Because cycling tends to be safest where there are many cyclists (Jacobsen 2003), and most dangerous in places with few cyclists, and because helmet promotion campaigns reduce the overall numbers of cyclists, helmet promotion increases the risk of cycling.
Bicycle helmets, regardless of type, provide substantial protection against head injuries for cyclists of all ages involved in crashes, including crashes involving motor vehicles.
The strong protective association between helmet legislation and head injuries supports the adoption of helmet legislation as an effective tool in the prevention of childhood bicycle-related head injuries.
So, how dangerous is cycling? According to the UK government’s road casualty statistics (3), in 2007 there was one fatality for every 32million kilometres cycled. That’s actually slightly fewer per kilometre than for pedestrians, who suffered one fatality every 36million kilometres. But because each cycle journey is, on average, longer than a walking journey, the chances of a cyclist being killed on a particular journey are 2.5 times higher, on average, than for a pedestrian. In turn, both these rates are considerably higher than for car drivers and passengers (one death per 400million kilometres travelled), and those on buses and trains (one death for every 3.3billion kilometres travelled). Nonetheless, it is clear that deaths are extremely unusual on our roads, even for those who aren’t wrapped in a ton or two of metal.
Madam, – It is understandable that those involved in emergency and head trauma medicine are firm believers in the efficacy of cycle helmets. It’s an area where prevention is far preferable to cure.
However, their confidence is misplaced. Unlike motorcycle helmets (solidly constructed, securely attached, but often insufficient) cycle helmets are flimsy constructions of polystyrene, covering the top of the head, and often insecurely attached.
Realistically, cycle helmets will protect only in low-speed impacts – they are designed for up to about 20 km/h (equivalent to a fall from a stopped position). At higher speeds, they are overwhelmed by the energy of the impact and offer negligible protection (double the speed and you quadruple the energy). Helmets are not airbags and are simply too small to protect at higher speeds, such as when motor vehicles are involved.
Protection at low speeds is perhaps desirable but, contra Conor Egleston (September 15th), the evidence that it makes much of a difference at the population level is weak.
Where helmet wearing has been made compulsory, the results have been disappointing. New Zealand’s experience of a legislation-driven rise from 40 per cent to 90 per cent helmet wearing was of no detectable change in the trend in cyclist head injury, and in other jurisdictions the fall in the numbers of injuries was less than the fall in cycling.
To take a broader view of public health, cycling is estimated to have health benefits that outweigh the dangers by at least 10 to one. It is much more valuable to get more people out on bikes, bareheaded or not, than it is to push for protective devices of limited value. – Yours, etc.
Department of Sociology,
University of Limerick
The original bike helmets were made for bicycling on roads and road racing. As they have evolved, they mostly had an elongated shape, always with vents, and are usually made with EPS foam covered by a thin plastic shell
An artificial distinction, actually a type of road helmet. The term has come to mean "has a visor" for most manufacturers.
Yeah, but there are all kinds of ways, really billions and billions, that you can just fall over and hit your head on the hard concrete road below, and end up with permanent brain damage. You don't even have to be cycling--you can be just sitting on your bike, not moving (this was told to me by someone who fell off a bike and now has a permanent slow shuffle in his walk).
There is a Monty Python skit: the 100 yards for people with no sense of direction [begins at ~0:20]. It's exactly like that when you ring your bell.
In the United States traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death for persons under age 45. TBI occurs every 15 seconds. Approximately 5 million Americans currently suffer some form of TBI disability. The leading causes of TBI are motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries. ...
If there were some way to stabilize the head when driving - akin to wearing a mail suit from the Middle Ages - more people would walk away from automobile accidents without serious brain injury.
In terms of hours-per-injury, Bicycling actually has a better rate than even walking (Something like .25% rate of injury),
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