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@washcycle
Re: Helmetless Cyclist,

To be fair the letter writer does not make the claim that wearing a helmet saved his life.

I understand you are not in favor of mandatory helmet laws for adults and neither am I. I also recognize that the value of helmets has been over exaggerated and sometimes represented as a cure-all for every safety concern.

Still, I think one has to admit that receiving a blow to the head sufficient to crack a helmet probably reduced or completely mitigated any head injury he would have had otherwise.

I think there is plenty of legitimate room for debate on the overall value of helmet use in risk reduction in day to day cycling. In over 17 years of commuting I've only had 3 or so falls off my bike and only 1 where my head slapped the pavement.

I will say that critiquing the Post for showing a picture of a cyclist without a helmet as part of a news story is unwarranted. Unless the photo was staged all they were doing was showing what was.

On the other hand organizations that are promoting cycling are probably doing a good thing when they show a cyclist using a helmet.

He doesn't say it, but he implies it. Saying that when I fell my helmet cracked is only of value in this case if that cracking somehow means the cyclist was protected, and you just can't draw that conclusion. It's poor science.

I do think that wearing a helmet is useful, but I wouldn't point to something like that to prove it. And I wouldn't criticize the post for, as you put it, showing what was.

I've cracked a couple of helmets in my time. They're designed to disintegrate upon a sharp impact--that's why you're supposed to replace any one that's been in a crash (or even dropped from too high).

It's true, then, that a crack does not prove serious injury would have resulted. Nor does it prove that the helmet would protect in a harder impact, although it's reasonable to conclude it would. On the other hand, the more we start to learn about the effect of concussions on brain function, the more convinced I am that wearing a helmet is a good safety idea. And I'm all about promoting safety.

krickey, just don't mention bells...

It would be a more convincing argument to say "I've been in two crashes where I hit my head. In both cases I was wearing a helmet and I walked away without a skull fracture."

I don't think bike helmets are designed to prevent concussions.

Wash, you're correct that they're not designed to prevent concussions. If you search the archives I wrote a detailed post about this, but the short version is that the standard for helmets is that a head falling from a height of two meters be subject to no more than three times the force required to cause a concussion

I've lived on Columbia Pike for 7 years, and some section of it is CONSTANTLY under construction being being reshaped. I like how no one considered putting bike lanes in during any of those projects. Instead, let's put in a "boulevard" that doesn't really connect anything useful. Arlington usually has a lot going for it, but this just seems like a pointless way to spend money.

Washdude is correct, of course. I merely want to point out that being virtuous ought to be a little uncomfortable and to no particular point.

think one has to admit that receiving a blow to the head sufficient to crack a helmet probably reduced or completely mitigated any head injury he would have had otherwise.

Not to start the Holy War, but this begs the question. This is half of the whole debate...

On the other hand organizations that are promoting cycling are probably doing a good thing when they show a cyclist using a helmet.

...and of course, this is the other half of the debate: there's quite compelling evidence that helmet advocacy reduces bicycling overall.

You will have to pry my helmet from my cold, dark hands, oboe.

Put it on your head, you'll feel safer.

:)

It's funny to watch cyclists whine and moan about other people endangering their safety and then scoffing at the idea that they should wear a helmet.

It's funny to watch cyclists whine and moan about other people endangering their safety and then scoffing at the idea that they should wear a helmet.

I always wondered why--when you dive into the fever-swamps of anti-biking commentariat--you almost inevitably hear someone mention that they saw a cyclist who WASN'T EVEN WEARING A HELMET!! Frankly, I can't think of a more succinct expression of irrational, mindless, anti-cyclist gibberish than the above.

Kudos, le guy!

[Whenever I hear a pedestrian whining and moaning about cars and cyclists endangering their safety, I'll remember to check and see if they're wearing a helmet. ]

There is a talismanic effect of helmets. If you crashed and you didn't die, it is because you were wearing a helmet.

I was once riding next to the reservoir by Howard U. when a driver behind me honked ("to let me know she was there," she later explained). I turned around to check it out and promptly hit the curb, doing a full endo onto my shoulder. I limped the remining 6 miles home and for weeks after, thanked my lucky stars I landed on grass that saved me from serious injury.

When I next rode that stretch, I checked out the spot where I wiped out. There wasn't a blade of grass there, just concrete.

It's funny to watch cyclists whine and moan about other people endangering their safety and then scoffing at the idea that they should wear a helmet.

I think your hypocrisy detector is malfunctioning. There are two key differences. 1. If I choose to take on greater risk by not wearing a helmet, that is very different than having risk thrust upon me by a drunk driver. 2. The efficacy of helmets are very much in question. Whereas, there is no doubt that exceeding the speed limit is more dangerous than driving below it. If I were to tell you that you should wear a necklace made of garlic for safety, surely you'd scoff at that. The case has not been convincingly made that helmets are more effective that garlic necklaces.

@washcycle:

I disagree. Also, I think that pedestrians have *no* right to complain about dangerous sidewalk riding. Every single pedestrian I see is not wearing a helmet *or* shoulder pads of any kind.

If they don't care about their safety, why should I?

I choose to wear my helment and ride my bike with a small stuffed dog named "Mojo" affixed to the handlebars. I'm not sh___ing.

Got my bases covered.

I was driving across town yesterday and not a single cyclist I passed was riding with a small totemic object attached to their handlebars.

I'm not sure why they expect me to drive in a safe and courteous manner when it's clear *they* don't care whether they live or die.

1. If you choose to endanger yourself for little reason, it still affects me - unless you've canceled your health insurance and signed a waiver promising not to expect any public assistance for you or your family for health care costs, welfare, etc. when you're dead or have a brain injury.

2. Throw out all the studies you want - the cost of a helmet, and wearing it, is pennies compared to the cost of finding out the hard way that it is, indeed, a good idea.

1. No it really doesn't. If I were to die tomorrow in a sky-diving accident gone wrong (as I plan to eventually) it would cost you $00.00000000000001 at most. That isn't really enough to warrant a right to tell me what to do and gets a hardy F--- off! from me. And even if true, so what. What I do affects you in trivial ways. Welcome to life. Now leave me alone.

2. "the cost of a helmet, and wearing it, is pennies compared to the cost of finding out the hard way that it is, indeed, a good idea" That's only true if it IS a good idea. This argument is basically the same as Pascal's wager, or that the cost is finite and the potential benefit is infinite. Since this is how you see it, I'm sure you wear a helmet while walking around town or riding in a car - or even a metro train or an airplane, since there is the potential it could save your life and the cost is pennies compared to that, right?

@le guy:

Fine, but the same argument applies to driving. Your right to not wear a helmet while driving ends where my tax dollars and insurance premiums begin! Now put that helmet on!

100% of all to NFL players in the modern era that have had a concussion were wearing a helmet.

A massive helmet at that.

Just to follow up: we have yet to see bicycle helmet study whose results are conclusive.

There *have* been a couple of studies that showed a considerable reduction in fatality *and* injury if drivers were to use bicycling-style helmets, though.

So buckle up!

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