Helmets - pros, cons and controversy

OP
U

User76022

Guest
Don't criticise or belittle others for making a different choice
I don't k ow if that was aimed at me or more a general thing, but I'm not interested in berating anyone.

It should be possible to ask opinions without that being interpretated as having a go at anyone. Unless that's the culture on this forum?

To give some background to my question. I take a personal interest in my safety, the safety of others, and ideally peace and harmony between all the people we share public spaces with. As part of that, I always thought helmets made sense. But then I find out others think otherwise. This means there is a chance my belief is incorrect. I'm not precious about it. In my ongoing quest to be more safe, if it turns out my strategy might be wrong, I'm interested to know why. That's all.

I take the same approach with other behaviours. I have recently learned by observing others that my main light sometimes aligns perfectly with the headlight of a car behind me from certain angles, this rendering me invisible from some angles. So I'm looking at what I can do about that too.
 

srw

It's a bit more complicated than that...
I never used to wear a helmet. In fact when I was a kid there was no such thing as a cycling helmet really (there were bmx helmets and skateboarding helmets but nothing really general for cycling).

In more recent years I changed my mind, and now always wear a helmet when on my bike.

Only since joining this forum have I realised that there seems to be some sort of controversy, like helmet is a bit taboo.

So what's up?

Why is it controversial? The pros are obvious to me, but what's the cons?
https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/the-cyclechat-helmet-debate-thread.187059/

Read that. It'll tell you all you need to know.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
[QUOTE 5448838, member: 9609"]Anyone got any suggestions on reducing wind noise from helmets? I have just started wearing mine again for the winter and its setting off my tinitus like it did last winter.[/QUOTE]
Wear a soft beanie instead. Wearing a helmet that causes noise is worse than wearing headphones because you can't shut the "music" off when you get to a tricky bit.
 

glasgowcyclist

Charming but somewhat feckless
Location
Scotland
I don't k ow if that was aimed at me or more a general thing, but I'm not interested in berating anyone.

It should be possible to ask opinions without that being interpretated as having a go at anyone. Unless that's the culture on this forum?

To give some background to my question. I take a personal interest in my safety, the safety of others, and ideally peace and harmony between all the people we share public spaces with. As part of that, I always thought helmets made sense. But then I find out others think otherwise. This means there is a chance my belief is incorrect. I'm not precious about it. In my ongoing quest to be more safe, if it turns out my strategy might be wrong, I'm interested to know why. That's all.

I take the same approach with other behaviours. I have recently learned by observing others that my main light sometimes aligns perfectly with the headlight of a car behind me from certain angles, this rendering me invisible from some angles. So I'm looking at what I can do about that too.
It was general advice for anyone in your position.

There's tons of information to look at and @srw has already provided the link to the thread where all the evidence is available. To that I would add www.cyclehelmets.org for a wealth of analysis and reporting.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
To give some background to my question. I take a personal interest in my safety, the safety of others, and ideally peace and harmony between all the people we share public spaces with. As part of that, I always thought helmets made sense. But then I find out others think otherwise. This means there is a chance my belief is incorrect. I'm not precious about it. In my ongoing quest to be more safe, if it turns out my strategy might be wrong, I'm interested to know why. That's all.
Like you, I used to use a helmet (roughly from 1995 to 2012 I think) because I thought it was a good idea, based mainly on all the helmet promotion marketing if I'm honest. Then I gradually injured my neck as a result of the added weight/loading and when asking on an online forum for advice about how to deal with it, someone suggested I look at the actual evidence and consider whether I really wanted to use one...

For me, one of the most damning pieces of evidence is that as helmet usage levels vary over time in a place, even quite dramatically as helmet-forcing laws are introduced or repealed, the injury rates stayed bang on trend! Why would massive fluctuations in use of what's supposed to be a protective measure have basically no effect? Well, it seems that it would be a very small change because the injury it protects against is pretty rare (far more injuries come from collisions, which helmets aren't intended for) and that could be wiped out by how people's behaviour changes when they don a helmet. There have been various studies of this so-called risk-compensation, from simplistic ones about how helmet-users overtake more readily:
Risk+Compensation+Observation.png

to several scholarly studies, including ones by www.DrIanWalker.com

And it's important to look at rates not absolute casualty numbers because casualty numbers usually fall when helmet use increases - because people stop cycling! I want more people to cycle. I don't want to be part of the helmet-unati putting them off. That's a weaker reason to stop, though.

I take the same approach with other behaviours. I have recently learned by observing others that my main light sometimes aligns perfectly with the headlight of a car behind me from certain angles, this rendering me invisible from some angles. So I'm looking at what I can do about that too.
I assume you mean it renders your headlight invisible, not you! Presumably that's when the viewer is in front of you? So it doesn't matter too much because they'll not want to be hit by the car behind you. I wouldn't worry about that. As I see more comments from motorists about all the unlit cyclists they see and as I see ever more motorists driving around unlit, I begin to think that lights are mostly irrelevant except for you seeing where you're going (so you can steer clear of potholes!) and avoiding getting stopped by the cops.
 

raleighnut

Guru
Location
On 3 Wheels
I don't k ow if that was aimed at me or more a general thing, but I'm not interested in berating anyone.

It should be possible to ask opinions without that being interpretated as having a go at anyone. Unless that's the culture on this forum?

To give some background to my question. I take a personal interest in my safety, the safety of others, and ideally peace and harmony between all the people we share public spaces with. As part of that, I always thought helmets made sense. But then I find out others think otherwise. This means there is a chance my belief is incorrect. I'm not precious about it. In my ongoing quest to be more safe, if it turns out my strategy might be wrong, I'm interested to know why. That's all.

I take the same approach with other behaviours. I have recently learned by observing others that my main light sometimes aligns perfectly with the headlight of a car behind me from certain angles, this rendering me invisible from some angles. So I'm looking at what I can do about that too.
It's not a culture of 'having a go' it's more about the helmets themselves. The argument for helmets is often "The Pro racers wear em" but so do professional and amateur car racers, would you don a crash helmet when driving your car. The other side is pedestrians suffer head injuries, should they wear helmets and would you wear one to pop to Tescos after all you may get injured tripping up a kerb or reaching for that tin of beans on a high shelf.
 
OP
U

User76022

Guest
I read all the posts on the first page. Lots of words. Absolutely no information. So I gave up. And I'll also give up on this thread too. It's really not that important to me. I just wondered why it was a taboo subject and wondered if I'd missed something.

Thanks all that took the time to try to answer.

Mod Note:
@User76022 helmets are not a taboo subject on Cycle Chat, they are a controversial subject that leads to heated debate.
Feel free to discuss them to your satisfaction in the relevant section.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

glasgowcyclist

Charming but somewhat feckless
Location
Scotland
I read all the posts on the first page. Lots of words. Absolutely no information. So I gave up. And I'll also give up on this thread too. It's really not that important to me. I just wondered why it was a taboo subject and wondered if I'd missed something
With a sub-forum dedicated to the topic it's hardly a taboo subject. The thread you were directed to has been going for over three years and has more than 5000 posts.

If you still want to find out why many people think differently from you then at least take a look at the cyclehelmets.org link I posted earlier. It explains the facts behind the construction and testing of helmets, along with their limitations.
 
OP
U

User76022

Guest
at least take a look at the cyclehelmets.org link I posted earlier. It explains the facts behind the construction and testing of helmets, along with their limitations
I did. To be honest it also didn't provide any answers. In one article it even gave an analysis of how people who ride competitively and wear helmets have more accidents than people who ride at a leisurely pace and don't wear helmets.

I'm quite aware that a bike helmet offers minimal protection against blunt force trauma, and no protection at all against neck injuries arising from any impact to the head. I also know that one of the biggest threats from even a minor head injury is shock from blood loss. Even a small superficial head wound bleeds like crazy. I know these things. But given the apparent strong feelings about the subject I had wondered if there was more too it. So far it seems not. No worries.
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
Superficial head wounds are not life threatening or life altering in anyway. Unless you are a haemophiliac. A cycle helmet offers some protection against superficial injuries and not much more. If you are an adult who has ridden a bike for a while then coming off your bike is pretty rare. Even if you do, hitting your head is rare unless you are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Helmets do not offer a different outcome in these latter types of collisions.

You also cannot ignore the elephant in the room. You are wearing a helmet because you are cycling not because there is a significant risk over and above which you are exposed to when when walking, running, having a shower etc.

One other fact you would have seen had you bothered reading the evidence. You have a 70% greater chance of hitting your head when you come off when wearing a cycle helmet. This is from a peer reviewed scientific paper not somebodys anecdote.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
It's not a culture of 'having a go' it's more about the helmets themselves. The argument for helmets is often "The Pro racers wear em" but so do professional and amateur car racers, would you don a crash helmet when driving your car. The other side is pedestrians suffer head injuries, should they wear helmets and would you wear one to pop to Tescos after all you may get injured tripping up a kerb or reaching for that tin of beans on a high shelf.
I cracked my skull earlier this year, sat where I am now. In a "log fall", from standing, onto a stone floor some years ago there was no damage.

The cause was the same, and beyond my control. Shows just how fickle fate can be in situations like this.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
The only serious non-collision single-bike crash that I remember being near, the casualty was bleeding from his head - but it did seem rather like he'd been cut by an edge of his cracked-to-bits helmet!

If cuts is what worries you, I think a tough soft hat is a far better way to protect against them than something hard enough to cut you.
 
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