Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
A colleague's immediate response when I said I use my bicycle for almost all my local transport was "gee you are brave than me". This is from somebody who played competitive rugby until his mid forties!
Our government teaches us to be afraid of riding bicycles. And when that doesn't work, motorist either through their words or the intimidating actions do their best to put fear into cyclists.
I just found this thorough article following the QLD cycling review.
http://theconversation.com/politics-tru ... mets-20973
Earlier today reading some SA reports on cycle fatalities profiles, the "time and place" seemed to be repeatedly supported by data.
I didn't ride for too many years before the MHL and suppose I'm conditioned to liking mine and would still use helmets for other comfort/PPE benefits like wearing clear glasses, but doesn't mean I can't support a smarter policy.
"For a few hours, late last week, it looked like Queensland could become the first Australian state to start relaxing its strict bicycle helmet laws." Obviously the Northern Territory hasn't caught the attention of the writer. Travel around Darwin and helmetless cyclists are everywhere. Of course NT isn't technically a state, but that sort of misses the point.
Personally I've been riding a bit more without a helmet. Its been hot and my helmet it not always hanging off the bars. It has never been a deliberate decision but after I've locked the door and I'm wheeling out my bike and don't have my helmet then the decision is often easy. Still, the majority of the time I'm happy enough with my helmet. I'm not happy with the MHLs.
The quote from Emerson sums it up. He's talking out his blowhole - MHL research isn't climate change research. The science is not even close to being decided, and it's irrational to state that it is. The results of head impacts is not the only information to be considered.
Corruption in politics, bad policy making, deception of the electorate... there are many who would claim the research is decided in those areas, but I'm sure Emerson would try and convince you otherwise. It's gutless politics, refusing to do the right thing in favour of the popular wrong thing.
He does compare to the NT as leading example of cycling participation with greatest women representation without any increase in the injury data being looked at.
Nah, he just made the same mistake that people on both sides of the debate make with monotonous regularity: conflating helmet efficacy (which is well settled) with helmet law efficacy, which isn't.
Yeah but helmets work at reducing head impacts
And you know head inuries happen in motor car collisions too
And that he should have been more precise, but precision is dangerous to politicians.
One way of reading it could be:
Personally I’m a big believer in the benefits of helmets and I believe the evidence shows helmets reduce the risk of serious [brain] injury [resulting from a crash].
The problem he also has being a politician is that if he changes, or recommends a change in, the status quo, then in some/a lot/most people's eyes he'll take the blame for the next cyclist that dies from head injuries. Ask yourself what you would do if you were in his position (sure, you'd do the "right thing", yeah, sure you would).
it's far easier for a politician to look at a mashed up head and say we need helmets than to look at the less obvious issues that are caused by lower participation, regardless of which way the net benefit is highest
what's going on in this old Gladiator poster?
Cautioned for not wearing a hat?
Helmet laws were discussed on the SBS's Cycling Central last sunday - its now up for streaming:
http://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/vi ... 3-February
Fairfax's Michael O'Reilly was pretty competent explaining the impact MHLs have on cycling uptake, but there was limited time and no one got into the debate on whether helmets actually work the way in which they are assumed.
What a collection of comments they sourced in that vox pop! No surprises there really I guess, but it just goes to show how these people need their helmets - their brains have been well and truly 'washed' and need to be kept clean
A similar interview session that has been done in Amsterdam showed a directly contradictory set of attitudes. There really is no reason why riding a bike along the street should demand that "of course you're going to wear a helmet, everyone should". Millions of people, in all sorts of cities, towns, and countryside manage to ride without a lid, enjoy it, and survive. The comparative rates of death and serious injury are actually quite damning of high helmet use.
High helmet use or compulsion = much fewer cyclists on the road = more dangerous roads as a result.
You've got this equation the wrong way around. There have been plenty of surveys/studies in Australia which show that roads/infrastructure are the biggest concern for cyclists/potential cyclists.
The experience in Manly has been that the infrastructure (which is barely adequate, but you can get almost everywhere on mostly paths and lanes) went in, more people started cycling and fewer cyclists wore helmets despite MHLs and the police have pretty much stated they have more important things to worry about.
new one in the Guardian:
Is failure to promote the wearing of cycle helmets 'irresponsible'?
http://www.theguardian.com/science/occa ... mpensation
Love the byline:-
Richard P Grant used to cycle in Sydney, Australia, where the biggest risk is to life and limb is from drop bears. This post was supposed to be a summary of the evidence for and against cycle helmet use but you should probably check out the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation yourself
'11 Lynskey Cooper CX, '00 Hillbrick Steel Racing (Total Rebuild '10), '09 Electra Townie Original 21D
I love this comment:
I think this same statement, with a few changes, is also very close to being the defining truth:
I am against helmets for the simple reason that there is known heirarchy of risk control:
-Eliminate or engineering it so it can't happen.
-Administrative rules to stop it happening.
-Lastly: PPE to protect when it does happen.
Obviously we want to eliminate it by not having cyclists and road users interact by having better infrastructure, but this isn't always practical.
It is not surpirsing at all that cyclist deaths per cyclist have increased since helmet laws come in. This is safety 101. Everyone in the safety industry knows that if you ignore elimination and administration and rely on PPE - you end up with more accidents, not less. The reason this happens is that people become to think of the PPE as a 'protector' that should be used - rather than as last ditch effort that should never need to be used. The evidence for this is overwhemling. Every study has shown cars drive more closly to people who wear helmets than those who don't, and drive even more closely to people in fluro yellow with a helmet than people in black with no helmet. Why shouldn't they? The helmet protects them incase there is an accident!
By requiring PPE, this is an open admission that the administrative rules of the road use regulations fail to provide safety to cyclists. These administrative rules are easy to change, but things like helmets, are used as reasons not to change them.
The evidence against helmets on the large social scales has been so overwhelming for so long its pointless to even argue any more. Cycling goes down. Use of public cycle share goes down. Deaths from heart disease go up way more than deaths from road crashes. Just taking the small percent drop in cycling use and applying that as an exercise activity and you get orders of magntiude higher chance the people will die of heart disease than from cycling.
Also, many people mistakenly believe its an argument of no helmet vs helmet. it isn't. Its argument about letting people use common sense to assess safety themselves. Requiring children and people to wear helmets while riding at 5-10km/hr down an off road shared path is just ludicrous. Deciding to wear a helmet because you ride 40km/hr in traffic is something entirely different.
The helmet rule itself was purely brought in to kill off cycling. May people think that this is a crazy conspiracy theory claim to make. But its the truth. The lobbying that went on to get it through was all funded by motorists groups. The requirement for a helmet is not used any where else in the world (except in 1 or 2 US states where similair lobbying by motor groups as been successful). There was never any evidence for helmets, it all just cherry picking quotes and measuring things without thinking about the wider impacts. All of the bigger studies by dozens on counteries on earth have always universally said mandatory helmet laws would be a disaster. Australia is the only backwards nation to have them.
700 people fall to their deaths every year down stairs, and tripping on gutters, yet no one require pedestrians to wear helmets. Far more pedestrians suffer head trauma than cyclists, and far more die every year when walking on or near roads, yet no one requires them to wear helmets. Passangers in motor vehicles still do, and always have, suffered far more head trauma than cyclists, not just by probability, but per capita. Yet no one requires them to wear helmets.
Would love some references to that post. Well played.
Very well said and I agreed with pretty much all of it.
Unfortunately the case still needs to be made to MOST Australians in fact even to most cyclists. So it isn't pointless arguing it especially when so many cyclists actively resist any movement away from MHL.
I'm not quite in agreement with you here. Don't underestimate the evil that can be done by people trying do what is "right" and telling other people what is best for them. While some might have ulterior motives the majority involved believe they are doing right. Just as the stolen generation.
Incidentally I rode 80kms today without a helmet! Normally I don't go without but today I drove to my starting destination and completely forgot my helmet. It was a blissful day!
Myforwik am totally in agreement with your post, but am wondering about this:
What references do you have for this? As human909 said "Don't underestimate the evil that can be done by people trying do what is "right"" - I remember reading something or other about the (failed) push for MHL in the UK being connected to a motoring organisation, but that it was equally (or not) a result of well-meaning doctors. Without consulting my notes, I think it was mainly well-meaning doctors consulting government and advising the public which drove the push for MHL in Australia. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
You are quite correct. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons made noises for some years, then Monash University Accident Research Cnetre came on board with helmet safety testing and Vicroads' road-safety bods made it a trifecta. Few of these doctors and engineers were actually commuting cyclists (the corporate team, "cycling as the new golf" trend had not kicked in). They certainly didn't know anything about doing population-level studies, predictions of travel intentions, nor the concept of risk-compensation.
That's good. We shouldn't want public policy based on anecdote.
I doubt anybody expected a reduction in cycling due to an increase in safety measures. Seat belt laws had been shown as effective*. Helmets on motorcycles had been shown as effective*. Helmets had been shown as effective* in other fields etc. So why, given all this, would MHLs for bicycles be a bad thing?
The dilemma faced by policy makers now is that on average helmets do reduce the severity of head injuries, however even if they reduced the level of cycling when first introduced, the level of cycling is increasing now. This, along with the fact that the cycling community is small and the anti-MHL community even smaller makes removing MHLs politically risky, or even irrelevant (as in much bigger fish to fry). It is also slightly hamstrung by it being a state and slightly federal issue, while most activism and building of cycle facilities happens at the council level.
*Effective = reducing the severity of head injuries.
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