More Safer-ism

Officer Rogers is a nice guy, but show me the stats on why we need more bicycle helmets….I’d say the evidence is flimsy at best. More importantly, convincing children that bicycling is dangerous is a poor idea in my opinion. American football and the repeated hard hits that come, while wearing a helmet I might add, with the sport is proving to be very detrimental to brain health in the studies that have been done to players brains who have donated them for science yet I fail to see anyone from the police or the medical community heading to elementary schools to advocate a cessation of activity in football leagues. Look, I wear a helmet when I am out being “extreme” or riding dangerously on my fixie through Broad Street rush hour traffic (ok that dosen’t happen but you know) but again, let’s use our resources to promote behaviors we can support like safe cycling (or a couple of sharrows) rather than send the cops out to talk about brain injuries and hand out free helmets…not my idea of good public policy.


12 thoughts on “More Safer-ism

    1. Putting on a helmet is like putting on a seatbelt. Once it’s on, you can’t tell it’s there. Now, will it protect your head in a fall? Maybe. It did not make a difference when I forgot to clip out and fell three times in less than a couple hours the other day when trying out the new shoes and pedals. I tend to watch pro freds on tv and have seen some crashes that I bet the fred was glad he was wearing a helmet. They ride extreme. Not sure what a helmet will do when a bus cuts you off and your head slams against the curb. What we don’t need is some law that mandates that we wear them. Maybe a publicity campaign to show how cool it is to wear them. I nominate Willy Jake as the spokes dork.

      1. What about a campaign to show how uncool it is to run down cyclists and pedestrians in your car. I’m pretty certain I actually saw such a thing on a GRTC bus that was a picture of a cyclist with text that said something like “Watch for me.”

  1. I’m definitely not one for helmet laws, but I can’t see the harm in giving some kids (who may or may not be able to afford the expense, and probably they’re not a priority in any case) a helmet. For one, younger riders are much more likely to be involved in accidents due to their inexperience. And they’re a lot more likely to be riding on the sidewalk, which increases the chance of a driver not seeing them. However, it’s probably a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do;, because they’re more likely to see adults riding sans helmet and wonder, why do I have to wear this thing if they don’t? And I don’t like the scare tactic about brain injuries: I’ve been in two accidents, both times wearing my helmet, both times driver was at fault. I got plenty hurt but my head was just fine, which, like you said, shows that safe cycling is a lot more than just a helmet.

  2. I’m not in favor of helmet laws for adults. However when you bust your coconut on the pavement, statistics don’t mean jack. I have bounced my head on the street a couple of times and ended up in the ER once after being struck. I always wear mine. Anyone who rides in traffic and doesn’t is a fool IMHO.

    Teaching proper safety by wearing helmets does not have to mean “convincing children that bicycling is dangerous.” But you are correct, giving kids safer places to ride with good destinations (i.e. a proper trail network) would be the best for everyone.

  3. “I have bounced my head on the street a couple of times and ended up in the ER once after being struck.”
    This kind of accident is equally if not more likely to happen when you are walking, but I bet you don’t wear your crash helmet when you are walking down the street. Perhaps that risky behavior could be ameliorated with a “more safer” attitude while walking!

    1. Please provide any actual cites the prove that more pedestrians suffer anywhere near the number of traumatic brain injuries than cyclists per capita.


        ” Mayer Hillman (1993) claims that cyclists are at lower risk of head injury than motorists, pedestrians and children at play, yet none of those groups is encouraged to wear helmets (see also Kennedy 1996). Risk theorist John Adams suggests that equitable application of the logic applied to cycle helmet promotion would result in ‘a world in which everyone is compelled to look like a Michelin man dressed as an American football player’ (1995, 146)!”

      2. Let see. Stuart claims as cites blog posts that reference 20 year-old-data from Europe created from questionable sources. That in itself is telling. However as much as I like (I read it daily), neither cite prove the claim that walkers sustain anywhere near as many brain injuries as cyclists.

        It is most likely that most cyclists’ brain injury deaths occur from car collisions (I know that to be fact but don’t have the time to properly cite it). Removing cars from the roads or separating cyclists from cars would do the most to limit brain injury deaths. However, that is not feasible. I might be more willing to not wear a helmet if I was scooting around Copenhagen. But, I am not.

        Sometimes when I am riding in areas without cars and speed is not an issue (like cruising the C & O trail), I may not wear my helmet. On the streets of Richmond, you are asking for it if you don’t.

        Children are more susceptible to brain injury and helmets do much to protect their heads. The act of making sure kids wear helmets is not fear mongering anymore than insisting kids wearing shin guards or cups when playing soccer. Saving children from a lifetime of debilitating injury or death accident during a healthy activity is just smart.

      3. Chris, you cite no sources at all nor do you explain why mine are questionable or if there is newer data to analyze. You “know” that car crashes cause the most brain injuries among cyclists, yet you do not seem to know that bicycle helmets are not designed to protect you in a collision with a car in the first place, as a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet would. Bike helmets are designed to protect a human head falling from a bicycle, not absorbing the impact of a vehicle going faster than about 12mph.

        I’m sorry my citations didn’t meet your standard of proof, and I welcome you to provide some of your own to continue our discussion. I’m always looking for new information to help me change my mind about the world.

  4. And I agree, telling children they have to wear helmets while riding a bike constructs the activity as dangerous. Children under 5 or 6 should wear one because they ARE more likely to sustain head injuries, this is proven. But giving a bunch of 10 year olds who are unlikely to sustain a brain injury from cycling a human brain to hold sends a pretty gruesome message that “this could be you if you ride a bike!” Why not hand them a 50-pound sack of human fat and tell them “this could be you if you DON’T ride a bike!”

    BTW, the leading cause of death of children- by far- is car crashes but we don’t tell children to wear helmets when they ride in cars. For that matter, about a quarter of all car crash deaths result from head trauma, that’s like 8 to 10,000 Americans a year who may have been saved by wearing a motoring helmet. So why don’t we instruct Americans to wear their motoring helmets when riding in cars? Couldn’t they be “more safer?”

    The American safety culture is definitely a societal construction based in fear instead of logic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s