View Full Version : don't wear a helmet?

09-11-2006, 07:06 PM
There was a new study published that says 'Wearing Helmet Puts Cyclists At More Risk.' The story is below:

http://www.lse.co.uk/ShowStory.asp?story=EC1128912W&news_headline=wearing_helmet_puts_cyclists_at_more _risk_

09-11-2006, 08:27 PM
Interesting article. I wonder if he wore the same the clothes for the whole test; did he wear lycra with the helmet and more street-like clothes without it? That could also have an effect. Maybe I should just wear an old dirty jean jacket over my jersey :D.

When I was in France this summer, I noticed that almost no Brits or Europeans wore helmets. All the Americans and Aussies did. Our tour guide, who was a Brit, explained to me that he never wore a helmet on his weekend training rides with friends, but did wear one on his commute. Maybe he had it backwards. Coming from racing, I feel naked without a helmet. In a race it makes absolute sense to wear it. But maybe traffic is a different story. I'm reluctant to try it though. The first day I ride without it will probably be the first day I need it... :p

09-11-2006, 08:34 PM
OK, so this guy says vehicles won't pass as close to you if you're not wearing a helmet. Maybe this is only a UK thing, but whatever. Let's assume it's a fact.

Regardless, you're more likely to survive a head injury (or prevent life altering brain damage) by wearing one.

Interesting to note that he was hit twice by different vehicles in his study, both times wearing a helmet. He didn't bother to mention that he was probably able to write his report only because his head remained intact.

09-11-2006, 09:31 PM
the article claims that wearing a helmet poses more risk than not, based only on the fact[sic] that drivers will pass closer if you are wearing one. let's just pretend that it is a fact...still, you might want to consider the fact that if a car does hit you, a helmet can save your skull from cracking open. also, you might want to consider that if a driver makes the assumption(unconscious or not, it doesn't matter) that you are more experienced/skilled/predictable because you wear a helmet, they are alert enough to your presence that they aren't going to hit you. really, how often does someone hit a cyclist when they are fully aware of there presence? i'm not saying it doesn't happen(it's happened to me), but i wear a helmet in case someone doesn't see(notice) me.

09-12-2006, 12:19 AM
So let's see, you're 50% more likely to get hit by a car if you're wearing a helmet, and 100% more likely to die if you get hit by a car when you're not wearing a helmet.

I'll take my chances with the helmet.

09-12-2006, 10:55 AM
I prefer to wear a helmet. However, there's one thing about helmets that the manufacturer's don't really talk about. A helmet will protect you if you hit your head in a fall from your bike; however, in a collision with a car, where the speeds are greater, a helmet probably won't protect you if you hit your head on impact.

Still, I'll take my chances that I'm better off with the helmet than without.

If you'd like to read more, here's the source:


09-12-2006, 11:37 AM
I was a messenger in DC and I will say that my helmet saved my ass...well my head...nothing like slammin' your head on the road after spillin'. Yeah helmets are a good thing. You might look a little goofy, but beats lookin' messed up. L8er

09-12-2006, 01:09 PM
sounds like a typical scientist study; chock full of useless measurements and statistics that you can't apply to real world situations. he might have done himself a favor collaborating with a few experienced cyclists. coming from a cyclist who has been hit by way more than his fair share of cars (8 that I can remember) it's very hard to come up with a canned situation like having a car pass you on the left as a means of testing the validity of helmet safety.

let's use my personal experience as a small sample set to validate his study: three of my eight hits occurred in the situation that he tested. although one of those was an intentional hit. (couple of yahoos in a big truck who I'll bet didn't take my helmet into consideration when they hit me). five of the hits came from oncoming cars taking lefts in front of me or coming from a direction other than passing on the left. whoops – maybe he should change the title of that study to "Helmets could be dangerous to cyclists as cars are passing them on the left." which, I'll admit, is a situation that cyclists face more than any other. just didn't happen to be where my accidents came from.

here are the results of my study: my study started when I bought my first Giro helmet back in 1989 after receiving a stern lecture from an older roadie that I had passed at 50+ mph down highway-9 above Saratoga, CA. that same helmet saved my life a month later on that same road going around 40+ mph. first time I got hit by a car (my first hit and run too, incidentally). the first thing that touched the ground in that wreck was my helmet, and it was in tattered pieces hanging around my neck when I stopped rolling 50 yards down the road. I've had four helmets since then, and one of those saved my life as well. (yep, the yahoos in the truck)

you say that cars drive closer to me when I wear a helmet? fine. I can live with that. I can't control the cars. I can't control the idiot taxi driver that pulls in front of me in my lane on a steep down hill and then slams on his brakes because he sees a fare. I can't stop people from taking left hand turns in front of me because they think a bike couldn’t possibly be going that fast – and then slam on their brakes, stopping their car in the only path I have to go, insuring that I have absolutely No option but to fly over the hood of their car. so what's my point? my point is that cars irrational and dangerous behavior is a known quantity. (for me at least). there are a LOT of idiots in the world – they don't know or follow the rules of the road, they don't empathize in the least bit with cyclists, they don't even understand simple physics - and those idiots somehow convince the state to give them drivers licenses. I accept that I have no control over that.

but I can wear a helmet. that's something I do control.

and when I hit the ground on the other side of that idiot's car I have a much higher chance of survival with a helmet on my noggin. plus – you can only tear someone's head off when your'e alive…… "I'm sorry – DID I DISTURB YOU PUTTING YOUR MAKE-UP ON?!!!" "hey – was that AN IMPORTANT PHONE CALL?!!" etc. :)

09-12-2006, 02:59 PM
Sea poseur,

IMO, you are confirming what the article stated; helmet = 8 accidents.
Me, no helmet no accident.

09-12-2006, 03:12 PM
hahaha! that's it! maybe what I meant to say was that helmets were for idiots like me who can't avoid accidents. :)

I did neglect to mention that one of my over the hood accidents happened during a rare day when I wasn't wearing a helmet. (and I was being passed on the left at the time, hmmm). but that's still 7 to 1 in the article's favor.


09-12-2006, 04:03 PM
I know I'm going to regret it, but:

Me: one helmet, no accidents with other vehicles. I've only crashed once going over some railroad tracks, and that was mostly so I wouldn't run over my boyfriend who had crashed right in front of me. Novice mistake, I guess.

So, I guess I can say that in 500 miles in 3 months, wearing a helmet.... no accidents.... And I haven't noticed cars passing me closer since I am wearing a helmet.

Knock wood. I hope I haven't jinxed myself.

Okay. Bottom line: I'd rather be wearing a helmet when an incident occurs than not. But I also like my continued good health, and have other sports I like to compete in that I would like to continue doing. They also require a helmet, even though I'm also protected by a roll cage, race seat, and 6-point harness. :)

09-12-2006, 07:04 PM
Did anybody actually read the article?

We know it is better to wear an helmet if you crash DUH!

What the article is saying is that cars want to get you off the road when you look silly with one...

The bully high-school syndrome I ll call it.

09-13-2006, 07:54 AM
I read through the article, and it appears that this study is specific only to that region of Britain it was performed in, and specific to that researcher.

In order to be a valid, scientific study, the results have to be replicated... preferrably by a scientist in a different country.

Too many variables to say whether his results were valid! :) I'd like to see a study by independent researchers here in Portland, that would be interesting.

09-13-2006, 08:53 AM
since when do we need a scientist to figure things out for us?

09-13-2006, 03:37 PM
Well, look at it this way:

WE don't need a scientist to figure it out for US; WE need a scientist to figure it out for the rest of the world that hasn't figured it out yet.


I was just saying that I thought the article was specific to the scientist's specific physical location and should not be applied to the world at large.

My opinion.

09-13-2006, 04:46 PM
scientists are the people who did the studies showing that helmets keep you from dying when you do land on your head.

those stupid scientist fuckers!

when the science-haters here look in the mirror, do you see pat robertson and exxon valdez looking back at you? 'cause you're the mirror opposites of right-wing science hatred. ignorance is not a pretty picture wherever you fall on the political spectrum.

though it does pose an interesting question, this experiment was flawed, in my fucking-scientist opinion, in that his own behaviour probably changes when he has a helmet on. i know i feel safer and less likely to swerve out of the way of the loud engine coming up behind me when i have a helmet on. this would definitely affect the distance between him and the car, but because of him, not the car.

in addition to his behaviour, we don't know if he changed his route or other aspects of his appearance (as mentioned by another commenter) on no-helmet days. he didn't "control" for a lot of "variables" (in fucking-science talk).

anecdotally, my only serious accident happened on one of the rare occasions i forgot my helmet. while i sat in searing pain with a run-over foot on the pavement, a passerby actually scolded me about my helmetlessness, saying, "it could have been a lot worse!"

don't most accidents happen because drivers don't see bikes long enough to think, "ah, a helmet, why not run them down?"

09-13-2006, 06:12 PM
Interesting study!

But, hardly enough to conclude that helmets increase the chances of accidents.

Maybe this guy (unconsciously) rode differently when he was wearing a helmet. Maybe the drivers in his neighborhood are unusual (usually thoughtless). Maybe the bicyclists in his area are unusual (in their rate of helmet usage, or in their behaviour when helmeted or not).

Seems to me you'd want to (1) see if you got the same results in other locations, (2) see if you got the same results with other bicyclists, (3) see if its the cars driving differently or the cyclicst riding differently.

I think a better study would be to set up a video camera at a location where bicyclists are frequently passed by cars, videotape hundreds or thousands of passes, and measure cyclist-to-curb and car-to-cyclist. And do this in various locations or various countries.