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Copenhagenize: Hugging cops vid is “helmet propaganda”

Posted by on April 29th, 2009 at 9:55 am

“It’s the latest fake viral film from our car-centric Danish Road Safety Council. Slowing chipping away at Danish bike culture without worrying about facts and science.”
— Mikael Colville-Andersen, publisher of Copenhagenize.com

Mikael Colville-Andersen, proprietor of the globally renown blog Copenhagenize, says a video of Danish cops handing out hugs and helmets to bike riders is nothing but the “latest fake viral film from our car-centric Danish Road Safety Council”.

In a post on his blog this morning, Colville-Andersen calls the film “helmet propaganda” and says the motivation behind it is to sell more cars by placing a focus helmets and the dangers of cycling.

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Colville-Andersen is well-known, not just for his excellent coverage of Danish bike culture, but for his opinions about helmets being far from necessary — especially in Denmark, “the world’s safest bicycle nation”. He writes:

“It’s funny and well-made. But imagine what good they could do if they used their energy to promote cycling instead of making cycling appear dangerous here in the world’s safest bicycle nation. Instead, they are quite keen on selling cars.”

I hear where Colville-Andersen is coming from, but I when I watched the video (and decided to publish it yesterday) it was the hugs, not the helmets, that grabbed my attention.

Helmets, lights, or donuts, regardless of what’s passed out, I would still love to see the hugging spread to our shores.

What do you say Officer Pickett (he’s the Portland Police Officer who is also vice-chair of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, our official community liaison, and recent winner of the BTA’s Alice B. Toeclips Award)?

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48 Comments
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    Dan April 29, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I just don’t see the “sell more cars” angle. Clearly they are pushing helmets, but selling more cars seems like a huge leap.

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    cyclist April 29, 2009 at 10:19 am

    The only way you can make that sort of conclusion is if you’re looking to make it. There’s nothing at all that indicates the the police want to sell more cars.

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    amos April 29, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Hogwash! This may be propaganda, but it’s certainly not anti-bike!

    Come on, Officer Pickett, I need a hug!

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    Peter Noone April 29, 2009 at 10:32 am

    #1 & #2. I don’t know who’s trying to do what, but the logic of it makes sense: If people see cycling as significantly more dangerous than driving, they might opt to drive. A message that indicates that a helmet is *necessary* while cycling strongly suggests that cycling is dangerous.

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    Dave April 29, 2009 at 10:33 am

    What about getting the Portland police to every now and then position a few officers around busy bike/pedestrian routes, and give out coffee to cyclists/pedestrians who come by and just chat with them?

    If nothing else, I think that may help improve their rep with that demographic of people. It seems they get the reputation (probably some deserved and some not) of just being around to nail bikers, and having some positive interaction with them could maybe really help change that.

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    Refunk April 29, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Sigh. I get so tired of this debate:

    “…Slowly chipping away at Danish bike culture without worrying about facts and science.”
    (– Mikael Colville-Andersen – from the article)

    1. Danish (or any successful) bike culture = great, want more of it!

    2. “facts and science” = Uh-huh. What facts and science? If you don’t want to wear a helmet, that’s fine with me and Darwin. The three I’ve destroyed in the saddle & the one I wasn’t wearing last summer during a pavement inspection, which helmet’s absence is likely a contributor to stupid-making cognitive/memory/speech malfunctions which now are looking permanent, have long since convinced me of their inestimable value and you’ll have to cut out my tongue to keep me quiet about protecting the noggin. Whacks on the head (concussive injury, brain trauma) can be cumulative in nature – there’s a limit to what one can sustain over time.

    Certainly, had I not been wearing helmets for over twenty years, permanent damage would have arrived sooner in my case, ’cause I love to ride. One of the few times in memory (such as it is) that I skipped the brain-bucket, that was when I end-o’d. Don’t be me.

    Safe riding is preponderously the responsibility of the rider (Of course! We must still strive for parity with auto traffic for rights!). Physics doesn’t care about your “sense” of freedom (“Don’t need no stinkin’ helmet!”), but ever since we climbed down from trees we’ve been collectively figuring out ways to deal with physics. I like expanded foam with a microshell.

    /rant
    Jene-Paul

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    Dan April 29, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Peter Noone, then I’ll ask you what I asked Mikael on another post: would a film showing police stopping motorists and buckling them up be anti-car? I wouldn’t in any way view that as anti-car, I would view it as pro-seat belt, in exactly the same way I view this video as pro-helmet. I don’t connect an obviously pro-helmet message with being anti-bike.

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    Dan April 29, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Jene-Paul – dude! Thanks for the rant. Enjoyed it.

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    Refunk April 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Oh, yeah: Cops hugging anybody, plus giving away safety gear? What an awesome face for the State to present!

    No one was cited for helmetlessness, just offered kindness. How paranoid do ya have to be to fault this? Be grateful for good stuff, already.

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    crabbyhelmetguy April 29, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I was disappointed in the video. Hugs, fine – helmets – not so fine. For those that keep falling off their bikes and need skull buckets – great – it is your choice. If I kept falling down and hurting myself I guess I’d advocate for wearing one too… but I just don’t get it for short commutes and round town riding. Certainly bombing down a mountain or on spirited club rides they make sense… (sort of, as there is debate as to what they actually can protect you against…) And certainly full face (heavy, padded) helmets make sense on motorcycles…

    What are the odds of the injury being prevented by wearing a helmet? And why do all stories of bike / car ‘accidents’ (ha!) end with ‘the rider was / was not wearing a helmet’? As if helmet use is the problem.

    And thanks, bring on the ‘i was in a wreck and crushed my helmet’ holier than thou posts. Data sets of 1 don’t really work.

    And one time, something hit the lenses on my sunglasses. Sunglasses save eyes! Wear em! I really hope the police pass out Oakley’s next week, because you should protect your eyes. And men – one time I landed on my top tube – man am I glad I wear proper ‘protection’ on all rides now. And that time I scraped my elbow (while starting off from leaning against a wall) – full body armor for me, thank you. And it gets pretty hot with all this gear on so I’m using a Stokemonkey to pump coolant around my core. That seems to be working but I’m climbing pretty slow now. And I’ve read that repetitive use injury is a real concern so I carry around fit guru and doctor Andy Pruit on the back. He’s watching every move to be sure I don’t do something that could cause injury.

    Wear en if you want to.

    But please, STFU and RYOR.

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    Roma April 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Wow. I’m pretty cynical, and I can’t even bring myself to see a ‘pro-car’ sentiment in this video. All it did was make me smile!

    Also, I don’t think the average person’s reason for not cycling is “it’s dangerous”.

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    Dave April 29, 2009 at 11:23 am

    @Roma: actually, 50-60% of Portlanders say they don’t ride or ride less than they would otherwise because they feel it’s dangerous.

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    Roma April 29, 2009 at 11:27 am

    @Dave –

    That’s surprising! Thanks for the info. I never would have guessed it was that high.

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    Kt April 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I think that we’re not qualified to comment on the intent of this video– and here’s why:

    We’re not Danish, we don’t live the Danish culture, we don’t live in Copenhagen or even the country of Denmark, we aren’t up to speed on all their politics and legal bodies, and what looks like one thing to us will look like something else entirely to someone who lives in Copenhagen right now.

    For instance: the whole “Idaho Stop” video: how do you think the rest of the world views that? Our preoccupation with having to wear lycra and special shoes and have special equipment, or our preference for such– how do you think the “more enlightened” bike cultures view that?

    Cue virulent helmet debate…

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    KruckyBoy April 29, 2009 at 11:54 am

    crabbyhelmetguy- Here’s a stat for you- in 06 there were ~730 cycling deaths in the US. Of those riders, ~693 were not wearing helmets. In fact, between ’94 and ’06, the largest percentage of cycling deaths where a helmet was worn is 12% (2004). The average between ’94 and ’06 is 6%. That means that 94% of cycling deaths in the US over the those years were NOT wearing helmets. But you’re right. I’ll just STFU because clearly helmets don’t do sh*t.

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    buglas April 29, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I wear a helmet. Works for me, not trying to sell it to you. Consider this a disclaimer.

    I didn’t see anything pro-car in the video either, but then my cultural bias is that I ride where helmets are common. If I step back and think of this in a helmets are rare culture, I can begin to see where having an authority figure passing them out would be tantamount to saying I’m engaging in a dangerous activity.

    I once handed off a Dollar Store umbrella to a lady with a baby because just then she needed it more than I did. I would say there is more than an undertone of saying “you need this” in the video.

    Hugs from cops? I’d be happy with a nice handshake. I’d take the cup of coffee that Dave #5 suggests.

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    Refunk April 29, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Wow, Crabbyhelmetguy (@10),

    Well said, but, “STFU?” I like RYOR (Ride Yer Own Ride?) better.

    No advocate of full-body armor here, not holier than anybody, and no, helmets ain’t magic talismans. Pros wear ’em for a reason (beyond insurance regs) and all my head contact (helmeted or otherwise) has been on pavement, mostly in metro environs. But gee, I keep getting on the bike (despite continuing to “fall down and hurt myself”), so I guess I’m not convinced that riding is too dangerous.

    Your point about “data sets of 1” is fair; in fact, I’d like to see some kinda real convincing data about this, one way or the other. My previous understanding has been that it’s all pretty much anecdotal from both sides of the issue (discounting the virulent, uniform support of helmets from ER personnel) or that studies were possibly guilty of cherry-picking. Agree completely about idiotic reporting of auto/bike collision (re: mention of helmet usage).

    Ride experience is, however, a numbers game: when yer number’s up, yer gonna fall. I just like the idea of reasonable preparation – I got stuff I still wanna do. May your number never come up in the particular manner described.

    Jene-Paul

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    buglas April 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    KruckyBoy, while I’m pro-helmet, I think you might want to strap yours on for the barrage you may be getting from the misuse of statistics police hereabouts.

    What’s cause and effect in your stats? Consider that the people wearing the helmets might have enough of a sense of self preservation to make good choices about skill building and route selection to keep themselves out of accidents. If the rate of overall accidents is consistent with helmet/no helmet wearers, then survivability is worth noting.

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    KruckyBoy April 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    The stats were bare bones, and were more a reply to Crabbyhelmetguy’s STFU than anything else. I found it ironic that he was holier than though about having never crashed (and thus having his own 1:1 relationship about the effectiveness of helmets) while at the same time chastising anyone who’d ever crashed from having an opinion.

    The stats are from http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm, which is clearly pro-helemt. If you can show me how their inaccurate I’d be curious to look.

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    Blue April 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I wonder if there is some difference in culture here that causes Mikael (a Dane) to perceive this video as anti bike / pro car where a lot of us (Portlanders) view it as a positive pro helmet (and perhaps even pro bike!) video.. We have a much different relationship with / perception of local police, especially those of us who happen to bicycle.

    I am glad this video exists and hope it inspires some more positive police public relations, as Dave (comment 5) seems to hope as well.

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    Refunk April 29, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Stats Police: stationed right next to the Grammar Patrol…

    Buglas, disagree: At the moment of collision, all the “good choices about skill building and route selection” are moot to the fact of the helmet-wearers being involved – they’re there, they got there somehow. The non-wearers got to their events also – somehow. Assessment by moving forward from the moment of their collisions and subsequent injury level is the point of the measure, isn’t it?

    I would think that these particular stats (USDOT?) are skewed due to the greater number of events that occur in which wearer or non-wearer goes down but does not enter the reporting system because they brushed off the event, even though the helmet-wearers are more likely to walk away from head trauma-potential events. Thus, my own confusion about this area of stats which leads me to place the most confidence in my data set of one.

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    Dave April 29, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    There are definitely stats that point both ways – for instance, since 1991, helmet usage in the U.S. has skyrocketed, the number of people riding bicycles has dropped dramatically, and yet there are considerably more head injuries in cyclists now than there were then.

    I think when talking about bicycle safety, it’s important to realize that a helmet is a pretty minimal safety measure. Look at the Netherlands, where in some cities they have up to 50 percent of all trips by bicycle, nobody at all wears a helmet, and everyone feels perfectly safe, and their traffic stats back that up.

    I know things are different here, and so yeah, if you feel more comfortable wearing one, sure. But especially for those promoting bicycle safety in media and government, I think it needs to be clear that there are much bigger issues. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to see the promotion of helmets as the suggestion that cycling is dangerous (not to mention a potential cop-out for actually working on bicycle safety).

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    Refunk April 29, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Dave @#22,

    Yeah, what you said, particularly:

    “I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to see the promotion of helmets as the suggestion that cycling is dangerous (not to mention a potential cop-out for actually working on bicycle safety).”

    I cut an almost identical sentence from one of my posts ’cause in general I’m oververbose. I do think helmets are good, but there ARE larger issues defining safety, deserving of more collective effort from riders and fiscal & policy attention from the State, hugs or handshakes notwithstanding.

    Jene-Paul

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    crabbyhelmetguy April 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    sorry, i’m crabby about this. i think if JFK had a bike helmet on he’d still be here today – and we wouldn’t have had countless movies and books about his death… and all the conspiracy theory internet sites a rambling on and on.

    STFU – unnecessary, yes, poor form and apologies.
    RYOR – ride your own ride, yes, that is true.

    stats – accident ‘data’ that has a check box and states ‘was cyclist wearing helmet’ is about as useful as ‘was cyclist riding a bike’. what i’d like to see is ‘did helmet prevent serious head injury from occurring’ – now, how do we track that? of all those stats quoted, how many resulted in head trauma? and can we prove that the skid lid did its job? just because i’m wearing a helmet doesn’t mean that i should be in an accident, or that it will prevent any type of harm.

    and can we do some more testing than the 6′ drop test and talk about helmets being good for up to 10mph… most folks can pedal 10 mph without too much trouble… and in all those car / bike accidents my guess is that the car can deliver far more force than a cyclist going 10 mph. so a helmet is pretty useless if a cage gets you. and data does show potential for certain types of acceleration injuries due to leverage / etc. of the bucket. so if i had a deployable airbag for my head that could sense and fire depending on the circumstances – that might be more useful.

    seriously, show me some stats that NOT wearing a helmet increases the risk of dying while walking around. we’re talking about a common occurrence here – riding a bike (casually?) to work, store, school, etc. – in the more enlightened parts of the cycling world – where mode share is particularly high, helmets are not found in the numbers that they are in the US amongst the macho racer / mountain biker / freestyler / mountain dew drinking / car dodging / fixter skidding / extreme commuter cycling mindset. if we can remove this geared up image of the ‘everycyclist’ and make it simple, safe, and convenient – we’d all be safer out on the roads, with a beer cooler strapped to our heads or not.

    so, if your commute involves risk that YOU deem requires a helmet – wear one. i do, when it makes sense and i feel the need. i have gone down, while clipping in on ice (helmet didn’t do much for my cut and twisted ankle), mountain biking up a dry creekbed (should have been wearing kneepads – thats where i needed stitches – and funny – first thing the nurse asked is if i was wearing a helmet, while she scrubbed the gash in my leg!), and while riding in the snow and slop just this winter – didn’t have the skull bucket on as i slid out @ 16 mph and landed on my padded bottom and side. so i have a data set of 3 (or more, depending on how I filter the memories of MTB and other adventures)…

    but, cops giving hugs to cyclists would be great. cops giving out coupons for free ice cream or soy tofu pops while giving hugs would be great – but to codify that to be a good comrade while riding your bike you need a skull bucket… well – i just disagree. for motorcycles i think they make a ton of sense. for long rides with my buds in the mountains – yes, they make sense, for the trip to the grocer or post office or office (if done at a reasonable pace) – why can’t we just look human and wear street clothes?

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    William Bendsen April 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I’m curious about the Portland bike culture, since I live in Denmark, so I hop in here and read the articles, but mainly the comments.
    I think I can help some of you with the doubts and debates you’ve been having regarding helmets.

    The author of the blog that made the disparaging remarks about the video has also made a blog, documenting the uselessness of the bicycle helmet at
    cykelhjelm.org.
    the address
    http://www.cykelhjelm.org/2008/07/det-er-sikkert-at-cykle.html
    has one english-language statistic. Go there, read it, ask him, in comments, to translate it for the english-speaking audience, and then bask in the glory of the statistical data he has collected (and debunked).

    He has me convinced that not a single study shows that people are safer with bicycle helmets.

    I’m not good at chatting in comment-fields, but if there are any questions, you’re welcome to mail me at my name, separated by ‘.’ at gmail.com

    Thank you.

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    benschon April 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    If you have followed Copenhagenize for any length of time, you know that the blog owner is passionately anti-helmet (or anti-laws requiring helmet use, I guess is more accurate). When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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    Refunk April 29, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Hey, Crabbyhelmetguy,

    You’re alright. Hard to refute what ya say and it is a complex matter. I’m with you on the cops/ice cream thing, 100%.

    I gotta log off now and get some work done, but the dialog here often gets me on my toes (or safely on the pedals?) and I’m glad for the participation. Thanks, Jonathan, – and thanks, everyone else.

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    Dave April 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I think if you honestly think about the issues involved, having laws requiring helmet use make cycling more complicated in a lot of ways, not to mention enforcing even further the idea that cycling is dangerous. Whether you like helmets or not, I think it’s in your best interest as a cyclist to be opposed to laws requiring them.

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    christopher lee April 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    stop being such a dirty hippie! keep your patchouli-stinkin’ hands off me. no hugs.

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    Andy B from Jersey April 29, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Hmmm.. while you were all watching this video you must have missed this one.

    Bicycle helmet laws could do more harm than good
    NewScientist • Monday, April 27, 2009
    http://tinyurl.com/d3unrb

    Like the sticker I saw in a photo on this blog, “I wear this helmet so you can drive like an idiot.”

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    Erik Sandblom April 29, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I don’t think Mikael Colville-Andersen’s “selling cars” argument is far-fetched. To a typical BikePortland reader who likes cycling, helmet promotion might seem benign because we cycle anyway!

    But to someone who does not normally cycle, helmet promotion is another of all those things making cycling seem different and strange. BikePortland recently reported that 49% of trips in the USA are three miles or less, 1% of trips are taken by bike, and 80% are taken by single-occupancy cars. That’s a lot of unnecessary car trips. If just one per cent of these trips were shifted over to cycling, I bet cycling would double in the USA.

    Now assume that helmet promotion puts off 10% of car drivers from cycling. Or even one per cent. That’s a lot of car sales purely because people aren’t cycling. Fewer families will go from two cars to one or even none.

    Bikes Belong hopes all-star team can bring biking mainstream

    So not all that far-fetched.

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    Carl April 29, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Seeing people wearing helmets, the giving out of free helmets, and cops hugging people…all seem like nice things to me individually. I don’t object to them. But having lived in Copenhagen, I’m with Andersen. This video depicts condescending hogwash.

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    N.I.K. April 29, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    The notion of a safety device being distributed for free and in a loving manner, even if staged, is no more anti-bike than distributing free condoms is anti-sex. There is an intention of actual use. You’d have to be giving away flat tires or whole cars or something.

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    Donna April 29, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I’m with Kt (#14). It’s not my country or culture.

    On the other hand, it might be nice to have some friendly interactions on the bridges with our police here.

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    KWW April 30, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Plants the seed that you need a helmet for riding a bike. I consider that anti bike. Especially if you have ever seen the blogs from Denmark, no one wears a helmet there! That goes for Amsterdam too.

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    natallica April 30, 2009 at 8:17 am

    “I would still love to see the hugging spread to our shores”

    agreed! i’m living in a small city in spain, and i’ve still managed to see “free hug” brigades roaming the streets.

    also, the first (and only time) i’ve seen the cops put their hands on someone here was when i saw the cops struggling with a rather big teenage girl about a block from my house. i immediately got in the “cop watch” mode, ready to take note of anything brutal that might happen. instead, the cops physically subdued her (no tasers!) without undue force (and in a rather “hug-like” fashion) while talking to her in a normal and non-threatening tone of voice.

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    buglas April 30, 2009 at 8:31 am

    I’m liking this discussion. Some passionate views and respectful discourse.

    Ok, KruckyBoy and Refunk I have looked at the BHSI page of stats and I’m seeing a lot of cherry picking of stats but no clean connection. In my own less than rigorous reading, I found one of the source reports from the City of New York. That one declared that about 13% of the cyclists with serious injuries (not fatalities) were wearing helmets. Elsewhere in that report it estimated the rate of helmet use for street riders at about 22%. How do you explain the difference in those numbers? Does it mean that helmets kept many injuries from rising to the threshold of “serious” or does it mean that helmet wearers get into fewer accidents because helmet wearing is a by product of their sense of self preservation along with skill building, attentiveness, route selection, etc.? That’s what I’m not seeing in the stats.

    With that I, as others here have done, go back to my data point of one and rely on personal experience that shows me that helmets help.

    With the Netherlands as an example, I agree with Dave #22 that there are many things other than helmets that can be done to improve cycling safety.

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    k. April 30, 2009 at 9:10 am

    It’s all about statistics. Just about any occurrence that can be measured can be shown to have a probability function based on a Gaussian bell curve. For example, just as the effectivness of helmets in bicyle accidents can be measured, so to can the number of people in a general population who are prone to conspiracy theories. Both will fall along a standard distribution. 🙂

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    Drew April 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

    How about cops stopping cars, and giving the all the occupants helmets? After all, car crashes are a major cause of head injuries (if not the leading cause).

    But maybe that would lead people to think that driving a car is dangerous. Wouldn’t want to give that impression.

    Nobody wants to wear a helmet while driving. Heck, I would rather walk to the store. Unless I gotta wear a helmet while walking as well.

    Hugs from cops are a great idea though.

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    Dave April 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I think it’s important in all this discussion too to think about what we mean by head injuries. While helmets may indeed reduce head injuries, a better question is, do they reduce any head injuries that are really serious? I don’t think anyone will argue that a helmet will protect you from scrapes and bruises. The question is, is the decrease in mode share and the subsequent decrease in safety for all traffic when helmets are heavily promoted or mandated by law worth it for something that hasn’t been conclusively shown to reliably prevent anything but cuts and bruises? I highly prefer the Dutch mentality of making cycling as safe and convenient as possible for as many people as possible, so that as many people will do it as possible, and thus improve the safety of all road users. Focus on the actual causes of major safety concerns (collisions), and simply let people wear helmets if they want.

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    k. April 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Dave,

    I don’t understand how you can discuss so rationally and intelligently the efficacy of bike helmet promotion and bike safety philosophy and yet at the same time seemingly doubt the effectiveness of helmets in protecting people from other than ‘cuts and bruises’? The way helmets are engineered is enough to demonstrate that they are effective.

    By the way, I once crashed my bike at 32 mph while wearing a helmet and although I suffered numerous broken bones and injuries, a head injury was not among them. My helmet was crushed in a perfect example of the way they are supposed to work through energy dissipation.

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    Dave April 30, 2009 at 11:03 am

    @k: most internal brain injuries are as a result of rotational force, not as a result of direct force. Rotational force is the movement of the brain in relation to the skull. None of the helmet standards require testing to determine the helmets’ effects on rotational force in an accident. No conclusive testing has been done to show that it has a positive impact on preventing rotational injuries, and there is some concern that a helmet may in some cases have the effect of converting direct force into rotational force in a collision, turning what might have been a concussion into a haematoma.

    http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1039.html

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    Dave April 30, 2009 at 11:15 am

    …that is, what might have been simply a nasty bump or a slight fracture into a haematoma.

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    bikeR April 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Great piece. Interesting how receptive these people were being hugged by the Politi. If I already wear a helmet, can I still get a hug from Portland’s finest?

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    k. May 1, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Dave,

    It’s too bad you have to pay $31.50 to view the conclusions of that study. I’m not so unconvinced that I feel I need to do that. It should be noted that cyclehelmets.org is a helmet skeptic oriented organization.

    Also, rotational injuries are not due to “the movement of the brain in relation to the skull”, that is an inaccurate statement. Rotational injures are just that; caused by rotational forces on the head. Both rotational and linear forces can result in the movement of the brain in relation to the skull.

    The synopsis of that article states that “most severe injuries” are the result of rotational forces” not “most injuries”. There is a huge difference. That helmets do not guard against rotational injuries may be accurate. I suspect most bike accidents result in linear type forces to the head though. If you feel not wearing a helmet is in fact safer then wearing one…well good luck to you.

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    Dave May 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I don’t necessarily feel that it’s safer riding without a helmet, but I feel that helmets often provide a convenient way for officials to disregard the much more important safety issues, and that as long as we keep going along with the propaganda of helmet == safety, we are doing a disservice to all cyclists by enabling our leaders to promote an auto-centric transportation system, and then just sell us helmets and tell us to we’re fine.

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    Dave May 1, 2009 at 9:58 am

    You’re right about rotational force, I stated that badly, though it is stated correctly in the article. However, I would suggest that if you are moving forward when you crash, you are likely to have some rotational force on your head if/when you hit the ground. I think the most important bit about the article, though, is that almost all of the _permanently damaging_ head injuries are rotational injuries, which helmets do not protect against. I’m not using this as an argument that it’s safer to not wear a helmet in a strict, individual sense, but that the small benefit of mandating or heavily promoting helmets is not worth the tradeoff of making cycling seem unrealistically dangerous and therefore keeping a large number of people from doing it (which in turn, makes it more dangerous for those who do choose to ride).

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    vancoolver matthew May 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    i wear a helmet (most of the time) but won’t fault anyone for for deciding otherwise. it’s a matter of personal responsibility and choice. statistically helmets make little difference in cycling safety. most fatalities involve major organ failure and tbi’s that helmets would have little effect on due to the severe impact of the incident. yes, mandating helmet use gives a higher percived risk and does put folks off cycling in urban areas. so where does that leave us? trying to “mandate’ what we percive as saftey to others? please don’t infer any “seat belt” laws as being the same. statistically they differ greatly and should be considered seperately. hugs and a helmet handout? fantastic! what i see in the vid is a one on one, person to person, positive interaction. period. i’d like to have more of these regaurdless if they are cops or not. i like to make eye contact with motorists when cycling and smile , nod, give the peace sign (when folks yield to me or i give them the go) and i really think it’s a matter of simple respect. to recognize, yeh, we’re both on this piece of road together. and we respect each other. i think it keeps me safer. it keeps both of us safer. every officer or patrol car i see i make a point to look at them repeatedly, try to make eye contact, give a smile, nod, signal, ect. so we are both on the same page. i’ve ran lights (from barely slowing to pulling a stand and rolling thru), idaho stopped and got away with things i couldn’t in my car right in front of an officer due to being aware, respectful and kind. isn’t that what we as cyclists want? i actually get more disrespect from fellow cyclists than with cars. passing without warning, high speed riders in congested areas, riding double up on springwater and the esplanade in the oncoming lanes. with pedestrians that do the same. don’t gimme a hug just give me my lane and the respect i give you. i’m not asking too much. still using my bell. don’t ring angry!!!

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