Mandatory Helmet Laws & stuff (Was One & ONLY Helmet Thread)

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby The Womble » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:39 am

Thoglette wrote:
Livetoride wrote:Wearing a helmet SHOULD be mandatory, seriously why would you not wish to wear a helmet !!!


Thanks for reading the thread before throwing your original, never-before-heard-or-debated opinion in. It really helps the discussion!

Cant tell if that was sarcasm or not. Someone believes in the law so its not a worthwhile contibution? :?
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by BNA » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:49 pm

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Gabe » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:49 pm

Interesting thread, I've grown up with wearing a helmet and I didn't realise there was so much controversy.

I think that if it was clear that helmets should be compulsory, then this thread wouldn't exist. Kind of like how threads on whether brakes should be mandatory don't exist because everybody knows that you need them.
I've seen many people wearing helmets incorrectly and/or wearing cheap helmets that don't sit properly, and that can't possibly be helpful, and I also think that the cost of a good helmet that is comfortable is off-putting.

However, I personally know two people who came off their bikes and struck their head while wearing a helmet, and even with the protection still suffered concussion. The thing is, both were young adults riding on a road and at speeds of at least 50km/h and not kids playing in a quiet sidestreet, or someone dawdling through some parklands.
If the government subsidised the cost of a good helmet (say the $60+ models) and applied the law only to adult bikes ridden on-road or on cycle tracks then I wouldn't be opposed to it. I don't exactly think it would have any adverse affects if it was made optional because the majority of people would wear them anyway, but I'm sure that some minority groups like high school kids on their way to school would be too naive to know the value of wearing one and the risk would be compounded by their inexperience.

So all-in-all I think that the laws do more good than bad, but they could be improved by excluding leisure riders or young children and by making quality helmets more affordable through subsidisation. If you could buy a comfortable and well-fitting helmet for around $30 then it would make cycling much more appealing for people wanting to get into the sport, and make wearing a helmet itself more appealing because you wouldn't have the cost/comfort problem.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby }SkOrPn--7 » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:57 pm

Gabe wrote:I've seen many people wearing helmets incorrectly and/or wearing cheap helmets that don't sit properly, and that can't possibly be helpful,



This is one thing that gets me they go to the trouble of buying a helmet and shoving it on the melon then having the straps not fitting right or as you mentioned above just real bizarre in my opinion.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby il padrone » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:07 pm

Gabe wrote: The thing is, both were young adults riding on a road and at speeds of at least 50km/h

Back in the past this was described as 'scorching', and on public roads in towns was socially unacceptable. For the very reason you are talking about - collisions and serious injuries are highly likely to result.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby im_no_pro » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:48 pm

Heres the sort of article that usually keeps helmet threads ticking over.....

Foldable helmets
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby martinjs » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:05 am

I may be wrong here but I notice that some are using the "BICYCLE HELMET RESEARCH FOUNDATION" for their facts, I have no particular problem with that but a quick look at the site leads me to think there are anti helmet law in hiding.
I have no problems with people putting forward their point of few as long as they are honest to what there agenda is and I'm not so sure this site is being totally honest about their agenda. Just my opinion.

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby rustguard » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:16 am

Those foldable helmets look a bit strange. Really need a close up to see what they actually are. My beany looks as good a prospect from that pic. Some interesting quotes in that story.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby trailgumby » Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:56 pm

The Womble wrote:
Thoglette wrote:
Livetoride wrote:Wearing a helmet SHOULD be mandatory, seriously why would you not wish to wear a helmet !!!


Thanks for reading the thread before throwing your original, never-before-heard-or-debated opinion in. It really helps the discussion!

Cant tell if that was sarcasm or not. Someone believes in the law so its not a worthwhile contibution? :?

I'm voting justifiable sarcasm.

It was, after all, soundly evidence based and it drew conclusions based on logic.
"People have a right to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight." -- James W Loewen

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Baldy » Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:37 pm

Edited to keep the peace because I can be a grumpy bastard :wink:
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Spork! » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:21 pm

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Viking-bike-helm ... 3cb07dd2d4
:D
Needs more vents. Wonder if it's certified to the applicable Australian standard?
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby mikesbytes » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:30 pm

Spork! wrote:http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Viking-bike-helmet-goggles-/260659073748?pt=AU_Cycling_Clothing&hash=item3cb07dd2d4
:D
Needs more vents. Wonder if it's certified to the applicable Australian standard?


Is there a version with "water" bottle holders :)
A helmet saved my life
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Spork! » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:23 pm

mikesbytes wrote:
Spork! wrote:http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Viking-bike-helmet-goggles-/260659073748?pt=AU_Cycling_Clothing&hash=item3cb07dd2d4
:D
Needs more vents. Wonder if it's certified to the applicable Australian standard?


Is there a version with "water" bottle holders :)


For TT's and triathalons? :lol:
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby BarryTas » Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:39 pm

if it weren't for helmets i would be dead by now.
when do we stop for coffee???

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Gabe » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:36 pm

BarryTas wrote:if it weren't for helmets i would be dead by now.


If it weren't for bicycles you wouldn't have nearly died.


ok so i'm just stirring now but what the hell... :twisted:
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby cobbler » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:19 pm

just read this..16 August 2010. The theory that helmet laws stop people riding bikes has been contradicted in a new study by Canadian health researchers
http://www.bv.com.au/bikes-&-riding/42381/
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby vitualis » Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:34 am

Okay, I'll bite. :lol:

I'll try to discuss mostly about the actual evidence base and will provide access to the source literature (rather than secondhand reports or abstracts). I have put them in my shared folder in Google Docs since some of these articles are not available (for free) for the general public. I would ask that members to try not to debate or question aspects of the articles based purely on abstracts; but rather, to actually read the relevant article in its entirety first.


(1) Does wearing a bicycle helmet reduce the likelihood of head injury, compared to not wearing a helmet for the individual?

This is probably the only question where we have an answer that is supported by good evidence. The answer is yes. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews has published a meta-analysis of some good quality case control studies. There are no randomised control trials (considered the gold standard) comparing helmets to no helmets. However, I can't imagine an RCT design into this question that would be considered ethical in humans so it is unlikely that there ever will be one.

The article contains a "plain language summary" that is below verbatim:
Wearing a helmet dramatically reduces the risk of head and facial injuries for bicyclists involved in a crash, even if it involves a motor vehicle

Cycling is a healthy and popular activity for people of all ages. Crashes involving bicyclists are, however, common and often involve motor vehicles. Head injuries are responsible for around three-quarters of deaths among bicyclists involved in crashes. Facial injuries are also common. The review found that wearing a helmet reduced the risk of head or brain injury by approximately two-thirds or more, regardless of whether the crash involved a motor vehicle. Injuries to the mid and upper face were also markedly reduced, although helmets did not prevent lower facial injuries.

Reference: Thompson DC, Rivara F, Thompson R. Helmets for preventing head and facial injuries in bicyclists. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1999, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD001855.


(2) Do mandatory bicycling helmet laws reduce the rate of head injury, compared to voluntary helmet wearing?

The evidence to the answer to this question is somewhat less clear but it is "probably yes". It is a contested viewpoint, however. Public health physicians tend to agree in the affirmative (i.e., the laws do reduce the rate of head injury for bicyclists) and there are a few notable dissenters (e.g., Australian statistician Dorothy Robinson) who bring up some compelling weaknesses in the usual interpretation of the data.

The British Medical Journal in 2006 published an analysis from Robinson and a rebuttal from Hegel. Interesting quotation from Robinson:
Safety in numbers

Injuries to cyclists follow a clear “safety in numbers” relation; injury rates per cyclist are lower when more people cycle. Data for cyclists in collisions with motor vehicles show helmet laws increased the risk of death or serious head injury relative to the risk for pedestrians and the amount of cycling. This implies helmet laws are counterproductive.

Collisions with motor vehicles cause nearly all deaths and debilitating head injuries among cyclists. A UK emergency department study found that such collisions caused 58% of head injuries to adult cyclists and 50% of all head injuries to cyclists. The large benefits from the road safety campaigns should be contrasted with the lack of obvious effect on head injuries from helmet laws.

Significant point of rebuttal from Hegel and colleagues:
Robinson’s opposition to helmet laws is contrary to published evidence on the effectiveness of bicycle helmets. At least six independent studies have reported a protective association between wearing bicycle helmets and head injuries. Furthermore, systematic reviews of the relation have all noted a protective effect of helmets. Similarly, six studies have examined the relation between helmet laws and head injuries, and all found a reduction in head injuries after legislation was enacted.

Link to both articles here (one follows the other): https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bw8CaK ... ist&num=50
Robinson D. Do enforced bicycle helmet laws improve public health? BMJ 2006;332:722–5
Hagel B., Macpherson A., Rivara F., Pless B. Arguments against helmet legislation are flawed. BMJ 2006;332:725–6

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Review also has a review on this question. It answers in the affirmative as well but there are some caveats that are noted that I will discuss later. The plain language summary follows:
Bicycle helmet legislation for the uptake of helmet use and prevention of head injuries

Cycling is a popular past-time among children and adults and is highly beneficial as a means of transport and obtaining exercise. However, cycling related injuries are common and can be severe, particularly injuries to the head.

Bicycle helmets have been advocated as a means of reducing the severity of head injuries, however voluntary use of helmets is low among the general population. Bicycle helmet laws mandating their use have thus been implemented in a number of jurisdictions word-wide in order to increase helmet use. These laws have proved to be controversial with opponents arguing that the laws may dissuade people from cycling or may result in greater injury rates among cyclists due to risk compensation. This review searched for the best evidence to investigate what effect bicycle helmet laws have had. There were no randomised controlled trials found, however five studies with a contemporary control were located that looked at bicycle related head injury or bicycle helmet use. The results of these studies indicated a positive effect of bicycle helmet laws for increasing helmet use and reducing head injuries in the target population compared to controls (either jurisdictions without helmet laws or non-target populations). None of the included studies measured actual bicycle use so it was not possible to evaluate the claim that fewer individuals were cycling due to the implementation of the helmet laws. Although the results of the review support bicycle helmet legislation for reducing head injuries, the evidence is currently insufficient to either support or negate the claims of bicycle helmet opponents that helmet laws may discourage cycling.

Reference: Macpherson A, Spinks A. Bicycle helmet legislation for the uptake of helmet use and prevention of head injuries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD005401.

Basically, one of the key criticisms is that we are using the wrong measurement and/or interpreting it incorrectly. For instance, a drop in the rate of head injuries after introduction of laws could be due to an associated third variable (e.g., drop in ridership). Or, that head injury rates are too narrow to capture to health consequences of the law (e.g., the increased rates of death and serious injuries in collisions with cars after the introduction of the law).


(3) Are mandatory bicycling helmet laws cost-effective?
Another issue that is important from a public health perspective is not just whether the intervention (in this case, helmet laws) achieve their goal (reducing head injury rates in bicyclists), but whether it is worthwhile. In part, this discussion has been raised from time to time on this forum in a rhetorical fashion. Various posters have asked whether car passengers should wear helmets, or even pedestrians. It is probable that enforcing helmets in these groups would also reduce the rate of head injury, particular car passengers. To me, this question is the one that is often smeared into the background in emotive debates but is probably the most important one. It is not enough that a particular intervention has an effect but rather, whether it is an important enough effect that it should be mandated. Unfortunately, debaters have usually put themselves into a dogmatic position before this question can be evaluated dispassionately.

The answer to whether helmet laws are cost-effective is most likely no, even without taking into account further negative externalities.

An cost-benefit analysis of the New Zealand helmet laws (focusing only on the cost of helmets and the cost/savings head injuries) found the following:
The HWL (helmet wearing law) was cost saving in the youngest age group but large costs from the law were
imposed on adult (>19 years) cyclists.

Reference: Taylor M., Scuffham P. New Zealand bicycle helmet law - do the costs outweigh the benefits? Injury Prevention 2002;8:317–320

Although helmets are likely to make a difference to head injuries both at an individual level and probably at a legislative level on the community, the actual rates of head injury from cycling is very low.

Piet De Jong an actuary has published an article looking at the health impacts of mandatory bicycle helmet laws. He addresses this question with what he calls a "simple" model. The abstract from his article:
This article seeks to answer the question whether mandatory bicycle helmet laws deliver a net societal health benefit. The question is addressed using a simple model. The model recognizes a single health benefit -- reduced head injuries, and a single health cost -- reduced cycling.

Using estimates suggested in the literature of the effectiveness of helmets, the health benefits of cycling, head injury rates, and reductions in cycling, leads to the following conclusions. In jurisdictions where cycling is safe, a helmet law is likely to have a large unintended negative health consequence. In jurisdiction where cycling is relatively unsafe, helmets will do little to make it safer and a helmet law, under relatively extreme assumptions may make a small positive contribution to net societal health. As such, helmet legislation appears to be a distraction from the main bicycle related health issue: the safety of the bicycling environment. The model serves to focus the mandatory bicycle helmet law debate on overall health. The methodology developed in this article is can be used in other situations where safety initiatives are proposed for healthy activities.

Reference: De Jong, Piet, The Health Impact of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws (February 24, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1368064


The question of ridership
I won't specifically discuss this in this post. The Canadian study brought up by cobbler I discussed previously:
viewtopic.php?p=457439#p457439 (can access full text of the article)
viewtopic.php?p=457461#p457461
viewtopic.php?p=458564#p458564

Cheers.

[edit]Fixed citation error[/edit]
Last edited by vitualis on Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby The Womble » Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:08 am

And my wife thinks Ive got too much time on my hands. Geesh! :?
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby vitualis » Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:20 am

There is clearly a lot of disagreement between cycling enthusiasts over this issue. Rather than pulling out random statistics, personal anecdotes or just bashing other posters, it might be refreshing to actually have an intelligent debate.

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Thoglette » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:10 am

vitualis wrote:There is clearly a lot of disagreement between cycling enthusiasts over this issue. Rather than pulling out random statistics, personal anecdotes or just bashing other posters, it might be refreshing to actually have an intelligent debate.

Agreed, so spot who you want to ignore. When I get some time I'll dig up some surveys related to your question (2) above -which should probably be more broadly based or supplimented by a question 4 relating to the overall injury or health cost outcomes.

After all, we could reduce cycling related head injuries to zero simply by banning bicycles. (It worked with drugs so...)
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby martinjs » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:11 am

Not enough spare time in a day, or even a week to chase down that amount of evidence or read it all. :shock:

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby goneriding » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:10 pm

After stacking on the weekend and killing my helmet, I know which camp I am in!

I think the bike share schemes do need some consideration as to the requirement for helmets. Perhaps an exclusion zone with lower speed (30 - 40 km) limit and Euro style rules for inner City driving need to be considered.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:08 pm

vitualis wrote:...it might be refreshing to actually have an intelligent debate.


It would be that. Maybe we should start a debate about the likelihood of having intelligent debate on the topic at hand?

Thanks for looking at the forest Michael.

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby vitualis » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:12 pm

The evidence would suggest that helmets work in reducing head injury rates for cyclists but that mandatory helmet laws only contribute minimally to cycling safety, are not cost effective and may well have negative effects on overall health (for instance, cardiovascular disease) even with a lower rate of head injury.

I personally support the concept of encouraging helmet use and I would certainly wear mine if I was going riding on my road bike (where I expect to be going pretty fast, mixing with traffic and riding for an extended period) regardless of the law. However, I don't believe that a mandatory helmet wearing law is warranted. If the goal is the safety of cyclists and encouraging cycling, there are many more effective ways of doing so.

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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby im_no_pro » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:14 pm

vitualis wrote:The evidence would suggest that helmets work in reducing head injury rates for cyclists but that mandatory helmet laws only contribute minimally to cycling safety, are not cost effective and may well have negative effects on overall health (for instance, cardiovascular disease) even with a lower rate of head injury.

I personally support the concept of encouraging helmet use and I would certainly wear mine if I was going riding on my road bike (where I expect to be going pretty fast, mixing with traffic and riding for an extended period) regardless of the law. However, I don't believe that a mandatory helmet wearing law is warranted. If the goal is the safety of cyclists and encouraging cycling, there are many more effective ways of doing so.

Regards.


Hold up, that's two intelligent posts from you in this thread. Best be letting everyone else catch up. :twisted:

Well said.
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Re: The one (and only) HELMET THREAD

Postby Spork! » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:27 pm

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