Efficacy vs Necessity

Discussion in 'Helmet Discussions' started by jonny jeez, 1 May 2017.

  1. Much time has been spent discussing the ability of a helmet to do its job. Its a question, that for me cant be quantified, squared away or answered. For every list of stats, for every crash test result and every anecdote, there is a counter argument.

    It seems there are more combinations of variables to effect the measurable outcome than there are grains of polymers in the helmet factory.

    My question therefore isn't about whether they work, its whether they are needed.

    If you look at the vast numbers or cyclists in other countries, some with vastly inferior road systems to ours we can observe that, traditionally, helmets are not worn.

    Look at the Netherlands, Europe, china, Asia.

    It seems that where cycling is a way of life, it is undertaken as such, in "normal" clothes, with no additional consideration for protection or risk.

    As if no additional risk exists.

    However, in some cultures, cycling is also seen as a sport, a fitness activity and as such is seen to present more risk of injury. In these situations protection is traditionally worn.

    Despite the media, in the uk the chances of having a cycle collision or fall is tiny...like almost non existent. So why do we invest so much in protecting against something statistically may never happen. Let alone debate the results of the protection if it ever did.

    My question is, are we wasting time talking about whether lids work or not and should we actually be asking...Do we need them at all to be safer.

    I wear a lid more often than not. I ride fast, I ride slow, in groups, on my own, in traffic, on empty lanes. I wear a lid on my road bike.

    Yet on a Boris bike, I never do, nor on my single speed. Both seem like a different type of riding, more relaxed, less serious

    Less risky.

    Sorry if this question has been raised before, its relatively fundamental but the section is so vast now, its hard to search.
  2. Sorry to only address this point, but ... is it? I've come off quite a few times, got a black eye and a broken clavicle in the worst case, and I've been rear ended twice (yeah, I have modified my riding style to prevent a 3rd).

    I think you might have a point that the risk of an injury, especially one that a helmet might help with, is small. But don't all cyclists come off occasionally?
    Drago and jonny jeez like this.
  3. OP
    jonny jeez

    jonny jeez Guru

    Blimey, sorry you've picked up those injury's.

    I can see that from your perspective it does seem that we all come off eventually. However between just the two of us, we can average that out as being very rare.

    In 10 years I've only come off once in the ice and sustained no injury save a bruised upper thigh. I know the off was my fault, I could actually see it about to happen as I took a bend too fast.

    My experience supports my suggestion as I was riding too fast for my skill, in poor conditions....on my road bike.

    Would I have taken the bend so fast on another of my bikes, I suspect not.
    Seems I need a lid on the road bike but would I "need" a lid on one of my other bikes?
    jefmcg likes this.
  4. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Ho Ho Ho EXTERMINATE! Moderator

    Would a helmet prevent a busted collarbone? Or if you're rear-ended by a car?
    Would it even prevent a black eye?
    No, no, and, ermmm probably no.
    Drago likes this.
  5. Seevio

    Seevio Senior Member

    South Glos
    I don't think this is a question of whether helmets "work" - there is another thread for that - but more of how the attitude to risk affects things.
    snorri and jefmcg like this.
  6. srw

    srw It's a bit more complicated than that...

    There's a non-negligible chance of having some incident, but an absolutely minute risk of getting hurt. Which is pretty much the same as for any mode of transport.

    (Yes, I know that only deals with serious injuries and deaths, but the definition of "serious" is very wide, and the same analysis could be done on the non-serious injuries - the stats are available.)

    If we're into anecdata, I've injured a pair of suit trousers, but not myself, in my last 30-odd years of regular riding.
  7. Drago

    Drago Guru

    I think no. I don't most of the time, only using it in bad weather, more as a hat.

    Bad things can happen, but cycling is an inherently safe pastime - the perception in some quarters is massively out of proportion with the figures. 70 odd times more likely to die of a head injury while walking, and I don't give walking a second thought.

    Four replies and all is this far sensible!
  8. OP
    jonny jeez

    jonny jeez Guru

    Bit that is just arguing the efficacy of a lid.

    I'm asking whether there is sufficient risk of injury, from cycling to justify needing them.

    We cant determine if the lid would have helped in any of @jefmcg s collisions but do the collisions in general justify everyone wearing a lid?

    Millions of riders dont crash, every single day.
  9. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Ho Ho Ho EXTERMINATE! Moderator

    Right, with you.
    I personally don't think so, insofar as I've only had one big crash ever.
    Ran into a child, went over the bars. Broke my collarbone and totalled the bike, the kid had a graze IIRC.
    Now, could I have prevented that collision?
    Probably. I was going down a hill, at speed, near a school at going to school time. I could, perhaps should, have been going more slowly.
    But that's my only crash. I don't, personally, think that warrants me wearing a helmet.
    jonny jeez and Drago like this.
  10. You could have a "formula" for the value of a helmet.
    • a the chances of coming off
    • b the injury during an off
    • c the chances of the injury occurring to a part of the head that is protected by your helmet.
    • d the chances of that injury having having a life altering effect, permanently or temporarily.
    • e the chances of a helmet making a difference, turning a life changing or ending injury into a less serious injury or no injury at all.
    • f the chances of you having no other fatal injury (ie even a mythical "perfect" helmet is of no value if you are crushed under a HGV)
    @jonny jeez is right, mostly we focus on e, but we should look more closely at the others. Because even if e was 1, it still might not mean we should wear helmets.

    In my post above, I was only discussing a.

    From a separate thread, we can see that a is not as small as suggested in the original post, though I suspect it varies with rider skill, style, riding conditions and of course mileage. So I will probably end up coming off most years at least once, and @jonny jeez may never come off again. So for me, the chances of having an off on a 50km ride are something like 1/100.

    I've got a bit less 50,000km on strava and I've hit my head once. So I will estimate a x b x c on a 50km ride about 0.1%.

    Oh. That's higher than I would have guessed :sad: I'll think about that for a bit.

    Aside: That single head injury occurred without a helmet, but I didn't meet the criteria for concussion, nor did I suffer any ill effects except for the aforementioned black eye, so by my standards a helmet would have made no difference. For the record, I believe a helmet would have prevented the black eye, as the blow was to my temple, and the large bruise drained into my eye socket and stayed there for several very ugly days, but as my arm was in a sling at the time, the black eye was the least of my worries.
  11. What part of "only address this point" did you not understand?
    @jonny jeez said the risk of a fall was "non existent" based on his experiences, presumably, AKA anecdotes. I questioned it because my experience was different. It was a genuine question, because our experiences are vastly different. Turns out sadly I am probably more typical than you and jonny, so it may even be that I should wear a helmet, while you two might not need to bother.
    jonny jeez likes this.
  12. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    Yes and no. My question is: are we wasting time talking about whether we need them at all and should we actually be asking... what has been proven to make the biggest difference to cycling safety and how can we make those things happen?
  13. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    You seem to be talking like you can't do anything to reduce the rate of coming off - is that really true?
  14. OP
    jonny jeez

    jonny jeez Guru

    this is a really good point though.

    It does seem that some riders have more incedents. That could be due to any number of factors such as environment, time of day, route, conditions, mechanical before we even start to ask about riding style, approach or attitude.

    So yes whilst some riders do seem that they should wear a lid (I'm extending your joke here,I don't mean that literally) it's better to ask why and try to address that than argue that we should all wear a lid ... just in case.
    jefmcg likes this.
  15. OP
    jonny jeez

    jonny jeez Guru

    I agree. I'm off to check the results of @jefmcg s thread about rate of offs.
    jefmcg likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice