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Helmets - the definitive thread.. ** Mod Note - Please read Opening Post **

  • 20-03-2013 12:49am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 195 ✭✭ Felloffmebike


    I'm sure this has been discussed before but I'm interested in a lot of recent comments about wearing or not wearing a helmet. It never occurred to me not to wear one but recently I'm picking up a lot of people who seem to have a different view. Why is that? Does wearing a helmet not make it safer if you fall, even a little bit? And those who advocate not wearing one, is it a safety thing or a style thing or a macho man thing or what? Or is there some evidence that a helmet doesnt actually give you any protection or even that wearing one could be dangerous in itself.

    I'm not looking to start an argument, just interested in the different views.

    Mod note

    Title changed - this can hopefully be considered the definitive helmet thread that can be pointed to whenever anyone wants to start another discussion on the subject - I'll put a link from the FAQs to it also


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,320 MrCreosote


    Does wearing a helmet make an injury less likely if you fall? Probably

    Does wearing a helmet make it more likely you will crash? Possibly

    Is the overall risk of injury more or less with a helmet? Unclear

    Is compulsory helmet wearing a barrier to cycling participation? Definitely

    Does this reduce the number of cyclists on the road, and lessen their safety? Definitely

    Should helmet wearing be compulsory? No

    Should freeloading hippie cyclists pay road tax? It's a disgrace, Joe!


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 14,503 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Darkglasses


    I'm very happy that in this country we can choose for ourselves whether to wear the helmet or not. Me personally, I always will, for various reasons.

    I only tell other people to make their own decision for themselves :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 589 ✭✭✭ BofaDeezNuhtz


    MrCreosote wrote: »
    Should freeloading hippie cyclists pay road tax? It's a disgrace, Joe!

    :D:D


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,305 ✭✭✭✭ jimmycrackcorm


    I've said it before but the reason I wear one stems from seeing a friend knocked down in a low speed accident and going over to help him and being acme to see through to his skull where he hit the kerb. This from the days before helmets were common place.

    I don't actually believe that a helmet will take effect in the vast majority of incidents that might befall a cyclist but there might just be the one that it does.

    Besides the lip on the front of mine keeps the rain out of my eyes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,028 ✭✭✭ Amprodude


    I've said it before but the reason I wear one stems from seeing a friend knocked down in a low speed accident and going over to help him and being acme to see through to his skull where he hit the kerb. This from the days before helmets were common place.

    I don't actually believe that a helmet will take effect in the vast majority of incidents that might befall a cyclist but there might just be the one that it does.

    Besides the lip on the front of mine keeps the rain out of my eyes.


    I would rather hit the ground with my head with a helmet on than not. Better chance of living with a helmet, they are there for a reason. They could be the difference between life and death.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,058 ✭✭✭ scotchy


    When I told a friend who used to be a nurse in the National Rehabilitation Hospital that I had started to cycle to work, the one thing she said to me was, whatever you do always wear a helmet.

    As far as she was concerned, cycle helmets made a considerable difference in the event of a cycling accident.

    I'm so used to wearing one now that it feels strange if I go out on the bike without one.

    I don’t think they should be compulsory.
    But I do wonder why people insist on not wearing them.

    .

    💙 💛 💙 💛 💙 💛



  • Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 1,227 rp


    scotchy wrote: »
    As far as she was concerned, cycle helmets made a considerable difference in the event of a cycling accident
    If motoring helmets were common-place, she might be saying that they make a considerable difference in motoring accidents too. Stats suggest she would be even more emphatic about that, just she has prob never seen a car accident victim who was wearing one to compare with those who weren't.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,477 ✭✭✭ rollingscone


    It's a matter of choice. I choose to wear one.

    The idea that it encourages bloatorists to be more careless around you is nonsensical though.

    They're just as careless when I'm without a helmet.

    Compulsory helmet wearing would be a huge mistake imho. On the basis of discouraging cycling in general.


  • Registered Users, Regional North Mods Posts: 15,127 Mod ✭✭✭✭ kerry4sam


    Amprodude wrote: »
    I would rather hit the ground with my head with a helmet on than not. Better chance of living with a helmet, they are there for a reason. They could be the difference between life and death.
    scotchy wrote: »
    When I told a friend who used to be a nurse in the National Rehabilitation Hospital that I had started to cycle to work, the one thing she said to me was, whatever you do always wear a helmet.

    As far as she was concerned, cycle helmets made a considerable difference in the event of a cycling accident.

    I'm so used to wearing one now that it feels strange if I go out on the bike without one.

    I don’t think they should be compulsory.
    But I do wonder why people insist on not wearing them.

    .

    When I was thrown off my bike last November, it was my head & shoulders that hit the road first & man was I glad to be wearing a helmet that night!

    I've never gone cycling without wearing a helmet, and never will either tbh! I do know of others then who won't get on a bike wearing one for varying reasons :eek:


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,675 ✭✭✭ thesimpsons


    I wear one but absolutely hate it - feels hot and heavy and tight (but I hate wearing any kind of hat). the very odd time I cycle without helmet it feels great - liberating.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    scotchy wrote: »
    When I told a friend who used to be a nurse in the National Rehabilitation Hospital that I had started to cycle to work, the one thing she said to me was, whatever you do always wear a helmet.

    As far as she was concerned, cycle helmets made a considerable difference in the event of a cycling accident.

    Some people like to think they know better but having spent a lot of time in the NRH recently I wouldn't go near a bike without one. Falling off bikes seems to land a lot of people in there. Some permanent, some will recover given a year or two of rehab but all would wear a helmet if they could turn back the clock.

    I'm not sure why but as evidenced above, those against helmets will always bring cars into it. Fact is, a car is a big metal box offering a significant amount of protection to the occupants with extra features such as safety belts and air bags. On a bike you have nothing. It's almost as if some cyclists are opposed to them because theyre not compulsory for motorists. Well take a stroll through The NRH or any brain injury unity and you may reasses your position.


  • Registered Users Posts: 656 ✭✭✭ fondriest


    I will always wear a helmet , I've landed on my head twice in the last couple of years , once putting a slight dent in the helmet and the second time breaking the helmet in four places. Both times I was happy that the damage was done to the helmet and not the head .
    But everyone should be allowed to make their own choice , I do think its worth paying the extra few quid for a lighter more comfortable one though .


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,981 ✭✭✭ aFlabbyPanda


    When I was growing up I cycled everywhere (3 miles from my friends house) and 5 miles from the local village (country boy!) and I never wore one, nor did my parents ever mention me wearing one. Now I commute and wouldn't think about cycling without one. Do I think it will do much for me if a car hits me at 30mph? I'm not sure but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I won't let my kids cycle or use their scooters without one but thats more about stopping then hurting themselves if they fall then actually worrying about brain damage or something catastrophic.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,320 MrCreosote


    Swanner wrote: »
    Well take a stroll through The NRH or any brain injury unity and you may reasses your position.

    This is exactly not the thing to do regarding helmets. Forcing people to wear helmets forces cyclists off the roads, and increases the danger for the cyclists who continue to cycle.

    And promoting sedentary forms of transport kills far more people in the long run through cardiovascular diseases and air pollution.

    No point asking a neurosurgeon or a brain injury rehab nurse about the benefits of wearing a helmet- they only see a very biased sample.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,592 ✭✭✭✭ tomasrojo


    The Wikipedia article on bicycle helmets summarises this argument well, or at least it did the last time I looked. Essentially, preliminary small-scale case-control studies suggested helmets were very effective, but real-world increases in helmet-wearing haven't delivered anything like this effect -- sometimes the head-injury rate has gone up with increases in wearing.

    The idea mentioned above that motorists are less careful around helmeted cyclists is based largely on Ian Walker's research. It's small-scale, but it isn't nonsense. His study design was good, he took plenty of measurements and what he found was statisticlly significant. It just needs to be repeated in more locations by a wider variety of people.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,357 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    I got into the habit of wearing a helmet cycling over the last couple of years, though never did as a kid. Not in any way uncomfortable, but certainly not a good look. The volume of anecdotal posts on here from people who were glad of the helmet following a crash suggests to me that on an individual level they make sense. I think the status quo where they are often recommended but not compulsory is fine, and doubt it is having a major impact at population level on the numbers that cycle. Compulsory helmet usage would IMO be a bad thing, though I do make my kids wear them as I think its not a bad habit to get into.

    More important than my actual safety, my missus wouldn't be happy with me going on a long cycle without a helmet, and my kids wouldn't get a laugh at slagging me off for looking so dorky, so the helmet stays.


  • Registered Users Posts: 217 ✭✭ Sagi


    I always wear a helmet when I go out for a spin, but hardly ever when commuting. I want to change that and today, I will wear it.

    I once had a crash when mountain-biking with a friend, it went so fast at pretty high speed and I had no real chance of reacting and somehow protecting the head from the fall. I went down head first and was pretty dizzy when I got up again, taking of the helmet I saw that it was heavily dented and cracked. Impossible to say if my skull would have looked similar if I had no helmet but I'm glad I did not have to find out.

    It's been a long time since I had a crash on tarmac or while commuting as I tend to ride quite carefully, but I'm well aware of the fact that a crash can always happen no matter what you do.

    I do still believe that compulsory helmet wearing is not a good thing and I think it would be a barrier against bringing more people to cycling. The main argument for me is that it is your own head, you will not harm anybody else by not wearing a helmet. Yes, if you crash and have to do years of rehab you might be a huge cost to the community, but that might be the same if you suffer a stroke due to unhealthy lifestyle or various other reasons. If a helmet would be compulsory, why not other protective gear, full body armor would also be a good idea from a safety viewpoint....

    I can't imagine that seeing a cyclist wearing a helmet would cause any motorist to drive carelessly, not even subconsciously.

    There are probably more situations in which a Helmet won't protect you in case of a crash and surely a broken leg can't be prevented by it. So I don't think that my own riding style becomes worse when I feel safe by wearing one.

    Knowing how those helmet threads go on all cycling boards, I'm going to put mine on, go to work, hope I survive the dangerous city streets and leave this thread for others to discuss the issue.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,357 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    tomasrojo wrote: »
    real-world increases in helmet-wearing haven't delivered anything like this effect -- sometimes the head-injury rate has gone up with increases in wearing

    Most of what I've read on either side of the debate seems to correlate these two variables, to suggest that helmet wearing plays a major part in risk of head injury while cycling, and has a major effect in why people do or don't cycle. On large scale studies there are so many other variables in play (e.g. traffic density, cycling promotion, driver and cyclist education / experience / age profile, road infrastructure, etc...) it could well be that there are far more significant variables than helmets, and the helmet debate is a large and somewhat fetid red herring.

    I'm glad to see the like of the new RSA add, where road safety is deemed the responsibility of road users as opposed to safety equipment / technology.


  • Registered Users Posts: 874 ✭✭✭ wildefalcon


    I've never worn a helmet that is comfortable, nor one that doesn't make it look like I'm wearing the Sydney Opera House on my head, so I don't like them, but would wear one if I felt the risk was there.


    I've considered the risk, and think the greater threat comes from drivers who can't see me in the dark.

    I commute to work by bike, mostly on cycle lanes, but some busier unlit roads. I don't wear a helmet, but I do wear a huge yellow hi-vis jacket. When cycling in the dark I've a couple of sets of LED lights and also wear a high output head torch.

    If I was required to wear a helmet I think I'd drive instead. The discomfort isn't worth it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,477 ✭✭✭ rollingscone


    The fact is that cycling is very safe and helmets are only going to come into it, if you crash.

    I mostly feel I'm more likely to take a slow topple or skim a kerb. So rather than wearing a helmet to protect against moootorists I'm reassuring myself against fumbled starts, unclippings and going over the bars.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭ Robxxx7


    Relatively new to cycling myself ... but the first 2 items i bought was a Bike and a Helmet ... never ever gave it a second thought about not wearing a helmet. Same way i would always wear a seat belt in the car (even before it was compulsory).

    but as wearing a helmet is not compulsory it is upto each individual to make that choice for themselves


  • Registered Users Posts: 537 ✭✭✭ velopeloton


    Last time I rode the bike without a helmet (17 July 1997) I got 37 stitches in my head and a week in hospital. It was a beautiful sunny hot evening and I was going for an easy spin on back roads. I normally wore a helmet but I decided that evening to not, as the weather was so nice. 2 miles in I got hit by a car doing a U-Turn. Before he let me go the hospital consultant told me that "90% of cyclists deaths are from head injuries, next time you may not be so lucky. If nothing else this time you would not have had the 37 stitches."

    It is compulsory in Spain to wear a helmet but not in France. I'm always amazed by the number of riders who take off their helmet when climbing, you are just as likely to get hit by a car going up, plus remember Andrei Kivilev died from a fall going up hill. If you are abroad and have an accident without a helmet, the insurance company will claim a negligent attitude to safety.

    Personally now I would feel that something was wrong if I was not wearing a helmet, same for a seat belt in the car. I really don't understand what the problem is. I've not had a fall since I stopped racing 10 years ago. I remember in one fall in Dunboyne 3 Day, my helmet was in 14 different pieces but I was ok.

    Should they be compulsory? They are for me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,981 ✭✭✭ aFlabbyPanda


    I find the argument against compulsory helmets very strange, why isn't there the same objection to seat belts? I would have no issue with it being mandatory. When I started I bought a cheap 20€ helmet and hated it (but still wore it) but recently invested in a decent Giro helmet and I almost forget I'm wearing it. I can't see myself in the bike so I don't give a toss what I look like.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,981 ✭✭✭ aFlabbyPanda


    I find the argument against compulsory helmets very strange, why isn't there the same objection to seat belts? I would have no issue with it being mandatory. When I started I bought a cheap 20€ helmet and hated it (but still wore it) but recently invested in a decent Giro helmet and I almost forget I'm wearing it. I can't see myself on the bike so I don't give a toss what I look like.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,036 Surveyor11


    This works for me.

    Seriously though, I wear a helmet commuting and weekend spins. I wore it from Day 1 when I took up cycling again after a long hiatus a few years back. Like many posters, I never had a helmet as a young lad - although I remember possessing a hideous 'pound of sausages' helmet at one stage in the 80's. The strap can be the most annoying part - feel like I'm being choked out when wheezing up a steep hill. A helmet is a bout personal choice and I'm not going to castigate someone who doesn't wear one. Each to their own and two sides to the argument.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 303 ✭✭ Discostuy


    I'd compare wearing a helmet to using a case for my iPhone.

    It's ugly, ruins the slick/cool factor and realistically isn't going to be much use if it gets run over by a bus.
    But for small drops and bumps (falling out of your pocket etc.) its going to protect the phone pretty well.

    Likewise with a helmet, I figure its better against minor bumps than your bare head.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    BrianjG wrote: »
    I find the argument against compulsory helmets very strange, why isn't there the same objection to seat belts?
    Because selt belts work. And mandatory seat belt legislation has demonstrably saved (drivers') lives.

    Helmets do not work in typical traffic scenarios and mandatory helmet legislation has demonstrably failed to deliver any saved lives in the countries who have enacted it.

    It's not a straight comparison because they're two very different types of safety equipment; helmets are supposed to protect during an impact, seat belts are supposed to prevent the impact (by preventing the wearer from leaving their seat).

    Really the issue with helmets is that someone took the theory of knee pads and elbow pads and tried to apply them to the head.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,223 ✭✭✭✭ Raam


    Wear one if you want, don't wear one if you don't want. Don't be bothered by what other people do. That's my motto.


  • Registered Users Posts: 874 ✭✭✭ wildefalcon


    seamus wrote: »
    Because selt belts work. And mandatory seat belt legislation has demonstrably saved (drivers') lives.

    Helmets do not work in typical traffic scenarios and mandatory helmet legislation has demonstrably failed to deliver any saved lives in the countries who have enacted it.

    It's not a straight comparison because they're two very different types of safety equipment; helmets are supposed to protect during an impact, seat belts are supposed to prevent the impact (by preventing the wearer from leaving their seat).

    Really the issue with helmets is that someone took the theory of knee pads and elbow pads and tried to apply them to the head.

    That's interesting about the real world experience. Can you post links?

    The argument that I hear sometimes is "It's safer - you must do it". But that isn't applied to so many things. We still have forward facing passenger seats on planes, in cars. We don't require 6 point safety belts in cars. We're still allowed to cross the road whenever we like.

    All of these things/acts carry a significant element of risk, yet they don't attract the hue and cry that mandatory cycle helmet wearing sometimes does.

    Why is this? It's strange.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,545 droidus


    That's interesting about the real world experience. Can you post links?

    The argument that I hear sometimes is "It's safer - you must do it". But that isn't applied to so many things. We still have forward facing passenger seats on planes, in cars. We don't require 6 point safety belts in cars. We're still allowed to cross the road whenever we like.

    All of these things/acts carry a significant element of risk, yet they don't attract the hue and cry that mandatory cycle helmet wearing sometimes does.

    Why is this? It's strange.

    I was doing some gardening on Monday, and due to a series of idiotic events, a large ceramic plant pot fell on the back of my head from about a 1.5 foot drop. I have a large bump now and was probably lucky not to be knocked out. I wish I had been wearing a helmet at the time.

    In the US the chances of dying in a cycling accident is 1 in 372,035. The chances of dying from simply tripping up and falling on a flat surface is 1 in 146,051. Now obviously there is a huge difference in the number of people involved in these activities, but accidents in the home - falls in the bath or down the stairs and hitting your head are significant risks, with stair related accidents killing 655 people in the UK in 2010, where 96 died in cycling related accidents in the same year. If all of the people who fell down stairs had being wearing helmets the death toll may well have been reduced.


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