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Thread: The Bike Helmet Debate Thread (formerly part of Bike Question)

  1. #26
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    To moderator and martini:

    "WIth the voracity that doinky is defending his position, you'd think that he's got a personal gain to come from this study"

    I viewed this as a personal insult and responded in kind. I think it appropriate to not be the first one to drag a discussion into the mud; but I find it curious that nobody said anything to martini about this quote.
    To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't notice that statement when I read Martini's post. I can see how you might be offended by it, and I agree it isn't a really a fair thing to say, but I don't think it justifies name-calling. You can leave someone to "wallow in the mire of their own ignorance" (nice one btw), but calling them names is a bit much.

    Anyhoo, I think the debate is just about done - it's a shame because it really is an interesting topic.

    Oh, and the whole thing really is off-topic to Michaelskis original thread.

  2. #27
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Doinky

    I suggest to you sir that your tin-foil-hat brigade of free range noggins and their para-dig-um does not include this wonder of technology:



    Who's saying "That's ridiculous." now?

  3. #28
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    What do you do to provide for safety for your self, yet still be able to maintain a professional business appearance when you ride your bike to work?
    I'll tell you what I did to make myself safer on a bike my fellow Red Wing fan:

    I moved the he!! out of Michigan! (sorry michiganders)

  4. #29
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Here is a quote from 2002 regarding auto accidents and injuries.

    "The frequency of auto accidents since 1980 has dropped by 16 percent. During the same time period, however, the frequency of auto injury claims rose 26 percent. These findings are revealed in a study just released by the Insurance Research Council (IRC)."

    Using the logic from the "helmets study," one could use the above quote to prove that seat belts and air bags do not increase automotive safety.

    The statistics do not support the conclusion that helmets don't work. They can provide a hypothesis for further study and targeted statistical work. But it is a hypothesis to be proved or not proved, not the conclusion.

  5. #30

    What's proven and what is not

    Quote Originally posted by Wulf9
    Here is a quote from 2002 regarding auto accidents and injuries.

    The statistics do not support the conclusion that helmets don't work. They can provide a hypothesis for further study and targeted statistical work. But it is a hypothesis to be proved or not proved, not the conclusion.
    Wulf,

    First of all, taking just this one population study in isolation shows that, as you say, further study is needed. However, I don't notice you (or anybody else) telling the helmet promoters that their claims are unproven.

    Second, other studies (populational) have shown that there is no significant difference between the bicycle and pedestrian head-injury trendlines over the last 10-20 years. Think about that for a minute before you respond.

  6. #31
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Note that I didn't conclude in my post that helmets do work (although I think they do). I merely pointed out that the statistics used to draw the helmet conclusion were not based on "helmet" studies. There is also no correlation between the bike and pedestrian studies - just an imputed conclusion.

    I just brought up the auto comparison (the first auto accident study that popped up on google) to show that auto stats show a similar conclusion - more injuries reported even though accidents had decreased. One could not use that to conclude that seatbelts don't work unless one does a seatbelt study.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    MOD HAT ON - The Bike Question thread was split from this thread. Go there to debate that question.

  8. #33
    I recently bought my first bike helmet. I bought it not because I am worried about my skills as a rider, but because so many drivers don’t “share the road” with bicyclists. It seems that doinky is obsessed with this one study and is just looking for an argument. Did that study take into account the massive amount of suburban growth since the early 1990s? There are so many suburbs without sidewalks or other bicycling facilities so my guess is that this accounts for a lot of the additional head injuries. Also parents baby their children so much more than they used to. When I was a kid if I fell off my bike my mom would look at the injury, wash it up, and send me back out (thus it would never have been reported). If a kid is hurt in a bike accident nowadays it is probably more likely that the parents would take them to the emergency room or the doctor’s office to have it examined, plus in our lawsuit-crazy society these parents need verifiable record to prepare for their lawsuits against the automobile driver. Also the study doesn’t take into account the people who get into accidents and because they are wearing a helmet don’t get a head injury and thus do not report it.

    The article quotes Philip Dunham as saying: "It didn't cross my mind that this could happen, I definitely felt safe. I wouldn't do something like that without a helmet." Unfortunately the helmet he was wearing did not protect his neck; he was paralyzed from the neck down. Maybe this is the problem, people riding beyond their abilities. Football players wear helmets yet every once in a while they will take a hit that paralyzes them. Helmets do not guarantee that you will emerge from an accident unscathed. How this guy could somehow think that a helmet would make him invincible is beyond me. Maybe in that case it is more of a stupidity issue than a safety one. When I ride, even with a helmet I know that there is always a risk involved. I am not foolish enough to think that if I flip over the handlebars and hit my head on the pavement that there is no risk of neck or spine injury just because I have a helmet on.

    A simple way too look at this is if you are in a bike accident, what would you rather have hit the concrete your skull or a helmet?
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  9. #34

    Don't know if this is even worth it, but

    [QUOTE=Repo ManIt seems that doinky is obsessed with this one study and is just looking for an argument. Did that study take into account the massive amount of suburban growth since the early 1990s?[/QUOTE]

    You are incorrect on both counts.

    1. This populational result (lack of observed benefit from massive increases in helmet usage) has been recorded in country after country. The NY Times article was the first publicity given to the only study (so far) in this country; other countries have had similar results. (The reason I have provided the NY Times story is that it's too easy to claim "conditions in other countries are too different for these results to apply here" otherwise).

    2. The populational results also match the trendline for pedestrian injuries. (Actually, the bike line is a bit worse). Pedestrians, you may recall, do not wear helmets, and their interactions with motorists are considerably different than are those of cyclists.

    The fact that helmet usage has skyrocketed, and yet the promised benefit has failed to materialize, would in any other science lead to the original studies (that promised the benefit) getting a rigorous re-analysis to see where (if anywhere) they went wrong. The problem is that the original Thompson&Rivera helmet study already
    has been discredited, yet it gets used anyways. This study is the source of the infamous "85% reduction in head injuries" claim, but suffered from self-selected sample bias (at the time, people who wore helmets were a substantially different population than those who did not, and as it turned out, were much more likely to seek medical care for minor injuries since they were more likely to be covered by insurance).

  10. #35
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Lifelover, I deleted your post. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  11. #36
    Member annie's avatar
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    Here's my take on helmet use... I've been a serious cyclist for quite some time, and I used to only wear a helmet about 50% of the time. I bought a "cooler" looking and more ventilated helmet, and now have no reason not to wear one. I've got a lot still to accomplish in life...and it's pretty hard to get anything done with a serious head injury. As bad as it sounds, my first thought when I see people who are "too good" to wear helmets is natural selection. You can't tell me that a helmet won't offer me at least SOME protection if I'm catapulted off my bike at 35mph.

  12. #37

    Yes, Annie, I CAN tell you.

    Quote Originally posted by annie
    Here's my take on helmet use... I've been a serious cyclist for quite some time, and I used to only wear a helmet about 50% of the time. I bought a "cooler" looking and more ventilated helmet, and now have no reason not to wear one. I've got a lot still to accomplish in life...and it's pretty hard to get anything done with a serious head injury. As bad as it sounds, my first thought when I see people who are "too good" to wear helmets is natural selection. You can't tell me that a helmet won't offer me at least SOME protection if I'm catapulted off my bike at 35mph.
    Since the real-world results from helmet use show no impact whatsoever on serious head injury rates, I can, in fact, tell you that your helmet will probably not offer you any protection if you're catapulted off your bike at 35mph.

    Why not wear a big fuzzy hat? Surely THAT would offer SOME protection? How about a suit of armor? Rabbit's foot?

  13. #38
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    Since the real-world results from helmet use show no impact whatsoever on serious head injury rates, I can, in fact, tell you that your helmet will probably not offer you any protection if you're catapulted off your bike at 35mph.

    Why not wear a big fuzzy hat? Surely THAT would offer SOME protection? How about a suit of armor? Rabbit's foot?
    please re-read your last statement. Helmets may offer as much protection as a banana peel on serious head injuries, but what about the rates of minor head injuries?

    Have the amount of minor head injuries also risen? Is it possible that helemt use has caused the rates of minor head injuries to dramaticaly increase, while serious injury showed no change? I'd be interested on that information.

    If no helmets were in use, could it be even more possible that serious head injury rates could be even higher?

    Even seat belts don't prevent death in SERIOUS motor vehicle accidents, but in other moderate and minor accidents, you can sure as hell bet that seatbelts have prevented major injury by making them minor injury.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    Since the real-world results from helmet use show no impact whatsoever on serious head injury rates, I can, in fact, tell you that your helmet will probably not offer you any protection if you're catapulted off your bike at 35mph.

    Why not wear a big fuzzy hat? Surely THAT would offer SOME protection? How about a suit of armor? Rabbit's foot?
    Nowhere does any helmet claim to protect your head if you are catapulted off your bike at 35mph. These helmets are designed for low-impact crashes. If you go flying off your bike at 35 mph and hit the pavement headfirst the jolt is going to cause your brain to rattle around and probably result in some type of head trauma. Also it will probably have some impact on your spine too. However if you were riding slowly and simply hit a deep pothole and flew over your handlebars and hit headfirst, the helmet would definitly help. You cite ONE study, but I could find a whole bunch of other studies that would say that they do reduce the risk of head injuries in certain cases. The study you cite even outlines the obvious flaws in the data gathering such as bikers feeling more invincible becuase they have the helmet and thus riding more carelessly.

    Why don't you check out some of these links and the refrences cited in them:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00036941.htm

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr4401.pdf
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  15. #40

    Missing the point

    Quote Originally posted by Repo Man
    Nowhere does any helmet claim to protect your head if you are catapulted off your bike at 35mph. These helmets are designed for low-impact crashes. If you go flying off your bike at 35 mph and hit the pavement headfirst the jolt is going to cause your brain to rattle around and probably result in some type of head trauma. Also it will probably have some impact on your spine too. However if you were riding slowly and simply hit a deep pothole and flew over your handlebars and hit headfirst, the helmet would definitly help. You cite ONE study, but I could find a whole bunch of other studies that would say that they do reduce the risk of head injuries in certain cases. The study you cite even outlines the obvious flaws in the data gathering such as bikers feeling more invincible becuase they have the helmet and thus riding more carelessly.

    Why don't you check out some of these links and the refrences cited in them:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00036941.htm

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr4401.pdf
    Repo Man:

    I guarantee you I've read more studies than everybody else in this thread put together.

    In science, if you have a bunch of hypotheses based on statistical analyses (such as hospital admissions with and without helmets), and you make some preliminary conclusions, such as "helmets reduce head injuries by 85%", but then the actual populational data does not support your preliminary conclusion, you withdraw that conclusion
    completely .

    It appears to only be in the case of safety devices that the normal rules don't apply.

    The fact is that nearly every helmet study (other than the populational results) have roots in Thompson and Rivera, which could be used in an elementary statistics class as an example of how you can really mess up with the self-selected sample bias. Others have used the same study to 'prove' that wearing a helmet cuts your rate of a major leg injury by 90%, by the way.

    There is no reliable evidence that helmets work. The fact that the large-scale population result showed no detectible benefit suggests that the initial studies were invalid. And, in fact, a cursory analysis of those studies based on hospital admissions shows problem after problem - no peer-reviewed journal other than in the safety field would ever let such shoddy work in the door.

    Quote Originally posted by Repo Man
    Nowhere does any helmet claim to protect your head if you are catapulted off your bike at 35mph.
    Oh, and, it wasn't my claim. It was made by Annie, but it is quite common in the field for people to claim that their helmet is going to save them from a major injury in a collision with an automobile at high speed.

    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    please re-read your last statement. Helmets may offer as much protection as a banana peel on serious head injuries, but what about the rates of minor head injuries?

    Have the amount of minor head injuries also risen? Is it possible that helemt use has caused the rates of minor head injuries to dramaticaly increase, while serious injury showed no change? I'd be interested on that information.

    If no helmets were in use, could it be even more possible that serious head injury rates could be even higher?

    Even seat belts don't prevent death in SERIOUS motor vehicle accidents, but in other moderate and minor accidents, you can sure as hell bet that seatbelts have prevented major injury by making them minor injury.
    The introduction of seat belts, and gradual increase in their usage, did in fact correlate with a detectible reduction in major automobile crash injuries.

    UNLIKE WITH BICYCLE HELMETS.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 12 May 2004 at 5:46 PM.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    Repo Man:

    I guarantee you I've read more studies than everybody else in this thread put together.
    Can I ask why is it that every bike race that I have ever raced in, watched, read about, along with every bike racing association that I know of such as NORBA requires the use of helmets?

    I am just thinking that these people write the articles that you read... and they influence the rules, and they say no helmet, no ride.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  17. #42
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Do not

    Do too

    Do not

    Do too

    Thread closed
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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