I believe the academically rigorous research by bodies such as the British Medical Association and many others (University of London only this week too), over 'as far as I'm concerned' anecdotes, or the dubious 'statistics' bandied about by so-called research bodies funded directly or indirectly by the helmet industry.
Helmets for cyclists would cost many hundreds of lives per year in the UK (through the 30-50% drop in cycle use), and save maybe 2 or 3 lives. Helmets for vehicle occupants could save up to 2000 lives per year. That's just here in Britain.
Fortunately I live in Europe, tha land of the free, so I can make my choice without being shouted at in the street and generally hassled and nagged at for my choice, which has been my experience every time I have cycled in North America. So rude!
BTW, I myself am deeply unfashionable, definately not a hipster, or vain. I have also cycled for nearly 50 years all over the world. Yes, Ive fallen off a couple of times. No sweat.
If I had worn a helmet as a vehicle passenger though, I maybe wouldn't have had that 6 month stay in hospital after the big roll-over of 1984.

Rowan De Bonaire more than 2 years ago

Same as Anti-Seat Belt Chic Hipster Doofuses

The same arguments can be made against wearing seatbelts. All those folks who want to be "thrown clear" don't know any emergency room doctors. Why anyone would take safety advice from a self-styled fashionista is beyond me. I particularly love the meme that pedestrians should wear helmets because they can fall. Well, most pedestrians don't spend all of their walking time walking in streets with traffic and perched on balance beam with their wrists as their first defense against potholes, etc. Why wear pants or shoes? Apes don't wear these protective devices and they don't seem to have any issue with it?

Harry more than 2 years ago

Fashion Statement

The only reason not to wear a helmet is to be fashionable (and chic) or if you don't have one handy. But then, you have to be okay, at a minimum, with road rash on your skull as a fashion statement should you fall (and you will fall if you ride enough). Baseball players wear helmets to protect their skulls; seems easy enough for a cyclist to do the same. The arguments against are the same arguments against skiers wearing helmets, etc. Yes, some people won't be helped by it. But if you ride on a street, why would you take the risk? You will be helped in falls that are about 15 mph or less. He should speak with an emergency room doctor. His "research" is not compelling and most of it comes from "anti-helmet" "advocates".

Harry more than 2 years ago

fragile

Peter, EPS and plastic dents very easily. A dented helmet is proof of not much more than a relatively light bump. It certainly isn't proof of prevention od death.

Brad more than 2 years ago

Helmets

I personally was saved by a helmet -- I was transitioning from grass to concrete on a local multi-use trail. My bike was parallel to the concrete and the grass gave the illusion of a smooth transition (in reality there must of been a 2 inch difference). Imagine a what happens when if a biker is parallel to a typical curb and does not try to bunny hop onto it. I went down like a ton of bricks and my got my bell rung. The helmet was dented. As far as I was concerned the helmet saved my life.

Peter more than 2 years ago

Efficacy of helmets

Hunter,

It is sad that this has happened to your friend. I hope he recovers soon.

However, you cannot assume that wearing a helmet would have had a more positive outcome. Helmet efficacy against brain injury was measured and reported in may scientific and medical studies. In most cases it has worsened the outcome. The drunk driver should be the focus of the problem, not whether a helmet was worn or not. The helmet is not a substitute for road safety.

Sincerely

ch1 more than 2 years ago

Disprove by stats not exceptions

The author makes his point with statistics -- these are gleaned from the entire cast of accidents. Trying to disprove statistics from a broad range of samples by a few exceptions -- even one poor soul who needed something ghastly done to his head to survive -- only highlights this who don't understand stats. The exceptions are already accommodated by the stats, so jumping up and down about one insignificant injury saved or made worse by a helmet is trying to add weight to an otherwise equal member of the group.

It looks dumb. I'm glad a crazy thing like drilling your friend let him survive, but he's already included, why should he count more simply because you know him?

Allan more than 2 years ago

Silly

This is silly. He has a vested interest in arguing against helmets because it aids the cause of his fashion blog. A close friend of mine was hit by a drunk driver recently, while not wearing a helmet. His skull was drilled into to alleviate the pressure and is very lucky to be alive. On top of that he spent close to two weeks in an induced coma.

A helmet alone would have alleviated his injuries mitigating much of the impact.

Hunter more than 2 years ago

Helmet Design

While helmet manufacturers increase profits by selling more helmets, American football team owners (National Football League) increase their profits and reduce their competitive and tort liabilities by protecting their players. They (and the immensely powerful governing entity the "NFL") have spent great sums on helmet studies and design to protect their human investment.
Seems to me that bicycle helmet design should begin by adopting the NFL football helmet and then figuring out how to maintain the safety while increasing the comfort (bear in mind that American football players play hard for about 10 or so seconds with 30 seconds or more between such bursts of effort. If the helmet is heavy or hot, they merely take it off until the next play is about to start. In contrast, I bicycle for hours at a time, more often than not in pleasant warmish weather.
Relative to torsional head injuries, I am guessing here, but I think that professional atheletes prevent such injuries by being in superb physical condition, and I would further guess they use specific exercises to help prevent those head or neck injuries that a helmet cannot. Perhaps bicycling associations shoudl find out what those peventive excercises are, and promote them for bike riders.
For my part, there is nothing so sensual to be experienced alone than pedalling along with the wind in your hair, and I spend many ---not all--- recreational hours doing so. When I commute, I wear a helmet. It is just personal choice. Yet, if I saw further evidence of the inefficiency of helmets, I might just retire my helmet altogether and use it for potted plants.
Great discussion by the way.

Tom more than 2 years ago

auto engineering

Patrick,

Where is the engineering on a car to protect pedestrians and cyclists from impact? It only attempts to protect the occupants of vehicles, and does it very poorly. See the annual fatality numbers for auto accidents.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

impact failure

Studies have found that the helmet foam does not actually compress properly and causes severe diffuse injuries in adults and more so in children, since their skulls are softer.

The magnesium headform that they test the helmets with, is solid and does not represent an accurate deflection of the skull, so it does not decelerate the head properly, warps the skull and that causes the injury to be more severe. A helmet is supposed to absorb an impact by compressing. Studies on helmets from crashes determined that victims sustained impact brain injuries and the helmet material did not compress. Sometimes the foam actually shattered into smaller pieces.

Instead of the helmet absorbing the shock or distributing it, it bends the skull. A similar injury occurs to the rotational injury. Scary!

It concerns me that people believe so easily that a helmet simply will work properly. Many people without any knowledge of the mechanisms of brain injury promotes helmets, without even an attempt to educate themselves on the matter.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

On the head?

Simple enough, if you want to see everything in your field of view and the commute includes time riding in the dark, in a rural setting, a light on your helmet in addition to a bar mount adds immensely to the illuminated area. I have not heard of a helmet-mount light ever causing head trauma, I have heard of head trauma occurring from no helmet and from someone wearing a helmet where the angle of impact and/or force of impact only allowed the injury to be minimized. But in such cases, there's no question the rider would have been killed without the helmet. There is no way to reduce a rotational injury, wearing a helmet will not increase this, but wearing a helmet will reduce the severity and likelihood of a direct impact head trauma because modern helmets, like automobiles, are engineered to behave like an impact zone, absorbing and distributing the impact force through the helmet material.

Patrick more than 2 years ago

On the head?

I'm wondering why, if someone is worried about injuring their head, would they would strap a light on it that most certainly would contribute to such an injury.

Byron more than 2 years ago

Why the helmet stays on

I need something to strap my headlamp on for the afternoon commute; stapling or sewing a mount onto my scalp would be way more uncomfortable than my helmet.

I really dig the hairstyle I get from wearing it during warm weather.

It's aero lines actually improve my hunk-ee-ness factor, generating a rugged, yet high-tech warrior look even though I'm rocking the spandex, shprocket-style. Now in my forties, I need all the help I can get to maintain a sense of youthful beauty.

However, I don't seem to get nearly as much aggro behavior from motorists in MI as I did a few years back, it seems to be the exceptional case now. Maybe it's because of the graying of the beard, the pack implying I'm commuting to work, or maybe the machete I strapped to my top-tube...

Patrick McEnaney more than 2 years ago

Be careful

Well Ben, if I were you, I'd be careful in how you associate intelligence with helmet use. You're essentially insulting the vast majority of people who ride bicycles, and I'm sure a few of those people are quite intelligent.

Stick to the issue, and don't make derogatory personal remarks based on differences in interpretations of scientific studies

Brad more than 2 years ago

as the old saying goes....

@ Brad, so if I understand you correctly you truly believe that (in the example of my friend who was hit by a car) the windshield and bare pavement would not have done anymore damage to my friend's head? Obviously you either have such excellent cycling skills you NEVER crash, or are lucky. Either way as the old saying goes, If you aren't intelligent enough to wear a helmet in the first place, you don't need one.

ben more than 2 years ago

Fact

Here's a fact for you Ben. Six ounces of expnded polystyrene foam strapped to the top of a cyclists head hasn't been proven to do much, if anything at all. There is in fact, active scientific debate going on with no consensus, on whether helmets are useful for cyclists in general, and on whether any benefits are outweighed by their disadvantages.

Your fear of injury while riding a bicycle however, seems quite real and thus is reflective of the Ted x talk presented.

Brad more than 2 years ago

hot headed?

@ Ray, if you are more concerned with comfort that's OK, its your choice not to wear a helmet and I believe that's how it should stay. I just feel like tearing down a product that does save lives with the poor research and data presented here is an injustice. I know they can be warm at times and as far as comfort goes I usually wear a cycling cap under my helmet anyway. Another point I notice is that there are many comparisons of American urban cycling to European cycling which isn't fair in most cases. Drivers in Europe are far more accustomed to the bicycle and have very different opinions and attitudes about them being in the street. Americans can be very aggressive. So my point is just because most drivers in Europe can calmly abide by the rules and give cyclists their due the risk to the cyclist there (or lack there of) may make them feel they need not be as well protected. I realize there are exceptions to this but some times here the roads feel like a battle ground.

Cheers!

ben more than 2 years ago

Bicycle helmets: unnecessary and counterproductive

I've been riding for over 35 years as an adult. I've tried helmets, and, regardless of the design they're just too hot and uncomfortable - even during the winter months here. And I resent the "guilt trip" we're supposed to be on when we don't wear one. I do agree that moped and motorcycle users should wear helmets; it does look terribly irresponsible to see those types of motorized two wheelers driven by helmetless operators. But they're not doing any work, not exerting any effort. Helmets for bicyclists? Knock it off! The only thing it achieves is to discourage people from cycling at all - that's why the accident figures are down in the studies they cite: fewer people are cycling!

Ray Parker more than 2 years ago

Anyone have any personal experiance here?

FACT: Helmets are the only device capable of protecting you from traumatic head injuries while cycling. There is no other THING that can physically inter vein between your head and a hard surface.

I am a helmet wearing cyclist. I log over 1700 miles/year on my commute alone. I spend plenty of time in the saddle in all sorts of conditions and in doing so have had plenty of spills for any number of causes. Some of them my fault and some out of my control.

In every "endo" situation I have ever experienced the helmet has kept me out of the hospital, no doubt. I also know that the helmet has helped protect my neck from hyper-extension when falling laterally since the helmet is a few inches thick on the sides. I have fortunately not been hit by a motor vehicle, but several close friends in the cycling community have. One in particular was hit from the side, his head hit the windshield on the car and then the pavement. The force was enough on both sides that the foam compressed and broke while the outer plastic shell remained in tact keeping the helmet around his head. This helmet saved his life.

Should we enact laws requiring helmets? I don't know, but I do know that anyone who rides often or in any substantial quantity would agree that the helmet is the best and only choice for head protection. Everyone on the road needs to have a healthy respect for the next guy as well, and yes we can all be proactive in being aware of our surroundings, pick the safest route, obey traffic laws as if we are a car, but not all accidents can be prevented by the rider. When it's out of your control it's nice to know you've at least done everything to protect yourself including wearing a helmet.

ben more than 2 years ago

Physics?

Helmets do not only have to protect against blunt force injuries. They also have to protect against rotational injuries. The weight, size and surface of helmets actually increases the severity of these type of injuries. Rotational injuries are the injuries that causes concussions, comas and death. Neither bicycle- nor hockey helmets protect against these type of injuries.

Hockey enrolment numbers are dwindling among the youth in Canada. I wonder if it is because of the perception that it is a dangerous game, or maybe the fighting. There are many hockey players with concussions despite wearing helmets, which happens to be a very serious injury, especially if the injury is repeated. The helmets don't work in these cases. That's also physics.

It cycling, helmet promotions are making cycling look more dangerous than it really is. The world wide accident statistics and studies proved that. The benefits of cycling are also conveniently overlooked by the fear/helmet promoters. If you objectively want to justify helmet use, you have to prove that is has real benefits, not perceived benefits.
If you search on Wikipedia: Bicycle Helmet, as a starting point, prepare yourself for a lot of research, your opinion might just change. Things are not always as simple as they may seem.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

"Anyone who feels that they do not require a cycling helmet while cycling is absolutely correct."

Notice how he deflected cycling helmets as protection by mentioning pedestrian/motorist helmets. Does one really need to perform a study to ascertain that Styrofoam or any such product does absorb impact and as a result protect the skull? Is it not better to have Styrofoam absorb the blunt force trauma than the skull itself?

Why do hockey players wear shin pads? Has this man ever been hit in the shins by a puck? Decline in cyclists when helmets become mandatory? Sure but he forgot to mention that in areas where there was no such legislation that cycling decreased as well.

The studies are really inconclusive and to quote them one way or another. In Ontario Canada a study was done re the effects of helmet legislation for children. Deaths/serious injuries declined. The legislation was never enforced. Do less kids play hockey because helmets are mandatory. Bike NY produces the largest cycling event in the world. Helmets are mandatory yet the event is sold out. In Montreal, Velo Quebec does not have helmets as being mandatory yet none of their events are sold out. Wake up and smell the coffee. If one bangs their head on a solid object hard enough the skull will crack. That is physics.

Murray more than 2 years ago

Real safety

Buck Eichler,

I certainly appreciate what the IMBA are doing. Building those trails are hard work and it is great that we all have the opportunity and priviledge to ride on them and get fresh air, great views and excercise.

But I am against the unnecessary dangerization of cycling. Cycling is a very safe activity if done right. Forcing me to wear a helmet when riding on a safe trail or street is wrong.

The fear mongering is North America is very real. Not only in cycling, but by almost anyone selling things that is supposed to make you safer. Someone referred to it as creating the bubble wrap society. The auto industry are constantly advertising how safe
cars are with all sorts of safety ratings and devices. But in the real world the car is deadly.

I feel that choice is better and safer. Selecting a safe route to your destination or where to cross busy highway are more important that wearing the plastic hat, If you participate in
more risky activity, then you should choose what is best to make yourself safe and not because it is part of the cool or convention or some non cyclyst in the government says so. Police Officers can spend their time better focusing on dangerous behaviour on the roads as opposed to on cyclists without helmets.

None of the European countries; Denmark Holland, Germany and others have helmet laws. People don't wear them because it is unnecessary. It is also a pleasure to cycle in cities in cities in these countries. You don't have the stress on safe roads.

We should probably let go of the helmet debate, once the laws are repealed and focus our energy on getting these streets safer and our communities more livable, and enjoy the trails.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

Is anyone really buying this?

You really think that bike helmets are due to a conspiracy by auto makers to convince the public that bikes are dangerous so they will stay with cars? Listen, I am no friend to the big corporations, but that is good material for a comedy routine at best.
Besides, come to think of it, do you know who does more than anyone to help build quality mountain biking trails all over the country? Subaru. Ask any serious IMBA member.
I can't believe this guy can get a gig speaking to any audience. Perhaps he's one of the "Yes men" for the other side. A more plausible argument is that he advocates against bike safety to kill off bikers, providing even better evidence that biking is dangerous.
Sheesh.

Buck Eichler more than 2 years ago

Darwin? Extinction

Buck EIchler,
If you get injured by exposing yourself to unnecessary risk like racing down a mountain, are the rest of then obligated to pay for the choices you make? An expensive airlift to hospital? I think the Darwin Awards may be more applicable to you.

Every time you drive your car, you are exposing yourself and others to much more danger than someone on a bicycle does. Not to mention the pollution, the wars and misery the quest for oil is causing around the world. That sounds more like a plan for extinction to me.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

Darwin Awards

A good friend was clipped going downhill in the Rockies at 45 mph. His helmet was ground down to 1/8 inch thickness.
Don't wear a helmet, by all means. Select yourself out of the gene pool.
But if you're laying in a bed gurgling for 10 years, don't ask the rest of us to foot the bill.

Buck EIchler more than 2 years ago

Movement?

What movement? Profiling people is not going to change the facts.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

@CHEN

don't waste your time. proponents of this movement have a lot in common with members of the flat earth society. discussion is pointless. and clearly the author has his own agenda for $$$.

marla more than 2 years ago

Disproved

Sorry, C Chen,

All your arguments have been dismissed earlier in this blog. Feel free to look at all the evidence already presented.

Bicycle helmets do increase the severity of 3 out of 4 brain injuries, which involve rotation of the brian inside the skull. These injuries are actually very similar in car accidents. Despite all the safety devices in cars you quoted, more that 32,000 people died in car accidents last year in the U.S. and more than one million people got injured. In my opinion, these safety devices are also ineffective with such a heavy death toll, and for the record I don't discourage people from using them. The cycling fatalities are disproportionately lower at 680 something for the same year.

However, as you will see in previous comments, an increase in cycling takes cars off the road, and have a dramatic reduction in road accidents. The bicycle helmet deters people
from riding. So, by encouraging helmet use, you reduce cycling and you are making it more dangerous for me on the road, and you are poluting my fresh air. The more cyclists on the road, the safer it gets. www.ecf.com

Despite the much lower fatality rate of cyclists compared to cars, it was also referenced that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by 20:1. It reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and other alments and make people happier. Heart attacks and strokes should be of much greater concern than the innefective plastic hat, since it is aslo a major cause of death like car accidents.

I AM VERY SERIOUS ABOUT ROAD SAFETY SINCE I AM A CYCLIST AND A CYCLIST IS A VUNERABLE ROAD USER!

ch1 more than 2 years ago

auto helmets, yes!

ch1, To reduce head trauma auto manufacturers introduced lap belts, then shoulder restraints, and now air bags. In each case safety and crash survivability has gone up. So in essence a reasonable measure has been taken to mitigate head trauma in automobiles. This is why people riding bicycles, or motorcycles should wear a helmet--to mitigate head trauma. At one time helmets were not an unreasonable proposition for those in cars (take a look at stunt drivers and stock car racing). For daily drivers, wearing a helmet does not increase safety when taking into account modern active and passive restraint equipment. I'm sure a maverick like you refuses to wear a shoulder belt because it looks cooler, and if you get into an accident you want to be thrown clear of the vehicle to safety.

I'm not sure what you mean by helmets "don't work properly". A helmet, sized and worn properly, increases safety. That is indisputable regardless of the rubbish you are choose to believe. Helmets do not make you invincible.

When you make an argument, refrain from drawing a comparison (wearing a helmet in a car (?)) that is irrelevant. Do you smoke simply because your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease is higher?

C. Chen more than 2 years ago

Auto helmets

C Chen,
Automobiles put a serious drain on society. They kill and injure more people than any other activity on the planet. Why not promote how sexy it would be for motorists to wear helmets? You will help save far more lives, should you find helmets that actually work properly, as opposed to bike helmets that don't work properly, and is mandated for cyclists that get injured far less than motorists.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

...a TEDx talk, really?

This type of non-analytical thinking is a huge disservice to modern cycling in an urban setting. The current popular interest in cycling is far too reliant on fashion over functionality; the message being sent, "who cares if you die, or become a paraplegic and put a drain on society, as long as you look good doing it." There are daily examples of low impact helmets saving lives (and quality of life). Why not bring safety into the mainstream, and make it sexy to be safe. Really flimsy and silly arguments in this talk.

C Chen more than 2 years ago

cycle helmets

Mikael is right. If I had been wearing a helmet when a Schwalbe (they are very dangerous) back tyre exploded whilst descending the Grossglockner in Austria my neck would have been broken and my death would have been called an accident. Instead I was able to do a fast somersault roll and stood up without injury.
When cycling safely in New Zealand an idiot policeman arrested me for not wearing a helmet so the next day I left the country never to return. That's where people jump off high bridges with only elastic strapped to their ankles.
Cycle helmets are dangerous. I've cycled every day for 55 years without one. How much more proof is needed?

Andrew more than 2 years ago

Well said!

Well said, Kenneth. Thanks! Corporate and government crooks should not control our thinking and coerce us into buying oil refinery affluent in the name of safety.

ch1 more than 2 years ago

silly shiny hats

Mandatory Helmet wearing is another "spoke in the wheel" to make cycling even more unattractive, put in place by car-lovers and the like. In 50 years of cycling I have had many falls and find my own thick Shetland sheepskin to be sufficient protection in the winter. In Summer I wear something less protective to be able to keep the hair out of my eyes and find it pitiful to see another cyclist in my area "doing his bit" by strapping this silly piece of shiny plastic to his head with the idea he is doing "a good thing".
The shiny hat brigade is just another manifestation of "big industry" imposing rules on the wild and free in order to tie them down and make it possible to imprison anyone who is clearly not an adherent to their own illusions of how things should be.
Use the time and money spent on these silly hats to demand safe cycle tracks in your town where cars are placed where they should be, BEHIND those of us who are fit enough to transport ourselves from "A to B" and let the crippled oil junkies sit in their metal boxes where they belong.
2012 01 04 13:49 Middle European Time

Kenneth Keen more than 2 years ago

Fascist Fashionista?

Don't agree with mandatory for adults especially here in the USA. People can go broke paying for the consequences and that's their problem. Do agree with mandatory for kids, especially since seeing that other TED talk by the brain doctor lady a while back ( can somebody look her up? My daughter made it appear on my computer one day and I have no idea how to find it again).

Seems this guy is making an argument for infrastructure in a sort of strange way. I wonder how much of this has to do with fashion? If fashion is what makes more people cycle then it's just as likely to go out of fashion too some day....and we're left with nothing but a lot of blog comments to show for it. Build better infrastructure I say.

Kenner more than 2 years ago

Talk is ... safe

He talks about the bike safety issues all over the world but rides in Copenhagen where I would not hesitate riding without a helmet. As a matter of fact I bicycled for decades in Europe without one. But if you rode among the uncivilized drivers on third world roads of Boston you would reconsider. I had three accidents where I am glad the helmet was between the road and my scull.

Akos more than 2 years ago

Helmet use

I think helmets are okay...for those who want to or would feel safer wearing them. It's helmet legislation that I am opposed to, forcing me to wear its version of protection that I have not needed for over 55 years of cycling. As excellent as the helmets of the Army, NHL, and NFL are, the bicycle helmets that I have purchased and tried come nowhere near their quality.
Again, my view: It appears so many people are trying to make the crash safer instead of trying to prevent the crash in the first place...responsible auto driving, responsible bicycling, and traffic infrastructure geared for co-existence to include pedestrians.

Rudy more than 2 years ago

hm

while i agree that the nanny culture of safety gets ridiculous but this guy has some pretty flimsy arguments. I ride a bike in New York City and to think that you are better off without a helmet here is ridiculous. And the idea that if people knew how dangerous cars were, they would ride bikes more, that is plain stupid. They'd just get bigger SUVs.

BA more than 2 years ago

plenty of examples

One of the reasons I started research into bicycle helmets is the numerous examples of people receiving injuries that helmets were promoted to prevent.

Be objective and do some research. Plenty of cyclists are severely injured, and die with helmets on.

Brad more than 2 years ago

Helmets

He has some valid points. However, I can tell you many stories about people who were truly saved because of the fact that they were wearing helmets. There are also lots of stories of people who died because they were not wearing helmets. However, I have never heard of a single cyclist who died because there were wearing a helmet.

The brain is the one organ that doctors cannot fix. Isn't it worth your life the wear a helmet?

Cat more than 2 years ago

Helmets work

If helmets "dont work" tell that to the NFL, NHL and the Army.... bike helmets probably need to be improved in testing and design, but your an idiot if you say they don't work.

T.S. more than 2 years ago

Selective experience


It's not personal experience that does not matter, rather it's the selective, personal experiences that have been unusual that matters less than what has been more usual that does.

If you look at everyones experiences and not just a few experiences you can get a better idea of what may happen. The increase in helmet use has had little, if any decrease in measured head injury. Not an unusual finding when one considers the limitations of impact protection a helmet provides.

To reduce death and serious injury to cyclists, my province initiated an all ages law and helmet use doubled over night. What happened? Deaths increasedwhile cyclists who had fallen and broken their helmets claimed the helmets, "saved lives"

Brad more than 2 years ago

You don't matter, you weird helmet wearers

Some people here have contended that anecdotes are the "worst form of evidence." Okay. So basically the people sharing their stories don't matter. "Oh, so you would have died or been a vegetable had you not been wearing your helmet? Sorry, your experience is not 'evidence.' You, essentially, are irrelevant."

One person here says not wearing a helmet is "normal," and wearing one is not. Just like that. Amazing stuff. You can go and be normal. I'll happily be weird.

Another person says that anyone who has an anecdote about how wearing a helmet has saved her life can't really PROVE it without a control group. I've had two crashes in which my helmet was cracked all the way through. In my more recent crash, which I don't remember, I flew 10-15 feet and landed on my head after clipping a stone wall on the Manhattan Bridge, two thirds of the way down a long downhill. I'm sorry, but I don't need to conduct a study with a statistically relevant number of subjects and publish it in a peer-reviewed journal to know that I would have been dead or lobotomized without my helmet.

(There's also an astounding belief that helmets won't help cyclists in crashes with cars. I love this. In my first crash, I hit a car that stopped suddenly front of me, I flipped over my handlebars, did a full flip, and landed on my head and back, breaking my helmet clear through. But oh yeah, my experience is irrelevant.)

Would that we all lived in cities like Copenhagen, which I've visited and of whose citizens I'm fiendishly envious. In most American cities, we generally just don't have the culture and the infrastructure for such safe and pleasant cycling. How about we focus on and work towards THAT? Wearing a helmet or not wearing a helmet will have no impact on the larger culture or on the infrastructure either way. For that, we need hard work and dedication -- organizing, advocacy, political clout, planning.

Nick more than 2 years ago

Helmets

What Mr. Anderson said about bike helmets is just not logical.

Christopher more than 2 years ago

personal fear

Despite the personal fears that come from falling, in the end, riding a bicycle results in a longer and healthier life; something those who peddle helmets don't understand.

Selling the idea that cycling requires helmet use, works against the good cycling provides

Brad more than 2 years ago

no kidding..

I race, commute, tour and do everything but having sex on my bikes. I´ve been in three accidents in the last 11 years, only one racing (broke my collarbone, smashed my helmet but not a single scratch to my head). The other 2 were not my fault: once I was doored by an idiot who decided to leave the car and opened the passenger door at a red light when I was passing by, in the bike lane, at a leisurely pace. I was lucky that I could dodge the door but I hit the sidewalk with my front wheel, fell and rolled around a little, got some road rash and again a smashed and scratched all over helmet, but my head was fine. I would have scratched my face, probably broke my skull and whatnot. The third was a similarly typical accident, and that time my helmet, and head, actually escaped unscathed. Will I wear a helmet at all times, despite whatever this idiot and the idiots who laugh at his lame jokes may say? You betcha.

bostonut more than 2 years ago

Wearing a helmet while commuting has saved my life...

...possibly twice, though the second incident may only have permanently disabled me. The first time I was riding to work, fairly quickly as I had just hit the bottom of a small hill, when the car next to me decided to suddenly turn right into a driveway without signalling or shoulder-checking. I skidded into the car's front-right fender and flew over the hood, landing on my back and impacting the back of my head. My helmet was destroyed, but I survived without any serious injury. I wasn't riding recklessly nor taking any unreasonable risks. Sh#t happens when you ride in traffic. Why on earth wouldn't you protect yourself?

Michael Fitzpatrick more than 2 years ago

commuter cyclist etc.

I've been car-free past 30 yrs., cycling nearly last 19 yrs. So I use my bike for commuting, shopping and other times for fitness. We do go on touring trips.

I'm not a fast rider, usually under 21 km or so. After all, I'm in the city most of the time. Any city. The times I've fallen have actually when I was going slow...on black ice on the road.

So to use personal experiences, either good or positive is stone-age. Sure. Go ahead. For people who have been victims of violence (just to use another example of something that doesn't happen to everyone, but it does happen), don't ever tell them that.

I have no interest to garner more cyclists by not wearing a helmet. That's not as important as...being car-free, n'est-ce-pas? And being healthy...as the physical evidence of the benefits of long-term cycling as a lifestyle.

Meanwhile I work for an organization where it was revealed of the shocking construction cost over-runs while contractors make a ton of money by laying on construction claims for every km of a new road...widened..for cars. The same amount of money overspent could have been redirected for cycling infrastructure.

It's nearly laughable to focus on helmet debates when there are much larger, costly issues that could help cyclists of all types for the long-term. Meanwhile Toronto council has directed spending of $450,000 to remove bike lanes on Jarvis St. in downtown Toronto because of Ford's wrongheaded directive.

I was back in Toronto visiting family and friends this fall...I did live and cycle for a long time.

Jean more than 2 years ago

examples

It's a human characteristic to use examples as learning experiences even if the experience is not typical.

This is an example of the evolution, and is representative of a "stone age" mind in modern society.

All someone has to do is think of an negative experience, and they will think it will happen to them, even if it is unlikely to. This characteristic is exploited to the full by helmet advocates.

Brad more than 2 years ago

How do you ride?

I notice that in lots of the comments about being saved by helmets the writer doesn't describe what type of cyclist they are.
I find in London a large percentage of commuters seem to believe that they're participating in some kind of sport. This is SILLY. If you cycle sensibly and use your bike as a tool and not a plaything we will all benefit.
You don't need a helmet to cycle for transport.
Don't get me started on the pricks with Hi-viz, lycra, lid and then top it off with headphones!- how thick is that?
If your commute is under ten miles, then there is really no need for a sporty bike. SLOW THE COITUS DOWN.
I hate London cyclists.
London cabbies generally have better road manners than my fellow two wheelers.
My poorly constructed rant is now over.
Thanks for reading.

bensonbrighton more than 2 years ago

No need for a helmet if you ride wrecklessly.

If I was riding a bike in a race, riding down a mountain, or doing tricks on a bike I'd wear a helmet. But riding around town without speeding or acting reckless does not require a helmet. Andersen is correct, undo fear keeps people off bikes. Normal riding is a pleasure. Helmets get in the way of that pleasure. Peer pressure to wear a helmet is most unpleasant...some bike advocacy groups won't let you ride to work unless you wear a helmet. Some cyclists hate rollerbladers. Lighten up people. :)

Mike Erickson more than 2 years ago

the worst

Anecdotal evidence is quite possibly the worst form of evidence.

If you follow the stories you've been told as the primary source of learning, you're bound to be worse off than another who doesn't rely on it.

robert more than 2 years ago

I cycle, but know I am not invincible

In this whole thread, there's enough personal anecdotes about chance and helmet wearing.

One can point all the academic studies, but it's the anecdotes and cracked bike helmets for low to medium impact accidents that says it all. then having a loved one knocked out unconsious and with a a cracked helmet.

I'm not sympathetic to those who choose not to wear a helmet. I'm only sympathetic to those who live in areas that lack safe cycling infrastructure.

Jean more than 2 years ago

Two helmet stories

Interesting talk. To me it was not about helmets per se, but living in a culture of fear.

Here are my helmet stories:

1) I was on my way to work one morning, when I was hit by my next door neighbor. My helmet (cracked) left a dent in the hood of her car. Sure glad I was wearing my helmet.

2) I was in the final corners of a road race with a field sprint winding up. A crash went down at the front of the field. I had no where to go and went flipping over the downed rider in front of me onto my head. Broke my helmet, finished the race. Sure glad I was wearing it.

3) I was in a mountain bike race and came into a singletrack too hot. Went sliding off the edge and into the blackberries and large rock. Finished 2nd in the race, and noticed a large gash in my helmet from a sharp edge of the rock. Sure glad I was wearing my helmet.

4) I was riding with friends when a deer T-boned me on a descent at 37mph. Although I had serious injuries and was knocked unconscious, a serious head injury was not one of them. My helmet was broken in several pieces. Sure glad I was wearing my helmet wearing my helmet.

5) I didn't see a low branch while riding the mountain bike. Split the helmet and not my head. Sure glad I was wearing my helmet.

And one more. A good friend who'd cycled all over the world without a helmet had a mystery crash which he still doesn't remember to this day. He survived just fine, but the $150,000+ in medical bills and months off work (from having holes drilled into his skull to relieve pressure from a skull to pavement impact) wiped him out financially.

That makes 5 helmets I've cracked from direct head to car/pavement/rock/tree impacts in 20+ years (and 100,000+ miles) of riding, racing, commuting, running errands, etc. Helmets work. I choose to wear one. Make your own choices. But by all means, get on your bike.

Sandor Lengyel more than 2 years ago

real life

Jean, I agree the is lots of anecdotal evidence helmets work but thereion lies the rub; anecdotal evidence is quite possibly the worst form of evidence available.

Real world results from increased usage of helmets do not match personal testimonials, far from it. In fact it's quite hard to see any beneficial results of helmet usage.

That's not to say helmets do not work. It's simply to say there is a limit to what a helmet can do. Most people who believe in helmets simply apply an unrealistic benefit to helmets. Case in point, your point in a helmets ability to prevent concussions. Helmets cannot prevent concussions because the mechanism that causes concussion involves the brain twisting within the skull and helmets cannot stop this twisting.

People often equate helmets with seat belts and that is a false comparrison as well. Seat belts actually work much better, and in a much different way than helmets work. Saying they are the same is revealing ignorance about the mecahnical realities of both devices.

In all honesty, I don't mind too terribly much when I see people wearing helmets, but I do mind when others tell people to wear them. Such a request is stating the chances of receiving a head injury while on a bike is greater than off it, and that isn't true. I also am bothered when people say hel;mets can do things they cannot, like prevent concussions or severe injury that would result from a collision with a motor vehicle. Helmets simply are not designed for that type of impact.

Helmets can mitigate a potential injury from a simple fall by a cyclist with little, to no forward momentum; somewhat like what happens when a pedestrian trips and falls. If protection of head injury is really a concern, people should wear them 24/7, but that's not what the issue is here is it? It's about placing fear into a consumer who can be sold a solution. Helmets can be a high profit item. People can be led to believe wearing them are a solution to a problem when they are anything but

Brad more than 2 years ago

tell it in real life

Brad: Sure a helmet won't save all cyclists in accidents but already there is anecdotal evidence in some of these comments, that a mild knock/concussion onto the pavement, helmet has saved the person from head injury.

Did you read my earlier remarks several months ago: My partner was knocked to the ground unconscious over a year ago by another cyclist in Vancouver..on a quiet street turning off from the bike path. He became conscious in emergency services dept. at Vancouver General Hospital. He was unconscious for well over 40 min. or more. His helmet was cracked.

He is a well-known cycling advocate in Vancouver. He continues to wear his helmet.

I relayed the same story just this week on Copenhagenize blog. Anderson never published my comment. So much for spirited debate.

My sister, an emergency services physician in Toronto asked me what the issues about helmet wear were all about. I started to explain, then we got sidetracked by her wandering toddler.

She works in a hospital by a major highway where there have been accidents because it's fast route to Toronto. Yes, she is the physician who has seen chunks of broken skateboard in a person's leg, tells families their loved died, etc. I realized hrs. later that it wouldn't have served much purpose to explain the anti-helmet stance to a ....physician who sees accident/trauma victims. Now that she has 2 toddlers under 4 yrs. old, the anti-helmet is even more of inappropriate stance, for her..as a parent.

Wearing a helmet is like wearing car seat belt. It won't protect you for all situations, but may save you from some injuries...as I have explained about a loved one, saved from at least a bloody head (he's bald). :)

I am not concerned that I deterring others from cycling because I wear helmet. I doubt that would be the case for myself personally. Because I would like to hope that by living a car-free life for the past 30 yrs. and cycling for last 18 yrs., that is a much more stronger/influential message /personal action on my part, on soft "sellling" the benefits of cycling (health-wise, budget-wise, etc.).



Jean more than 2 years ago

Can't see...

I can't see how it is possible to promote helmet use without reducing the amount of people who cycle.

Inherent in a conclusion that a helmet should be worn is a belief that cycling will result in injury. There is always a segment of any given population that will want to avoid injury, so this segment will avoid cycling.

Because cycling, even with it's inherent risks, results in improved health and environment, helmet promotion has a net negative effect on society.

Robert more than 2 years ago

re: irresponsible

There's no doubt scientific literature falls on both sides of the issue as to whether cycle helmets are effective, in fact that point was raised early in the talk. I believe it was said that if helmets were a drug and had to be approved by a governmental agency to ensure the safety of the public, because of this split, a helmet would never be approved.

Britain's Department for Transport conducted a review of the cycle helmet debate and concluded while the side in favor of choice of use founded their position on many points, the side that favors use found their arguments almost solely on the scientific evidence yet the helmet skeptics found the scientific evidence helmet promoters relied upon was flawed in nature.

Either way, even if a helmet is effective, there has to be a relative need for a helmet's use, and it has been shown that an injury on a bike is no more likely to happen while off a bike, so an argument for helmet use on a bicycle is essentially an argument for helmet use off a bike, yet for some reason, helmet promotion focuses on the relatively small number of people riding bicycles and ignore the much larger group of injury victims that are not riding bicycles

Brad more than 2 years ago

Governmental flaw

Irresponsible,

The studies that you quoted show exactly how flawed the Govt argument is on bike helmet legislation. They study only brain injuries and deaths; thereby controlling the results of their findings.

You have to consider the impact of accident prevention road user education, safe infrasturcture to make a more informed desision about bike helmet legislation. And since the injury and death rates are so much lower in bike accidents than in automobile accidents, it proves to me that we either need to wear helmets in cars or not wear helmets on bikes. They have really painted themselves into a corner.

Two of the studies quoted indicate 900 and 1300 deaths per year for cyclists. How can you justify mandating a safety device for this type of vehicle when cars kill 36,000 to 40,000 persons a year and not mandate the safety device for that type of vehicle which supposedly reduce the deayh rate by 89%? It will save over 35,000 lives.

I also believe that they exaggerate helmet use statistics. Look around you in cities where there are helmet laws. Helmet use of 91% is a joke, even 31% is a joke is some cities.

I am going for a bike ride; the safest vehicle on the road, without a helmet, to improve my health!

ch1 more than 2 years ago

Irresponsible

A review of studies:

Helmets reduce bicycle-related head and facial injuries for bicyclists of all ages involved in all types of crashes including those involving motor vehicles. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10796827

A case control study: We conclude that bicycle safety helmets are highly effective in preventing head injury. Helmets are particularly important for children, since they suffer the majority of serious head injuries from bicycling accidents. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2716781

Another review regarding competitive cycling: The scientific evidence that bicycle helmets protect against head, brain and facial injuries has been well established by 5 well designed case-control studies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9587180

A review regarding bicycle helmet legislation: Head injuries related to bicycle use are common and can be serious. They can be prevented or reduced in severity with helmet use; however, education has resulted in modest helmet use in most developed countries. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16595420

Algeron more than 2 years ago

yes Jean...

... there always will be that careless driver in a 1-ton car-weapon and a 6 oz piece of foam strapped to the top of a head isn't going to do anything about that. Even 25% of the time

Brad more than 2 years ago

Yet I choose to look out for myself

Sure a helmet won't protect my head 100% of time, but if it means the odd situation that it will 25%, then I wear helmet. And take other precautions with car traffic. There will always be careless, dangerous drivers with 1 -ton car-weapon vs. a skinny bike.

Jean more than 2 years ago

Helmets for Motorists

For each cyclist whose life was saved by wearing a helmet, hundreds of motorists (and dozens of pedestrians) die from head injuries that could have been prevented by a mandatory helmet.

I can respect the surviving cyclist's interest in continuing to use head gear herself. But if she is really are interested in saving lives, she would insist on mandatory helmet laws for motorists and pedestrians first. That's where the big head injury numbers are.

Compassionate cyclists wishing to protect others' heads would be wise to extend their compassion to the unprotected heads of motorists first, then pedestrians. After those far greater numbers of heads were protected, consider the cyclist situation.

The Sufi parable tells of the man searching for his key under the lamp post because "that's where the light is." Let's not be misled by the corporate industrial lamp post.

Raleigh more than 2 years ago

yup,

we're a bubble-wrap society, that's for sure.

Too afraid to live, we make choices that hasten our demise

fred more than 2 years ago

Helmets and gloves

Just my personal experience from 2 bicycle accendents, one skinned my hand up so much that I wear gloves now when I ride, the other knocked me on the head enough to convince me to wear a helment.. I love the video, love the freedom to decide. We do NOT need to promote a culture of fear, but personally, I have to learn from experience..

William Wood more than 2 years ago

This guy is right! Seat belts, helmets, and reflectors... they're all nonsense.

Seat belts, helmets, and reflectors for your bike. Who needs them? The fearful need them?

No, I believe that the rational need them. There is a difference in being fearful, and acknowledging the real risks associated with an activity in which you are partaking. Cars can be dangerous, so can bikes. Hell, he's more correct than he realizes, walking can be dangerous if you are reckless while doing so.

The name of the game should not be "Pretend that if I don't wear a helmet, cycling will not be dangerous," instead, it should be "Promote cycling for all that is good about it, acknowledge the risks, and teach people how to minimize their risks." Every activity has risk associated with it, but if people can ride predictably, responsibly, and be aware of the traffic on the road with them, then they can greatly minimize their risk.

This guy is cute. I'm glad he's promoting cycling. I will even go so far as to say that I'm glad his provocative message probably makes people think about cycling, longer than a stock message would. That being said, he is clearly throwing around words like "research," "studies," and "statistics" in an effort to persuade his audience that "science" is on his side. While there may be some research to support his shock-factor message, the issue cannot be as black and white as he would have his audience to believe.

I will continue to commute on my bike, and run gnarly single tracks. I will continue to wear my helmet -- all the time. I will continue to effectively promote bike use.

Steve more than 2 years ago

$afety Fi'rst

I couldn't agree more with his views on the pro's why we shouldnt wear a bicycle helmet, probably because I haven't done any intense research such as Mkael has, but seriously this is my opinion based on my childhood memories. Wearing a helmet was not even a thought that we engaged in, simply because in my belief is that we were more worried about the gravel that was going to stick in your palms and knees. Maybe gloves and knee pads should be promoted to the extent of helmets are and our kids wouldnt be so fat thinking they might die from riding a bike instead of playing video games.

Steven.S. more than 2 years ago

infrastructure negated?

Here's a question. Would enforcing a helmet law negate any possible gain in ridership from newly built infrastructure?

The Vancouver police department set up a ticketing blitz on newly installed segregated bike lanes downtown. I can only imagine new riders who had been encouraged to ride by using these facilities wouldn't have been too pleased to receive a ticket, and would have been discouraged from riding a bicycle.

Can there ever be a 10% ride-share, if there is a mandatory helmet law? Vancouver city council had a goal of 10% ride-share by 2010 but failed badly. City council now has a new goal of 15% of trips made by bicycle by - 2040 -

It seems by placing this goal so far in the future the administration sees little hope of achieving a 10% ride share anytime soon

Brad more than 3 years ago

some comments

Sorry, being now in a city that has poorer cycling infrastructure (Calgary), forget it: one wants a helmet. Oil and gas country here out in the prairies....more aggressive drivers and rodeo yeehaw attitudes at times.

Huge parts of Canada is alot colder and longer distances to ride all over the place. The shock of a huge province (never mind a country) is real when one goes cycling longer distances.

I'm actually abit tired of this helmet debate. Not worh spending our energy when there's millions of cycling infrastructure dollars that we want reapplied more positively for our cities.

I'm speaking in this way because I did see all the issues when I was employed by an engineering firm for the construction of the Golden Ears Bridge which includes bike-ped separated lanes on both sides of the 4 lane 1 km. road bridge.

Let's get on and work on the big stuff where the big boys and girls hold the spending dollars.

Jean more than 3 years ago

Same for Japan

Yes indeed it is the same in Japan as Denmark and Holland: lots of adult and children riders, almost none in helmets. Far lower collision and fatality and injury rate, despite some pretty poor urban planning, again because the driver in such a collision with a pedestrian or cyclists is up ship's-creek.

Mr.S. more than 3 years ago

Biking in Tampa Florida

You might be right but come to Tampa Florida and see how you feel riding without a helmet. We are number one in in the U.S. in cyclist and pedestrian deaths.

qotfw more than 3 years ago

Dangerous walking

There are more head injuries that happen to people walking to the shops, no one (in their right mind) is suggesting that pedestrians should wear helmets.

Helmets also can cause head injuries and make head injuries more severe because of rotaional injuries, and the silly notion that an inch of polystyrene might protect me from a car is risible.

Rob more than 3 years ago

Goverment Failure

In countries where helmets are mandatory, there are less cycling and the roads are more dangerous. Helmet laws are a futile attempt to protect road users, and the real problems with road safety are deemed less important, or are being ignored. So, the authorities failed to protect the vulnerable road users. The helmet laws simply did not work.

The opposite is vividly demonstrated in both Denmark and Holland. If any government could do what the Danes and Dutch folks did, they would have succeeded in protecting people, have cleaner air and healthier, happier people. Anything less is a huge failure, since we are dealing with people getting injured and die as a result of these failed policies.

ch1 more than 3 years ago

If helmets are so safe?

If helmets make us much safer, then why is it that the 2 safest countries in which to ride a bicycle are The Netherlands, and Denmark. In each of these countries most people dont wear helmets. In these coiuntries they have decent bicycle infrastructure, and in these countries if a car and a bicycle collide the law says that the car driver is assumed to be liable. Just maybe, these things have more to do with safety then helmet use. The other fact is that more people by far ride bicycles in these countries. No pro compulsory helmet law people can deal with these realities.

Show me a country that has compulsory helmet laws that has a higher percentage of bike riders then Denmark, or the Netherlands, and I will belive you. Show me a compulsory helmet law country where it is safer to ride a bike then in these 2 countries and I will believe you. You can't, thought so.

James more than 3 years ago

cycling improves

If you love your brain, get out and cycle because for as much as there is concern about trauma, the far greater risk is inactivity. Cycling increases brain health, it doesn't risk it.

Can head trauma occur when riding a bicycle? Of course, just as it can when off the bicycle, so the question is, just when can this potential injury occur more often? It turns out bicycle are not particularly dangerous.

It also turns out when people do wear helmets and are involved in an incident that results in a blow to the head that helmeted cyclists fair little better than cyclists with no helmets. That's because helmets are designed to mitigate minor, and not major, injury.

Many come to the mistaken conclusion that a fall with a helmet would have been far worse than without, but there's no evidence to support this. Records are kept on treatment of injury and in areas that have switched to helmet use overnight have found no reduction in head injuries to cyclists. In fact, there often is a rise in injury that corresponds to increased helmet use. The theory is, that most people feel a helmet offers protection, so their behavior becomes less careful and this results in more accidents. Just a theory, but the bottom line is, helmets do not provide the protection many claim.

Brad more than 3 years ago

This is so wrong

I just wasted 16 minutes of my life listening to this smug poseur. I'm out there cycling in the real world and in the last 8 years I've seen 14 heads saved by helmets. Is Mr. Anderson telling us he would rather have his head slam into the pavement WITHOUT a helmet? Oh, wait, in his tidy world view something like that will never happen if you coif your hair just right and wear Euro chic clothing, as promoted on his website. This is just irresponsible all around. And for the record, I see far more people cycling now than in 1990, and the vast majority are wearing helmets---its really a non-issue unless you care more about how you look than if you survive an accident. I wish Mr. Anderson would take the time to seek out some brain injured survivers and see for himself the devastating effects of the carefree lifestyle he is promoting.

I love my brain more than 3 years ago

BHSI

I think Randy Swart (the man behind the bhsi) is one of those people Mikael warns us about - those individuals that are on a quest to convince the public that cycling is dangerous and no one should ride a bike without a helmet.

Brad more than 3 years ago

No guarantee from BHSI?

From BHSI's website:

http://www.bhsi.org/general.htm

"Why can't the crash be prevented?
In all cases it is obviously better to prevent a crash than to have one occur and be wearing a helmet. The helmet may or may not be capable of handling the energy of the crash,..."

Why should we wear helmets that we are not even sure will work? And then there are the rotational injuries, which are increased by helmets!?

ch1 more than 3 years ago

BHSI's reaction

http://www.bhsi.org/danish.htm

Ian A. more than 3 years ago

data

Although humans have not been put through direct testing in the lab to examine just how effective wearing a cycle helmet is, injuries and fatalities to humans have been recorded in large population bases where helmet use has been dramatically increased over an extremely short period of time when helmet laws have been enacted.

The results of careful study has shown the injuries and fatalities to cyclists who wear helmets have not been reduced.

If one wants to look up these studies, or examine the data more closely, cyclehelmets.org is an excellent resource.

Claims that helmets have saved lives or prevented injuries from occurring are unsubstantiated and do not line up with real world data that records such injuries that do occur and are often the result of a very fragile object breaking from an impact that would most likely have mitigated a minor injury that most likely would not have even been recorded had a helmet not been worn

Brad more than 3 years ago

Data?

Although I agree that one shouldn't make a claim that a helmet saved one's life during a fall, or prevented a head injury, I question the demand for "data" and the dismissal of anecdotes regarding helmet safety. I believe it's fairy rudimentary for an engineer to calculate the impact that destroyed a helmet, and also fairly easy to reconstruct the crash in a way that estimates the impact that a skull (instead of a helmet) would have borne. This data is all readily available, and one only need count them up and chalk up the reduction in head trauma to the benefit of helmets. No need for scare tactics, just simple math.

Full Disclosure: I recently went down on a training ride at about 20 mph. I have a deep bruise in my hip that kept me on crutches and then a cane for 2 weeks, and in the fall my head was whip sawed onto the pavement, shattering my helmet, compressing the inside, and taking out a divot the size of 2 eggs. I was dazed but never lost consciousness. Can I say that my helmet prevented a concussion, or more serious injury? Of course not. But I can say that a simple, straightforward fall, at reasonable speeds, resulted in my helmet getting busted (in a state that can be easily evaluated) is not data is like saying that the stories of pilots being saved by their parachutes is merely anecdotal.

Tony Hoffman more than 3 years ago

helmet laws

I don't favor helmet laws, because I feel that natural selection should be allowed to operate in our species, to the benefit of the whole. People without the intelligence to use the most basic of safety precautions should suffer the general penalty of reproducing less than those with that intelligence. I bear them no ill will, but I'd rather have less of them on the bike paths. I also don't wish to pay higher taxes for the medical costs of permanently injured, uninsured riders, but of course I will have to.

I have had one crash over my 40-year bike-riding career in which no reasonable person would have asked for further scientific proof that the helmet saved my life, or at the very least, prevented my suffering total paralysis. Cycling in general is not very dangerous; it doesn't have to be. Questioning the statistics just because you think they must be lies is the very definition of confirmation bias.

Person riding sedately in European countries with long cycling traditions have little need for helmets. Person riding fast in America are well-advised to wear helmets, ( but as I say, I would not compel them to do so.) The two situations are not comparable

Dave Rockell more than 3 years ago

recent death

A rider named Weylandt recently died during the Giro D'Italia race from a head injury. The crash was described as similar to Casartelli's crash in the Tour De France '95.

After the '95 death from head injury UCI tried to enforce mandatory helmets but the pro riders resisted again (why would they do that?). Now helmets are mandatory, Weylandt was wearing a helmet and Casartelli was not. Unfortunately they both ended up with fatal head injuries from "strikingly" similar crashes.

Perhaps the helmet is not currently capable of the protection many of us are looking for.

James Bikes Green more than 3 years ago

Helmets

1 - I wear a helmet - usually
2- I am essentially bald, so style and fashion don't really enter into it.
3. I have crashed with and without - still here to tell you about it.
Now
4. When the debate devolves into "Scientists all say X" it's time to revisit things. Richard Feynman, a true scientist if ever there was one, said "I define science as the belief in the ignorance of experts." Of course, not all experts are ignorant, but what he meant was KEEP YOUR MIND OPEN AND QUESTION EVERYTHING.
5. As for the statistic, e.g 658 cyclists who died were helmetless, only two who were wearing helmets died. Sorry - that proves little if anything. You know what they say, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. (I think it was Benjamin Disraeli who said it first). This is confirmation bias in the extreme, because it says nothing about other causes of death, or the ratio of helmet to non-helmet that actually gets into accidents. Maybe a small portion of riders who are reckless also happen to not wear helmets - correlation is not causation.
6. As for anecdotal evidence "My helmet saved my life" How do you know? Did you run a control experiment without a helmet in which you actually died? In a parallel universe perhaps? This makes no more sense than to say "I didn't crash today and I was not wearing a helmet - therefore if I had crashed I would have died."
7. How many of the pro-helmet types who so stridently rail against those who do not have ever a) smoked b) used any psychoactive substance, c) dived into a pool d) jaywalked e) walked home from a bar with a little bit of a buzz, etc. etc. If so, please dismount from your high horse and recognize that you are being very selective in the risk that you choose to to focus on, and that you have no concern for secondary and unintended consequences.
8. And seriously, if it were even true that helmets on cyclists would reduce cycling deaths due to head injury even by 99% - where is the logic in focusing on that risk while ignoring it in motor vehicles? By pretending cars are "safe" and bikes are "DANGEROUS" don't we, in effect, encourage riskier driving?
So by all means, wear a helmet if you choose to - it might help. But recognize that you are expecting big things from what is, physically, not much different from wearing a bag of popcorn for a hat.

Thomas L. Bowden Sr. more than 3 years ago

helmets

Do not have a law for helmets.. He is right - it is sending the wrong message. It should be a personal choice like it is for snowboarding/ skiing.

dan more than 3 years ago

Great points

This is a thoughtful and insightful talk.

I've stopped wearing one of those bike-racing helmets and have switched to a colourful NutCase helmet, which I wear mostly as a fashion accessory, a place to mount my helmet cam, and as a statement that biking can be fun and zany rather than serious.

Mikael is right, a helmet usually does nothing to help you if you are hit by a car.

ride@bikecalgary.org more than 3 years ago

common sense

You do understand, don't you Nick, that helmets have limitations? That they are not magic and can not provide protection in each and every circumstance? That impacts beyond the area of coverage and internal movement caused by an impact can't be stopped by a helmet? Do you really think it matters that even if a helmet can work perfectly in every circumstance, a neck breaks?

This topic has been looked at very closely because there were such great expectations and the results turned out to be so counter-productive, but don't let that stop you from wearing your helmet if you so wish; just don't think for a second that a helmet will do something beyond it's capabilities because that just may give you confidence to do something you would never consider doing if you weren't wearing one.

Brad more than 3 years ago

What data?

there is lots of mentions of scientific data here, but what data or statistics will outweigh the common sense of...you get him by a car and the helmet will save you. I'm sorry, but I only wear my helmet for the ONE time I need it, the one time a stupid motorist does veer off and hit me, and there is no way any scientist can make me believe that I would be better off not wearing a helmet at that point!!!
Some one show me data and I guarantee you it's biased or is looking at all the wrong things! Yeah, wearing a helmet may not help when you fall at your own accord, but I for one don't want to risk the chance of something happening without one.....because so often is the case, you can't wish you had been wearing one because by then; it's too late!
There is a claim that helmet advertising is just hurting bicycle sales....is that all this people are worried about, because I for one don't believe that an increase in helmet ads or encouraging people to wear helmets would at all stop people form riding a bike....perhaps the decrease is from something else...like the natural ebb and flow of industries?

Nick more than 3 years ago

it still hurts. a lot.

@Rob Creighton Garrison—I'm not sure it does hurt less. I've tried both. If anything, under fortunate circumstances, a helmet may allow your head to slide a bit on the road and thus reduce occurrence of abrasions. The obverse of that coin is that a helmet may actually crack and grip the road, thus twisting your head. Again, it's anecdotal and speculative.

I'd wear a helmet offroad because I prefer to have brush and small branches bounce off a shell than smack my forehead. As I think back through all the road/track accidents I've had with and without helmets I can't recall a single instance during which I got up praising the helmet or wishing I'd have been wearing one. Gloves, on the other hand (sorry), will save you from a lot of pain and healing. They're the only PPE I wouldn't ride without. Glasses would be a close second to gloves.

Todd McClafferty more than 3 years ago

I Wear A Helmet...

...because, aside from the possibility of serious head injury should I be struck or fall without one, the very basic fact is this: striking one's head on pavement HURTS; striking one's head on pavement while wearing a helmet hurts LESS.

Rob Creighton Garrison more than 3 years ago

data

Stories. They're what humans instinctively use to survive, but using stories as a learning tool is ineffective in a modern world. Anecdotal accounts are possibly the worst form of scientific evidence and most often disingenuous because they turn a blind eye to those incidents when the results that were desired didn't occur.

Entire populations have switched to helmet use with little to no change in recorded injuries because the type of injury a helmet can prevent are superficial injuries that often do not get recorded. Despite the very real emotional testimonies that a helmet saved a life, the data doesn't line up with the claims, in fact, the data often runs contrary to such claims.

Do the right thing and examine the data on the issue, discover how safe cycling is, how cycling increases lifespan while reducing the odds of receiving the most common form of brain injury (stroke), and most importantly, understand that cycle helmets are designed to mitigate minor head injury only, and not to reduce the chances of death or serious injury on a bicycle.

Don't fall for stories. Examine the data.

Brad more than 3 years ago

yes for helmets

I worked on an ambulance and in the hospital too. One fella was riding along and woke up alive in the hospital after a huge mirror from a truck whacked him on the back of his head (and what if he wasn't wearing a helmet?) Another case, a child was struck by a car and dragged underneath the chassis and the helmet not only saved his skull but lots of skin. In Amsterdam they don't wear helmets, and a response is do you wear a helmet when you go for a walk? Yet, folks who visit here from Amsterdam find our streets unsafe to ride. Seems to conclude to wear a helmets while we are here.

Tim more than 3 years ago

fearful?

Again, Chris demonstrates the fear of cycling.

There is no doubt that there is risk in cycling, just as there is risk in everything. The question is, is this fear of cycling injuries disproportionate to it's actual risk? A helmet proponent would say yes, a realist would say no.

Looking at injury treatment records show cyclists suffer head injuries at no greater rate than any one else. If is being honest while promoting helmet use, they would campaign for 24/7 use. Far more people injure their heads off a bicycle than on a bicycle.

Brad more than 3 years ago

Wear A Helmet

I've fallen and been hit by a car and almost hit by two others. I've been t-boned by another bike (his fault, not mine). However, the most damaging accident I had smashed my helmet in seven places, displaced a rib, and left some nice road rash--and I was going no more than ten miles an hour on a bike path. Some ridiculously slick silt on a slight curve tipped the bike out from under me and plopped me on my side--hard. I hit my head on a curb. I am convinced that had I not been wearing a helmet I would have been hospitalized or worse. Wear a helmet.

Chris Kmotorka more than 3 years ago

not for the thoughtful?

so, if a cyclist takes care and is thoughtful, a helmet is something that's not needed?

Brad more than 3 years ago

Helmets are for people who do not think when cycling.......

Of course, you better wear a helmet cycling 40km an hour through busy city strrets, disregarding stop sign and red lights and any suggestion of civil behaviour. Sure, if you are idiotic enough to race like an idiot i would add body armour, safety glasses and shrink wrap. Cyclist might "hate" cars - until the moment they sit in one - but being hit by a raving lunatic on a bike HURTS....!!!
Yes, and I have been cycling more than most, in case somebody was wondering........

dee more than 3 years ago

Helmets

Great, a helmet saved your life. but the world you live in didn't. Why don't people grow out of this self centered bollox. If we all owned bikes, we would save so much C02 we would't have to worry about global warming. Medical bills for social health care would be less. Bike accident vs car accident, the winner is a bike.... car accidents are far worse statistically. These comments are typical fear mongering that the presentation highlights... And for the person that say a helmet saved there life, if the helmet broke, it most certainly did not, it failed. learn engineering and you might understand.

PetrolHead more than 3 years ago

a story

I feel naked without my helmet. I have fallen twice off my bike, on black ice in Vancouver.

I honestly wish folks like Anderson weren't so rabidly anti-helmet. We adjust. Yes, helmets cost money. But it's cheaper than buying a car with seatbelt, n'est-ce pas?

My partner is a well-known cycling advocate in Vancouver. Another cyclist crashed into him. Other guy going too fast. So my partner was knocked off bike. He was unconscious for over 15-30 min. Luckily an ambulance was close by (this was during Olympics, when some vehicles were on stand-by), so paramedics got him to hospital. He became conscious when he was lying bed at the hospital.

His helmet was damaged permanently.

I didn't know about this accident until 3 hrs. later. He was hit half a km. from home!!

YOu will never convince me differently anyway...I worked in a rehabilitation hospital for the spinal cord injured in Toronto for 3 yrs. People paralyzed for life in accidents. there was an aggressive public education program for wearing seat belts in cars, different thing, but same in terms of using safety equipment.

Jean more than 3 years ago

yes...

whether or not a helmet had saved Jim's life, Jim is convinced, he would have died riding his bike without a helmet. That riding bikes without helmets is a death wish.

Brad more than 3 years ago

lids and riding

He's talking about the culture of fear and risk. Yes, you'll find individual circumstances where the helmet worked and didn't. His argument is more about how fear manipulates.

Chris Byron more than 3 years ago

Helmets

My helmet saved my life. Debate over.

Jim Good more than 3 years ago

split

It sounds like the simple fall helmets are designed for was what happened but, I'm curious Sandra. You mention your sons helmet splitting after his fall, but you didn't mention compression. Helmets can and do split, but they work via compression. Had the helmets' foam liner compressed?

I'm also fairly certain impact extended to areas beyond the coverage of the helmet. How was the rest of your sons head, arms, knees...?

Brad more than 3 years ago

rear ended by a car doing 50+ mpph

2008 - minding my own business riding my bike to work and wammo some hit and run drunk driver nails me from behind doing over 50 mph - my helmet was split in half as was my shoulder blade my neck was broken also but - my head was in one piece - 2011 best of all I can still ride my bike to work. nuf said.

rudy smith more than 3 years ago

helmet opinion

ok.. when my son was young he was not going very fast on his bike and fell to avoid a dead animal. He fell head first off his bike (had nothing to do with a car and he was on the sidewalk). This fall split his helmet abd saved his head completely. In a way this was a good even as he or his brother never argued about wearing a helmet as they saw first hand how it can protect you.

Sandra more than 3 years ago

not concussions...

While a helmet can, and is made to mitigate injury, it's important to understand both the helmets limitations, and the proper context of the chances receiving an injury.

Helmets are made for simple falls that can result in minor injuries so a helmet could be beneficial in such a situation, but a helmet cannot prevent injuries that involve impacts and forces they were never made to mitigate; the type of impacts that result in concussions, "serious" injury, and fatalities

Brad more than 3 years ago

helmet

I ride a mountain bike to work usually, and I used to not wear a helmet when I rode, figuring I was not really going that fast. About a year ago I started to train for triathlons and bike races, so my speed on the bike increased by a fair bit. A few months ago I fell off the bike going about 18 mph, got a nasty scar and a slight concussion, and some expensive bills.
If I was wearing a helmet there would not have been much of an issue. Wearing a helmet will not prevent accidents, and will not decrease the risk of having a severe accident, specially if a car is involved, but a helmet will always reduce the severity of an accident involving a head injury.

Abyrn more than 3 years ago

listen people

Mikael is right on with this. Those who come and say, "I was saved by a helmet", may have been. But realize, what was your activity, how fast, etc. I am a professional triathlete and I wear one because of the speeds I am going. I have been truly saved by one and will wear one on a regular basis. I also believe that if you are a commuter and are traveling at 12 mph, the risks have fallen. If you are going to judge and say that there are still going to be head injuries, than i ask this. When in a car, fatalities occur at a rate much higher as the speed increases. At 65 they are more than 55, and at 45 they are more than 35. So, should all highways be reduced to 25 miles per hour because that would reduce fatalities the most? Think about it.

Rick Krupa more than 3 years ago

big turnip

I wiped out 4 years ago and woke up in the hospital. I was wearing a helmet and so got away with massive bruises and concussion. I'll never know what happened -about 4 hours of my life's tape were erased -some before and some after the accident. Without the helmet, I'd be a big turnip in a hospital somewhere -had I lived. I've been hit twice by cars and continue to cycle in my advanced middle age. The definition of an accident is something you never thought would happen. A helmet is a small price to pay to protect your melon.

Bettina more than 3 years ago

get it...

If bicycle helmets worked as their proponents claim they do, there would be some evidence of this as entire populations switched to helmet use.

New Zealand enacted a strictly enforced helmet law resulting in a population that has a helmet usage rate of over 90%, yet there has been no detectable reduction to injuries to cyclists.

To ignore this evidence is to bury your head in the sand.

And once again, we can see Mikeals central thesis validated. Fear of a rare occurrence during an activity that enhances and lengthens life. Ride a bicycle, helmet or not, and you''ll live a longer, not a shorter life

Brad more than 3 years ago

Don't Get it...sorry

Facts:USA in 2008, 714 cyclists killed. Of those killed 653 (91%) were not wearing a helmet.and 58 (8%) were.

I run to people like Mikael-Colville Andersen every now and then. They're called Purists and all their "shoulds" add up to one big fantasy. Sure, it would be nice if people could go out and ride their bicycles and never fall or get hit and injure their heads, but I know, you know and the world knows that's not reality. It can be dangerous out there on the roads especially if there are cars sharing the roads with you. You can't brush that aside and say it isn't there and encourage people to go out there unprotected. That;s just foolish and deep down, I pray, Mr. Andersen knows this, but allows the foolish self to rule.. It's people like him I fear most becasue people will think he's right, when in fact he is dead wrong.

Wake up Mr. Andersen...before you cause people to hurt themselves.

Joe Mizereck more than 3 years ago

fall without helmet

I fell off my bike many times over the years, and have almost always used my hands and feet to break the fall.

ch1 more than 3 years ago

brain damage

If the front wheel is suddenly not there (pot hole, blow out, broken fork...), your head is going to hit the pavement. Beyond about 10 mph, most people don't have reaction time sufficient to get hands out for protection. The authors opinion is reckless, at best. The author has clearly never gone down hard and fast on his head. If he had, he'd be dead for lack of a helmet.

James more than 3 years ago

supporting data

This is a talk, and not a paper, however there is supporting data to the the claims and on the TedX page, some of this data is revealed in the comments section here

http://video.tedxcopenhagen.dk/video/911034/mikael-colville-andersen

also look at

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/

for more background

Brad more than 3 years ago

Where's the data?

I was extremely disappointed in this presentation. Where is the data? He states that one is "14%" more likely to suffer brain injury by wearing a helmet. Also, he states that "scientists" (like who?) are "50-50" on bicycle helmets. Says who? Without data, he is merely spouting his views. No disagreement with his info on walking/driving...he presents some data, but no info on who did the research. Where can I find the research? This would be much better if there was substance to the presentation, but, alas, there is minimal to none presented. I am disappointed.

Padraig more than 3 years ago

full circle

... and here we have come full circle, back to the central point of the TedX talk, that the culture of fear has built a perception that riding a bike results in cyclists having to re-learn the alphabet.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can be so fearful, they even fear the things that benefit them.

I've yet to see any information that shows cyclists run greater risks than other of head or brain injury or that helmets have reduced anything other than minor injury. What I have seen is that riding a bicycle without helmets enhance and lengthen the life of those riding bicycles and in fact reduce the chances of receiving he most common form of brain injury, stroke.

Stop worrying, and keep riding.

Brad more than 3 years ago

duh

"There are no case-control studies with sufficient statistical power to make any valid claims"

well then. i'm sold. there's not sufficient data. throwing my helmet in the trash.

bike racers wear them. i'm sure it's just a fashion statement with them though.

look, "science" guy, you gave nothing but - and i love this - that you don't know anymore about it then the person who knows nothing about it. there are no conclusions to be drawn so you drew them anyway. nice.

if there's a chance, ANY chance, that wearing a helmet might keep me from relearning the alphabet if i fall down go boom then i'm wearing it. i know the alphabet really really well and don't want to relearn it.

ok pumpkin?

rick more than 3 years ago

Science Fact

Helmets are explicitly NOT designed to prevent concussions or subdural haematomas.

Anyone posting their anecdote along the lines of "Ah fell offa my bike an would of died if I'd got no helmet on" is making outrageous claims:

1. You have no bleeding idea what would have happened in the situation without a helmet. Just your belief in Jesus^^^^^Helmets.

2. The actual manufacturers specifications state that the helmet is tested to reduce the acceleration forces to below 300g. This means someone of adult height falling of their bike sideways onto the ground. If you hit your head into the side of a truck or car above those speeds the helmet might (_might_!) scrub off some of the impact energy, but because the foam crushing is a non-linear response it will definitely be _less_ than the attentuation achieved below those speeds.

3. The most convincing data comes from Australia, N.Z. (and now Canada) and shows that there is no decrease in serious head injuries when helmets are widespread. There are no case-control studies with sufficient statistical power to make any valid claims. "Science Chick" needs to become "Statistics Person Without Sexist Name".

Big Science Expert more than 3 years ago

OKAY....

There are a lot of pseudo-tolerant people here -- who wear helmets, advocate their use, yet "accept" the alternative theory of not wearing one..."as long as my tax money isn't paying for your hospital care."

A few points, if you will. ONE, it's not your tax money once it lands in the hands of the government -- you've lost it, likely forever. It can either go to the care of an injured helmetless rider, a crippled child, or a mentally-bereft welfare mommy with six kids and a fat check the first of every month. The point is, YOU DON'T GET THE CHOICE! It's just like the ignorant masses who actually believe that the gas tax and various other taxes/fees tacked onto vehicle ownership COVERS THE COSTS OF ROAD MAINTENANCE! What a joke! (AND, what's even funnier, if everyone in the nation --USA-- actually paid the taxes they owed, there could be an across-the-board reduction in taxes!)

TWO, that 'culture of fear is alive and well; uneducated masses avoid risk like it carries AIDS, and a clever minority make billions off that pattern of behavior. ONE PERSON stands up and sounds authoritative, or has some credential from somewhere, and his/her words become fire and brimstone for plastic-bubble safety extremes. "YOU COULD DIE!" Guess what -- stay fit, eat well, BE SAFE, and you'll still die anyway! Bike helmets, seat belts, airbags, ABS, traction control...these are all engineering answers to social problems. How about we fix SOCIETY instead of its machines? Make consequences for carelessness DIRE, and carelessness will all but disappear.

Of course, all this involves trust at unheard-of levels from all levels of society... but that's a whole 'nother problem...............

Mark Brewster more than 3 years ago

My accident

I fell on my ride home Monday night, my chain broke, wrapped my rear wheel and locked it up, causing me to fall. If you asked me in the emergency room if I would have preferred to have a helmet on my head when I hit, or rather would I not worn one, what do rational people think? The helmet didn't cause the fall, it wasn't predictable, and wearing one didn't stop me from ridding. However I got up with only a hand injury and a knee scrape.

I'd wear a helmet if it was 100% more expensive.

Gary more than 3 years ago

proof

and so, the proof that it takes an open mind to understand that there is not a consensus that helmet promotion has reduced injuries to cyclists is displayed. One doesn't have to search too far or too long to understand this, but there are those who still believe what scientific chick has to say. Even Randy, over at the BHSI has written that there is only about a dozen people are opposed to helmet laws but since he wrote that, he's edited it and added a comment that there is a legitimate, opposing position.

I could cite a long list of those who both support and oppose helmet promotion, but this is not the forum for that and it would not change one who's mind is so set that they cannot understand that there is opposition to what they believe

Brad more than 3 years ago

On the second thought

I own two helmets and
they are put to a good use.

For my winter commute, the full face helmet insulates my head.
The regular mountain bike helmet holds my action camera so
I can shoot those cool 'point of view' video footages.

Let's use the gray matter!

Kornel Cseri more than 3 years ago

the science community

Sorry, Brad, but it's not about being smart, it's simply about being able to read and understand the literature. There are indeed some peer-reviewed publications that don't support helmet usage, but if you look closely, they are all authored by the same handful of researchers. I'm not saying the evidence does not exist, but it is absolutely wrong to suggest that the scientific community is divided. A few researchers who publish a lot (and mostly correspondences, not controlled studies) can't be labeled as "50% of the scientific community".

Scientific Chick more than 3 years ago

tOM trottier, you're wrong

Even a cursory look at the Australian and other data shows that its child cyclists that saw the biggest decline when cycle helmet laws were introduced - up to 90% in some States. Now coming up for 20 years later Australia has the highest obesity levels in the world with obesity set to overtake smoking as the #1 cause of preventable deaths.

Tony more than 3 years ago

science and rational thinking

Rational thinking and evidence is what science is, that is, applying logic to a group of facts. When this guy says science supports his conclusions, he has an obligation to state his source, otherwise he's just acting like Fox, making up stuff as he goes to provide an impression that somewhere, something other than his own imagination is the source of his conclusions. Science is not notional, its fact based. Show us the facts. Talking about whats rational without facts is just brain farts. A literary background indeed!

bike rob more than 3 years ago

Helmets good - laws bad!

I fully support wearing helmets. As well as protecting you against hard knocks, they are an excellent platform for bright reflective and fluorescent stickers (and even lights) that catch drivers' attention. Wear them into a store and the owner sees she has cycling customers.

However, adult cycling is really pretty safe - safer than walking by the road, even on a sidewalk. Helmet laws for adults really discourage biking - a host of studies in Australia and Nova Scotia have shown this. It has also been shown in many studies that there is safety in numbers - the more cyclists, the lower the accident rate. So legislating helmets for adults
actually endangers cyclists! And requiring helmets also makes short-time bike rentals like BIXI unpopular.

I do support mandatory helmets for kids. Not only are they are far more (10-20x) likely to have bike accidents, and have a more tender skull, but requiring helmets doesn't deter them! They are gung-ho, helmet or no!

tOM

tOM Trottier more than 3 years ago

Bicycle helmet safety

I've been riding for 50 years, I joined my first cycling club (Glendene CC) in England in !961. In 1967 I fractured my skull while commuting to work. As soon as helmets became availble in the early 1980's I bought the best I could afford and I've been wearing one ever since.

In the years since I've had 3 concussions while wearing the helmet in crashes that would normally in my opinion only cause road rash. After each accident I've said that I wouln't have received the concussion if I hadn't been wearing a helmet. For this reason I agree with Mr. Snderson.

Graham more than 3 years ago

wrong

Sorry scientific chick, there is significant, scientific evidence and scientific opposition to bicycle helmet promotion.

One doesn't need to be very bright to understand that. One does however, have to have an open mind to be willing to look at the issue in an unbiased manner to understand this fact.

Brad more than 3 years ago

Right and wrong

I agree with this guy's view of the culture of fear, but unfortunately, he's wrong about helmets. The scientific community as a whole is absolutely not divided on this issue and fully supports helmets. Also, he needs a crash course in statistics, and basic science. Correlation does not mean causation!

Scientific Chick more than 3 years ago

HELMETS - ON OR OFF?!!?

Very entertaining presentation. However, I have been riding road and offroad for 30+ years and have always worn a helmet...feel naked without it. It has literally saved my gray matter on two separate occassions where without one my brains may have been spilled. Where is his data on number of head injuries and the results with/without helmets?!!? He tries to peg decline in bike riding with increase in helmet promotion. PLEASE...maybe the popularity of eating potato chips increased in that period as well so maybe that is the reason...see my point? The data he presents in support of his point of view is not relevant whatsoever. I for one will continue to promote the use of helmets as the data I am aware of says you are a damn fool if you ride your bike ANYWHERE particularly in the city without one.

Lloyd more than 3 years ago

Bicycle helmet use

Mikael Colville Andersen makes some very good points, about spreading fear and making $ by some. But I think I'll continue to use a helmet on every ride...

Tomasan more than 3 years ago

I would rather see no helmet

I would rather see a person riding a bike with no helmet than an obese person driving a car. just sayin....

I would like best to see everyone riding bikes mostly with hemets without some law dictating what they should do.

I think in the long run people riding without helmets cost society less then the obese people driving cars....

Bret more than 3 years ago

helmets

I have been riding bikes for 40 years, just started wearing a helmet this past year, I feel kinda dorkey but I feel a little more protected, I think it should be your own choice to wear a helmet, and saftey nuts should keep there opions to there selves, I wear a helmet when I know I'm going on a fast ride, but if I'm just going out for a snail pace ride I won't wear one. It my choice.

edgy more than 3 years ago

Helmets

I am a very aware cyclist with thousands of miles and many many years of cycling. I wear a helmet to give me some modicum of protection from idiot drivers and pedestrians who pay zero attention to what they are doing. I have gone down several times. Twice due to a car hitting me in a bike lane or with a right of way across an intesection and once when my tire slipped on some wet grass. In all three cases the helmet saved my noggin from serious injury. Wear a helmet regardless of the law. It CAN and WILL save your brain and face from the unthinkable.

Evad the Slayer more than 3 years ago

bicycle helmets

I had just glanced at my speedo. I was doing 18 MPH when the car pulled in front me. I went down and hit my head hard on the pavement. Stunned , but ok, I was wearing my helmet. Sorreee... said the driver, as she drove off.

edgenail more than 3 years ago

Helmets

I've gone down three times, each time while wearing a helmet and each time damaging the helmet. The first time I broke my pelvis and received a concussion. I know I would have received a concussion the next two times if I didn't have a helmet on. I always wear a helmet. I don't have a problem with those who don't wear a helmet but don't expect me to pay for the hospital bill of those who choose not to wear one.

Notamiracle more than 3 years ago

helmet use.

An easy way to figure it out on a personal level.Put helmet on head.Whack head against any very hard surface.If you can manage to move at 5 mph try that also head first into hard wall. If you feel good after that get some cajones as they say and repeat sans helmet.Make your decision and live with it. Oh and Happy New Year.

cj gordon more than 3 years ago

Fight For YourFreedom

The world of cycling used to be a world of freedom when I started cycling back in 1970. In the 1980's along comes the mandatory helmet and the culture of fear. Never dreamed it would become a so called status quo where a typical cyclist now wouldn't dream of riding without a helmet. Now it's all but impossible to do any type of organized ride or join a bicycle club without being required to wear a helmet. I have freely chosen to ignore all of it and continue to ride without a helmet. Fortunately I live in a state where helmets are not mandatory if one is 18 years or older. I reject any bicycle club or any organized bicycle event imposing their rules that directly conflict with the vehicle code. Like it or not, it's legal in the State of California to ride a bicycle on any public road and not wear a helmet if one is 18 years or older. Bicycle clubs and event organizers are not legislatures and I do not and never will recognize any of their Draconian and illegal rules. They don't like it or me and I have endured their fear tactics and have had death wishes and death threats. Funny, they say helmets are supposed to save lives, yet they wish me harm or even death. I still continue to ride and my 40 year track record of 375,000 miles speaks for itself as it's possible to ride safely and not live in a culture of fear. Of all my experiences, there is one I remember. On a ride, a cyclist just runs off the road for no reason. It was probably lack of attention and or incompetence. At the lunch break later, the very cyclist who ran off the road asked me where was my helmet. I responded, "Are you the one who ran off the road for no reason" ?? How dare such an incompetent even question me. If I rode like that, I would wear a helmet and also a full suit of body armour. I am not against helmets. I do respect those who freely choose to wear one, but I demand the same respect of my free choice not to wear one. In history, freedom ultimately prevails over totalitarianism. I just hope I live long enough wear it's possible to ride a bike, not wear a helmet and be treated with respect.

Danimal more than 3 years ago

mikael

i rode without a helmet long before there were clip in pedals etc...i had a rubber net on my head, what's that worth. but i have been hit a few times in my life and i love my helmut, and again i came before the change. i lived in tokyo, worked in yokohama, shitamachi to yokohama wan and sit at my desk ready to work. now there is a lot to explain here like getting though my rodosha in kawasaki but i would never ride without a helmet. bobby

bobby lowe more than 3 years ago

Please, Save Me From Myself!

Those who want to wear a helmet, have their kids wear helmets, and advocate that others wear a helmet should continue to do just that. That's their right; it's still a (partially) free country. But none of the reasons those people give justify mandatory bicycle helmet laws. That's a completely separate question.

If you are worried about your tax dollars subsidizing the bad decisions of others, you need to go live in a country where there are no taxes. Our taxes are used daily in the billions of dollars to subsidize the worst personal decisions imaginable. Smoking, alcohol, drugs, business (does the GM bailout, among others, ring a bell?), etc., etc. In the face of these epidemic-level issues, using the possibility that some government dollars may pay someone's medical bill because there is no mandatory helmet law is laughable.

Get some perspective. Do you really mean that your tax dollars funding a bicyclist's broken leg is no problem, just not for their head injury? No? Then I guess we need mandatory leg pads. But why not just outlaw bicycle riding altogether, then there will be no bicycle injuries, subsidized or otherwise. What about helmets for cars. There are many head injuries as a result of car accidents. These would be minimized if people wore helmets while driving; and don't forget shoulder pads. Perhaps we should all just live in small protective bubbles with helpful keepers to feed and take care of us. After all, we can't possibly be intelligent enough to make decisions concerning our own welfare, we need ....you?

Yes Virginia, in a free country you have the right to make decisions even if others think they are bad decisions. That doesn't necessarily make them bad decisions, just different. Sometimes there are consequences for good and bad decisions. Sometimes you wear a helmet while riding a bike and get hit by a truck, turning your body to jelly but your head stays intact for the open coffin. Life isn't always fair. That's why I prefer living in a free country where I can enjoy my life to the fullest while I'm here.

I'm a pragmatist, not an anarchist. We should ride, drive, work and play safely. I believe I'm intelligent enough to make good decisions regarding how I do those things. Even in a diverse society of free-thinking liberty-lovers some laws are necessary. But the old maxims are still true: the government that governs best, governs least. Those willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither. Helmet laws don't rise to the level of national security issues...or do they? It's as easy for a nation to suffer death by a thousand cuts as by sudden decapitation.

Promote safety and preserve liberty. You don't need a law to do that.

Rich more than 3 years ago

Warped perspective on helmets.

When I rode motorcycles, I wore a full-face helmet religiously...even in states where it wasn't required. Without question, the helmet negatively impacted my riding experience, including compromising peripheral vision & hearing to the point that accident avoidance might have been hampered. I still judged the protection worthwhile [it wasn't a close call].

Now, I religiously wear a helmet when riding bikes, both in the city & in rural areas...& I have no idea what Andersen is talking about. The weight is negligible & ventilation is great. Peripheral vision & hearing are not obstructed at all, nor is range of head motion restricted. Occasionally, a strap will chafe & require adjustment. Not a big deal.

I wear a helmet whether I'm riding around the block or cranking centuries. So does my wife. So do our kids. No one complains...& we've been doing this since well before a close friend was run off a country road by a car [his helmet split in two...but saved his life], & before a helmetless colleague lost his life to a head injury while trail riding.

We wear helmets not because they're mandated, & not because of a "fear culture." We do it because they provide sensible protection without significantly compromising our riding experience. In our view, there's simply no reason not to.

If Andersen prefers to ride sans helmet, it's fine by me...provided he's sufficiently insured that my taxes don't subsidize his care if he's injured.

With regard to his claims that declines in biking--anywhere--are due to enforced helmet use, I just don't buy it. The most frequent rider complaint I hear is about "helmet hair," & I've never known that, or anything else about helmets, to actually keep people from riding. Show us your data, & demonstrate--if you can--that no other factors are involved, before making claims that, without proof, are irresponsible.

worksong more than 3 years ago

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