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Bike helmets: an emergency doctor’s perspective

For those working on the frontline of trauma care, the findings of a report into the protective effects of helmets in cyclists and motorcyclists published in the Medical Journal of Australia last week…

Mandatory helmets are seen as being good enough for motorcyclists, but what about pedal cyclists? Tom Gill

For those working on the frontline of trauma care, the findings of a report into the protective effects of helmets in cyclists and motorcyclists published in the Medical Journal of Australia last week come as no surprise.

When an ambulance arrives at an emergency department with a cyclist injured on the road, a clinician needs to first know a few important details. How old is the patient? What are the vital signs? And finally … were they wearing a helmet?

That’s because ambulance officers, doctors and nurses have known for a long time that if a helmet is not being worn at the time a head strikes the road, pavement or cycleway, the chances of severe head injury are much higher.

Now this has been shown in a one-year study I conducted, with two colleagues, of injured cyclists and motorcyclists presenting to seven major trauma centres in Sydney.

The risks of severe head injury were more than five times higher in cyclists not wearing a helmet compared to helmeted ones, and more than three times higher in motorcyclists not wearing a helmet at the time of injury.

Severe head injuries were defined as any with significant brain haemorrhage, complex skull fracture or brain swelling.

Some 70% of such patients end up on a ventilator in intensive care units; many patients with severe head injuries are left with permanent brain damage.

It’s estimated that each new case of severe brain injury costs Australia A$4.5 million.

But it’s the things that can’t be calculated that are perhaps more crippling – the long-term personality changes, the seizures, the post-traumatic adjustment, and the interminable stress on family and carers.

judy_and_ed

Conflicting studies

Australia is one of the few countries in the world with mandatory helmet laws protecting both motorcyclists and pedal cyclists.

While helmet use in motorbike riders is generally accepted, compulsory helmet laws have been resisted by many experts.

Many argue that helmet use simply deters people from dusting off their two wheelers and pedalling their way to better health.

Using a telephone survey, Professor Chris Rissel from the University of Sydney concluded that cycling rates could increase dramatically if mandatory helmet laws in Sydney were repealed.

In contrast, a recent National Heart Foundation survey showed that overall road safety, road speed and the presence of dedicated bike paths were the main obstacles limiting bicycle use.

Only 17% of respondents identified helmet use as a potential factor.

Turning the tables on rotational injury

Publicised court cases testing Australian helmet laws have even invoked limited autopsy reports hypothesising the effect of helmets imparting “rotational forces” on the brain, causing diffuse axonal injury.

Diffuse axonal injury is widespread (rather than focused) damage to the brain, and is one of the major causes of unconsciousness and persistent vegetative state following head trauma.

The argument here is helmets apparently exacerbate head injury severity by causing the head to twist quickly on impact, thus creating rotational forces on the brain.

There have been no controlled studies in the clinical setting into the association between helmet use and diffuse axonal injury - until now.

We found no reports of diffuse axonal injury in pedal cyclists, helmeted or non-helmeted, and only a marginal increase in such diagnoses in non-helmeted motorcyclists.

Definitely worth helmet hair

This Sydney-based study was the first to place motorcyclists and pedal cyclists side by side and demonstrated that the protective role of helmets in both groups are important - and even better in pedal cyclists.

Helmet hair is a small price to pay for protection. mrlerone

These results are within the range reported by a Cochrane Collaboration systematic review on the subject as well as a study of more than 13,000 pedal cyclists in France published in 2012.

Some experts against this type of observational research cite small sample sizes, and flaws inherent in case control studies, such as not being able to take into account factors such as speed and intoxication.

But it is also true that the very same type of observational study designs was the basis on which the association between smoking and lung cancer was first described.

Once you get enough studies pointing in the one direction, the signal becomes harder to refute.

If mandatory helmets are good enough for motorcyclists, they’re certainly good enough for pedal cyclists.

And as more and more people use bicycles to go to work, work up a sweat or just spend time with the kids, they can rest assured that the helmet resting comfortably on their head is doing something much more than simply disrupting their hairdo.

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291 Comments sorted by

  1. David Stonier-Gibson

    Electronic Engineer/Small business owner at SPLat Controls - electronic control systems

    "In contrast, a recent National Heart Foundation survey showed that overall road safety, road speed and the presence of dedicated bike paths were the main obstacles limiting bicycle use."

    Bike paths indeed! Nepean Highway, Brighton (VIC) is in infested with lycrasites on the main 80km/h highway, while the bike path, paid for with MY tax dollars, is unused bar the occasional mountain bike.

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    1. David Stonier-Gibson

      Electronic Engineer/Small business owner at SPLat Controls - electronic control systems

      In reply to Kylie Fennessy

      So all those millions for dual pedestrian and bike tracks are there just for Mavis? I doubt that's what the budget allocation documents said. How much of that money was spent as a result of campaigning by cyclists?

      Cyclists want it all ways. They are road users when they obstruct a vehicle lane. They are pedestrians when they get to a traffic light. And they are a pain in the butt when they insist on riding on the LINE of the cycle lane (where marked) rather than riding properly inside the lane.

      For my two bob: Make cyclists over age 18 pay rego. Make them have license plates. And make then have rear view mirrors. Make them pay fines for not using cycle paths where provided.

      Long term I would have no objection to real, segregated infrastructure for bikes, like I understand they have in the low countries, if it would foster the kind of bike culture they have in Denmark and Holland. But it's unlikely to happen here, for a number of reasons.

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    2. Michael O'Reilly

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Stonier-Gibson

      "infected with lycrasites" ... "Paid for by MY tax dollars" ...

      David, I fear that Australia is a long way away from the bike culture they have in Denmark and Holland because of attitudes like yours.

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    3. David Stonier-Gibson

      Electronic Engineer/Small business owner at SPLat Controls - electronic control systems

      In reply to Michael O'Reilly

      Denmark and Holland has bike cultures because they are flat, and towns are generally more compact. It's about geography, not my attitude. In fact, I think it is brilliant to have separate infrastructure for cyclists

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    4. Mark Jablonski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Donncha Redmond

      Actually, yes it would change it, because then I'd know you're insured.

      My problem with cyclists isn't their activisim or their use of the road, it's their attitude towards road access without providing proof of coverage that their vehicles are roadworthy, they are competent to operate them and they're insured against the damage they could cause.

      I had to prove I could safely operate my vehicle. You should have to prove the same. The fact that this article even needs to be written shows how far we have to come with proper cycling safety on our roads.

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    5. Mark Jablonski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christopher Webber

      Chris - that covers the registration for the car, thanks.

      How about that cycle now?

      I'm not suggesting the amount should even be comparable, but you should pay for the road constructed for your use, ensure your vehicle is roadworth, and pay to insure against the damage your vehicles might cause.

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    6. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Mark Jablonski

      Not realistic since very few roads are provided for exclusive cyclist use, none in my area so i refuse to pay rego while my car is sitting in the garage causing NO damage.

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    7. Michael Boswell

      Post-graduate Theology student, nursing assistant

      In reply to David Stonier-Gibson

      So all those millions for dual pedestrian and bike tracks are there just for Mavis? Is a good question. I think they are for road planning experts to fool themselves they are doing something for cyclists. They are perfectly useless otherwise. I ride to work. It takes me 40 minutes if I follow the 'paths'. It takes me 30 minutes if I use the road!

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    8. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to David Stonier-Gibson

      David - nearly all cyclists over 18 already pay rego - because they own cars too. You want them to pay twice?

      I'd suggest getting on a bike - being one of those people who can take the shortcut through the shared pedestrian / bike lane or over the narrow bridge, instead of having to go the long way round. Get a parking space REALLY close to where you're going - for free. Maybe if you were one of those cyclists "having it all ways", then you'd be less resentful. And more fit.

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    9. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to Michael O'Reilly

      Actually those were MY tax dollars. I asked specifically for them to be spent on bike lanes.
      Didn't you know that you can decide exactly what YOUR tax gets spent on?

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    10. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to David Stonier-Gibson

      www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

      http://www.bicyclecapetown.org/2013/04/how-amsterdam-got-its-bike-lanes/

      Be amazed. I was astonished - I had absolutely no idea. Almost everyone (including formerly me) thinks that Amsterdam has always been a city of bikes and cycle lanes, somehow different from car-dominated cities in its climate (pretty vile for cycling actually) or topography (restricted by canals, narrow streets, limited space for separate lanes).

      Amsterdam is a long way from having the ideal topography (I forgot to mention all those steep humpback bridges) or climate (which comes either from the North Sea or the Baltic). What made it a city of bikes was:
      1.vision.
      2. political will.

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    11. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to Mark Jablonski

      Mark - actually, paying for the construction and repair necessary for your vehicle is an absolutely brilliant idea.
      Cars weigh on average 2000Kg and require a lane 4m wide, with significant space for turning and parking. Bikes average about 10Kg and require about 2m of road room. 10 bikes can park easily in one car space and turning space requirements are minimal.

      The money needed to construct roads is proportional to the damage they have to resist (and repairs to such damage) Road damage is caused by energy expended on the road. Kinetic energy is 1/2 mv^2 so proportional to the mass and square of the speed. If we say 20Km/hr for bikes and 80Km/hr for cars, then we have 6400000J for cars and 100J for bikes.
      So the damage caused to roads by bikes is roughly 10^7 less than that caused by cars.
      Factor in the fact that bikes need significantly less actual road infrastructure and call it 10^9.
      Now is it obvious just ho much the taxpayer is subsidising motorists?

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    12. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      Sorry, typo:

      Now is it obvious just HOW much the taxpayer is subsidising motorists?

      PS: I'd be grateful if any physicists can critique my calculations or have worked on this problem in more detail than me.

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    13. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      http://road-transport-technology.org/Proceedings/1%20-ISHWD/Road%20Damaging%20Effects%20of%20Dynamic%20Axle%20Loads%20-%20Cebon.pdf

      Quote : 'The "fourth power law" sterns from the MSHO road test (1958-60) from which it was
      concluded that the decrease in "pavement serviceability" caused by a heavy vehicle axle could be
      related to the fourth power of its static load.'

      However such studies have not been done with bicycles in mind but to determine route weight regulations for heavy vehicles. Additionally, don't forget that a lot of road deterioration is related to soil mechanics and subsurface water, rather than actual use of the road.

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    14. Rae McPherson

      Natural Resource Manager

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      Lorna, thanks for that link. Now all we need is an energy crisis or similar to get the vision and political will to implement the infrastructure to make bicycle-friendly cities. While watching that video I couldn't help but think of a number of multi-lane arterial roads in Perth that could be easily changed to accommodate cyclists. Like they said "build them and they will come".

      I note that many football players, especially children, are now wearing helmets to "protect" them from head injuries. The discussions we have had here would equally relate to the minimal protection offered by the helmets while playing football. Can we look forward to another article soon, aimed at dispelling this helmet myth?

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    15. Luke Mancell

      Equities trader

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      Even if I got a free bike every year from the government I would still be subsidising motorists.

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    16. Craig Steel

      Miner

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      The govt. would charge $2.00 for rego plus a $100.00 'Processing Fee', so that some otherwise unemployable dullard could put a stamp on it. Then their old friends at the insurance companies would scream for their pound of flesh as well. Better off like it is now.

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    17. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to David Stonier-Gibson

      "So all those millions for dual pedestrian and bike tracks are there just for Mavis? I doubt that's what the budget allocation documents said. How much of that money was spent as a result of campaigning by cyclists?"

      Err, it will get better. When all petrol-powered vehicles are priced from our roads (ideally via an escalating tax on fossil fuel consumption), and no-one but cyclists on the Nepean Highway, then you'll be seeing some rapid travel, with negligible costs for maintenance.

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    18. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Jablonski

      "their attitude towards road access without providing proof of coverage that their vehicles are roadworthy" err, if their vehicles aren't roadworthy they fall off

      "they are competent to operate them" err, if they aren't competent to operate their vehicles they fall off.

      "they're insured against the damage they could cause." It's called Medicare, it helps fund Accident/Casualty wards.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Stephanus,
      A contrast between the amount of cyclist deaths in the netherlands and australia:

      cycling fatalities the netherlands - absolute figure 216 per annum/population 16.7 million = 12.9 deaths per million

      cycling fatalities australia (2006 data) 41/ population (in 2006) 19855000 = 2.06 deaths per million

      exposure in the Netherlands is much higher as more trips are taken by bicycle but nevertheless cycling deaths are substantially higher in the netherlands than here which is why health authorities recommend helmet wearing in the netherlands.

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    2. Darren Anderson

      Economist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I'm sorry, Seamus, you rushed past the point about exposure too quickly.

      Life is risky, every event you undertake has either an immediate risk of death or injury due to the event itself, or the exposure to the event itself increases/decreases your exposure to a lifestyle risk (heart disease, viruses, etc.).

      If were were to make the conservative assumption that the Dutch cycle only six times as often as Australians (hours per capita), then the immediate mortality rates would be about the same…

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Darren Anderson

      Hi Darren,
      There has been cost-benefit analyses which show that the Dutch have lower rates of carediovascular disease which offsets the higher rates of cycling death and morbidity. But that wasn't my point.
      My point is that the dutch rate of death from cycling would be lower if rates of helmet wearing were higher in the netherlands.
      Most people assume that cycling in the netherlands is safe. It is, but it still results in 216 deaths a year (not counting morbidity from head injury). This could be reduced by wearing helmets.

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    4. Darren Anderson

      Economist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Hi Seamus,

      Thanks, I was unaware of that study.

      While I agree that helmets could reduce morbidity, would making it mandatory be worth it? I think the idea proposed by Thomas Stace below (a natural experiment of sorts) may prove helpful.

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Darren Anderson

      Darren, no need for "natural" experimentation, the observational data are pretty conclusive - have you not read Dr Dinh's article?

      Sure, helmets could be made non-compulsory - but to be fair to taxpayers, the helmet non-wearer should be made liable for their treatment costs - ie not on Medicare or ambulance funding scheme.

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    6. Darren Anderson

      Economist

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, I agree that the observational data is pretty conclusive, helmets are good medical advice for cyclists.

      The question is: are mandatory helmets good advice for would-be cyclists who are put off by the mandatory component, and if so, does the benefits of this outweigh the increased injury due to existing helmeted cyclists going without?

      How you would answer this without a controlled experiment, I do not know. And no, I don't think a survey would suffice.

      Also, if I was to follow your logic, then the inactive people should be responsible for lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Is a slippery slope, this.

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    7. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Darren Anderson

      Darren,
      i am not a believer in mandatory helmet laws for adults. My point is merely that helmets are effective in reducing head injury rates.
      I believe that helmets ought to be worn in circumstances where the risk increases (busy public roads, high speed or off road riding) but i don't believe that it should be mandatory.
      i've said this before; deciding to wear a helmet is a risk assessment test. deciding that helmets are ineffective or lead to more injury is a cognitive bias test.

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    8. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Darren Anderson

      Thanks Darren.

      You ask if mandating helmets is "good advice": by the same token, are seatbelts "good advice" for people who might want to improve their participation in community activities by being able to drive?

      Does inactivity contribute to cardiovascular disease? I understand sufficient epidemiological data has been obtained from observational studies to answer this question, and I think the same holds for the use of bicycle helmets.

      The difference is, there are many reasons for physical inactivity (paraplegia, for one), the major reason for not wearing bicycle helmets is choice.

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    9. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      To reach this conclusion Seamus you have to ignore what the Dutch (and many other countries) are telling us. That they don't want helmet laws, because it would discourage people from cycling, and the overall effect on health would be negative, not to mention the effects on road congestion, pollution, carbon emissions etc. We get this from cycling advocacy and government and Australia is listed as the example of why helmet laws are a bad idea.

      BTW, the Dutch cycle a lot more than 6 times as much…

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    10. Martin Miller

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The cycling rate in the Netherlands is 27% in Aus it is 1%. So if our rate of cycling was as high as the Netherlands our fatalities rate could be 27 times that of us! 1107 fatalities even with Mandatory Helmet laws. That why its the infrastructure that is more important.

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    11. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      Hi Mr Style
      To reach my conclusion does not requires ignoring anything.

      My conclusions were:
      1. helmets ought to be worn in circumstances where the risk increases
      2. deciding to wear a helmet is a risk assessment test. deciding that helmets are ineffective or lead to more injury is a cognitive bias test.
      3. the dutch rate of death from cycling would be lower if rates of helmet wearing were higher in the netherlands.

      None of which is an argument for or against mandatory helmet laws. None of which is an argument for mandatory helmet laws in the netherlands.

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    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Martin Miller

      exactly my point.

      Cycling participation rates are low in the UK which does not have mandatory helmet laws. Which suggests that there are other variables at play. These variables also pop up in other research as the author of this article has pointed out. So lets fix these other variables to reduce the risk of bicycle collision, particularly collision with cars.

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    13. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      "speed was a 5:1 relative risk factor for head injuries (>30km/h vs <20km)"
      this is absolutely a major factor for single bicycle accidents as kinetic energy increases as a square of speed.
      However the biggest determinent of lethality for cyclists is not solo-cycle accidents but collisions with motor vehicles. In this case the motor vehicle speed, weight and vector is a far greater determinent of cyclist injury than the cyclist's speed.

      So you should keep wearing your helmet for now.

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    14. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Cycling fatality statistics should also be corrected for speed. If you're going to ride at peak speeds of 50 or 65 km/h, a helmet is a necessity. If your trip is mostly going to be at 20km/h or less, not so much.

      Partly due to geography (distance and hills) and sharing the road with motor vehicles, Australian sporting and commuting cyclists tend to ride at 35-50km/h or faster whenever we can -- and we're mad to do it without protection. In the Netherlands most cycle trips are comparatively shorter and are done on flat terrain, on roads where cyclists generally do not share with cars except in low-speed, high-pedestrian-activity zones. It's a walk in the park. Neither speed nor helmets are of the essence.

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    15. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      I am a non-helmet rider, compulsory helmet laws in random bike rides out. Don't even own one any more, so is that really honestly safer bike riding.
      Even when it comes to children, have you even checked out a school, from my day, bike rack space has shrunk by about 80 percent. More cars on the road, far fewer children riding, yes, you compulsory bike helmet fools certainly made bike riding injury statistics per capita look better but at an idiots price.

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    16. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "Cycling fatality statistics should also be corrected for speed. If you're going to ride at peak speeds of 50 or 65 km/h, a helmet is a necessity. If your trip is mostly going to be at 20km/h or less, not so much."

      The same goes for motor vehicle crashes.

      So, should seat belts only be mandated for higher speeds or major roads?

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    17. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Having been a passenger in a couple of low speed car crashes (thankfully with a seatbelt), and numerous bicycle crashes (I grew up mountain biking and BMXing), I can tell you that you do not want be involved in even a low speed car crash without a seatbelt. You're basically helpless to stop your head smacking into the dashboard or steering wheel. It's a different story on a bicycle, where if you're coordinated and you aren't going super fast (say <30kmh), you can walk away from almost anything. However it all depends on the ability of the rider. Someone who is prone to spearing their head into the ground when they crash should definitely be wearing a helmet.

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    18. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      > So, should seat belts only be mandated for higher speeds or major roads?

      There are many people advocating for repealing or relaxing pushbike mandatory helmet laws on the basis that the law negatively impacts ridership, and ridership is a social good. I'm not campaigning on the issue of mandatory helmet wearing and always wear a helmet myself (and did so even in countries where it's not compulsory, occasionally copping a bit of harassment for it!), but I do consider bicycling, and a bicycle-tolerant traffic culture, to be good for the community and the planet when contrasted against car driving. Don't you?

      There is no seatbelt analogy and you know it.

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    19. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "There is no seatbelt analogy and you know it."

      Why bother asking me questions, Jonathan Maddox, if you already know what I think.

      Actually, I support the use of bicycle transport for the reasons you state, but I have not seen good evidence that helmet use discourages it.

      I suspect the current children who have grown up with helmets from toddlerhood will continue to find their use second nature - like they do sunscreen and hats.

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    20. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to David Arthur

      No they shouldn't any more than fun seekers are made liable for injuries in other recreational activities.

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    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      There may be fewer kiddies riding to school in your neck of the woods, but could there be other factors apart from children throwing a tanty at having to wear a helmet?
      eg 1 mummy insisting on taking the little darlings to school in the Paddington Panzer
      eg 2 bicycle thieves

      If helmets are making your head too hot, try less clothing on your torso to keep cool?

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    22. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Robert Attila

      Err, yes they should - there is a clear option for minimising taxpayer cost while allowing cycling, and that's helmets. There's fun-seeking, and then there's deadset idiocy.

      Mind you, I'm also in favour of removing thoracic care from Medicare for tobacco smokers. Either that, or dedicate tobacco excise to health, and increase tobacco excise until total health budget impact of smoking is funded from tobacco excise.

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    23. Murray Nicholas

      IT System Engineer

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      And that's the real key to this whole helmet law discussion. There are two issues in relation to bicycle helmets and people have great difficulty separating them.
      The first is a question as to whether, in the event of a collision or fall involving head impact, a helmet provides worthwhile protection.
      The second is whether that degree of protection, considered in the context of a reasoned risk/cost/benefit analysis, justifies a compulsion to wear one at all times.

      The evidence is mounting that…

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    24. Murray Nicholas

      IT System Engineer

      In reply to David Arthur

      I don't think mandatory bike helmets do present a clear option for minimizing taxpayer costs. You must weigh up the cost of caring for any head trauma which would have been prevented by a helmet against the accumulation of all other health and traffic congestion costs resulting from the discouragement to use a bike that helmet compulsion creates.

      If it costs $X to care for a brain-injured person and that injury would have been prevented by a helmet you put that on one side.
      If Y people are discouraged…

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    25. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      The Tour De France did not have helmet laws from 1903 to about 2003, four cyclist deaths...
      1910: French racer Adolphe Helière drowned at the French Riviera during a rest day...
      1935: Spanish racer Francisco Cepeda plunged down a ravine on the Col du Galibier...
      1967: 13 July, Stage 13: Tom Simpson died of heart failure during the ascent of Mont Ventoux. Amphetamines were found in Simpson's jersey and blood...
      1995: 18 July, Stage 15: Fabio Casartelli crashed at 88 km/h (55 mph) while descending the Col de Portet d'Aspet...

      Cycling at speed by skilled riders can be done without helmets or incurring high death rates.

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    26. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Murray Nicholas

      Murray Nicholas wrote; "You must weigh up the cost of caring for any head trauma ....... What's the annual cost of caring for cyclists with brain injuries caused by not wearing a helmet?" Could not agree more.
      This does suit the "climate of fear" being generated by vested interests in the 'status quo' however. That being the motor vehicle lobbyist, supporters and anyone who still backs the current completely inadequate view of human transport needs. Something demonstrated yesterday with the Victorian governments shelving of rail system upgrades in favour of the 'motor vehicle. Paying back any industry symbiotically attached to the motor vehicle. A purely political move to placate the centre of gravity, demonstrating no leadership and poor forward planning.
      The 1950s dream and madness continues, hard to believe in what is purported to be a clever country.

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    27. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Murray Nicholas

      "What's the annual cost of caring for cyclists with brain injuries caused by not wearing a helmet?"

      Let's ask the question this way: What's the annualised lifetime productivity loss cost of lost IQ for ex-cyclists with brain injuries caused by not wearing a helmet?

      Answer: we don't know, because we have compulsory helmets to minimise this loss.

      If Y pinheads are discouraged from cycling by helmet laws, then could they not go bowling?

      Road cycling (helmeted) is not the only form of exercise, you know. I envisage a market for domestic stationary exercise cycles that could be hooked up to generators to power televisions running "Biggest Loser".

      Anyway, if helmet laws are "relaxed", sooner or later there'll be a lawsuit claiming neglect of duty of care because some idiot was permitted to not wear a helmet.

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    28. Andrew Donohue

      Anaesthetist & aeromedical retrieval doc

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Dr Ieraci I'm surprised you consider this useful evidence- aside from the tiny sample and the mile long list of potential confounders, when helmet use is law in this country, having a cycling accident without a helmet strongly suggests the two groups are not comparable. Regarding the reduction in participation, the article includes the finding that 17% of people surveyed stated it as a barrier and while it is a limited study (although less so than Dr Dinh's) and found less than the original 30…

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    29. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Easy, then, Colin Any rider of Tour de France skill level can be exempted from helmet use.

      Meanwhile, all TdF riders should be mandated to have swimming lessons.

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  2. Phil Dolan

    Viticulturist

    Facts laid out and only one conclusion and yet people still argue about it.

    What's wrong with wearing a helmet? It's not uncomfortable and it could save your life.

    And car drivers whingeing about bikes! Cars. They should be small, round and made of very hard rubber. They would still work as a mode of transport. But we have status symbols with as much gadgetry as there is in a lounge room designed for entertainment that hurtle along at speeds up to 110 KPH passing each other by a distance of less than a metre, yet can be damaged by a hand. And some people don't wear seat belts.

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    1. percival cox

      logged in via email @mailinator.com

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Because the law is taking the choice away.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Joel Rhee

      Joel,
      Whilst i agree with you that this study does not definitively state the case that helmets are always efficacious or necessary I also have to take issue with your anecdote.
      Your second paragraph is a clear case of a selected population effect. You don't see cyclists with head injuries in your GP clinic because a cycle collision sufficiently severe to cause a head injury is likely to result in ambulance transport to ED, bypassing a GP.
      There are suffficient statistics from here and overseas that describes the epidemiology of head injury in cyclists, yes, including the Low countries. The fact that you have not treated head injuries as a GP is neither surprising nor pertinent.

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    2. Joel Rhee

      Senior Lecturer in Primary Care (General Practice) at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Dear Seamus

      You hit the nail on the head. I only provided my experience and anecdote to illustrate the pitfalls on relying on our own experience and context.

      What is needed is a population-based study looking at the entire population at risk - which in this case, is the general community.

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    3. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Joel Rhee

      Great comment Joel.

      Some cost/benefit studies have already been done in various jurisdictions to determine the benefits versus the risks of cycling. Invariably these studies conclude that the benefits of cycling outweigh the risks many times over. One commonly cited number is that its 22 times more dangerous to not ride a bike than it is to ride a bike (helmet or otherwise makes no difference). It's not exactly what you were describing, but it probably gives an indication of what the outcome…

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    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Joel Rhee

      Err, the population-based studies have been done - in Netherlands and by Dr Dinh in Sydney.

      Between you and me, my anecdote is as follows: I have cycled around Sydney for many years. When helmets were first mandated, my initial response was to disregard that law and continue not wearing a helmet for precisely the reasons given by others - comfort, and overheating.

      Then one day, I came up behind a dump truck waiting to enter a roundabout. As was my normal practice, I crept up on the inside…

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  3. Ian Grey

    Director

    I'm happy to be corrected but it was my understanding that there's pretty good evidence from European studies that wearing a bike helmet can increase the risk of an accident occurring due to other road users exercising less care around cyclists (particularly passing more closely) because of the perceived protection afforded by the helmet. I have no doubt that in the event of an accident, having head protection would greatly reduce the potential for, and severity of, serious head injuries but I would be really interested to see some research looking at the overall risk.

    My cycling has been a little infrequent over the last couple of years but I have generally always tended not to wear a helmet; partly because of the above but also because I find myself to be very much more aware of my surroundings and associated risks when without one.

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    1. Nick Bastow

      Project Manager

      In reply to Ian Grey

      Hi Ian - If you are talking about the 2006 UK University of Bath study - there is a great summary of what it *actually* found here. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/10/24/do-motorists-drive-closer-to-cyclists-wearing-helmets/
      Results were not that clear and any effect was very small - plus an experimental model involving men dressing in "long feminine wigs" doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. This study gets referred to a lot so it's an interesting read.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      'The authors found no research results on head rotatiion with helmet use'
      Which is no reason not to wear a helmet. There's a few things to separate out here:
      1. Do cycling collisions result in head injury: yes, the two most commonly lethal being DAI and Acute Sub-dural haematoma (ASDH). Other head injuries not leading to death are commonly sustained. It is reasonable to assume that most of the head injuries leading to cyclist death are not maxillo-facial, scalp laceration or cervical.
      2. Does…

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      John Harland wrote:
      'It is about time there was some proper study done of it, rather than the widespread pretence that it is not a serious factor because it has not been studied.'

      Here's a proper study, John.

      From :
      Andrew S. McIntoshab, Adrian Laiac & Edgar Schiltera
      Traffic Injury Prevention
      Volume 14, Issue 5, 2013

      'Objective: To assess the factors, including helmet use, that contribute to head linear and angular acceleration in bicycle crash simulation tests.

      Method: A series…

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  4. Martin Turner

    Innovation Fellow at Macquarie University

    In support of Joel Rhee here are some relevant figures:

    "A 10% reduction in physical inactivity would result in 6,000 fewer incident cases of disease, 2,000 fewer deaths, 25,000 fewer DALYs and provide gains in working days (114,000), days of home-based production (180,000) while conferring a AUD96 million reduction in health sector costs."
    http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/8/1/99

    Approximately 10% of all cause mortality in Australia is attributable to physical inactivity.
    Lee at al 2012 Lancet…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Martin Turner

      i fail to see the correlation between helmets and inactivity here.
      Do bicycle helmets prevent people from walking, running, going to the gym?
      Do bicycle helmets prevent people from riding? Lets look at some countries with and without mandatory helmet laws:

      In Australia around 1.6% of commuting trips are made by bike. In Canada 1.2% of commuter trips were made by bike. In the UK 1.3 %...
      http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/files/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf
      If there was a direct linear correlation between helmet laws and bicycle commuter trips I would suggest that the US, canada and uk should adopt MHLs in order to have a cycling commuter rate as good as Australia's.

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    2. Martin Miller

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      If there was a direct linear correlation between helmet laws and bicycle commuter trips I would suggest that the US, canada and uk should adopt MHLs "in order to have a cycling commuter rate as good as Australia's."

      You are Joking aren't you! Where in the world is 1.6% seen as a good cycling rate?

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Martin Miller

      yes it was a joke to make a serious point.
      My point is that poor cycling rates in countries with cultures very similar to ours is independant of mandatory helmet laws.

      which suggests that infrastructure and urban design inhibits cycling more than what MHls do.

      To argue that the only, or even the greatest, variable explaining why Australia's cycling participation rate is vastly lower than the netherlands is helmet laws is incorrect.

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  5. Rae McPherson

    Natural Resource Manager

    As a regular commute cyclist I have no problem with wearing a helmet. I also wear covered shoes, long sleeves and long pants (none of this is lycra) to further protect me from the sun and should I come off my bike. I ride to the left of the main carriage-way and hate riding in more than single-file as I like to have room to swerve right and left should I need to evade pot holes, roadside debris etc.

    I am currently living in a town which has been promoting cycling and all the health and environmental…

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  6. Dave Smith

    Energy Consultant

    "Australia is one of the few countries in the world with mandatory helmet laws."

    But why is this so? Are we really so much smarter and more enlightened than other countries? Or are we missing something?

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    1. Darren Anderson

      Economist

      In reply to Dave Smith

      Dave, I think we are missing the forest for the trees, focusing upon the tangible and easily measured, as opposed to the broader picture.

      I touched upon your point in my reply to Seamus above.

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  7. Thomas Stace

    Senior Lecturer in Physics at University of Queensland

    I strongly support mandatory helmet laws, confirmed a few years ago when I saw the protective benefits that helmet-wearing friends enjoyed when they suffered a serious accident.

    However, I would be keen to see either Melbourne or Brisbane, which both have Velib-style city-cycle bike schemes, do an experiment as to whether relaxing helmet laws specifically for city-cycle users results in a substantial increase in the scheme's usage.

    After say 12 months, there would be enough data to decide whether the relaxed helmet laws had any impact on city-cycle use, and if so, whether there was sufficient social/transport/fitness benefits to to offset potential increases in severe head injuries.

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    1. Freestyle Cyclists

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Thomas Stace

      It's hard to believe, but government and Bicycle Network Victoria both claim that helmet laws are not the reason for the very low take-up of the share bikes in Melbourne and Brisbane. This is wilful ignorance, and can only be explained by their fear of admitting that helmet laws can have unintended harmful consequences.

      Taking the bike-share schemes separately from other cycling, it's clear that the potential health benefits of encouraging physical activity are being lost, with an overall disbenefit…

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Freestyle Cyclists

      I concur that making helmets optional for the bike hire schemes is a good idea. I don't think, however, that the bike hire scheme is necessarily a good idea or that it should even be supported.
      1. The bike hire scheme does not compete with car trips as the scheme is limited to the iner city. What it competes with is public transport.
      2. if people don't hire bikes what do they do? presumably walk or take public transport. What is wrong with walking or taking public transport for which you require…

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  8. Steve Shaw

    logged in via Facebook

    The article was a great read but I must ask did the author actually talk to any TBI survivors. (TBI is the medical techo term for the diffuse axonal injury version of Traumatic Brain Injury.)

    Me I was wearing a bicycle helmet which saved me from any surface head injury BUT in no way from "Baby Shaking Syndrome". My brain just smashed onto the inside of my skull breaking brain neurones everywhere.

    I am happy to talk to the author and enlighten him.

    Unfortunately the only helmet that would have saved from a TBI would have to be as big as wearing a pillow under my helmet on my head to absorb the shock.

    In summary I am all for helmets as long as they are new improved models so we can trust that they will live up to expectations.

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Steve Shaw

      Steve, as a survivor from both bicycle and motorcycle crashes, I can empathise with you, and you raise an important point about how good current helmets are- and can they be better - I have no idea on that.

      I think the other hard question to answer from your case study of one, is what would have happened to you if you weren't wearing a helmet at all?

      In my case, I wasn't wearing a helmet in the bicycle crash, but didn't hit my head. The motorcycle ocrash left a very large gash in the helmet, while my head was okay.

      So did the helmet mitigate against severity in your case, but could a better helmet have done more? They are questions worth having answered.

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    2. Steve Shaw

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan, I do not understand your glib quote about perfect being the enemy of the good. Please explain.
      As for my TBI being better than what might have been raised far more questions than it was originally intended.
      I am treading on very sensitive ice at the moment, for me your comment although all nice, touchy feely and supportive of the injured party in no way considers the type of life the TBI but helmeted survivor has been left to live. Mine is a life of continual frustration around all the things I can no longer do. My memory has survived just enough so I can piece together all the stuff I really enjoyed and made me feel like a valued part of the community and family. So as I mentioned in my first piece please at least get to know a bicycle crash survivor with complications from wearing a helmet.
      Over to you.

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Steve Shaw

      Steve Shaw wrote;"In summary I am all for helmets as long as they are new improved models so we can trust that they will live up to expectations." Thank you for your perspective, and could not agree more.
      Two in my family are nurses, both are cyclists and one has specialised in ED, ICU and CCU for over thirty years. Few grasp the issues at your level or understand how much work there has been before your comment here. You are raising awareness and that is perfect from a personal perspective. Thank you.

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    4. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Steve Shaw

      Letting "the perfect be the enemy of the good" is refusing an improvement to a problematic situation, on the basis that the problem is not completely solved.

      My apologies if the comment came across as arrogant.

      Most problems, including the problem of head injury when falling from a bicycle, have no 100% solution. Nobody ever pretended or promised that cycle helmets would prevent all head injuries.

      To the best of my understanding until reading further based on links from this article, I…

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    5. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan Maddox wrote; "In any single case this is probably impossible to prove one way or another"
      This very basic issue effects the validity of all helmet compulsion laws argument.
      Not everyone rides at pace, travels up to 100kph downhill off road or on, spins with a cadence of 100-120 and routinely takes to high risk commuting or rides on heavily used roads.
      My argument is the same as another commenter here Michael Tam wrote; "..... it is very likely to be true that if you have a cycling…

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  9. murray smith

    retired

    As bike rider, I had an accident which showed the need for the wearing of a helmet, hitting a car, and flying through the air for 6 m, coming to rest on the road with the hemet smashed and unusable, the only head injury, a broken tooth caused by the impact!, but a broken pelvis and wrist on the rest of my body. Without the helmet I do not think I would be writing this today, so I think helmet use needs to be enforced!.

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Tom, are you actually pinged for not wearing a helmet? I see people riding without helmets and are not aware of any being pinged (doesn't mean it doesn't happen).

      But I am in the rural back-blocks of the South Island, so maybe in the bigtowns (eg Melbourne and Sydney, there is more enforcement of the law.

      I'd be interested to see references to studies that prove that enforced helmet laws increased rates of injury, specifically due to the helmet being worn.

      Does that mean that there was an increase in DAI injuries that was greater than the decrease in other injuries that was due to more helmets being worn?

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    2. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Hi Peter,

      Unlike some people, I'm not a human encyclopaedia of studies relating to bicycle helmets and mandatory helmet laws. These people do impress me greatly, but I can't emulate them. Bad memory for that kind of thing, I guess.

      However, I can provide this link to get you started: http://helmetfreedom.org/572/how-much-safer-to-helmet-laws-make-us/

      I do not believe that a person needs to fully understand each study they read (and nor do I believe that a person needs to take into account…

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    3. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Hi Tom

      Thanks for that, and the link. For what it's worth, I don't know if I would make helmets compulsory if I were in charge of things.

      As with seat belts, it's not a cause or contributor to crashes but to outcome severity, so it really is a civil liberty issue because it's quite different to factors that cause/contribute to crashes.

      Were still left with the questions of whether helmets reduce injury severity and deaths, and the different question of whether compulsory helmet laws have reduced injurity severity and deaths.

      Or maybe I am just confused by all the different opinions and "facts" in all the comments on this article.

      Michael Dinh's "Can of Worms" has created a fair debate - well done.

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  10. Martin Miller

    logged in via Twitter

    So should pedestrians and drivers of motor vehicles wear helmets also? As they receive head injury also. It is important to do this studies on all traffic injures not just bicycle riders and motorcyclists. Then the correlation between head injury on all modes of transport needs to be considered and the rate.
    So that, are you more likely to receive a head injury by walking, cycling, driving, passenger or on a motorcycle. This then also needs to be considered against the ratio of distance travelled. This is where the Netherlands comes out on top. It has the lowest rate of fatalities and injuries by km/h travelled. Sadly the same can't be said for Australia even with Mandatory Helmet laws!

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    1. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Martin Miller

      For NSW, cyclist compared to pedestrain deaths indicates very little benefit from helmet laws, eg

      1886-90, C-114, P-924, percent C/P = 12.3%
      1991-95, C-58, P-616, C/P = 9.4%
      1996-2000, C- 56, P-564, C/P = 9.9%
      2001-05, C-64, P-457, C/P = 14.0%
      2006-10, C-54, P312, C/P = 17.3%

      Cycling reduced following the helmet laws in NSW, the 9.4 is 76% of 12.3. Roughly it appears that lives have not been saved but deaths have reduced due to both reduced cycling levels and improved road safety.

      On the other hand, from about 7 million people in NSW, if 1 in 20 do less exercise by having a helmet law, that is about 350,000 people who are probably at higher health risks. In addition thousands of fines, lost of civil liberty in having a choice, environmental aspects are added considerations.

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  11. peter mackenzie

    Transport Researcher

    Ian, I have great doubts about the veracity of studies that conclude that other road users take less care around cyclists because cyclists wear helmets.

    From studying on-road behaviour for decades, and working with behavioural change etc, countless drivers generally either aren't looking for cyclists, genuinely can't or don't see them, don't think and plan anything other than getting to where they are going, and just want to go past those pesky cyclists holding them up.

    I can't say it's not possible, but I really doubt it.

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  12. David Slee

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    As a bike rider, I can see there are good arguments for and against the mandatory wearing of helmets. As always, a one-size fits all approach may not translate into the best overall outcome for the people it is designed to protect.

    The majority of my riding is in quiet back streets close to my home where I am familiar with the roads and the traffic conditions. I ride at a relaxed speed and feel very safe on the road. I wear a helmet.

    If the laws making it mandatory were to be repealed, I would probably choose not to wear a helmet at these times. However I would continue to wear a helmet if I was to ride into the city or in another higher risk area.

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to David Slee

      David, my motorcycle crash was on a quiet road, 100 metres from my home. The bicycle crash was similarly on a quiet road that only led to a few houses. In both cases it only took one careless car driver to negate my relaxed riding - and send me off in an ambulance for one of the crashes.

      Similarly, my workmate drove her bus into a ditch on a backroad to save the life of an out-of-control incoming car.

      In some ways, the quiet roads are more scary, because its so unpredictable, and easier to become over-relaxed - whereas on most busier roads you know that drivers will regularly be errant and are on heightened alert.

      If helmets do reduce adversity of outcomes, then they are worth wearing. Whether that should be compulsory is an issue for which we will never have consensus.

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  13. Luke Barrett

    Ecologist at University of Melbourne

    There are observational studies and then there are near-fatally confounded observational studies. I think this one is the latter. My supervisor would rip me to pieces if I tried to draw any conclusions from this paper. I would suggest that severe head injuries are the statistic of interest here (as the risk of a nasty bruise or graze is not such a compelling reason to wear a helmet), and this study is based on a dataset comprising a total of 6 helmeted and 9 non-helmeted cyclists presenting with…

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    1. Michael O'Reilly

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      Thanks Luke for the extra information for those of us who have not read the paper. That IS a tiny dataset.
      Alcohol point is a good one. Not wearing a helmet in Aus is outlier behaviour. On the right of this screen you'll see a previous Conversation article saying unhelmeted cyclists were more likely to be drunk. I'd be tempted to add, and cycling home from the pub with no lights. Thereby significantly increasing their chances of being hit by a car and suffering massive trauma, some of it to the head?

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    2. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Michael O'Reilly

      I'd say you're spot on there. I at least wouldn't feel comfortable drawing any strong conclusions without testing the alcohol effect.

      I should mention that they had a much larger total dataset (300+ patients), but only 15 had severe head injuries. However, this highlights another point: of the 300+ patients with sufficiently serious injuries to be admitted to trauma (the majority of cyclists never have a serious crash, and of those that do, most are minor and don't require hospitalisation), very few were head injuries. 5 times the risk sounds like a huge effect, until you remember that we're focusing on a tiny and unlucky subset of cyclists.

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      Am I missing something? the paper states:

      'There were 398 cases identified. Of these, 50 patients (13%) had missing helmet information, leaving 348 cases analysed.'

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    4. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Poor wording on my part, see my reply to Michael ^

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    5. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      i see, it is a bit rich attributing any effect to such a small sample size.

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    6. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote "i see, it is a bit rich attributing any effect to such a small sample size."
      Your constant attack of anyone denigrating the motor vehicle dominance of our cities is wearing out, becoming passé. All the arguments are centred around unfalsifiable information.
      Must be getting difficult defending such an obviously poor method of transport bias.

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    7. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      paul,
      frothing at the mouth again. if you read the conversation above you will see that I concur with a comment that states that it is difficult to agree with the conclusions drawn by the author concerning the effect of helmets on sever head injury.
      let me spell this out for you;
      I am DISagreeing with the conclusions of the author.
      Which means I am saying that this article does not strongly support helmet efficiacy in mitigating severe head injury.
      This is how one criticises an article, not by assuming that everything written by one person supports or refutes one's position reflexively.
      If you hadn't just made yourself look like a complete dill I would ask for an apology.

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    8. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "paul, frothing at the mouth again."
      More denigration and there is the projection again. Recommend you step off for a few hours and cool down.

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    9. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      *laughing*
      read everything I wrote Paul...you might be surprised what you were arguing against....

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    10. Michael O'Reilly

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      What percentage of the 348 weren't wearing helmets?

      Btw I'm surprised motorbike helmets were reportedly less effective than bicycle helmets, when compared with no lid. A motorbike helmet is a proper piece of kit, not just a lump of often badly fitting foam. Since I have personally never seen a motorcyclist not wearing one ... Was the sample even smaller? Or, were they riding on private property, free of impacts w cars, kerbs ...

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    11. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Michael O'Reilly

      Here's the breakdown for severe head injuries...
      Cyclists:
      Total = 110, helmets = 70, without helmets = 40
      Cyclists with severe head injuries:
      Total = 15, helmets = 6, without helmets = 9
      The helmet effect:
      p value = 0.04 (no effect size, standard error etc given)

      Motorcyclists:
      Total = 238, helmets = 206, without helmets = 32
      Motorcyclists with severe head injuries:
      Total = 35, helmets = 26, without helmets = 9
      p value = 0.02 (no effect size, standard error etc given)

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    12. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      To be fair, they do give some effect sizes in the text. But yes, we're not talking about a rigorous observational study here.

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    13. David Jones

      Engineer

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      Of the group of 6 people I rode with on the weekend, 4 have taken heavy blows to the helmet. Of these only 1 was admitted to hospital (and that was not for head trauma). Although none of us is a medical expert, we all felt we could easily be dead if not for the protection given by the helmet. I hit a tree at 60 km/h, knocked myself unconscious and smashed my helmet to pieces yet did not require admission to hospital. I am certain I would be dead if not for the helmet.
      There would be a huge number of riders like us who would never be picked up in such a survey because of the effectiveness of helmets.

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    14. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      My conclusion to the above is that helmets, both motorcycle and bicycle, are not very effective at preventing the most severe of head injuries. This is no surprise, given the forces involved in severe impacts.
      The true test of helmet efficacy is if they convert letahality into morbidity and severe morbidity into rehabilitable injury and rehabilitable injury into a temporary headache.

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    15. John Kerr

      IT Education

      In reply to David Jones

      Have to agree with you. I know of two of my students who would definitely be dead without helmets suffering only bruising and I'm fairly sure they did not go to hospital. Their helmets were crushed by truck tyres and their heads slipped out. They wouldn't be counted because of the non-appearance at hospital.

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    16. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to John Kerr

      @David and @John: My point was not that bike helmets don't work - I'm sure they do in a certain percentage of cases. My point is that this is a terrible study, and one that has no business being presented in the mainstream media.

      But in the interests of disclosure, I personally prefer to go with a helmet. I've ridden a bike almost daily since I was little kid, I've learned to read the road and the traffic well, and I enjoy it a lot more without a helmet. People should make their own choices about the risks, but I'm certainly opposed to legislation. Fortunately for me, the police here in Perth generally have better things to do than enforce the helmet laws.

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    17. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      *I prefer to go without a helmet.

      Also, I should be more careful with my typing in the absence of an edit button!

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    18. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      Luke Barrett wrote; "My point is that this is a terrible study" Appreciate your perspective, as a lobbyist for the law introduction for WA. Your experience is mine and add that over time the introduction of the law has done nothing to create a good cycling culture. The big advances have come from the network of cycle paths in WA, as just one local example. Individuals, including parents should be able to access if a helmet is needed, not everyone is going to ride at pace with high cadence, on high…

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  14. Matthew Dunn

    Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Deakin University

    Having witnessed a cyclist go slamming into the side of a 4WD that was turning right into a side street, I think I'll stick to wearing my helmet no matter how far the distance.

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  15. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    Michael Dinh wrote; "If mandatory helmets are good enough for motorcyclists, they’re certainly good enough for pedal cyclists." Using that logic pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers should be wearing helmets as well. Just try and get that past the motor vehicle lobby.
    Thank you for another 'opinion' piece on mandatory helmet law, it just goes to prove how ridiculous the bias on this subject are.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Oh please....

      paul Richards wrote:
      'pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers should be wearing helmets as well'

      1. pedestrians don't reach speeds of 80kmh, if they did a helmet might come in handy.
      2. Motorists are protected by active safety devices such as multiple airbags and passive safety devices like seat belts and side impact beams..

      Paul Richards wrote:
      'Thank you for another 'opinion' piece on mandatory helmet law it just goes to prove how ridiculous the bias on this subject are (sic).'

      If you're philosophically opposed to the mandatory wearing of helmets so be it. But this says nothing about the protective effect of helmets.

      If you cannot argue against inconvenient evidence about helmet efficacy attacking the author won't help. Objecting to the author's support of MHLs does not diminish the quality of his evidence. Only refuting the quality of the evidence would achieve this.
      You are committed both the ad hominem and composition logical fallacies.

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote ; "You are committed both the ad hominem and composition logical fallacies." What the ....? 'composition logical fallacies', that phrase makes no sense. Literally.
      However, it is true motor vehicles routinely hit pedestrians at 20kph and higher killing them. Have you actually read the death and injury rates on the world scene for both motor vehicles and pedestrians?
      Logical fallacy indeed, put about by vested interest groups in promoting motor vehicle dominance of city streets worldwide! A good scan of the planning scene will demonstrate the tide is turning. Everywhere streets / cities are being humanised and your highly charged emotional argument and 'climate of fear' you personally constantly promote cannot stop it.
      Can you please explain why the Danish with no helmet compulsion for cyclists have a lower road fatality rate than Australia?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      'Can you please explain why the Danish with no helmet compulsion for cyclists have a lower road fatality rate than Australia?'
      the same way that I can explain why Britain has a cycling participation rate commensurate with australia despite having no MHLs.
      It is multifactorial with MHLs being but one factor, infrastructure being the greatest contributor to both road safety (hence the danish example) and cycling participation.
      How do you explain this:
      http://www.cyclingpromotion.com.au/content/view/526/9/

      If the chip on your shoulder wasn't weighing you down so much you might be able to peer upwards and see it- helmets work and the effect of MHLs is overstated as a deterrent to cycling.

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    4. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "It is multifactorial with MHLs being but one factor" Nice try but given the numbers of cyclist in Denmark your argument falls falt.
      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "If the chip on your shoulder wasn't weighing you down so much...." That is what psychiatrist and phycologists call projection.
      There is no 'chip, your emotional state is understood, having once held the same 'faith' in helmet laws. Being an active advocate prior to their first introduction to Australia through in WA legislation, my belief was they made a difference also. Very difficult thing to admit you were wrong having advocated 'like' you. But misguided ideas take hold, that's life.

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    5. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Well,
      what else am I to think? the bulk of the literature supports helmet efficacy. The bulk of the evidence states that in Australia, and elsewhere, cycling participation rates are at least independant, at most partially influenced, by MHLs. You reject the conclusions of htis author, and every author, that does not support your position as 'biased' without recourse to any refutation of the data.
      i have no other conclusion to draw except you are so biased that you cannot see evidence that runs counter to your preformed ideas.
      You accuse me of the same, yet I stated above in a discussion, with another correspondent, about this study that i thought that the author overreached in his conclusion. That, my friend, is evidence of critical thinking not bias. In the same discussion you accused me of bias when in fact i had argued against the author. You jump to conclusions without even reading detail and you accuse me of bias...

      well, let me accuse you of hypocricy, sir.

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    6. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      "..... every author, that does not support your position as 'biased' without recourse to any refutation of the data." More projection, this is becoming a habit.
      The bias is built into the transport infrastructure at every level. Look around, the law protects cyclists, but our enforcers do not. We rarely prosecute motor vehicle drivers for endangering cyclists or pedestrians, any law enforcement has become about revenue gathering. Making the victim of motor vehicle vs pedestrian or cyclist in accidents…

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    7. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, why not mandatory helmet laws for motorists too? You are surely aware of the order of magnitude difference in the number of head traumas suffered by motor vehicle passengers (even with seatbelts and airbags) in comparison with cyclists. Wearing of helmets by motorists would be highly likely to greatly reduce the number and severity of such injuries. Hell, it might even reduce peoples' use of automobiles, with an associated reduction in pollution, congestion, noise, and injury of fellow road users and pedestrians.

      This is what proponents of MHLs for cyclists overlook. Their own logic provides a much stronger basis for MHLs for motor vehicle passengers than it does for cyclists.

      And what about other activities with high risks of head trauma? Skateboarding? Skiing?

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    8. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      Asgley,
      polease point out where I have asked for mandatory helmet wearing for cyclists and I'll answer your question as to whether motorists ought to wear helmets.

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    9. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      Thanks you for misrepresenting me, yet again. I'd like you to point out on this page where I have supported MHLs for cyclists. In fact, read my comments and you'll see that I have unequivocably supported voluntary helmet wearing for adults.
      Again, reflexive antagonism has made you appear foolish.

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      That's great, but swirtchhing topics doesn't render your ignorance of the published data any less absurd.
      You inability to approach data that confounds your preconceptions speaks volumes.
      I think strategic foresight should really be changed to myopic foresight.

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    11. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "Thanks you for misrepresenting me, yet again." Really?
      You support compulsory helmet use for children. You personally are at the vanguard of the 'Climate of Fear' developed around cycling by the motor vehicle lobbyists.

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    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      I am at the vanguard of 'the climate of fear developed ... By motor vehicle lobbyists'. As flattering as it is to be at the centre of your paranoid fantasies i'm afraid that it does little to further your argument.

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    13. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "As flattering as it is to be at the centre of your paranoid fantasies i'm afraid that it does little to further your argument." Is that it, more projection?
      No denial you are an advocate of compulsory helmet use for children, the very foundation of a sustainable society?

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    14. Derek Mccue

      Mental health nurse

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Cars have seat belts and air bags so your comparison lacks validity. There is no place for ideological arguments in public health it needs to be about the evidence.

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Heinrich Benz

      Heinrich Benz wrote; "It is lack of infrastructure and an unsafe shared road environment caused by high car speeds and no legalised safe passing distance" Could not agree more, some here are so focused on the outcome they cannot see the cause.
      The holistic approach taken in Europe is working. Our protection of the motor vehicle by compelling cyclists to wear a helmet, has done nothing to change our poor driving culture. Neither has speeding and red light camera fines. However, enforcing 'strict liability'with automatic fault for an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist will. The model is there to see the metrics on in the Netherlands. The unpalatable fact is it focuses on the 'cause' of the problem not the 'result'. The motor vehicle supporters or lobbyist do not want that.

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    2. Michael Boswell

      Post-graduate Theology student, nursing assistant

      In reply to Heinrich Benz

      Heinrich, I believe we need to address both issues. The helmet laws are a problem. However, the lack of a 'low speed' infrastructure is a greater problem. I say low speed because it includes all the non-bicycle users of 'bike tracks' like goehers.

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  16. Julia Massey

    Cyclist

    Off topic here but I wonder if a good topic for The Conversation would be:
    What is car registration and what does it pay for? In other words, why do motorists insist that paying registration and CTP would make our roads any better or safer? And then publish it on every Murdoch press owned site on the wonderful word-wide web.
    Also, I wear lycra for the same reason I don't wear pyjamas when swimming.

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  17. Luke Mancell

    Equities trader

    This article is talking about this emergency situation as if it is an inherent risk of cycling. The situation described is being hit by a car. Reframing it as a risk of cycling means we can blame the victim instead of taking the driver's licence away. If this driver does not understand that hitting people in cars is going to kill them they shouldn't have a licence.

    Do those same emergency workers ask if pedestrians were wearing a helmet when they were hit by a car? If you want to save the the…

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    1. Derek Mccue

      Mental health nurse

      In reply to Luke Mancell

      Got any evidence to support your asserted link between helmets and obesity? How do you explain the obesity increases in all the countries that do not have helmet laws?

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  18. Hugh McColl

    Geographer

    Any parents in da house? The day you send your five year old child off to school down the road will you put a helmet on them to obey the law or because you'd prefer them to have some protection rather than none?

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    1. Tim Paton

      Automotive Engineer

      In reply to Hugh McColl

      Of course, the day I walked my 5 year old to school for the first time, I made sure she was wearing her pedestrian helmet, because I prefer she has some protection rather than none.

      Oh no, wait...

      Every point the article makes about the effectiveness of helmets against cycling head injuries is equally true about pedestrian head injuries.

      If you can give any reason to oppose the introduction of mandatory pedestrian (and motoring) helmets, you'll understand the argument against mandatory cycling helmets.

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    2. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Tim Paton

      > Every point the article makes about the effectiveness of helmets against cycling head injuries is equally true about pedestrian head injuries.

      Well no, because bicycles implicitly are capable of much higher speeds. In the case of adult riders they're also vastly more likely to be sharing road space with motorised vehicles which go faster still.

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  19. Ian Grey

    Director

    Curse you once more, "The Conversation", for piquing my interest and hijacking my work day by sending me on a bout of web searches and small "C" conversations to satisfy that pesky curiosity! A little disappointed that some of the tired old car vs bike views get thrown around yet again but certainly a stimulating debate. I think I changed my mind three of four times during the journey but thought I'd throw in a few ideas, for what it's worth:

    1. It's complicated. Assessing the overall net…

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Ian Grey

      Ian, good points. I agree we hould be discussing ways to reduce accident rates involving bikes. But on the other hand, that doesn't negate the issues with helmets.

      Australia's road-user behaviour risk management is so inadequate that I have asked the federal government to convene a working group on risk incidence, reporting, assessment and management (interventions) for all road-use.

      And have requested they include bicycle, motorcycle, truck reps, not just cars.

      At the moment there is…

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    2. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Peter, pls tell the authorities to paint all 80 kmh roads with bike lines even when the bike lane is too narrow to satisfy existing specifications. They always tell me there is a lack of room on the rds i travel on.
      I'm mystified how these people remain in employment considering their lack of common sense or care.

      As a cyclist the commutes 32 km per day to/from work some of which is along 80 kmh rds i dont care 1 iota if the bike lane narrows to just a foot or 2, as long as there is a line there…

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    3. Ian Grey

      Director

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Thanks Peter, that sounds like an eminently sensible approach that should yield some valuable results. It is unfortunately that understanding, robust assessment and management of risk are things that we tend to do very badly across the board both as individuals and as a society. Best of luck!

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    1. Derek Mccue

      Mental health nurse

      In reply to George Crisp

      The freedom is whether or not to ride a bike, not whether to wear a helmet. religious exemptions to helmet laws are an area that needs to be addressed as well, if you have to cannot wear a helmet for religious reasons than do not ride a bike.

      This is a simple public health and has nothing to do with ideas of personal liberty and if we are leading the rest of the world then that is a good thing.

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    2. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Derek Mccue

      Really? One is a freedom and one is not? That would seem to be convenient rather than consistent. It also assumes that wearing a helmet is definitely a public health measure. That is not the case. There is a great deal of uncertainty on this issue.

      Secondly, following your reasoning, and if it really were a "simple public health measure", we should legislate against other risk factors . Smoking is out, and alcohol for that matter. Skiing- definitely dangerous and swimming at the beach, well perhaps only in designated and patrolled areas.

      You see my point. All of these relate to personal freedom, just like wearing or not wearing a helmet.

      And for your information I certainly do think there are examples where overriding personal freedoms in the public interest is justified, eg mandatory seat belts, where there is overwhelming evidence of benefit. And particularly in areas where the damage is inflicted on a 3rd party, like air pollution or passive smoking.

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Derek Mccue

      George Crisp wrote; "........ if you have to cannot wear a helmet for religious reasons than do not ride a bike....... public health and has nothing to do with ideas of personal liberty and if we are leading the rest of the world then that is a good thing." George Crisp makes a strong logical line of argument for sustainable transport encouraging cycling. It is simple to follow, beneficial and has a big picture overview of how we humanise streets of cites.
      Derek Mccue wrote; ".... we are leading the rest of the world then that is a good thing." Is subjective to an conservative mindset, which is natural value to hold, as at lease forty five percent of our population hold these values. But just how does this comment contribute to humanised sustainable transport system, with re-humanised cities and suburbs?

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    4. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Sorry George attributed quote was wrong : / Should have read "Derek Mccue" apologies.
      Your logic stream is sound, and highly evolved.

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    5. Derek Mccue

      Mental health nurse

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Show me the research that establishes a clear causational relationship between compulsory helmet laws and decreased levels of cycling.

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    6. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Derek Mccue

      Whilst there is some circumstantial evidence, I doubt there is definitive evidence, it is complex and only Aus has introduced these laws. However I think it is secondary, because:

      a) there is very compelling evidence that cycling directly and significantly benefits individual cyclists and also wider community through decreased air pollution and road congestion etc

      b) the likely benefits of helmet wearing are relatively small ( and maybe real ) and primarily impact the cyclist.

      A tiny small amount of reduction in cycling would have very significant negative individual and community impacts.

      The onus must be on those who seek to prove cycle helmets are worthwhile, as we generally do not impose laws which may have adverse health and economic impacts without very good reason.

      These criteria have not been met.

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    7. Derek Mccue

      Mental health nurse

      In reply to George Crisp

      Benefits are much wider than just the individual cyclist, a reduction in morbidity and mortality has economic repercussions.

      There is no downside to helmets and disagreements are based on ideology not health outcomes as you have demonstrated

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    8. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Derek Mccue

      Derek Mccue wrote; ".... no downside to helmets and disagreements are based on ideology not health outcomes as you have demonstrated" The lack of a downside is subjective, given the narrow perspective of all data presented. In looking at individual incidents there is no conclusive proof, just a subjective opinion of the outcome.
      It is obvious that there is disagreements based on ideology not health outcomes, because ideology drives how health outcomes a valued.
      Do we value a sustainable cycling culture and humanised cities or not?
      Because there is a large group of people with a lifetime commitment to the status quo. The status quo measured by worlds best practice is dehumanised streets, in cities, towns and suburbs.

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  20. The Warrior Factor

    logged in via Twitter

    Geez, another bigoted article. You doctors are the biggest HYPOCRITES on the planet. Where's all your sympathy for the head trauma to motorists and pedestrians, or indeed any activity that might have had an injury reduced by wearing a helmet? It's an absolute disgrace. Cyclists make up less than 3% of road head trauma. So while you want to "care" about that 3%, you don't give a hoot about the 97%. It's absurd.

    As for the "health costs", again, major hypocrisy. They are taken up by most by obsesit…

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  21. Jana Pi

    logged in via Facebook

    As multiple people have pointed out in the comments, the statistical weight of this study is questionable, because the sample is so small. But it also does the relatively common mistake of making general recommendations for public behaviour based on protection from (what seems like) an extremely unlikely event. (The kind of thinking that would make every house have to withstand a 1,000-year flood event, every restaurant an outbreak of plague, every school a mass shooting.) This thinking is particularly…

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  22. James McIntosh

    logged in via Facebook

    I wonder what the author's view would on making helmets mandatory for car occupants (and possibly even pedestrians) given the much high absolute numbers of fatalities among those groups.

    The argument that helmets make you hot and uncomfortable applies less in an air conditioned car than when exerting oneself on a bike. And the use of helmets in cars is well established in motor sport.

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  23. Robert Attila

    Business Analyst

    I wear helmets on the road, but find no value for them off-road for the decent rider except for protection from heat, cold, sun, etc..

    By far the biggest safety factor on-road is the need for segregated lanes on roads.

    All roads should be line marked for bikes even if the bike lane is not of even width.
    Drivers often lack the spacial awareness of how close they can pass a cyclist & so either pass too close, or far by encroaching into the lane to their right presenting an unnecessary hazard…

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  24. percival cox

    logged in via email @mailinator.com

    Why not just make people aware of the risks and costs of going without a helmet and let them decide? All cyclists that have spent any time on the road will realise very quickly that helmets are a good idea. It isnt safe even with a helmet. Meanwhile people who want to ride slowly on the footpath are also forced to wear helmets. Pedestrians arent forced to wear helmets and knee pads? Why not let cyclists go on the footpath federally and let different rules apply?

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  25. Michael Boswell

    Post-graduate Theology student, nursing assistant

    I suppose we all should wear sumo suits to protect ourselves. Bike helmet laws were introduced to Australian in spite of almost every cycling organisation objections. Deaths and injuries from cycling were negligible. In spite of all the safety improvements in cars sold in Australia, there is still a better argument for car helmet than bike helmet laws.

    The issue for this cyclist is simple. Is the additional cost of bike helmets a good public health measure? The answer is a resounding NO…

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  26. Harvey C

    Cyclist

    Mr Dihn can’t find evidence that bicycle helmets can aggravate brain injury?
    There is plenty of evidence, some mentioned here:
    http://crag.asn.au/2269

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      You COULd read crag.asn... or you could think for yourself and read the published statistics and literature.

      Crag.asn is laughably biased... written by the biased for the biased. The scary thing is that you don't see it.

      It's like Andrew Bolt reading Alan Jones reading Andrew Bolt reading........

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    2. The Warrior Factor

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      It's no more biased than this article. Clearly there's an agenda and predetermined conclusion to get, so every effort is made to achieve that. At least crag doesn't sell-out their cause. It's the hippocratic oath, not hypocritic oath.
      http://wp.me/p2S7SG-31

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  27. Willem Reyners Tay

    logged in via Facebook

    Long time driver, I started commuting to work from Randwick to Chatswood in Sydney for the first time.

    Result.. its actually fun, and not that hard.

    As for helmets shouldn't it be a personal choice?

    I wear a helmet, and it makes sense when you are doing an hour each way on busy roads and you need a shower at the end anyway.

    But if I only had to go to a short commute (20-30 minutes) and I didn't want to change when I got there, I wouldn't wear a helmet. It's a pain in the ass.

    Last time I checked the helmet laws were only really enforced in.. umm.. rural communities with high indigenous population. Does anyone have recent data on that?

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  28. Michael Tam

    General Practitioner, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer at UNSW Australia

    The issue is a little bit more complex than what has been portrayed.

    Firstly, it is very likely to be true that if you have a cycling accident, that you are less likely to suffer from a head injury if wearing a helmet. This has a high level of plausibility and we shouldn't really be questioning this.

    However, the real question here is whether the benefits from an individual wearing a helmet in accidents, necessarily translates to OVERALL BENEFIT from the POLICY of mandatory helmet laws. It…

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Michael Tam

      Michael Tam wrote; "Lastly, it is always best to improve safety by improving the environment that the activity occurs in, rather than relying on personal protection equipment" Lastly works best, is a sensible approach, uncommon as the perspective is, it is logical.
      Anyone disagreeing by elimination has a vested interest, either finically or ideologically. Our driver culture has to change, anyone with a wide range of experience of the world understands this. Compulsory helmet use does nothing to effect the primary cause pedestrian / cyclist vs motor vehicle accidents.

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Michael Tam wrote:
      'Firstly, it is very likely to be true that if you have a cycling accident, that you are less likely to suffer from a head injury if wearing a helmet. This has a high level of plausibility and we shouldn't really be questioning this.'
      Funny how you ignored this section of Mr Tam's argument....
      Confirmation bias perhaps?
      http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Paul Richards wrote;" Funny how you ignored this section of Mr Tam's argument...." Interesting.
      Your bias is showing Seamus.
      Why would there be a disagreement? After all as Michael Tam wrote; "we shouldn't really be questioning this." How could anyone disagree?
      But you continue to harp on and on and on about the issue.
      The logical conclusion is, you are intent on fostering "a climate of fear".
      As for motive, it is either as a hard core motor industry lobbyist working for an agency or a man on a mission to prove he is 'right' no matter what the overall effect on our cycling Australian culture. Time will tell.
      If it is evangelism, that is understandable. As a volunteer promoting the first compulsory helmet legislation in Australia, there is a realisation that this type of motive is pure.
      The motive is for you to know and the rest of us to discover.
      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "Confirmation bias perhaps?" Interesting perspective, something for you to reflect on.

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      So we agree then:
      1. helmets are efficacious
      2. infrastructure and legislative change is the best way to effect an increase in cycling participation rates and reduce cycling injury rates
      3. helmets for adults should be voluntary

      Where we don't agree:
      1. Helmets for children should be mandatory on public roads
      2. The evidence should guide public policy, not dogma
      3. Those who point out flaws in your arguments are not necessarily patsies of this mysterious 'motor lobby'.

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    5. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "Those who point out flaws in your arguments" Flaws apparent to a personal perspective, of course. Are these flaws or differing values?
      The stage of development, level at that stage and dependant on which tier anyone is on have a prime bearing on personal values. So cannot agree with this premise, although the reasoning is grasped.
      3. could better read; Those who disagree with a personal perspective, are not necessarily patsies of this mysterious 'motor lobby'. Naturally…

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    6. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      'Flaws apparent to a personal perspective, of course'. Ahem ... like stating that cycling is safer than driving when it is 10 times more likely to kill you for every km travelled - are these the inconvenient facts that you dismiss as 'personal perspective'?...

      Your arguments are merely opinion. That appears to satisfy you, congratulations. If you wish to advance the cause of cycling than this will be insufficient. If you wish to change public policy than having an opinion will not suffice, you have to be armed with evidence and a more nuanced and evolved perspective..

      Your conspiracy theories will also weird people out... best keep them to yourself if you wish to appear credible.

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    7. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; " Your conspiracy theories will also weird people out... best keep them to yourself if you wish to appear credible." Projection again, it is disappointing.
      If this was true there would not be cycling organisations and advocacy groups globally saying the same thing.
      Whereas your kernel of truth and it is still small, is generated by vested interests, there is a clear motive. Even if you fail to see it.
      What possible motive can any cycling organisation not tied financially…

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    8. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      I just showed this to a student. The response:
      'this guy is really weirded out- it's a like a garbled thought bubble'
      ... from the mouths of babes.

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    9. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; " 'this guy is really weirded out- it's a like a garbled thought bubble'" A brilliant demonstration of your values. His comment is totally believable and it is not surprising. One of the oldest tricks in the book, taking comments out of context.
      Nice sledge attempt. It may feel good in the moment, but your interior understands the hypocrisy.

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  29. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

    Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

    I must say, I really enjoyed reading the comments on this article. After reading all comments, as a person who did not grow up here, but in South Africa, I would like to know who drove / who was behind the implementation of the mandatory helmets laws? I recall I once read that journalist Philip Adams stated it was one of his biggest achievements, but I may be wrong.

    I started cycling at about 6 years of age on the farm and only started wearing helmets in the army 21 years later, when the army…

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    1. The Warrior Factor

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      A few people - doctors, moralising bureaucrats - thought it was a "good idea". They undertook research to prove helmets would help. After various submissions to state governments, the deathknell to freedom was then then Hawke federal govt blackmailing the states to enact a law to receive road funding. Polling apparently showed a good majority liked the idea of such a law, also thinking helmets are a "good idea" so the impact on freedom was disregarded. Of course, like the instigators of the law…

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to The Warrior Factor

      The Warrior Factor wrote; "While there's such mutual hatred between the two groups, nothing will ever be done." Well said, the cultural divide has widened. To the point even law enforcement victimises the pedestrian and cyclist. Understand you perspective completely.
      Recommend dropping the 'name' though, it breaches the rules here and your comment are a fresh breeze. Would hate to see your gems evaporate at a moderators click. Might work as your 'vocation' though and still get the point across.

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  30. David Corson-Knowles

    logged in via LinkedIn

    More importantly, helmets should be mandatory for all automobiles. If its good enough for motorcyclists, bikers, and crash test dummies, it's good enough for one of the world's leading causes of death: cars.

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to David Corson-Knowles

      David Corson-Knowles wrote; ".... helmets should be mandatory for all automobiles." That won't work, the compulsory helmet laws are meant to create a 'climate of fear' around walking and cycling. Not the motor industry, that's meant to be 'safe transport'.

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Driving is far safer than cycling.
      Te deaths per billion km in Australia for drivers and occupants of motor vehicles is 6.
      Stats in Victoria are 60 cyclist deaths per billion km travelled.
      http://www.cycle-helmets.com/safety_in_numbers2.pdf
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_Australia_by_year
      To see driving as more dangerous than cycling because absolute deaths are higher is a common cognitive bias.
      http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote;"Te deaths per billion km in Australia for drivers and occupants of motor vehicles is 6." Just why are you personally evangelistic about helmet use?
      Demonstrating the state of our driving culture and supporting the 'only' solution conservative governments have put up is a serious waste of all your energy.
      To develop our cycling culture and take the streets back pedestrians and cyclists need;
      * Strict Liability enshrined in law, taking the issue away from traditional law…

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      I'll answer your points:
      1. 'why are you personally evangelistic about helmet use'. I'm not. They are efficacious in mitigating against head injury, including brain injury, from cycling collisions. They ought to be used in situations where the risk of collision or fall is increased. I'm only evangelistic about correcting the amount of false statements written about this subject.
      2.'Demonstrating the state of our driving culture and supporting the 'only' solution conservative governments have…

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    5. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "A way of mitigating this risk is to wear a cycling helmet. At least this is what the vast majority of credible evidence demonstrates. Why is that so difficult to admit?"
      Why is that so difficult to admit?" Are you not hearing us?
      To Quote Michael Tam; " However, the real question here is whether the benefits from an individual wearing a helmet in accidents, necessarily translates to OVERALL BENEFIT from the POLICY of mandatory helmet laws."
      Michael Tam said it best…

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    6. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      Let me lead you through this as you don't appear to be able to comprehend the nuances in the argument.
      To paraphrase your first paragraph:
      1. Seamus wrote: helmets are efficacious as the evidence demonstrates
      2. Michael tam wrote that the benefits of helmet wearing do not necessarily require MHLs.
      3. Michael wrote: Helmets are efficacious'

      Right,
      I said helmets are efficacious. Michael said helmets are efficacious. You admitted helmets are efficacious.

      I said that helmet wearing should be voluntary for adults. michael said that the benefits do DO NOT NECESSARILY require MHLs.
      Note that the 'do not necessarily' is very important, it means that there are arguments both way but neither are convincing.

      You state that MHLs should not exist (I note that you do not use an libertarian argument - which is quite a strong one- but an evidentiary argument,which is where you have failed to be convincing).

      The rest of your post? the same old conspiracy theory...

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    7. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote: "........ which is quite a strong one- but an evidentiary argument,which is where you have failed to be convincing." My field of study has been change, understanding and exposing inappropriate values has and never will be popular.
      As stated;
      "The only real effect [of your challenges of people] has been to encourage people to use the protection of motor vehicle on roads." Not a palatable to hear, this is understood.
      The rest of your journey is an interior one, reconciling…

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    8. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      This is what I stated:
      1. helmets are efficacious
      2. helmets ought not be mandated for adults
      3. helmets ought to be worn when the risk of head injury is increased
      4. infrastructure, legislation and education is the key to increasing cycling participation rates

      I have never stated that helmet use is the foundation of cycling safety, in fact I have said the reverse. You continue to misrepresent me which is at least ad hominem, at worst a failure to comprehend the nuances of argument…

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  31. Hans Schwabe

    logged in via Facebook

    I hate wearing a helmet.
    The biggest danger to the cyclist is the motorcar - I say :put enough safety gadgets around the car until it is as safe as a bicycle. ( may I suggest reducing speed wherever there is no adequate separate pedestrian and cycle paths).

    The rules should be that the most vulnerable gets the most consideration and the most dangerous (heaviest, fastest ) must be the most considerate. (and punishable if he/she is not.) Basic decency I would have thought.

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "....... US on bike helmets for children"
      Yet more unfalsifiable data supporting your personal contribution to the "climate of fear". Oh, and we all see the metrics are from the country with the worlds largest motor vehicle use. Very useful.
      Wonder what conclusions they draw? Let me guess.
      Your value system is clear, understandable and totally appropriate for where you are.Thank you for the update.

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; " ...Abstract from an even newer paper from the US on bike helmets for childrenr" Very good more evidence in the concerted campaign driven by the motor vehicle industry.
      More please.

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      You really should read before commenting.

      Your reflexive antagonism has betrayed you yet again. the conclusion states that bicycle helmet laws for children in america have NOT conclusively changed the overall level of head injury in this cohort (adjusted to take in other sports).

      Let me spell out what that means: you have rejected a study which does not support bicycle helmet laws for children.

      Your selection bias is not only evident but clearly needs calibration.

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  32. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Conclusion from:

    Bambach et al (2013) The effectiveness of helmets in bicycle collisions with motor vehicles: A case–control study, Accident Analysis & Prevention
    Volume 53, pp.78-88.

    "This case–control study of 6745 cyclist casualties resulting from collisions with motor vehicles has indicated that helmet use is significantly associated with reduced risk of head injury by up to 74%. This includes reductions in risk of up to 78% for skull fracture, 72% for intracranial injury, 74% for concussive…

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote "bicycle collisions with motor vehicles: A case–control study, Accident Analysis & Prevention" Still evangelical. The emotional trigger must be very deep. Interesting.
      As for all the papers, what else could anyone say to justify there personal opinion of totally unfalsifiable data, but put forward an opinion piece.
      All this is ever about is value systems.
      Hoever, it is interesting you are still failing to acknowledge Michael Tam premiss when he said; "..... very likely to be true that if you have a cycling accident, that you are less likely to suffer from a head injury if wearing a helmet. This has a high level of plausibility and we shouldn't really be questioning this...... is always best to improve safety by improving the environment that the activity occurs in, rather than relying on personal protection equipment"
      Are you ever going focus on the cause, not the frightened response and work on our cultural need?

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      The author of the article (remember that) discusses a small study of the most severely injured presentations in Australian hospitals.
      The paper I quoted above is a large case controlled study about helmet effectiveness in Australia.
      Quoting it is entirely pertinent and germane to the subject at hand. Whilst it's entertaining to view your endlessly recycled conspiracy theoration and apeals to authority if you have nothing to add in terms of critiquing the paper or it's method why comment?
      Your inability to use the word 'unfalsifiable' in it's proper context and meaning is gratingly poor semantics.
      Have a look at this as a starter:
      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote:"discusses a small study of the most severely injured presentations in Australian hospitals." Naturally, it is entirely pertinent and germane to the subject at hand. In your opinion.
      Seamus Gardiner wrote:" Your inability to use the word 'unfalsifiable'. Hmmm, the answer to that is your ability to understand the nuances of its philosophical meaning are transparent.
      A question for your interior; Just how is all this rhetoric going to assit our cycling culture and develop humanised streets safe for children to ride on?

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul wrote:
      "Just how is all this rhetoric going to assit our cycling culture and develop humanised streets safe for children to ride on? "

      Ok, I'll be blunt. The more we cycling proponents use BS to try and convince the public that cycling participation is a great benefit for Australian society the less successful we will be. The only way to change public policy and enact legislative change, including the MHLs thatyou abhorr, is to present a watertight evidence based case on why change is…

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    5. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "Ok, I'll be blunt. The more we cycling proponents use BS to try and convince the public that cycling participation is a great benefit for Australian society the less successful we will be." In your opinion using the values you hold.
      To reiterate what was written:"A question for your interior; Just how is all this rhetoric going to assit our cycling culture and develop humanised streets safe for children to ride on?"
      It was a rhetorical question for your interior as stated…

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    6. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      You know I don't mind that you're obstinate, I don't mind that you're sanctimonious, I don't mind that you don't critically examine anything that you read because the world is full of that. What i do mind is that you're unable to comprehend that I can hold an opinion about one thing and not another. You seem to think in Bushian terms ("you're either with us or against us).
      I have repeatedly told you that infrastructure, legislative, educational and cultural change is the key to cycling safety and…

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    7. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Apologies, missed this one.
      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "You know I don't mind that you're obstinate ......... unable to comprehend that I can hold an opinion about one thing and not another." Wrong. Awareness of your stance is crystal clear.
      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "I don't see that being disengenuous and basically spreading BS is the key to needed change. On that we certainly disagree."
      There is an awareness of your sincerity and because of this it would be hypocritical to call anything you post…

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  33. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    Here is a great example of a brilliant midset. Creating humanised spaces and no mention of helmet compulsion anywhere. The Author laments the "climate of fear " around cycling; "the DOT released their statistics for traffic injuries for 2011, which showed a spike in bicycle related injuries and fatalities over the previous two years. I had a brief exchange with a woman handing out pamphlets about the statistics on a street corner. “Look,” she said, “so many people are crashing their bikes and dying.”"I pointed out that the increase in accidents had much more to do with an increase in the number of bicycles on the city streets, but she didn’t seem to understand my point." I know the feeling, still the anti cycling lobbyist roll on we even have our own home grown versions as we can read here.
    http://assemblepapers.com.au/2013/05/09/the-pace-of-coexisting-in-nyc/

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner said; "that sounds like someone who might think that the number of road motor vehicle deaths represents the relative safety of motor cars"
      Just why does that comment not surprise me?
      I seriously rue the day I alerted you to cognitive bias, you are like a rottweiler.
      Guess it is great to see you get the pitfalls of not using 'critical thinking'.
      Your assumption about me is flawed though, as stated I once held just an opinionated view about helmet benefits. So fully understand…

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  34. Kathy Francis

    logged in via Facebook

    Does Dr Dinh wish to prevent head injuries or promote helmets ? Does he, as a trauma surgeon, want to reduce injuires other than head injuries or is he only interested in head injuries ? I listened to this weeks radio interview with Dr. Dinh and he appeared largely unconcerned at the rise in cyclist non-head injuries . Since these could include neck and spinal injuries, which are both life changing and potentially require a considerable cost to the community this is an extraordinary attitude from…

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Kathy Francis

      Kathy Francis wrote:"Separated infrastructure on major arterial roads" Any hard critical thinker can see you are right, so many are focused on a single aspect of cycling safety. It seriously clouds the issue of cause of the injuries and unsafe streets. A big picture view takes a highly evolved set of values, which are clear from your comment. More power to you, keep raising awareness.

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  35. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    The trauma suregeon who treated me reckoned that, although helmets do a lot to reduce obvious injuries their value in reducing brain damage was slight.

    Data justifying helmets very seldom deals with brain damage although all the propaganda implies that helmet are strongly protective against it.

    Last I looked, and I do confess it is some time since I owned a car, registration was a trivial cost. Most of what you pay is Third-Party insurance. That is a lot because of the notarial evaluation of…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      I typed brain injury+ cycling + helmet into google scholar and I stopped counting the academic papers that discuss brain injury and helmets at 34 before I got bored. I didn't examine them all for bias but I did note Curnow's and Rissel's amongst them.

      I wouldn't call the papers discussing brain injury, cycling and helmet as 'seldom'. But if all you read are cycling blogs that is
      What you might think I suppose.

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  36. John Canning

    Professor at University of Sydney

    Hmmm even as a cycling fan, I know there is a growing problem with cyclists here. One thing that would be useful is for cyclists is to get off public footpaths - these are not shared tracks and the increasing attitude of them is no better than the motorists they whinge about. For example, I see countless university students flying along quite a busy King St every morning zigzagging around people causing some to nearly trip out of fright. An old women was almost bowled over by this young female cyclist…

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to John Canning

      John Canning wrote; ... I understand it is still illegal for cyclists to ride on pedestrian paths.... Understand your concern, the poor habits in shared transports systems has bled into some cyclists psyche. In law 'strict liability' applies in civil proceedings in this matter.
      However our road codes in the States and Territories are managed / enforced by the Police. Has anyone see a Police officer pulling a motor vehicle up for not following the road code with respect to pedestrians and cyclist…

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    2. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to John Canning

      Cyclists are allowed on the footpath if they are children, or accompanying children. King Street, Newtown is an abomination, however. I can't condone adult cyclists using the footpaths, but I can very much understand their choice to do so given the lack of provision for their safety in the traffic lanes and parking arrangements.

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan Maddox wrote; "Cyclists are allowed on the footpath if they are children, or accompanying children" This is true, Australian road codes allow for 'certain' riders on cycles on footpaths. In Victoria for example; under 12 year olds can use pedestrian only paths along with a guardian or parent supervising.
      Nothing changes though, when did you ever see Police enforcing this or similar code? They will fine people for non-compliance of the helmet legislation, but very rarely anything else. There needs to be a cultural change, a shift to mutual respect and this will only happen with enforcement of automatic fault in accidents.
      Strict liability used in the road code for cyclists having accidents with pedestrians. The same applied to motor vehicle drivers vs pedestrians and cyclist. Leave it to the insurer to bill the automatically guilty. Simple really, force a change in attitude through the pocket.

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    4. Luke Mancell

      Equities trader

      In reply to Paul Richards

      In Queensland cyclists are allowed on footpaths uless signed otherwise provided they give way to pedestrians.

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    5. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Paul Richards

      NORTHERN TERRITORY

      Right here in Australia we have an example of relaxing bicycle helmet laws to allow adult cyclists to ride without a helmet "along footpaths or on cycle paths which are not on roads". This has resulted in a situation where mandatory helmet laws are virtually unenforced.

      http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1114.html

      In the Northern Territory:
      * Rates of helmet wearing are very low at only 15-20%
      * Rates of injury of cyclists in NT are low
      * Cycling participation rates are very high

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    6. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Tom Nockolds wrote; "..helmet laws are virtually unenforced..." Great to hear, have not been to the Territory of over fifteen years. Still, don't be fooled into complacency there are those righteously indignate enough to change that. They are the 'rules must be obeyed, trains must run on time' types. A good deal of conservative thinkers feel driven to make others comply with their version of the world, no matter what the level of logic they dismiss. The rules must be obeyed.

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    7. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, you got me there - I should have said "NT has the lowest hospitalisation rate pro-rata population for any Australian state or territory" The lowest! And they have 80-85% of their cyclists not wearing helmets!

      Another way of putting the rates of serious injury for NT is to say that the "serious injury rate is the same as the national average and better than several states where helmet use remains mandatory for all cycling"

      Clearly, there has been no catastrophe as a result of the relaxing of helmet laws in NT. Quite the opposite - they enjoy very high cycling participation rates and the effect on cyclist safety is either negligible or positive (safer) - depending on how you measure it.

      The great thing about this story is that the NT have shown its possible to recover from the negative impact that mandatory helmet laws have on cyclist numbers - simply by relaxing the law.

      It's time for this success story to be replicated in other parts of Australia.

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    8. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      We probably should reproduce what Tasmania, SA and WA are doing if we wish to lower the rates of serious injury for cyclists.

      The nt helmet laws pertain to riding in bike pathways. To ride on the road still requires helmets. Where did you get the statistics that 80-85% of cyclists do not wear helmets? I take it was from a study, if so which one?

      Moreover, when comparing injury statistics it is important to consider rates of injury per cohort ( helmet wearing, nature of injury, age, place and time of accident, nature of journey etc). Just saying 'injuries went down' or 'injuries went up' is meaningless unless you separate the data.
      For instance if injuries stayed the same I darwin but more proportion was head injuries it would be meaningful, if head injuries went down it would be meaningful, if head injuries were highly proportional in those not wearing helmets it would be meaningful as would the obverse.

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    9. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Yes, to ride on the road in the NT still technically requires a helmet. However, the law is virtually unenforced. This is somewhat like not having the law in place at all.

      My numbers came from the web page that I linked to, but was expressed the other way around: "Helmet use is now low in NT, both off and on road, for adults and children. Estimates in 2004 suggested that 15% - 20% of cyclists continue to wear helmets, mostly 'serious' cyclists."

      I haven't gone to the bother of figuring out…

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      I had a look at the source you used - cycle helmets.org- the stats they use, and you quoted, are from 1993. Which would be around the time that the MHLs were first implemented. 1993. Tats 20 years ago.
      So what you have done is used stats on helmet use from 20 years ago and safety use from 9 years ago to make a point about helmet use and safety in 2013.
      That's logically incorrect in terms of temporal correlation or, in laymans terms, BS.
      This is what happens when you get your info from cycling blogs.

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    11. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Hi Seamus,

      Did you identify which of their references was the source of the claim "Estimates in 2004 suggested that 15% - 20% of cyclists continue to wear helmets, mostly 'serious' cyclists."? Can you please tell me which of the papers referenced was the source of this statistic from 1994? The reason I ask is because if you've identified an error like this on their website, I'm sure the authors would be very interested to correct their mistake.

      The Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation have…

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    12. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      p.s.

      I've seen how conversations underneath this article have deteriorated into a back-and-forth between two parties who are either nit-picking every word said by each other or attacking each other personally. I've also seen how some of these same people have done this in the comments sections underneath other articles in The Conversation. Whenever I've read these sorts of comments, I've found them to be tedious and a real turn off and I've vowed to not become one of those people.

      I've also started to see the levels of civility drop in the replies being posted against my comments under this article.

      So, on that basis, I'm out! Have a nice day everyone.

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    13. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Tom Nockolds wrote; "...underneath this article have deteriorated into a back-and-forth between two parties who are either nit-picking every word" Good call Tom, warned you earlier after your very first comment. Even though your logic stream is easy to follow, it could have gone just as you predict. More power to you.
      The whole helmet issue is highly subjective. Every single supporting paper has had vested interest evident once the surface is scratched [researched with hard critical thinking…

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    14. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      The 2004 ABC paper does not mention helmet wearing in the NT. The only other references in the cycling I've appended below.
      Te 2008 land transport accident data does not describe helmet wearing in the NT.
      This leaves the 4 NT documents from 1993. This was soon after MHLs were implemented in NT and 1 year before the amendment in NT permitting helmet free riding on bike paths.
      You used this to say:
      'Estimates in 2004 suggested that 80-85% are not wearing helmets'

      This also bears no relation…

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    15. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; " The 2004 ABC paper does not mention helmet wearing in the NT..... " So and so forth, verifying the value system held.
      To quote the paper "Australian Cycling – The National Strategy 1999 – 2004 is a national
      cycling strategy, endorsed by the Australian Transport Council, which provides a framework for the delivery of programs that aim to increase the numbers of people who ride bicycles."
      "aim to increase numbers of people who ride bicycles"
      Yes, they do with one central…

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    16. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      I note you did not read the preceding dialogue with Tom Nockold. If you did you would see that Tom used all these references which originally were cited by http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1004.html .
      Are you saying that cycle helmets.org is displaying ' a value system' and 'an academic smokescreen'?
      I agree, they are.

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    17. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "Are you saying that cycle helmets.org is displaying ' a value system' and 'an academic smokescreen'?" Smokescreen definitely not, considered opinion as doctors yes. Biased absolutely.
      As I repeatedly explain, often issues are based around value systems.
      Anyone with a value system that prioritises motorised cites before, humanised ones holds those values first, seeing the the world that way. Which is fine, good and proper for their level of thought. Where the 'smokescreen…

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    18. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Ahem...
      Paul, that was 23 years ago. This 'commissioning'of pro helmet legislation. I neither know nor care what there values were.
      Lets have a look at the epidemiology as of 2013.

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    19. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Yes agreed I sent the draft version, apologies. Maybe one day we will get a preview pre posting : /
      Should have read; Can you say conclusively you have examined the context or 'values' of these commissioning the pro helmet papers / studies?
      Naturally, in context of the years of the papers.

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    20. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      you are so tied in knots by your reflexive antiagonism to my comments that you have argued against the very organisations that you use to fuel your opinion (cyclehelmets.org). This really invalidates your comments and speaks volumes about the thoughtlessness of your commentry, let alone the humilation of having your bias exposed in such a way.
      Your arguments are really just opinion. The sad thing is that you claim to have 'strategic foresight' when it really is just tactical preconception.
      I'm happy to keep debating the evidence with anyone but as you refuse to even consider any information that runs counter to your preconceptions I'm afraid it's pointless. Until your value system grows to include a wider view of the world I'm afraid that you will be forever stagnant, dependent upon the views of others to inform your debate. But that's what you seem happy with...

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    21. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus wrote; "you are so tied in knots ......... very organisations that you use to fuel your opinion"...."..Your arguments are really just opinion.." "...I'm happy to keep debating the evidence"..."... I'm afraid it's pointless..." Finally, you see our reality, it's all about values. 
      By not directly answering the question; "Can you say conclusively you have examined the context or 'values' of those commissioning the pro helmet papers / studies?"; the answer logically is, no.  
      The assumption…

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    22. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Richards

      UNwillingness to discuss bias is not confirmation of or admittance of bias. , I'm surprised that, as an advocate of critical thinking, that you clould come to that conclusion.

      i refer you to two of your comments above:
      1.in relation to a paper quoted by cyclinghelmets.org. ' A completely corporate mindset, in a neo-liberal corporatised government labour or liberal quite normal and hardly conspiratorial. They know best is all, because their values a 'right proper and good' and must be obeyed…

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    23. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus Gardiner wrote; "......your mind is closed to new information. That is why this conversation is now closed.
      For those who have followed this tediously boring thread of comment now closed, here is something lighter and literally hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyY-xI6zgfk
      This video demonstrates our current political leadership's strategy of neither confirmation or denial. The response when answering a question is so overt, no one needs to use critical thinkings logical deduction. Emotional deduction will work fine.

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  37. Tony Grant

    Student

    Michael,

    Is there any stats on the "motorised bicycles" I have noticed the increasing number of children with these bikes, often with pinon passenger...helmets sometimes...and riding/driving of a night "no lights"?

    I was walking one evening several weeks ago when I heard 4 of these "machines" coming from a house and the "father/adult figure" telling them to ride "just in the local area"...he had slurred speech (possible alcohol related) and drove off in his car, that had been parked on the foot-path...why I have to walk on the road on my walks!

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  38. Debra Joan Smith

    Account Executive

    Australia is normally such a sensible country. CANADA has had bike helmet laws throughout the lives of my children. My eldest is 32- and I studied head injury as well. WHY would anyone WANT ONE?

    DID you know that you might recover from even a minor head injury BUT that it uses up reserves you will need to combat AGING? Maybe because it is a young person's sport- you think it does not matter BUT IT SURE DOES.

    IN THIS DAY and age, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. SURELY our STATS- reduced deaths, increased survival and increased in biking are available to you- even on line.

    WEAR a helmet- they WORK.

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    1. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Debra Joan Smith

      Here is a map of the world, showing those places with mandatory all ages helmet laws. http://helmetfreedom.org/847/bicycle-helmet-law-map/

      The experience in Canada largely aligns with the experience in Australia. In those provinces where all ages laws were introduced, the rates of cycling dropped dramatically and injury rates didn't change very much (or perhaps followed existing downward trends). Where the laws were not introduced (or were relaxed) the rates of cycling are higher and cycling is generally safer. Here's an example from Alberta where the reduction in cycling could have been as high as 40-60%: http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1032.html

      It may be the case that helmets work for individuals in an accident (hardly surprising); however the only thing that is clear about mandatory helmet laws is that they are a great way to reduce cycling.

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    2. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      http://xkcd.com/552/

      If the evidence exists that bike helmets reduce injury then we have to be extremely sure that they are actually the cause of reduced cycling rates before we consider repealing laws.

      What does the research say on the reasons people cite for not cycling? Are they really just worried about "helmet hair"?
      Or do the helmet laws make cycling seem like a more dangerous activity, and discourage people indirectly? In that case, we should look at how mandatory seatbelt legislation was introduced - after all, that didn't reduce driving rates at all!
      Could we increase cycling rates while keeping helmets, by increasing infrastructure and educating motorists - and cyclists about the "who owns the road" issue?

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    3. Lorna Jarrett

      PhD, science educator and science advocate

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      Incidentally, there are marked cycle lanes around Sutherland Station in NSW that are apparently designed specifically to cause dooring accidents - lanes are exactly bike-width and begin immediately next to car-parking space (ie: right in the door-opening zone).
      Educating (or prosecuting) the people responsible might help to reduce accidents.

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Ridership has not significantly changed in the provinces introducing MHLs according to this 2010 study:

      The effects of provincial bicycle helmet legislation on helmet use and bicycle ridership in Canada
      Jessica Dennis1, Beth Potter1, Tim Ramsay1,2, Ryan Zarychanski3,4

      Child cyclist head injury rates were not consistent, with some provinces experiencing a decline and some (without legislation) experiencing the same.
      Bicycle-related head injury rate in Canada over the past 10 years
      T Middaugh-Bonney, I Pike, M Brussoni, S Piedt, A Macpherson*
      Correspondence

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    5. John Kerr

      IT Education

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      Lorna, the problem is that there has usually always been an alternative to bike riding whereas the alternatives to taking the car were often limited. (Often the car is the alternative to the bike) I never heard anyone say, "I walked to work because I didn't want to wear a seat belt." However, I take your point that we need to find out for sure.

      I was a rural ambo when the seat belt laws came in and I remember a steep drop in deaths and serious injury over a few short years. The proof of their effectiveness was easy to see HOWEVER there was a constant whining from people saying how bad they were, that they didn't want to get trapped in a vehicle by their seat belt - in fact all sorts of excuses that have now disappeared because people see that they do save lives.

      I agree with you that there needs to be a long term campaign to increase cycling for fitness.

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    6. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      So, the first paper you mention "The effects of provincial bicycle helmet legislation...." shows that ridership has not changed significantly since the introduction of MHLs? I haven't read it (and probably won't since I don't read academic papers if I can avoid it).

      This seemed strange to me since the page I linked to seemed to be claiming a very big decline of as much as 40%-60%. It's quite a different point of view, isn't it!

      A bit of searching (on google) found these two pages, which seem to be criticising this paper and at least one of the authors from your second paper on their techniques. (Hmm.. they're from the same website which I've been using a lot lately)

      - http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1201.html
      - http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1244.html

      It looks like in Canada there's a lot of disagreement about the effect of the law on both cyclist numbers and on cyclist safety.

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    7. Debra Joan Smith

      Account Executive

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Cherry picking TOM to make your point WHICH WILL HURT PEOPLE-
      Of course there is a decline in cycling when a new law is passed- the die hard nutters protest safely ALWAYS- and they can only stay away from cycling for so long- until messing up their HAIR is obviously STUPID even to them and they pick up their passion again.

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    8. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Debra Joan Smith

      Shouting - http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=caps%20lock&defid=2872418

      I guess you could say I did cherry pick from all the pages that came up in google when I searched for the title of the paper. I chose the one that was making my point; which was that the paper conflicted with something I'd read elsewhere. How it could be possible for someone to get hurt by pointing out differences in opinion between academics is completely beyond me.

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    9. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Debra Joan Smith

      Debra Joan Smith wrote; "Of course there is a decline in cycling when a new law is passed- the die hard nutters protest safely " Die hard nutters. Where did that come from?
      Why the hardcore insistance this antiquated view about helmet compulsion is right? The Netherlands took another path when we decided compelling helmet use was not the answer. In stead built safer streets and humanised cites, towns and suburbs.
      The Netherlands and Denmark in contrast to us, have a healthy cycling culture, less dependence on cars and humanised streets, in cities, towns and the suburbs.
      Just how does your rant, breaking long established online etiquette shouting using caps, actually contibute to establishing humanised streets?

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      ' I haven't read it (and probably won't since I don't read academic papers if I can avoid it)'

      I tend to avoid academic papers too. Unfortunately, if you wish to argue a case with any credibility you need to access information that is recent, rigorous, with known or little bias and is transparent.
      The alternative is to quote secondary sources that are summaries of data. Often these might be cherry picked or skewed to present bias. Blogs, special interest sites and ideologically driven sources are examples of cherry picked data.
      If you wish to change the public's attitudes and public policy you will have to use rigorous and transparent data to press your case. Endlessly recycling ideological websites like cycle freedom.com will make you appear naive, at best, disingenuous at worst.
      pressing an evidence based and logically consistent argument is the best way to change public opinion. Otherwise your credibility will disappear down the holes in your argument.

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    11. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I don't know about this. I've seen it expressed by a researcher at UNSW that unless you are publishing these papers yourself then you don't have any right to express your opinion. The rigour that academic papers bring to these subjects are invaluable, but they aren't some sort of 'untouchable' source of truth and they certainly aren't the only credible source of evidence to be used in an argument. For example, if I was making an argument that there is no consensus among academia that helmet laws have made us safer (as I often do) then I don't need to point to another paper - I just need to point to a good, reputable source such as the Bicycle Helmet Research Centre who list counter opinions and point out, with something approaching academic rigour, the fact that there are wildly differing points of view on this subject.

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    12. The Warrior Factor

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Debra Joan Smith

      Debra, by saying "normally sensible", I guess you're saying the helmet law means Australia is not sensible?

      Again it's this conflation of helmet law to helmet wearing. Want to wear a helmet, do so. You don't need a law for that. The issue is do we want cycling shunned, cycling perceived as dangerous, cycling banned and cyclists persecuted all in the name of enforcing helmet use. These are the effects of the law. If you see a cyclist without helmet, what sort of thrill does it give you to fine…

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    13. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      There's three problems with your approach to advocating for public policy change:
      1. Stating that academic sources have not reached consensus is not the same as saying that there is no sound decision to be made about the available evidence. An example is the climate change evidence. The vast majority of scientists agree with anthropogenic warming, a few don't. There is no consensus, it doesn't mean that no sound decisions can be made in respect to climate change.
      2. Te bicycle helmet research centre is not an unbiased source of data and you should not use this resource as source documentation to present an argument about MHLs.
      3. You should come to your own conclusions about the the MHL debate, unless you come to it with preconceived ideas, in which case you're probably happiest to read information that accords with your preconceived beliefs. Which is fine, but please do everyone ( and yourself) the courtesy of admitting it.

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  39. Anthony Dillon

    student

    I travel daily from home to Watkin's Bay in Beaumaris by bike to swim. It’s a journey of approximately 600m. I travel at a fast walking pace (5-6kmh) as I frequently stop to speak with neighbours and just enjoy the amble.

    I do not wear a helmet as I deem it unnecessary. Cars do not present a problem as they are infrequent and I judge at my speed, hugging the gutter, I'll get off without any issue.

    If I was riding down Brighton or St Kilda Rd then I think a helmet is essential.

    All in all it is really common sense... which is where I differ from the current law and the mandatory requirement.

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  40. Geoff McLeod

    logged in via Twitter

    Give us the right to choose a helmet or no helmet. Just because a doctor offers an opinion about what is best for us does not mean they are right. I would prefer to ride with a hat in Queensland because skin cancer effect 2 in every 3 cyclists in Australia. It kills 2000 Australians per year but we don't take that in to consideration do we? This article has a very blinkered view and does not take into consideration the effects of the law or the failure of utility riding and bike share schemes. My kids now can't do cartwheels or play running games because of our obsession with safety. When riding out in the sun I am prevented from putting a wide-brim hat on them because of idiots who can't see the forest for the trees. What next life jackets on every beach? Surely doctors would support this.
    http://youtu.be/Ujs6DJAMGp0

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    1. The Warrior Factor

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Geoff McLeod

      100% right. That's the hypocrisy I mention. It's the hippocratic oath, not hypcritic oath, in my full response: http://warriorfactor.wordpress.com/category/cycling-free/

      If it's about health costs, it's not just 2000 skin cancer deaths a year, it's 50,000 new cases! Why aren't police down the beach fining anyone without a shirt on? Also, let's force annual health check-ups and fine everyone $100 per unit outside their BMI. Oh, let's not forget motorists or pedestrians with head injuries that a helmet could have helped protect. We'll add a HECS-style penalty for 50% of health costs. Remember, cyclists are less than 3% of road head trauma, so get the priorities right. Right on! Mandatory life-jackets would end all beach drownings.

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to The Warrior Factor

      The Warrior Factor wrote; "If it's about health costs, it's not just 2000 skin cancer deaths a year, it's 50,000 new cases!" Yes, this is the the overview of the issue.
      http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1301.0~2012~Main%20Features~Accidents,%20injuries%20and%20fatalities~189
      Add this snapshot of reality and it begs the question; "where the car fatality rates would be if compulsory helmets were introduced for motor vehicles.
      Does anyone actually believe the pro cycle helmet compulsion lobby are fighting for motorist to wear helmets? Just why is that? Could they be pro motorised cites and against humanisation of streets.

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Geoff McLeod

      There's a couple of flaws in this argument.
      1. You can wear a hat under your helmet.Several companies sell hats that will fit. I wear a buff that covers my ears and back of neck. I then apply this amazing substance called sunscreen, perhaps you've heard of it.
      2. you state; 'Queensland because skin cancer effect 2 in every 3 cyclists in Australia.' But is the only source of sun exposure that these cyclists get when cycling? Where ar ethe cancers? on the face, on the back? What about exposure…

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    4. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Geoff McLeod

      Good points. Cotton wool mindset of some in public policy is truly amazing, anyone would think human evolution was not posible without a helmet.
      July 2013 and the Bike Share program in New York City seems to be working fine and they have no compulsory helmet legislation with punitive fines. The model is there in other cities, now NYC. Just why do lag behind in public policy, academia and from politicians?

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  41. Dan

    logged in via Twitter

    Ah, Dr Dinh is at it again. Sorry Dr Dinh, but your confirmation bias is showing!

    You might like to read the following commentary that relate to a previous article he wrote:

    http://chillikebab.wordpress.com/?s=dinh

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dan

      The commentator in the link makes an error in his criticism of Dinh's cohorts.
      The commentator states that there is a selection bias possible in the presentation cohort of unhelmeted cyclists. This is true if you are studying potential for injury.
      However the commentator commits a logical error as Dinh's study does not examine potential for injury, it examines effects once injured. The reason for injury does not matter, merely the forces involved in the injury and the effects thereafter. if the study has a flaw it is in not comparing collision speeds and accident dynamics. But this is probably impossible to establish in any study.

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  42. Harvey C

    Cyclist

    Another perspective on one of Mr Dinh previous attempts to "prove" that helmets are effective. In this interview
    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/cycle-accidents-up-but-doctor-says-thanks-to-helmets-serious-injuries-are-down-20101114-17sq9.html
    Mr. Dihn attributes lower head injuries to helmets, even though the helmet wearing rate went down during that time period.

    Mr Dihn made a similar "study" previously, making bold claims that were not supported by the underlying data. The data showed that un-helmeted…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Harvey,
      You are discussing two different things in this paragraph:
      'It shouldn't be a surprise that Mr Dihn is now trying to tell us that bicycle helmets are more effective at preventing head injuries than motorcycle helmets:
      http://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=11488
      Anybody who has seen the difference between a bicycle helmet and a motorcycle helmet would know which one provides better protection.'

      I think you'll find that the author's findings are that motorcycle helmets are…

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  43. Michael Boswell

    Post-graduate Theology student, nursing assistant

    I oppose helmet laws ...

    However, I do not think this debate is improving the health of cyclists. I know that the adequate provision of cycle infrastructure would be more important ,,,,

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Boswell

      Yes,
      Cycling safety and participation is best improved by infrastructural change such as:
      1. road infrastructure
      2. legislative change (driver liability)
      3. education

      The helmet 'debate' is a red herring thrown onto the table that obscures the main determinent of cyclist injury and death (collision with other road users). You might even think that the anti-helmet zealots don't want infrastructural change, they are so focused on helmet laws. Perhaps they are in the grip of the mysterious 'motor lobby' they are so paranoid about.

      BTW, When did you last see an ad on telly about cyclist safety aimed at drivers, despite the fatality rate per km for cyclists being 10 times that of drivers?

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  44. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    New paper to add to the body of evidence: BMJ 14 May 2013:
    "Helmet legislation and admissions to hospital for cycling related head injuries in Canadian provinces and territories: interrupted time series analysis"
    BMJ 2013;346:f2674 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f2674

    This Canadian study looked at the incidence of hospital admissions for cycle-related injuries over time, and compared regions with helmet laws with those without.

    "Among adults, the rate of head injuries decreased by 26.0%
    (16.0% to 36.3…

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    1. Colin Clarke

      logged in via email @vood.freeserve.co.uk

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      The Canadian report mentions that cycle helmet laws are contentious and the focus of active public debate. Fuelling the debate is the uncertainty whether helmets improve safety and helmet requirements discouraging cycling and public health implications . Debate is also about the effectiveness of helmets and their unexpected consequences together with law enforcement and legal consequences.

      The article states; “After taking baseline trends into consideration, however, we were unable to detect…

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Sue Ieraci wrote quoting from the conclusion of BMJ published researchpaper; http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f2674
      "..... the incremental contribution of provincial helmet legislation to reduce hospital admissions for head injuries seems to have been minimal." Hard to take that out of context, so yes your summary of the conclusion is interesting. Is seems to have been minimal, given there is no agreed forensicaly accurate method for accessing each and every accessing incident, ergo; cause is subjective. The conclusion of minimal effect of the 'helmet legislation' seems highly probable.
      The Canadian approach to de-motorising cites from one dominate form, to full integration is moving along well.

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    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Once more for emphasis; "Is seems to have been minimal, given there is no agreed forensicaly accurate method for accessing each and every incident, ergo; cause is subjective.
      The conclusion of minimal effect of the 'helmet legislation' seems highly probable.
      'Once more for emphasis....... and typos'

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    4. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Ontario, Canada's biggest province/territory, comprised 38% of Canada's population in the 2011 census, it's helmet law applies to children only, the helmet-wearing rate was 34% in 2009. Quebec, Canada's 2nd biggest province/territory, comprised 24% of the population in 2011, does not have a helmet law, the helmet wearing rate was 26% in 2009.

      The statistical model used by Dennis et al. used a 0 for the helmet variable in jurisdictions without a helmet law, and a 1 or jurisdictions with a helmet…

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  45. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    The MUARC report does admit that teenage cycling declined markedly post-mandation. Given that teenage cyclists, particularly teenage boys, are a large part of total cycling injuries, that would seem to be a much more cogent explanation of injury reduction than helmets might be.

    The cycling participation figures are straight numbers. The total population of Melbourne, and particularly quite a proportion of the survey sites, increased over the period. The total number of on-road journeys increased…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      Although it is fun to be stuck in 1990, because the music was just so good, let's look at figures from 2012.

      Cycling participation rates in Port Philip (all ages): 35%
      Cycling participation rate 10-17 year olds in port Philip: 46%
      Cycling participation rates 10-17 year olds in Vic: 34%
      Cycling Participation rates in the netherlands: 29%

      http://cyclingresourcecentre.org.au/images/uploads/post/attachment/ALGCPS2012_Port_Phillip_Final.pdf

      What could possibly explain such a high participation rate in port Philip, despite helmet mandation?

      http://www.atrf.info/papers/2008/2008_Bauman_Rissel_Garrard_Ker_Spiedel_Fishman.pdf

      Whilst I support adult's right to make decisions about whether to wear a helmet or not it doesn't appear to be a large factor for bicycle participation in 2012.

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Cycling participation rates in Victoria declines from 34% in 10-17 year olds to 14% in 18-29 year olds and never really picks up again.

      What could explain this sudden decrease in cycling participation rate?

      a. get a job and have to travel to work
      b. get a driver's licence and buy a car
      c. go to uni and have to travel long distances
      d. suddenly develop hatred of helmet laws and decide to stop cycling as a protest

      I suspect that the answer that you pick will be dependant on your particular bias

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      But, since we're stuck in the 1990s lets examine some other reasons for commuters turning to motor vehicles for transport (surprisingly, it does not pain me to admit that Paul richards is right on the money in his 'humanising cities' project):

      http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/downloads/hilda/Bibliography/Working+Discussion+Research_Papers/2005/Flood_etal_Commuting_in_Australia.pdf

      Excerpt:
      In Sydney for example, throughout the 1990s there was a substantial increase in the distances people…

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    4. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I moved from the secondary ring to the outer two years ago (actually I'm outside Sydney proper, in the lower Blue Mountains). My commute increased from 3km to 85km. I used to alternate between cycling and walking -- now it's almost always the train, but occasionally by car. The bicycle doesn't figure any more. I don't even ride to the station -- it's not far enough to justify the speed and the potential expense of having the bike vandalised while locked up there for the day.

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    5. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      Now back to 2012....

      reasons people don't cycle for transport:

      unsafe riding conditions speed /volume of traffic: 40-60 % of respondents (grouped as either non-riders of active riders)

      speed /volume of traffic: 40-50 % of respondents (grouped as either non-riders of active riders)

      lack of bike lanes: 30-50%

      destination too far away (approx 30%)

      don't own a bike (approx 22%)

      don't like wearing a helmet: (approx 18%)

      there are other criteria and as a respondent could tick more…

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    6. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to John Harland

      As previously noted, the SA report showed that cycling to school comprised only 20% of cycling activity in that age group prior to the helmet law, and that a reduction in cycling to school after the law coincided with an increase of similar size in cycling to/around other venues. The SA report also showed that the proportion of males under 15 who cycled at least once a week was 65% in 1990, and 71% in 1993; and that for females the proportions were 55% in 1990, and 51% in 1993.

      A NSW RTA report…

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  46. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    Are the Dutch criteria the same as the Victorian criteria for "cycling participation". The Victorian figure suggests a "do you ever ride a bike?" criterion of participation.

    Port Phillip claims the highest rates of cycling in Australia. It is a cluster of gracious seaside suburbs within a short ride of the central city and linked to it by reasonable-quality bike routes.

    Hardly a fair comparison with the whole of a country. Particularly a country in which the median cycle use in urban areas exceeds the cherry-picked Port Phillip area.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      yes the criteria for cycling participation is not directly comparitive.

      However, you missed my point completely:
      i picked port phillip as demonstrative of how infrastructure is the biggest determinent to cycling participation, as you ably point out it is 'cluster of gracious seaside suburbs within a short ride of the central city and linked to it by reasonable-quality bike routes.'

      I did cherry pick port philip for a reason: obviously there is something that port philip does to have high cycling rates. It is not the 'gracious suburbs' it is what it has in common with amsterdam, berlin, hamburg:
      it is '...within a short ride of the central city and linked to it by reasonable-quality bike routes'

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  47. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    To increase cycling requires a perceived increase in safety.

    Stop banging on about helmets and the risk of crashing. Concentrate on the positives, and how to cycle better. More cyclists, more safety.

    Individual safety comes from being aware and in control, not from terror.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      No-ones banging on about helmets except anti-MHL advocates. Everyone else who wants to increase cycling participation is concentrating on infrastructural, cultural, educational and legislative change. Wheteher MHLs exist or not is probably irrelevant to increasing cycling participation.

      From http://cyclingresourcecentre.org.au/images/uploads/post/attachment/Understanding_fear_ACRS.pdf

      "In order to significantly increase
      rates of bicycling, safety must be prioritised; at the same
      time, fear and common perceptions of road traffic crash
      likelihood that prevent people from cycling will need to be
      addressed. To adequately address community concerns, the
      road traffic environment will need to be made to feel safe.
      This can be achieved through measures such as the targeted
      reallocation of road space and the lowering of speed limits,
      along with awareness and education campaigns"

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  48. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    In that every "cycling promotion" publication in Australia puts "wear a helmet" high on the list, and that we have one after another of the usual suspects coming up with "evidence" about the value of helmets, your statement is just a little ingenuous,, Seamus.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      I don't have "every cycling promotion publication" but I do have the internet. At the bottom of my post is a list of websites that I looked at when I typed 'bike riding australia' and 'cycling promotion australia'. One mentions helmets, it is down the bottom of the page on the bicycle network site. The only websites that consistently mention helmets are:
      http://crag.asn.au/
      http://helmetfreedom.org/
      http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1139.html

      So I ask again: who is it that is constantly 'banging…

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I typed cycling promotion publications and i found a mention of helmets on the second page under 'safety equipment', along with light coloured clothing, bell, reflector, lights etc
      http://www.cyclingpromotion.com.au/resources/cycling-tips/commuting-by-bicycle.html
      I found the word helmet under 'tips for staying safe' on this:
      http://www.carrsq.qut.edu.au/publications/corporate/bicycle_safety_fs.pdf
      Page 9 of this bike-ed document mentions helmets
      http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/0BF25C2D-7F22-4D09-8395-C35B84E6DF7B/0/Bike_Ed_FAMILY_GUIDE.pdf

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to John Harland

      here's a document from the Netherlands from SWOV, the body that advises the Dutch on road safety. obviously the rates of cycling in the netherlands have suddenly plummeted since 2012 because a someone mentioned the word helmet in a cycling publication:

      From the conclusion:
      'Any cyclist involved in a cycling crash, or who has a fall whilst cycling, runs the risk of head or skull injury; 30% of serious injuries to cyclists are head or skull injuries. Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the severity of the injury. As serious head or skull injuries are the most frequent injuries amongst young casualties, the use of bicycle helmets is promoted in particular for children in the Netherlands. For more information see SWOV Fact sheet Bicycle helmets).'
      From:
      http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/UK/FS_Cyclists.pdf

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  49. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Portland, oregon has bike helmet laws for cyclists 15 and under, as with the second example below these laws were instituted around 1987-1988.. between 1990 and 2008 Portland increased the number of workers commuting by bicycle by 608%. This is how they did it:

    • A 247% increase in the number of miles of bikeways (lanes, paths, and boulevards) from 79 in 1991 to 274 in 2008
    • Colored bike lanes installed at several places of potential bicycle–motor vehicle conflict, assigning right of way to…

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