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Crash data shows cyclists with no helmets more likely to ride drunk

Cyclists who ride without helmets are more likely to take risks while riding, like disobeying traffic controls or cycling…

Cyclists who ride without helmets are more likely to take risks while riding, like disobeying traffic controls or cycling while drunk, a new study of road accident data has found.

The study, conducted by academics at the University of NSW and published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, examined NSW hospital and police records on 6745 cyclists involved in a motor vehicle collision between 2001 and 2009.

It found that wearing a helmet reduced the risk of head injury by up to 74%.

While 75.4% of the riders in the data set studied wore helmets, only about about half of those less than 19 years old wore helmets, the study found.

Non-helmeted cyclists were almost three times as likely to have disobeyed traffic controls as helmeted riders, and more than four times as likely to have been above the blood alcohol limit, said the study’s co-author, Dr Jake Olivier from the University of New South Wales' School of Mathematics and Statistics.

“Those who wore helmets were more likely to be in high speed areas. If a person didn’t wear a helmet they were more likely to be in low speed areas. The overall effect was that helmet wearing was still beneficial,” he said, adding that the study showed wearing a helmet greatly reduced the risk of injury while riding.

“There have been calls from some people to get rid of helmet laws. What we have found disturbing is it’s young kids in the accidents not wearing helmets, kids who have their whole lives ahead of them and for whom having a serious brain injury will change their lives,” he said.

“People who don’t like helmets say it won’t help you with serious injury but this evidence points to the opposite.”

Professor Narelle Haworth, from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q) said she was not surprised by the paper’s finding.

“This echoes a study we did that found that wearing a bicycle helmet was associated with a 69% reduction in the likelihood of head or brain injuries and a 74% reduction in the likelihood of severe brain injury,” said Professor Haworth, who was not involved in the UNSW study.

“Another observational study we did found that people not wearing helmets, or not wearing helmets that were fastened, were more likely to have conflict with pedestrians in the middle of the city.”

Dr Chris Rissel, Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney said risky behaviour contributes to crashes.

“The authors say that bicyclists who do not wear helmets are more likely to engage in risky riding behaviours. Surely it is the risky behaviour that contributes to crashes, and hence injuries,” he said.

“A helmet won’t save you if you ride in a way that means you’re hit by a car.”

Dr Olivier, the co-author of the UNSW study, said it was important to remember that all cyclists studied in this piece of research had been hit by cars.

“The cyclists in this study are those who were hit by a motor vehicle in NSW between 2001-2009 who were hospitalised and/or reported the event to the police. All the estimates of increased risk/benefit proceed from that subset of the cycling population,” he said.

“Further, of cyclists hit by a vehicle, there was a demonstrable benefit for those who wore helmets versus those that did not. And those not wearing helmets were associated with illegal behaviour. All of these results already pertain to cyclists being hit by a motor vehicle and not all cyclists.”

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  1. Stephen Chester

    Software Engineer

    All of the statistics here scream correlation and not causation. That people without helmets are more likely to 'have conflict' with pedestrians is the most egregious of these.

    This doesn't mean that helmets are not of great utility to preventing serious brain damage, but it could well be that people who do not wear helmets are greater risk takers and less serious cyclists, meaning you are not only studying the headgear choice but also riding habits and skills - these variables are likely impossible to separate.

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    1. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Stephen Chester

      I'd love to know how these studies compare with those in the Netherlands where helmets are not compulsory but driver and pedestrian education and law enforcement is far more pro cycling.

      Also once again we're being presented with a paper behind a pay-wall. Why are documents supposedly created for the public good, using public funds, being used to enrich publishers?

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    2. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Stephen Chester

      Stephen - that statement "That people without helmets are more likely to 'have conflict' with pedestrians " is not related to the primary article being discussed but to another one from QUT. On that basis I don't think you can accuse the authors of the paper in "Accident Analysis & Prevention" of correlation/causation fallacy.

      I have the good fortune to be able to access the paper - their mthodology looks sound and appropriate caveats are provided regarding the limitations of the study.

      As for your latter point - I think the study suggests the same as you do in its abstract (which you can read as it is not behind the paywall).

      "Non-helmeted cyclists were more likely to display risky riding behaviour, however, were less likely to cycle in risky areas; the net result of which was that they were more likely to be involved in more severe crashes."

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    3. Stephen Chester

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Delete this account as requested!

      Good point, I guess you could somewhat separate the variables in a country without a mandatory helmet law, although I still suspect you would find high correlation between lack of helmets and less serious (and less risk averse) cyclists.

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    4. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Delete this account as requested!

      Stephen - the Netherlands is a truly outstanding example of how cycling should be done - there is an interesting side issue here of infrastructure and public expectations. When cycling is the norm, driver behaviour and infrastructure development make it safer for all. The key would be to use the same criteria as the study cited above and examine the results where injuries and fatalities have occurred and whether helmets were used or not.

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    5. Stephen Chester

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      Ah I see, I did not notice that that statistic was from a separate article, and I am certainly glad to see that the study acknowledging the issue head on. There is still a good chance that (for example) the types of crashes had by non-helmeted people engaging in risky riding behaviour are fundamentally different to those had by more 'serious' cyclists, but I am very happy to accept the conclusion that helmets are good at their jobs!

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    6. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Stephen Chester

      Yeah - I am willing to bet that risky behaviours are a pattern for some. Happily the study focussed on head injuries - far more valid than injuries in general (and in some collisions I am sure a helmet is no protection at all).

      I wish Australian Governments were a lot more proactive about building good cycling infrastructure - and not deleting bike lanes!

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    7. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Delete this account as requested!

      Exactly. You should contact the authors who will probably send you a copy. That always works. Academics are on the case,however - campaigns are ongoing to change publishing models. We need the Australian Research Council to shift to OA publishing requirements - that would help. There is a lot of work to do yet - publishing in journals where the publisher retains copyright and makes money from our work is just as entrenched as the helmet law. My own journal has been free online since 1994, however.

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    8. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Stephen Chester

      Surprisingly, this study found that only 3.3% of helmeted cyclists and 9.4% of non-helmeted cyclists disobeyed a traffic rule. Taken literally, it would mean that 96.7% of helmeted cyclists and 90.6% of non-helmeted cyclists were injured while obeying the rules.

      In the UK, drivers left significantly less room when overtaking a cyclist who wore a helmet. The researcher, Dr Ian Walker, was hit twice when conducting the study - by a truck and a bus - both times when wearing a helmet! http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/uob-wah091106.php

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    9. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy,

      It is interesting that you’ve chosen to focus on Ian Walker’s study in the same comment in which you criticise the apparent “small” association between helmet wearing and disobeying a traffic control. Using Walker’s data, motor vehicles passed at unsafe distances (less than one metre) 5.2% of the time with a helmet and 4.1% of the time without a helmet. Turning these percentages around like you did results in 94.8% of safe passing manoeuvres while wearing a helmet versus 95.9% without…

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    10. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      It is unfortunate that Ian Walker, or any other cyclist, was hit by a motor vehicle. However, Walker did not come to the same conclusion as you did in his paper and instead pointed to both vehicles being large and, therefore, less able to give proper overtaking clearance. From a statistical perspective, these two events tell us nothing. Think about it this way, if I flip two coins, what is the probability they will both land heads or both land tails? The answer, of course, is 0.5. The number of events…

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    11. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      So behavoural aspects are hard to study, and there is little data. So just ignore it. And rely on an observational study affecting a self-selected group.

      Statistical significance doesn't equate to "truth" on any matter. Assumptions matter. What is left out matters.

      How can we estimate whether accident rates went up as a result of helmet law? "in the event of a collision" is of little use if there are more collisions. Can't answer? Then don't make legislative recommendations.

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    12. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      SOme may have been done, but I would imagine what we need is a behavioural study that traces where and when actual cyclists ride (to work or school, to simplify things) and examines, by asking them or by using a questionnaire format, their perception of risks (broadly conceived) and how this translates into behaviour. Some questions about helmet use could be slipped in there, but hard to think how -since there is a law, so it is hard to ask if people feel just as safe without one. (because they could…

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    13. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to nik dow

      Nik

      1. By stating the cyclists in our study are “a self-selected group,” you do realise you are implying that cyclists are at fault when getting hit by motor vehicles. How can that be even remotely true?

      2. Assumptions certainly matter. What is not measured does matter. However, where is YOUR proof that our assumptions are incorrect? Where is YOUR proof the other factors are at play? You have no evidence.

      3. Head injuries went down with the law and stayed down over the next two decades…

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    14. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      My understanding is that
      1) Michael Walker’s annual surveys at the same 25 sites in Sydney show a 35% reduction in cyclist counts (adults and children) in October 1994, compared to October 1990, and a 48% reduction from April 1991 to April 1996. The author noted the presence of seasonal differences with more cyclists observed in April than October.
      2) A comparison of National travel surveys (WTPP, May 2012) show a drop in daily cycling in NSW from 95.6 cycle trips per 1000 population in 1985/86…

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  2. Michael O'Reilly

    Journalist

    Is Australia seen as a cycling safe haven due to its near-unique helmet laws?

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    1. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Michael O'Reilly

      Or even more generally "drunks are more likely to make poor risk assessments while being impaired across the board".

      Though I do wonder if any research has been done into the positive results of high risk behaviour? There must be strong evolutionary drivers for it, or it wouldn't be present in modern populations.

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    2. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      To me it appears you're making assumptions without data or analysis there.
      Incorrectly I'd suggest too. Obviously they don't remove themselves from the gene-pool, as there appear to be many of them (or us, I have engaged in many high risk activities myself) in existence.

      However, I'd rather see some solid research and statistical analysis than rely on my own assumptions and their inherent biases.

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    3. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      Why would you think that? Risk taking behaviour is a positive. If it wasn't it would not exist.
      It's really that simple, though it seems to be ignored even though it's a major driver of human behaviour.

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    4. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Delete this account as requested!

      "Risk taking behaviour is a positive. If it wasn't it would not exist"

      Not sure that is a valid assumption.

      Firstly - can you demonstrate that it is a major driver of human behaviour
      Second - can you demonstrate that risk-takers are more successful (as a cohort) than non-risk takers
      Third - risk taking is recognised as a normal part of adolescent development and as people develop the cognitive ability to assess risk and make probability assessments, it usually declines (not suggesting it ceases or needs to) - what does that suggest about human behaviour generally?

      I would argue that we perceive risk taking behaviour as significant because it is the exception.

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    5. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      1st Part - by induction, risk taking genetic traits are still in preponderant evidence in the human population, ergo they are at least neutral and probably positive behaviours. Or they are strongly tied to other genetic traits which are positive.

      If you have a rudimentary understanding of evolution you will understand that this is the most likely mechanism.

      You do seem to be operating from an assumption with no evidence that risk taking is only a negative behaviour.
      I'd suggest you look at beyond your own biases.

      Which is exactly what I suggested and correct application of the scientific method.

      And risk taking behaviour exist in all phases of human existence, to tie it to juvenile behaviour is simply a clumsy attempt to diminish it by association.

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    6. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Delete this account as requested!

      "If you have a rudimentary understanding of evolution you will understand that this is the most likely mechanism."

      My rudimentary understanding of evolution suggests that it is one possible explanation. There are others - some of which involved species benefits over benefits to individual members of the species. Risk taking may well generate an overall positive outcome without being of specific benefit to the indivudual taking the risk - as with altruistic behaviours it is possible for the actions…

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    7. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      Evolution effects species through individuals, species don't reproduce only individuals.

      "However - I do not think you have demonstrated taht risk taking is a major driver of human behaviour"

      I didn't think that was required - human history does a fine job of demonstrating this. Any pioneers in just about any field have engaged in risk taking behaviour. An excellent recent example is one of our newest Nobel Laureates, Barry Marshall. To demonstrate the link between H. pylori and ulcers he infected…

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  3. Forth Sadler

    logged in via Facebook

    In what way is this not simply stating "Cyclists who disobey one law are more likely to disobey other laws"? That's not startling news.

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    1. Delete this account as requested!

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      It's a pity we can't see those statistics though - they're hidden behind a pay wall.

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  4. nik dow

    logged in via Twitter

    What is remarkable is the way the author jumps to the conclusion that this shows helmet laws should be retained.

    In fact what it shows is that the higher injury rates from not wearing helmets, that observational studies like this claim to demonstrate, are in fact just as likely to be due to the covariates of alcohol and behaviour and not due to helmet wearing at all.

    The fact that advocates for helmet law (the author of this article is a partisan advocate and not an unbiased academic) have…

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    1. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to nik dow

      "The lack of any attempt to control for covariates in most of these studies is scandalous."

      And from the study...

      "The full results for the multiple variable logistic regression model with multinomial outcomes for head injury are presented in Table 6. Non-significant and non-confounding variables were excluded. No variable interactions were found to be significant, and interactions between gender and age were assessed prior to the removal of gender from the model due to non-significance…

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    2. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      Excellent reviews of the available data on the effect of the introduction mandatory helmet laws on cycling participation in Victoria and NSW by Dr Alan Davies:

      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/02/26/do-mandatory-helmets-discourage-cycling/

      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/04/02/did-mandatory-helmets-kill-cycling-in-nsw/

      Are Alan Davies summaries of the data accurate? I think they are, but you can check for yourself. The Victorian data is at http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/muarc045.pdf and the NSW data are all available in the Archive section of the page at http://www.bicycleinfo.nsw.gov.au/tools_and_resources/cycling_research.html

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    3. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Tim Churches

      Alan has done an good effort of trying to deny that the helmet law discourages cycling.
      Unfortunately the tricks he is trying to obfuscate have been exposed elsewhere:
      http://crag.asn.au/?p=2621

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    4. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tim Churches

      The Victorian Study, by MUARC is the only evidence quoted on the Victorian Governments Vicroads website. They, and Alan Davies, fails to mention the weaknesses of this data - a terrible basis for drawing conclusions that affect so many people.

      Firstly, the pre-law data is based on a single survey, so there is no ability to estimate inter-annual variation. Maybe that week it was wet, cold, or dry and sunny. Or there was an event on that influenced travel patterns.

      The after law data is…

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    5. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Harvey C

      Thanks for that CRAG link - we are always looking for exercises for students. That one is a perfect example. Misinterpretation of data, mixing sources, fragmentary use of multiple sources - unbelievable! I'm willing to back a view that helmets should not be mandatory for adults but that is not a source that supports the case!

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    6. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to nik dow

      Nik,

      The author of the article is The Conversation editor Sunanda Creagh, but I’m assuming your barb was directed at Jake Olivier. With regards to your comment that he is “a partisan advocate and not an unbiased academic,” where is your evidence to support that? Jake has now published the following peer-reviewed work on cycling research (some I have co-authored with him):

      Chong S, Poulos R, Olivier J, Watson W and Grzebieta R. (2010) “Relative injury severity among vulnerable non-motorised…

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    7. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      Shocking.  Being an expert in a field should never be used as a trump card in a debate like the way you just did.  This response quite took my breath away with it's message of superiority/arrogance.

      One reason why anybody's opinion might hold weight against the opinion of an academic and expert in the field is when the expert's conclusions don't stand up to everyday logic.

      Another reason is when it appears the expert is letting their personal bias play undue influence on the research they choose…

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    8. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      I used to be the statistician at a research institute and was horrified at the faith my collegues had in anything that came out of a mathematical model. I built the models so I knew how dodgy the assumptions were.

      I also witnessed the mutual reinforcement of "correct ideas" and the difficulty of maintaining a career if you disagreed with the ruling orthodoxy.

      It's interesting how these "experts" in Australia are ignored when governments around the world look at helmet law. They find other…

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    9. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to Tom Nockolds

      Tom,

      I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion. But not everyone’s opinion counts. Nik's certainly has no weight because it is just an opinion with no supporting evidence regardless of how logical it may ‘appear’ to you or others. It is not logical to me and the majority of Australians.

      You further state: “As a university professor with many years of experience, you may be unfamiliar with having your work visible to and assessed by people outside your narrow field of expertise. But…

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    10. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to nik dow

      Nik,

      you still haven’t answered the question of whether you have contributed anything to the peer-reviewed literature on the subject. A search on Google Scholar turned up one of your comments about the ownership of fisheries from 1984.

      http://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/marpol/v8y1984i4p356-358.html

      You can claim you were a “statistician at a research institute” but there is no evidence in the peer review literature that you ever made an impact on helmets or any other research area. Please…

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    11. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      Firstly there is no mention of qualitative research, as guidance as to what cyclists do and think, as I just outlined. We need more. The stats base we are discussing doesn't tell us much about the cycling, only various outcomes from it, measured as events (like accidents). No, behaviour is not nicely visible in an accident record - because we do not know about the thousands who did not have a bike accident and their behaviour.
      Secondly, you are not focussing on the value of lay knowledge, which…

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    12. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      I don't believe many doubt the efficacy of bicycle helmets, its basic physics, what many doubt is the need to legislate it. This seems to be a peculiar Australian phenomenon, this law not being alone in being anachronistic . Apparently Australians are incredibly stupid and need laws to stop them hurting themselves.eg did you know that Australia is the only country in the world where you can't do your own ethernet cabling, its a federal offense.

      You may also be interested in this article from the BMJ :
      The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study
      BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d4521

      If the figures you give above are correct there is a compelling reason to require all drivers wear helmets as well. This will never happen though.

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    13. Etienne de Briquenel

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      I'm glad you mentioned John Pucher because he reflects just about all of my beliefs on cycling policy and advocacy, including his view on helmet legislation.

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    14. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      Raphael,

      So is it the fact that Nik hasn't "[contributed] to the peer-reviewed, scientific literature" that makes his opinion bulldust? You've pretty much said this in a couple of comments under this article on The Conversation. You've even done a search to prove that Nik hasn't published any peer-reviewed articles and it seems your point is to dismiss anything that Nik says simple because he's not an academic. I don't think Patrick Stokes would agree that you've applied his philosophy correctly…

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    15. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to nik dow

      Re 'In fact what it shows is that the higher injury rates from not wearing helmets, that observational studies like this claim to demonstrate, are in fact just as likely to be due to the covariates of alcohol and behaviour and not due to helmet wearing at all.' . . .
      Table 6 of the paper shows that after controlling for co-variates such as alcohol, age, speed, etc, the (helmet) ORs for moderate, serious and severe injuries were 0.51, 0.38 and 0.26 respectively (all p-values were <0.0001).
      How did…

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    16. Linda Ward

      Biostatistician

      In reply to Harvey C

      Re 'Alan has done an good effort of trying to deny that the helmet law discourages cycling. Unfortunately the tricks he is trying to obfuscate have been exposed elsewhere' . . .
      Have you read the NSW and Vic studies?
      That CRAG article does not mention the NSW surveys, and misrepresents the Vic data.
      The CRAG 'critique' notes that a bicycle rally passed through one of the Vic post-law surveys, but does not mention the better weather conditions in the pre-law survey.
      It then states that 'Excluding…

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    17. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Elvik article (Accident Analysis & Prevention, 2011;43(3):1245-1251. 2011
      Conclusions
      3. "When the analysis is updated by adding four new studies,
      the protective effects attributed to bicycle helmets are further
      reduced. According to the new studies, no overall effect of bicycle
      helmets could be found when injuries to head, face or neck
      are considered as a whole".

      Clarke CF, The Case against bicycle helmets and legislation, VeloCity Munich, 2007. http://www.ta.org.br/site/Banco/7manuais/colin_clarke_cycle_helmet.pdf

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    18. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Linda Ward

      In NSW for the period 1992-2011 there were 231 cyclist deaths, 154 helmeted, 66 not wearing and 11 unknowns. Of known cases, 70% were helmeted.

      Between 1996 and 2011, of known cases who had been drinking alcohol, 10 were helmeted and 12 without helmet . Nine of the 12 non-helmeted cyclists had a BAC of 0.150 or above and only one of the 10 helmeted had this level. Six of the 10 helmeted had low levels of between 0.001-0.019.

      Sage et al 1985 stated: “This study indicates that compulsory wearing…

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    19. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      The data in the Voukelatos and Rissel study should not be relied upon in any way - not only do the numbers in their data table literally not add up and the graph incorrectly drawn, but it was then discovered that they used the wrong ICD codes to retrieve the data.

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    20. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Linda Ward

      Regarding the 2011 Elvik meta-analysis published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, it should be noted that it has been subject to a whole-of-paper corrigendum (see http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457512004253 ). This corrigendum was issued after I pointed out to Elvik in September last year that he had implemented the Duval and Tweedie trim-and-fill publication bias correction method incorrectly (the error is evident in Fig 1 in the original paper, but it effects all the…

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    21. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Tim Churches

      Thank you Tim for those details.

      Just taking a very basic approach it seems concerns would occur, e.g.
      http://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/media/vanilla/file/Uni%20NSW%20-%20Helmets.pdf

      Table 2 provides figures for head and arm injuries
      Totals for head plus arm injuries
      1991 – 1250
      1992 – 1408
      1993 – 1474.
      17.9% increase from 1991 to 1993

      But adult cycling reduced by say 30% and children by say 35%, say 30% as a guide value. From the 1250 figure should therefore reduce.
      1250 x 0.7…

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    22. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Linda Ward

      One of the most telling pieces of information in relation to the efficacy of helmet laws is the graph of head and non-head injuries in Victoria – Fig 1 of http://cyclehelmets.org/1241.html

      Blind Freddie could see an effect of the law – for both head and non-head injuries. Even if head injuries do fall slightly more than non-head injuries, it is clear that the main effect of the law was a reduction in both, suggesting that principal effect was to discourage cycling.

      An evaluation of US Helmet…

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    23. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy,
      The rates of cycling commutes had dropped from 6-5 % ( or a 15%drop)from 2003-2006.

      http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/files/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf
      What could account for this 3 year drop? Could it be that cycling rates fluctuate naturally independent of MHLs?

      You mention that new kids in NSW are failing to ride to school. What concerns me is that you attribute the decrease completely to MHLs. was this investigated in the survey…

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    24. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Addit: my first point was in relation to cycling rates in darwin.

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    25. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, These were year 10 kids. Old enough to be independent of parents, but not quite old enough to drive cars. I remember that time of life only too well - I left home at 16 to go to uni.

      The problem with MHL is that they make cycling seems dangerous. Think about the people who are convinced that cycling is so dangerous you can't ride to the corner shop without a helmet. What are they going to say about why they don't cycle? Too dangerous!!!

      "Pedalling Health" provided some very insightful…

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    26. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Again, you are preaching to the converted.. I have no issue with repealing MHLs, just dodgy logic.
      Pedalling health... I haven't read it so I may be off the mark, what is it comparing exactly - Sports cycling to squash, basketball etc? Or recreational cyclingbto squash, basketball etc? is it comparing cycling with a helmet to injuries in other sports?
      And why would people swap recreational cycling, or sports cycling, to basketball, squash and football? What evidence do you have to make the inference…

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    27. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Having cycled in the UK, USA,Canada and Australia I know reading reports may draw some points but they are all different.

      Erke A, Elvik R, Making Vision Zero real: Preventing Pedestrian Accidents And Making Them Less Severe, Oslo June 2007. page 28
      http://www.toi.no/getfile.php/Publikasj ... 7-nett.pdf page 28 states

      "There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent…

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    28. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Colin,
      You wrote:

      'Having cycled in the UK, USA,Canada and Australia I know reading reports may draw some points but they are all different.'
      I presume this is a reply to the poorer rates of cycling commutes in the UK, USA and Canada, despite no MHLs. And? How do you explain that commuter rates in these countries are poorer than Australia's? Is it not possible that MHLs are of low relevance?
      Cycling commuter rates in fitzroy, Australia are 15% (2% more than munich) despite compulsory helmets…

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    29. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus - some answers to your points.

      A range of differences could occur when comparing countries and cycling rates, some have longer winters, many factors may be considered, eg
      Australia average temp 17.3 & Average rainfall 780mm
      USA 11.5 & 860
      UK 9.7 & 652
      Canada 3.1 & 875

      2 km north-east from Melbourne's Central Business District, flat ride, by the time you walk to a tram stop, you would be in Melbourne by bike.

      http://www.ecf.com/news/4909/ 17.4% in Munich

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2012/aug/31/frequency-cycling-bike-rides-local-authority-data-mapped

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    30. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Your conclusion that the poor cycling rates in the UK, Canada and US is curious. If long winters and weather is to blame how do explain this:
      Cycling rates in the Netherlands: 27%, denmark:19%; Germany: 10%; Austria and switzerland9%;
      Sweden's cycling rate is 6 times that of the UK. Similar latitude, colder harsher winters. 6 times. The Netherlands rate approaches 20 times yet has similar cold, wet long winters.
      In countries with a Mediterranean climate, if weather is the determinant you describe…

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    31. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus commented: "And why would people swap recreational cycling, or sports cycling, to basketball, squash and football? What evidence do you have to make the inference that MHLs have led, or could reasonably lead, to cyclists taking up contact sport? "

      Yikes!!!! I was simply trying to make the point that MHL make cycling seem a lot more dangerous than it really is. Many people have been led to believe that cycling is so dangerous you should not ride to the corner shop without a helmet. If…

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    32. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Hi dorothy,
      you state:
      People who don’t cycle as teenagers must surely be less likely to cycle as adults? They are... the teenagers in the 90s you write about are mamils now. They just aren't commuting.

      you wrote:
      ' when people tell me personally they don’t cycle because of a lack of infrastructure, it’s often a polite way of saying that they don’t like helmets'
      Had you thought that you have some cog bias and what they are really telling you is: 'I don't ride because of infrastructure' ie…

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    33. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus: "You don't need helmet generated fear when you cycle to a roundabout and nearly get hit by a driver that won't/can't notice you... "
      http://abikes.3sc.net/files/Robinson_98_cyclists_roundabouts.pdf

      In personal conversations, you can ask what people mean when they say they don't cycle because of infrastructure. Does their perception of danger of cycling (usually on the segregated cycleway that goes all the way to the largest employer and educational institution) or quiet streets accord…

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    34. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Ok, I'm just an observer here but do you realise that you see everything regarding cycling through the lens of helmet laws?
      It disturbs me that you cannot see the link between infrastructure and cycling rates alone, without reference to MHLs.
      How do you explain that Canada, America and the UK have lower rates of cycling than Australia? Surely this is an instance of separating out MHls from the argument and is purely, cultural, legal and infrastructure related.
      If the answer to everything was…

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    35. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I was pointing out one factor to consider - the weather.

      I range of factors would be involved.

      Another factor is infrastructure, Europe made more effort to provide cycle paths and the UK did not. This was UK national policy from about 1940. Consider UK spending plans today, £30+ billion on a high speed rail network, extra airports, cross rail for London at billions, net probably about £500 per person. Cycling in the £20 - 30 million range, less than a pound per person per year, rough figures…

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    36. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      So there you have it, infrastructure had a greater impact in the UK, USA and Canada then MHLs +'poor infrastructure have had in Australia.

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  5. Dave Kinkead

    logged in via Facebook

    "Cyclists who ride without helmets are more likely to take risks while riding, like disobeying traffic controls or cycling while drunk, a new study has found."

    Ah, that explains why all those helmetless European cyclists look so carefree and happy - they're drunk!

    If only we could get more cyclists to wear helmets, there would be fewer drunks, scofflaws and risk takers. I think I understand the argument now.

    But the one thing I still don't understand is that if 75% of cyclists are wearing helmets, and 70% of cyclists killed were wearing helmets, then just where does this "wearing a helmet reduced the risk of head injury by up to 74%" come from.

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  6. Tim Churches

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    It should be pointed out that the headline and first paragraph of this article are incorrect, or at least, incomplete. The headline should read "Cyclists with no helmets injured in collisions with motor vehicles more likely to ride drunk". In other words, the study population was cyclists who were injured in a collision with a motor vehicle. The results of this study can't be generalised to all cyclists. It seems that this distinction was lost in the, um, journalistic process. That doesn't mean this…

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    1. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Churches

      Ah, the author of the article has changed the title of the article by prepending "Crash data shows". That's better, although the first paragraph is still misleading. However, it is irritating that the journalist has chosen to focus on what she clearly feels is the most controversial aspect of the study, thus completely missing the main thrust of the study which is to examine whether the protective effect of helmets is maintained in more serious accidents (with motor vehicles). One of the criticisms…

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    2. Dan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tim Churches

      Thanks for the clarification. This conclusion is indeed interesting, especially as it goes against the conclusions drawn in other literature on this topic - I know of three other studies (one in Australia, although this aspect was fairly peripheral to the main research) which indicate that in cyclist / motor vehicle accidents helmet use does not correlate with injury severity nor fatalities.

      Does the research paper discuss this, and the prior findings? I'm sorry, I don't have the original paper.

      Obviously there is a plethora of research showing that cyclists' risk profile rises markedly with alcohol consumption, as well as evidence that unhelmeted riders tend to suffer more severe (non-head) injuries, indicating that they too have a different risk profile.

      Again, I don't have the original paper - could you shed some light as to how the authors controlled for these two factors?

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  7. Richard Powell

    logged in via Facebook

    Should be titled:
    Study reveals that violent anti-social helmetless bogans ride bikes home from pub.

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  8. Paul Tod

    business owner

    Not surprisingly there are plenty of studies showing the advantage of helmets when a head injury is involved, but there is also very convincing evidence that the compulsory introduction of helmets massively reduced the total hours the population spent on bikes. This distorts the apparent benefits of compulsory helmet use, with the concurrent reduction in injuries at least partially related to less time on seats. Interestingly, the demographic most likely to reduce riding time are those most likely to benefit - middle to late middle aged people who would otherwise do no exercise at all. Googling a few studies suggests a cost benefit analysis 20 times lower than the benefits of wearing helmets. Far better to educate us to the advantages of helmet use and deal with the real issue - crappy roads without suitable provision for riders.

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    1. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Tod

      Excellent reviews of the available data on the effect of the introduction mandatory helmet laws on cycling participation in Victoria and NSW by Dr Alan Davies:

      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/02/26/do-mandatory-helmets-discourage-cycling/

      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/04/02/did-mandatory-helmets-kill-cycling-in-nsw/

      Interestingly, the main effect of the introduction of helmet legislation was on teenagers, and to some extent on adult cyclists in rural and regional areas. HArdly any effect at all on adult cyclists in metro areas.

      Are Alan Davies summaries of the data accurate? I think they are, but you can check for yourself. The Victorian data is at http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/muarc045.pdf and the NSW data are all available in the Archive section of the page at http://www.bicycleinfo.nsw.gov.au/tools_and_resources/cycling_research.html

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  9. Tom Nockolds

    Project Manager

    This article states that the study was based on "...cyclists involved in a motor vehicle collision...". The abstract from the study itself says "The study population was cyclist casualties who were involved in a collision with a motor vehicle."

    The authors of the study then go on to apparently make conclusions relating to the overall effect of helmet use on cycling. For example, from the abstract to the study: "Helmet use was associated with a reduced risk of head injury of up to 74%" and "Non-helmeted…

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  10. Les McNamara

    Researcher

    “People who don’t like helmets say it won’t help you with serious injury...”

    Is this true? I would have thought that most 'people who don't like helmets' recognise that riding with a helmet is safer, but resent the inconvenience and are willing to accept the risk?

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  11. none at all

    none

    Yair, very interesting - people who break the law are likely to break the law.
    The fact remains that serious bike injuries per unit distance travelled are less and bike use is greater where no nanny state has forced the use of helmets.

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  12. Simon Batterbury

    Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

    What is missing in this article is some qualitative research on the relationship between everyday riding patterns, perceptions of risk, and health outcomes (both accidents and long term health). When Jake Oliver and Chris Rissel, both competent analysts, come up with different recommendations from the data and from studies in NSW time after time, there is clearly more work to be done. Here is one of Chris's and there are more. http://theconversation.edu.au/make-helmets-optional-to-double-the-number-of-cyclists-in-australia-4578

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      Britain does not have mandatory helmet laws and yet their rates of cycling are less than ours. OK, just one country and hardly representative but I think the relationship between compulsory helmet wearing and cycling rates are wildly overstated.
      Cycling rates have increased in Australia very recently, and those riders are wearing helmets.
      Most of the argument against mandatory helmet laws seems to stem from the correlation between cycling rates decreases and helmet laws in the 90s, even though the greatest drop in cycling rates was in 1996, 5 years subsequent to the mandatory helmet law introiduction.

      Now, if someone could demonstrate that cycling rates would increase markedly if mandatory helmet laws were rescinded for adults I would not object( i do see value in the libertarian argument for adults, to be sure). I don't see any evidence that support that claim, particularly now that cycling rates and cycle purchases are increasing.

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    2. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, cycling levels are still lower today than they were pre-law. That is despite the undeniable increases in some inner-city pockets.

      You might like to know that the law was introduced AFTER the 1991 census in WA and QLD, and in those states the rate of cycling trips to work continued the '80s increase into the '91 census, then dropped sharply in '96. That is why the rates continued to drop in the '96 census.

      So you want a demonstration that cycling numbers "would increase markedly"? Happy to oblige. Let's work together on a trial reform of the law in a restricted area, such as has been proposed by the Mayor of Fremantle and the local MP there. Let's set it up properly, with a panel of experts who have form on both sides of the debate, a protocol for running it including early termination if results are deemed to dangerous to continue with.

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    3. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Citizen SG

      See Nick Dow's reply - the data in Victoria on cycling numbers is very dodgy and the surveys unreliable on the issue of drops in numbers and increases.
      But mode choice is also a cultural activity, not just a cost-benefit apprisal by an individual, so the numbers always fluctuate (currently bikes are hip in parts of the city, so some swallow their style cred and don a lid).
      My main point though is that you don't want a government actually discouraging cycling, which is what the CHL law does for…

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      It might surprise you, Nik, that I don't have a deep seated fear of losing mandatory helmet laws. I think they should exist for children but I think that adults should have the right to choose how they protect themselves from harm.
      Helmets can mitigate against head injury after cycling collisions, making helmets optional won't change that. It thereafter would become an intelligence test rather than a compliance test. (or more specifically a risk assessment test rather than a compliance test).

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  13. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    oh dear... not another article on the efficacy of helmets. There's nothing surer to bring on a bout of frothing at the mouth from the anti-helmet brigade.
    I think it's time to face it - helmets are efficacious in reducing the severity of head injuries in the event of a pushbike accident.
    Right, now that's out of the way we can concentrate on two much more important issues:
    1. Cycling infrastructure and its effect on cycling rates and safety
    2. Road laws and their effect on cycling rates and safety

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    1. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Citizen SG

      There is an online campaign to improve infrastructure:
      httpcolondoubleslashhwwwdotcommunityrundotorg/petitions/yes-minister

      R

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Cheers, Richard.
      I believe that the helmet issue is a complete red herring (or close enough to). Infrastructure is the key to a successful community where cycling is an integral part of the lifestyle and transport solution, in my opinion.
      My views are that helmets should not be mandatory for adults (using the libertarian approach) but i cannot deny their efficacy.

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    3. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus - I agree, I think helmets should be mandatory for children only but that there needs to be substantial investment in cycling infrastructure. Helmets are effective - when an accident ocurrs but better to find ways to reduce accidents altogther. The approach I would prefer is voluntary for adults, mandatory for children and real money into paths and driver education.

      Dismissing the effectiveness of helmets is not the way to accomplish a good result.

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Interesting articles: I was in the UK recently and saw a few cyclists vying for space with mainly courteous drivers on narrow, wet dark roads. There was a death in islington whilst I was there, which made the news. They have a paucity of cycling infrastructure (I thought) which probably reflects the low cycling rates in that country.

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    5. Etienne de Briquenel

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      I agree with your comments Grendelus. This puts me offside with the views of friends and colleagues on the other side of the debate but I don't think there is anything to gain from continually arguing against the effectiveness of helmets. For me it's a matter of finding the right policies that encourage more people of all ages and abilities to use bikes for transport, and I've seen for myself here in the inner city of Melbourne what a commitment to infrastructure can produce in terms of increased cycling participation. That said, I am a strong opponent of the adult helmet law as I truly believe it has had a negative impact on even greater cycling participation, not just in riding numbers but in number of trips made, and the authors of this report have yet to provide any compelling evidence to counter this.

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    6. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to Etienne de Briquenel

      Etienne,

      I couldn’t agree more that there is nothing to gain to argue against the effectiveness of helmets and that we should be focusing on arguing for more cycling infrastructure. That is the key to safer cycling and getting more people riding. However you have pointed out that you believe the mandatory helmet law (MHL) has had a negative impact on even greater cycling participation, not just in riding numbers but in number of trips made, and we authors of this report have yet to provide any…

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    7. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      Intriguingly that figure of 8% per capita increase in cycling correlates with bicycle sales data that currently shows a 7.5% increase per annum over the last few years.

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    8. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      I wouldn't get too excited by the apparent correlation. The Gillham and Rissel research, which was published in a non-peer-reviewed journal, is discussed by Rissel here: https://theconversation.edu.au/australian-cycling-boom-nope-its-a-myth-8020

      And here we demonstrate (complete with online spreadsheet of calculations) that any apparent decline in per capita cycling participation in Australia is more than adequately explained by the demographic ageing of the population, a very basic factor for…

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    9. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      You mention Prof Rissel's paper on cycling trips, but fail to mention the survey he & others reported, and other surveys, which show about 1 in 5 Australians cite helmet law as discouraging them from cycling. A higher proportion it's true, cite factors related to safety and proximity to motor vehicles - this number will reduce as infrastructure gets better, and the proportion put off by helmets will grow as a result - that's the glass ceiling I referred to elsewhere. Mandatory helmets is game over…

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      Um, Tim... it's not 1991 any more.
      I know that crag.asn and other ant-MHL sites are still focused on the supposed shenanigans of the helmet law introduction in 1990 but that was 23 years ago. Do you believe that there is some deep seated pro-helmet conspiracy at work in Australia in our governments, transport research bodies and in academia? seriously?

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    11. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus,

      I think you meant "Um, Nik...". But as a co-author on several of these recent helmet and helmet law studies, I can assure everyone that there isn't any pro-helmet conspiracy, at least not amongst any of my researcher colleagues, nor are we in the pay of "Big Helma" (presumably like "Big Pharma", but for helmets...), as one particularly colourful anti-helmet law campaigner put it.

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    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tim Churches

      Sorry, Tim... I did indeed mean Nik...
      are you sure you're not in the pay of Big Helma? You do realise that denial is the first major sign of a conspirator don't you?

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    13. Etienne de Briquenel

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      Sorry Raphael, I can only point to my experience as a regular utility rider before the law was introduced and the twenty years since. I'm not on expert and certainly don't point to statistics that I don't understand to back up my argument. That said, I simply don't buy your argument that transport cycling hasn't been considerably affected by this law. My views are shared by many decent people who have an interest in cycling advocacy and I think it's terribly unfair for you to suggest we are not worthy of expressing an opinion.

      I'm certainly glad, however, that we are on the same page when it comes to infrastructure, and I share your opinion that this is the main deterrent to getting everyday people out on a bike. I just want you to understand that a lot of people who question the helmet law are primarily interested in infrastructure and spend most of their energy on this particular topic.

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    14. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to nik dow

      Nik,

      you failed to mention our response to Rissel’s paper that demonstrates Rissel’s interpretation of his results is clearly wrong – from a statistical perspective and otherwise.

      Walter S.R., Olivier J., Churches T., Grzebieta R., The impact of compulsory helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia: A response, Accident Analysis and Prevention 52 (2013) 204– 209. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457511003228

      Since you claim to be a “statistician…

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  14. Harvey C

    Cyclist

    "wearing a bicycle helmet was associated with a 69% reduction in the likelihood of head or brain injuries and a 74% reduction in the likelihood of severe brain injury"

    It is misleading to quote claims from a study without disclosing the vested interests behind it. The “study” quoted was commissioned by the QLD government to defend the helmet law after the failure of the bike share scheme in Brisbane led to calls for the law to be amended.

    This study is full of implausible claims, like the claim…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Harvey C said:
      'It is gullible to believe at face value claims made by a “study” commissioned and even edited by a party with a vested interest.'

      It's also extremely gullible to state your claims based upon the information from a cycling blog rather than trawl through the widely available evidence (some flawed, some robust) that shows that cycle helmets are efficacious in preventing head injuries.
      By all means object to wearing helmets, I have no issue with the libertarian argument against the laws, but to object to the efficacy of helmets is ignorant of the evidence in the public domain, which suggests the contrary.

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    2. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Wrong Seamus.

      The references provided include:
      1. A peer-reviewed scientific article published in a reputable journal
      2. Evidence that the "study" quoted was commissioned and edited by the QLD government

      To try this dismiss theses as "cycling blog" evidence is ridiculous.

      You are obviously convinced of the efficacy of helmets. Helmets can protect in minor accidents, but they also provide a false sense of safety, that leads to more risk taking and in increase in accidents. It is unlikely…

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      harvey wrote:
      "but they also provide a false sense of safety, that leads to more risk taking and in increase in accidents..." Evidence?
      I have seen two studies that state that those that wear helmets take less risks when they ride without helmets. I have seen no evidence (nor does it accord with psychological orthodoxy, or indeed common sense) that those who choose to wear helmets take more risks. The obverse occurs: they take less risks when riding sans helmet, and take the same risks as before…

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    4. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      So how do you explain the almost doubling in the risk of accidents after the helmet law?

      Don’t pretend to be “for personal choice” while trying to denigrate people who oppose counter-productive helmet compulsion as "anti-helmet" and “whingers”. A non-issue? A true advocate for personal choice would never utter such nonsense.

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    5. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      I stand for personal choice,it's just that I'm not personally invested in the issue. Most of my riding requires a helmet for protection so I don't care whether helmets are compulsory or not - I'll still wear one. To me helmet wearing is like an intelligence test.
      If you get youir way and MHLs are history, congratulations that's a victory for libertarianism... but i see far greater threats to australian's personal liberty than wearing a helmet, so I'll guess i'll get more excited about anti-terrorism…

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    6. Tom Nockolds

      Project Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The authors of the paper you linked to include Jake Olivier and Raphael Grzebieta, who are going to have to explain the way in which they're misrepresented the findings of their most current paper before I'll consider any other papers they've written. For that matter, any paper on cycling coming from UNSW I'll view with suspicion.

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    7. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Harvey C

      Harvey - how is the doubling you refer to expressed? that is, is it expressed as a number of accidents or a rate of accidents?

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    8. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      It is expressed as the risk of accident per cyclist, adjusted for external safety improvements not attributable to the helmet law.

      As the helmet was introduced at the same time as other road safety improvements like a crackdown on speeding and drink driving, any change that occurred at that time cannot all be attributed to the helmet law. A way to filter out those external factors is to compare cyclists safety with pedestrian safety. Cyclists and pedestrians tend to have a similar risk factor as they are both victims of collisions with motor vehicles.

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    9. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      The data comes from this peer-reviewed research paper:
      http://www.cycle-helmets.com/robinson-head-injuries.pdf

      Page 465, Table 2 contains non-head injury data and cycling count
      Non-head injuries is used as a proxy for accidents.
      Using year 1990 (last full year before the helmet law) and 1993, as it seems that the full effect of the helmet law was not fully seen until a few years afterwards (the number of cyclists was still in significant decline between 1992 and 1993). This could be because…

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Table 2 shows a reduction in head injuries as a percentage of other injuries, which shoes more cyclists were presenting with total injuries, per number of cyclists, but they were presenting with less head injuries.
      This is consistent with:
      1. A reduction in cyclists, but probably a proportional increase in recreational and sports cyclists( as they would still ride after the helmet law introduction :ie people like me). These riders have more exposure, ride faster for longer periods, indulge in racing etc. mountain biking was also increasing in popularity around that time which may be a factor. Cycling is more risky the less cyclists there are, so this effect may be due to total number of cyclists. There is no clear causative link between wearing a helmet and cycling accident, ie they do not make you fall off.
      2. Proportion of head injury per presentation for all injuries decreased, which is consistent with their protective effect, particularly if my hypothesis above is correct.

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    11. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      There were across-the-board reductions at recreational areas, as well as schools and road intersections, so I'm not sure that your hypothesis applies to this age group.

      Similar patterns of increased risk of injury per cyclist were apparent in both NSW (hospital data and reported deaths and serious injuries compared to the same statistics for pedestrians) and Vic (and, as far as we can tell from the limited number of comparable pre- and post-law counts) also in WA.

      Although you argue…

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    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy,
      Thanks for your reply but you don't have to convince me about helmet laws. I have conceded many times that I have no issue with withdrawing MHLs for adults. My main concern is the lengths that anti-MHL advocates will go to in order to press their case, for example, harvey c above stating that the risk for cyclists of injury is twice that of pre-MHL... As I've stated, in order for this to be true the cohort of cyclist would have to be identical, including length of journey, time of journey…

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    13. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, it's wonderful to have your support for repeal of MHLs. In my case, like you I ride a bike for transport (but not for sport) and in my case, I won't ride if I have to wear a helmet. So it's the most important issue for me, as it is for some others, while there are those in the middle of the spectrum who would ride more often if it were optional.

      Regarding your statement that it's up to our side to present "reliable data" that community health will improve overall if helmet laws were…

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    14. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      I see your point but I don't believe it is quite that simple. I believe there are three grounds for repealing the MHLs:
      1. Libertarian grounds
      2. Epidemiological grounds
      3. Efficacy grounds.
      Point 1 doesn't need any evidence to support it, it is purely a policy change based upon the ethics of how we ought to treat our citizens. Unfortunately, I think it is the hardest platform on which to convince an apathetic audience - as why should the public care what essentially concerns a minority group…

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    15. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Thanks for your long and detailed reply.

      So the Northern Territory partial repeal of 1994 which allows helmet freedom for off-road and footpath riding (the latter is legal there) would meet with your immediate approval since those areas are already segregated from motor vehicles? That would be a good starting point for reform, and it's one of our suggestions.

      As for the 20% and would they all start cycling, no. Some of the other 80% would cycle more though. The best way to find out how many would be to allow the proposed trial in Fremantle, which is a partial reform along the lines of the NT reform detailed above. The health benefits of the additional exercise could be directly compared with the head injury outcomes in such a trial so we would know more than we do now.

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    16. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      Nik,
      Having cycled to work in Freo For 3 years Isee it as a natural place to start, I have no issues with a trial. I hesitate to suggest any results would be immediately applicable Australia wide, as Freo geographically and demographically is quite different to, say, western sydney and country Victoria. Furthermore, see figure 6
      http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/files/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf
      Cycling commuter rates rose in darwin, then mysteriously…

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    17. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      Actually Nik the 20 % you mention I suspect is from here:
      '(the location where they spent Census night) was an LGA in Sydney or the Greater Metropolitan Region'
      From this study:
      http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/public-health/prevention-research/news/Cycling%20to%20work%20in%20Sydney%202001-2011%20-%20final%20for%20website%20(2).pdf
      Mentioned in this article:
      https://theconversation.edu.au/make-helmets-optional-to-double-the-number-of-cyclists-in-australia-4578
      Taking a census from the inner city…

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    18. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus,
      You claim to be “for personal choice”.
      When reminded of your denigrating remarks about those who are for personal choice, you claim to be “for personal choice,it’s just that I’m not personally invested in the issue” what?
      That is strange from one of the most prolific poster in this discussion, passionately arguing for helmets and the helmet law.

      Stop treating us like fools please. Somebody who is genuinely for personal choice does not denigrate those who are for personal choice, while…

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    19. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      That's one of the surveys. The other, which came in at 16.3% from memory was conducted Australia wide by the Cycle Promotion Fund.

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    20. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      harvey C,
      thanks for the reply. I note that you reject olivier's interpretation of the data from NSW.
      I htink you are naive if you think that research on both sides of the argument 'proves' anything. Various statistical analyses and papers merely suggest an aspect of the reality around MHLs.
      I've always accepted that MHLs deterred riders at the time 20+ years ago, the data is there. i don't see that the data from twenty years ago can be ionverted and used now to infer the reverse effect if MHLs…

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    21. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      Fair enough, what was the cohort and is there a relationship between willingness to ride without a helmet being converted to actually commuting and/or riding to a sufficient degree to make a public health difference?
      These are the questions that sceptics ask... and, hey, I'm a sceptic.

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    22. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      "Your assertion that risk compensation has led to a doubling in injuries"
      I never asserted that.

      "What concerns me is that you attribute the drop in head injury in relation to extremity injury completely to infrastructure changes"
      Rubbish. I never said that either.

      Attacking a distorted position is called the straw man argument
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawman
      A classical tactic among people running out of real arguments.

      What amuses me is the pompous attitude while ignoring inconvenient evidence. An indication of a blind spot. But of course you are not biased...

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    23. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      You wrote:
      "Your assertion that risk compensation has led to a doubling in injuries"
      I never asserted that.

      Yet you'd written:

      "Despite the doubling of the risk of accidents after the helmet law, can’t possibly see any link with helmets? “There is no clear causative link between wearing a helmet and cycling accident”. Ever heard of risk compensation?
      http://www.damninteresting.com/the-balance-of-risk";

      Please explain whybyounthinkmthis is a strawman argument when it is not?If not what…

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    24. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I suggested that risk compensation could be a factor in the doubling in the risk of accidents. That got distorted into “risk compensation has led to a doubling in injuries”.
      I suggested that external factors not related to helmets could explain a change in the ratio of head to arm injuries. That got distorted into attributing it to completely infrastructure changes.
      Please go back and review the definition of a straw man argument.
      Regarding the others issues you keep bringing up, there are not relevant what is being discussed here: safety. I am not interested in red herrings.

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    25. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Excellent thanks for the clarification.
      1. so what amount of effect does risk compensation have in increasing bicycle injuries? if this effect is real why does it not follow that making cycling safer ( by repealing MHLs, as you suggest) would subsequently lead to a rise in risk taking behaviour by cyclists? because, as you have stated, reducing the risk of an activity leads to more risk taking behaviours. does risk reduction by other means have some sort of special privelige that helmets dont…

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    26. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      risk compensation, a whole 2.4 km per hour in this study...less than The speed recommended for powered bikes on bike paths
      http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/activetransport/24950.asp#25056
      See excerpt:
      Risk Compensation: A Male Phenomenon? Results From a Controlled Intervention Trial Promoting Helmet Use Among Cyclists
      Messiah, Antoine; Constant, Aymery; Contrand, Benjamin; Felonneau, Marie-Line; Lagarde, Emmanuel. American Journal of Public Health102. S2 (May 2012): S204-S206.
      Turn on hit highlighting…

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    27. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      More straw man arguments and red herrings. Don't you get tired of that nonsense?

      "Te evidence isn't going away anytime soon, Harvey, time to confront it since its clear that you cannot run away from it."

      Interesting comment from somebody who has completely ignored a key point made several times. Please stop regurgitating the same old misleading statement that “helmet are efficacious in preventing head injuries”. That is the same old trick, of misrepresenting a device designed to protect against…

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    28. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Ahh... We're now onto the ad hom. The last refuge of those who cant produce an argument to defend their position. you're really going to have to do better if you want to change people's minds, the first step I imagine is having the ability to change your own.
      Ponder on the data from the UK, Canada and the US for a while.
      Thanks for the conversation, Harvey. It's been nice.

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    29. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Harvey C

      Yes Harvey you have a point and to draw issues together I suggest the following could be suitable for including in the AS/NZS 2063 standard.

      Cycle helmet advice requirement

      To safeguard the public, advice to wear a cycle helmet must include the following warnings.

      1) Helmets are designed for low speed impacts and they may not provide sufficient protection in many accident situations.

      2) Children should not wear helmets on playground equipment or when climbing trees. The helmet can snag…

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  15. Richard Hockey

    logged in via Facebook

    So this study only includes collisions with motor vehicles from the police database. This is a tiny percentage of all cyclist injuries (<10%). That leaves the other 90+% of cycling injuries?

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Here's but one paper:
      Bicyclist–Bicyclist Crashes—A Medical and Technical
      Crash Analysis
      STEPHAN BRAND, DIETMAR OTTE, MAXIMILIAN PETRI, CHRISTIAN MU¨ LLER, TIMO STU¨ BIG,
      CHRISTIAN KRETTEK, and CARL HAASPER
      Trauma Department, Hannover Medical School, Accident Research Unit, Hannover, Germany

      Exerpt from the discussion:
      "The head and extremities were at higher risk of injury compared
      to the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis. The average helmet use
      rate was unsatisfactorily low.
      Almost…

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    2. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Citizen SG

      bicycle-bicycle crashes are also extremely rare. Almost all cycle injuries are single vehicle crashes.
      R

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    3. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Yes, cyclist-motor vehicle crashes reported in the police database (linked with hospital data) represent only a small part of the cycling accident spectrum, but such collisions tend to result in more serious injuries, on average, than single-vehicle bicycle accidents. But the clearly stated goal of this study was to examine whether helmets were effective in preventing or reducing head and brain injury in such more serious accidents. The results are fairly conclusive - they do. There is a large literature on bicycle helmet efficacy in preventing or mitigating head and brain injury - at least 40 studies - examining the full spectrum of accident types and severities. Every single study has found that helmets are efficacious. What this study adds is more data at the severe end of the crash spectrum, and the availability of the linked police data allowed some potential confounders to be adjusted for, which was not possible previously.

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    4. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Well, you asked for it, you can't complain if there is other data out there...
      Anyway, they're not so rare in Germany, where this study was conducted. they're much more rare in Australia as the cycling infrastructure doesn't seem to result in crowded bicycle paths.
      On of the oft-forgotten results of 'copenhagenisation' of a city is the greater incidence of bicycle-bicycle crashes and also single bicycle crashes, which also may result in head injuries. helmets mitigate the head injuries., as suggested in this study.

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    5. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Tim Churches

      CRAG.ASN./... seriously? more holes in the data on that blog than my bike helmet and more out of date than my stackhat.

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    6. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      wrong reply to... sorry Tim, that was meant for Harvey C.

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    7. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      And in Copenhagen, the City commissioned a report on the idea of helmet compulsion, which came back with the estimate that the City would lose 50% of their bicycle trips if such a law were enacted.
      (Source: statement by Prof Jan Gehl, urban designer, Copenhagen, made on ABC radio last year).

      While the number of cycle trips is low, recruitment can occur from smaller sub-groups of the population who are not typical of the majority. It's possible to go on finding people who are happy to share the road with motor vehicles to various degrees and happy to wear helmets, so long as the overall mode share of cycling remains low.

      If Australia ever does create good conditions for cycling in the cities, and expects are significant share of trips to change to bicycle, the issue of helmet compulsion will replace "feelings of safety" as the largest single reason given for not riding. The helmet law, is a glass ceiling on cycling.

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    8. Etienne de Briquenel

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to nik dow

      It's not just a matter of rider numbers decreasing with these laws, it's also the effect on cycling demographics and the number of trips individuals take. You'd expect such a large hit on a nation like Denmark where basic utility cycling is the dominant culture, as opposed to the dominant sports/rec crossover that dominates Australia. It's no secret that the latter form of cycling has never suffered as a result of these laws whereas the former has. It's these kinds of nuances that the authors of this article regularly fail to comprehend.

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    9. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Churches

      So if helmets are so effective why aren't car drivers required to wear them? Why single out cyclists for special treatment?

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      why focus exclusivel;y on copenhagen? It's a tiny city in a big continent. You ignore the situation in many other countries in europe, you ignore rural areas in europe as well.
      Go to prague, rural italy, rural france...where are these massive amounts of cyclists? they don't exist, at least not where I visit anyway. The situation there is the same as in rural victoria, where I live, fast traffic, narrow roads, trucks, hills and long distances. the greatest impediment to cycling in australia and rural and noninner-city europe is infrastructure. get over the helmet fixation

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    11. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The reference to Copenhagen is precisely because there is a high modal share there. I wanted to show that once the "perceived safety" deterrent is removed, the desire to ride without helmets is more apparent. We may well be able to slowly increase modal share in Australia with a law, but as we recruit more people to riding, by making it safer, the resistance to helmet law will become more and more apparent, and the pool of helmet-willing potential cyclists will be exhausted. The resistance is already…

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    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to nik dow

      Again the continual reference to copenhagen is, I believe, disengenuous. I agree that urban centres in Europe have fantastic infrastructure for cycling because; well, they are urban centres in Europe. To extrapolate that as the norm in Rural Europe, or European cantres with heavily industrialised areas or comparing to suburban australia is not at all appropriate. Where Copenhagen should be mentioned is as an ideal for cycling. And even then why is it an ideal? is not walking safer and more ideal…

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    1. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      And from the article at your link I quote:

      International experience, for example in Australia, indicates that making helmet use legally compulsory has resulted in fewer people cycling. Dutch policy, however, is aimed at increasing the proportion of the distance travelled by bicycle. Not only is cycling good for one’s health, it is also a more environmentally friendly mode of transport than a motorized vehicle. In the Netherlands, the introduction of compulsory helmet use is also likely to result…

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  16. Simon Arthur

    Reader

    Well I rode through a breath-test station last week and the police waved me through - was that because I was wearing a helmet?

    Seriously, what low-grade journalism to extract a headline from the study that doesn't even mention alcohol in its abstract. So let's focus on the real outcomes of the study, which show:
    - Helmets help prevent serious head injuries in bicycle v motor-vehicle accidents.
    - Young people (<19 age-group) are less likely to wear helmets.

    It seems obvious to me that some…

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    1. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Simon Arthur

      Actually footpath cycling has been shown to be more dangerous than on road cycling especially for children.
      Also in QLD anyone can legally ride on the footpath.
      R

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    2. Simon Arthur

      Reader

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Do you have a reference for a footpath related study?

      I think it depends on your measure of dangerous - are you measuring by more accidents, more serious injuries, or more deaths? I know I won't let my kids ride on the roads in our area of Melbourne, it's dangerous enough for me - cars pulling out in front of me, truck drivers forcing me into the gutter, drivers opening doors into my path because they can't be bothered looking, and one fool who did a right-turn into me as I was going through an intersection. Lucky to be alive. You don't get these high-speed accident risks on footpaths.

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    3. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Simon Arthur

      Simon, if you are in Victoria, police can't breathalyse you when cycling. There is no offence of .05 while cycling and there is no power to randomly breath test a cyclist.

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    4. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Simon Arthur

      Some articles relating to footpath cycling:

      Franklin, J. Cycle path safety: A summary of research.
      http://www.lesberries.co.uk/cycling/infra/research.html (accessed March 2005).
      Senturia YD, Morehead T, LeBailly S, Horwitz E, Kharasch M, Fisher J, et al.
      Bicycle-riding circumstances and injuries in school-aged children. A case-control
      study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1997;151(5):485-9.
      Carlin JB, Taylor P, Nolan T. A case-control study of child bicycle injuries:
      relationship of risk to exposure…

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    5. Simon Arthur

      Reader

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      From the Toronto report you referenced, in the section Conclusions for Sidewalk Cycling:
      "A study of Toronto commuter cyclists suggests that cyclists who frequently use sidewalks tend to have higher crash rates, even on roadways, than cyclists who always ride on the road. Simply advising (or forcing) these cyclists to use the roads could result in more on-road collisions, which tend to yield more serious injuries"

      So sure there's a higher risk of collisions on footpaths/sidewalks, but this is primarily due to the types of cyclists using them who tend to be more crash-prone (the report has more details on this). But the important part is that less serious injuries occur on the footpath, so the kids are more likely to arrive home with a few bumps and scrapes rather than the parents being called on by a hospital or a police visit. I know which one I'd prefer.

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  17. Michael O'Reilly

    logged in via Twitter

    "The frog in the well thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well."

    As I asked earlier, is Australia seen as a haven of cycle safety because of helmet laws? How does almost the entire rest of the world cope without helmet laws?

    There also seems to be an underlying belief that if the laws were repealed, not a single person would wear a helmet.

    Most still would, including me. But those who prefer not to, at considerable financial risk (an absolutely ridiculous $176 in Victoria), would no longer supplement the various state budgets. Others who don't like helmets would be more likely to ride. Utility cycling would lose one of its impediments.

    Meanwhile, expensive, failing bicycle share programs in Melbourne and Brisbane would have a chance of success.

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    1. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael O'Reilly

      Well said Michael.

      Do we outlaw eating too much? Smoking? Sky-diving?

      The authors have missed the point that cycling without a helmet is good for your health, overall. Why penalise a healthy activity?

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    2. Michael O'Reilly

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to nik dow

      Yeah, I don't know why. I think lawmakers were trying to be clever and progressive, and now nobody wants to admit it was a bad idea.

      But every time I come back from Europe and look around, I shake my (helmeted) head.

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  18. Peter Sommerville

    Scientist & Technologist

    Would the statistics also show drunks are more likely to ride without helmets and then crash? I suspect they would. Elsewhere on the conversation there are excellent articles on experimental design and statistical analysis........

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    1. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Deaths, bewteen 1996 and 2011, 9 non-helmeted and 1 wearing had BAC of 0.15 or above.

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    2. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      In the USA it was reported that 24% of cyclist fatality cases had been drinking alcohol. Crocker reported, “As expected, helmet use mitigated against brain injury, but alcohol or drug use was a much stronger predictor of head injury (OR=3.6; p<0.01). Impaired riders were less experienced, rarely wore helmets, were more likely to ride at night and in slower speed zones such as city streets, and their hospital charges were double.” Also reported “Of 40 alcohol-affected cyclists, 57.5% had head injuries…

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  19. Tim Benham

    Student of Statistics

    I haven't seen the paper but the abstract betrays the authors' intent as advocacy.

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    1. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Tim Benham

      "I haven't seen the paper but the abstract betrays the authors' intent as advocacy"

      Breathtaking.

      Is it improper for science to advocate policy on the basis of research?

      However in this case I think the larger question is how, from reading the abstract alone, could you infer that was their intent.

      I have read the paper and I would challenge that view primarily on the basis of the data and method adopted by the study but also by the stated intent in the introduction. I think it would…

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  20. Kathy Francis

    logged in via Facebook

    Surely it is time for a new approach. After 23 years of Government sponsored research and advertising on the dangers of not wearing a helmet along with enforcement in the form of penalties for non compliance, there is no consensus in our community on the benefits of the laws. Clearly many cyclists are not wearing helmets and even more are only wearing them to avoid fines. If large numbers of cyclists find helmets uncomfortable, inconvenient, unpleasant, uncool, unnecessary or dangerous then Government…

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    1. Raphael Grzebieta

      UNSW Australia

      In reply to Kathy Francis

      Kathy,

      When you say “there is no consensus in our community on the benefits of the laws”, that is not correct. You also cite Freestyle Cyclists. Boy, that’s a highly credible source! You claim around 1200 people have signed their petition calling for helmet law reform. You fail to note that the ERASS surveys estimate 555,200 cycling participants in Victoria for 2010 (the latest available data).

      http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/436134/ERASS_Report_2010-VIC.pdf

      Now let’s…

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    2. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      The 13 deaths per billion km for the NL, that is one per 77 million km.

      Assuming it is about 40000 km around the Earth, On average one death per 1925 times around the planet.

      If the average person cycles say 10 km per day, 3650 km per year, they would cycle for 21000 years before coming to grief.

      In any case wearing a helmet may not safe their life.

      On the other hand, details show that helmet laws discourage cycling, eg
      Victoria 3121 - 2011
      NSW 5380-4251
      Thousands of people were discouraged from cycling. The health loss is far higher than the possible hopeful gains.

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    3. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      NSW census data, percentage cycling to work single mode
      1981 - 0.90
      1986 - 1.09
      1991 - 0.96
      1996 - 0.87
      2001 - 0.83
      2006 - 0.84
      2011 - 0.93
      The 1981, 86 were for 30 June, 1991 and later, 6-9 August.
      The helmet law effect was clear, it reduced percentage cycling levels.

      The NSW surveys had more than 100 site locations. Walkers 1992 report Table 9 provides figures for 'Sample in common' 12068 reducing to 8963.

      The risk factor per km for cyclists can vary by 10 to 1. Some people cycling without light and drinking, may have a factor of 10 times higher per km compared to say a long distance tourist. Comparing accident outcomes for wearers v non-wearers is best treated as a guide.

      In NSW the helmet law resulted in a 44% drop in children cycling, 6788 to 3798 counted, (1991-1993), 9% extra wearing helmets compared with 44% fewer cycling.

      Parliament and professionals need to investigate the issue fully.

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    4. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Colin - I am about to go look at some data so I may come back with a further response. However, feeling a little contrary this morning a though occurred to me - why might we consider it a bad thing if fewer people cycle (per capita). I personally can think of a large number of arguments in support of more cycling - economic and ecological, but the most oft cited reason is health and fitness. However the problem with most of the reasoning around this is that it does not seek to question whether substitution…

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    5. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      A Danish study compared death rates of people who did and didn't cycle to work, adjusting for other physical activity - so it's effectively measuring the benefits of cycling in addition to what other physical activity people choose to do. The non-cyclists had 39% higher death rates than the cyclists.

      There's a big difference between substituting recreational and sports cycling with another sport (which may well happen, though sports cyclists in general tend to wear helmets anyway) and substituting…

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    6. Kathy Francis

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      In response to Raphael Grzebieta

      You believe I am wrong in maintaining there is ‘no consensus in our community on the benefits of the laws ‘ . Your next point is a sarcastic remark about a group whose membeers disagree with you.. You then go on to make an odd mathematical calculation which divides the number of people who have signed our petition by the number of people who rode a bike in Victoria in 2010 . What is this number supposed to mean ? If it is the percentage of the population who…

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    7. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Churches

      You are right, I have to admit those estimates were a bit optimistic.

      The 36% reduction in Melbourne (cyclists of all ages) from 1990 to 1991 is perhaps the most realistic estimate of the effect of the law in capital cities. Reversing this would need a 56% increase. I imagine that’s achievable. Other initiatives, such as successful City Bike Scheme (which won’t happen while we have helmet laws) would be needed to double the amount of cycling. The trend (e.g. in census data) was going up quite…

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    8. Kathy Francis

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      The VicRoads website claims cycling levels in Victoria dropped initially after helmet laws were introduced but returned to normal levels within two years. I have often wondered if this was true. If it is not I would be interested in challenging them on that.
      Do you or anyone else have any studies ( other than Census data) on cycling levels in Victoria in the years following mandation that support or refute the claims by VicRoads ?

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    9. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Kathy Francis

      Alan Davies has provided a good review of the Victorian data, with a link to the source documents so you can check the accuracy of his summary for yourself: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/02/26/do-mandatory-helmets-discourage-cycling/

      Davies also reviewed the NSW data - see http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/04/02/did-mandatory-helmets-kill-cycling-in-nsw/

      The source documents for the NSW surveys can be found at: http://www.bicycleinfo.nsw.gov.au/tools_and_resources/cycling_research.html

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    10. nik dow

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Kathy Francis

      As I mentioned above, Alan Davies and Vicroads both use this MUARC survey to claim that cycling levels intially dropped but returned to pre-law levels the following year. The survey had multiple weaknesses but concentrating on the main one, in that 2nd year one of the survey sites had a large bicycle event go past, which had hundreds of bikes. They were all counted. The survey authors failed to do a sensitivity analysis on that one data point, but others have done so and found that the levels of cycling in the 2nd year were similar to the year before, i.e. well down on pre-law. Conveniently, the survey was not repeated in subsequent years.

      The fact that this is the main evidence relied on by the Victorian government shows how desparate they (and others) are to claim that helmet law didn't reduce numbers. They know it did, but they can't admit it.

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    11. Michael O'Reilly

      Journalist

      In reply to Raphael Grzebieta

      There is no doubt a small group of "safety experts" in the Netherlands who simply can't see the wood for the trees.

      Imagine the drop in utility cycling in such countries if helmet wearing was enforced. The benefit of, perhaps, slightly improved average outcomes for people who crash would be massively offset by negative health impacts of reduced exercise, increased motorised transport, etc etc.

      When cycle touring in France last year I told a Dutchman that in parts of Australia, you get fined $173 for not wearing a helmet. He looked at me as if I'd escaped from a lunatic asylum...

      Amazing how the rest of the world gets by without helmet laws.
      Amazing how Australia isn't envied as a haven of cycling safety.

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    12. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Churches

      In Victoria, the pre-law survey counted 1293 teenagers, of whom 272 wore helmets.
      The first post-law survey counted 670 cyclists, of whom 302 wore helmets. That's an increase of 30 teenagers wearing helmets, but a reduction of 623 in the number of teenagers cycling.

      Here's Alan Davies' description: "And for youth, who clearly didn't like helmets, the rate rose almost threefold, from a desultory 21% just prior to the new law to 59% of those who were still riding by the second year after the…

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    13. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy,

      At the very top of Alan Davies' article, he reproduces a graph from the report which clearly shows the cycling participation data for all age groups. You say "By reporting the change in percent helmet wearing, Alan hides the reality that the number of teenagers counted fell by 48.2%...". But two paragraphs before the text you quote from Alan's article, he says this:

      "The big loss was in the high school-age youth segment (12-17 years). Their numbers were flat in the years leading up to the law, but declined sharply in the first year and remained at that lower level in the second year."

      Can't get much clearer than that.

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  21. Colin Clarke

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

    The report covers the period 2001 to 2009 for NSW.
    “There were 42 cyclist fatalities resulting from collisions with motor vehicles during the study period, and in 24 (57.1%) cases no injury information could be obtained. These 24 cases were excluded from the study population.”

    It appears that between 2001 and 2009 there were more than 100 cyclist deaths in NSW. If the authors could provide some details why from 100+ there are 42 considered, reducing to a lower number. A table of killed wearing…

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  22. Harvey C

    Cyclist

    “The conversation” is meant to be a forum for respectful discussions. That does not match the patronising and denigrating statements seen in this discussion. It is disappointing to see condescending attitudes, dismissing other points of view without even considering them.

    One denigrating statement that keeps coming up is that “wearing a helmet is an intelligence test”. This reflects a degree of conviction and disrespect that goes far beyond an objective assessment of the broader picture…

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    1. Kathy Francis

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Harvey C

      In reply to Harvey C

      Many good points raised here but one I would like to comment on :

      'Since this brilliant idea, policy makers have felt little need to do much for cycling safety. This has led to neglecting more effective safety measures.This might explain why Australia has one of the worst cycling safety record among developed countries. Australia's cycling serious injury rate is 22 TIMES higher than in The Netherlands.'

      Those trying to rid Australia of helmet laws are often told to go…

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    2. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Kathy Francis

      Good point Kathy.

      About this claim:
      “Those trying to rid Australia of helmet laws are often told to go away and concentrate on advocating for infrastructure as this is a more important issue for road safety.”

      This argument is perverse. It acknowledges that the helmet law has done little to improve safety (avoiding acknowledging that it has made it worse). Yet at the same time, it treats this failed measure as a sacred policy that cannot be questioned.

      Are helmet advocates treating us like fools?
      Are they blind?
      Maybe a bit of both …

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    3. Kim Murray

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Harvey C

      Regarding the condescending bunk about this 'intelligence test', which as one poster noted above is more properly called a risk assessment test, there are actual tests specifically for intelligence, and I can crack 140 points on one. Using this intelligence, I find the risk of cycling laughably negligible and our uniquely draconian legislation moronically hysterical. I have vehemently defied this idiocy for its entire 22 years of existence, because I'm eminently capable of judging my own risks, and…

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    4. Kim Murray

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Kim Murray

      Incidentally, ignoring the road rules in general as they pertain to cyclists is doubtless construed as risky behaviour, but I would submit my remarkably defiant yet unscathed history as (admittedly anecdotal) evidence to the contrary.

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    5. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Kim Murray

      In NSW pre law from 1986 to 1990, there were 114 cyclist and 924 pedestrian deaths, cyclists 12% of pedestrians in number. From 2001 to 2009 there were106 cyclist v 705 pedestrian deaths, cyclists 15% of pedestrians in number. The report included just 18 deaths, a major failing. Pre law the percentage of trips by bicycle was about 4% and in the period after 2000 about 2%.

      In 1990 cyclist casualties aged 0-16 in the NSW road traffic accidents numbered 733 and 173 in 2009. The accident statistics…

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    6. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Kim Murray

      As the author of the offending remark I suppose I should have my say...
      Congratulations for riding for 20 years without feeling the need for a helmet. Clearly my experience in cycling is different than yours. I was commuting to work this morning and just avoided being struck by a driver pulling out of a t-intersection (hardly a rare occurence). What would the consequences have been for me should the driver not have stopped? Well it's impossible to know, it was low speed so presumably I would…

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    7. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Harvey, the argument that you mention is hardly perverse, merely an application of logic. Infrastructure is a preventative mechanism whereas helmets act post hoc. Surely concentrating on prevention on collisions is preferable to concentrating on laws to de-emphasise the very thing that may protect during a collision.
      Is not concentrating on MHLs perverse? One would think that infrastructure, education etc should be emphasised and PPE retained until no longer required. That's the way the rest of the world works when mitigating hazards anyway.

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    8. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      mmm fallacy time:
      'Helmet activists believe that accidents are unavoidable, almost normal'
      I'm unsure what a helmet activist is, never having met one, but as you have stated that the cycling injury rate is 22 times that of the Netherlands I'm tipping that cycling injuries are prevalent in Australia. Anecdotally, I have a near miss probably every 4 weeks and a car/bike collision every 5 years or so, usually at intersections. I cycle 5-6 days a week on the road so I may be exposed more than the…

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    9. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Back in 1990 when Victoria comsidered the alternative to a helmet law, one option was to provide cycle paths at a cost of $3.36 billion.
      All this cost was allocated to just one year as opposed to being spread over say 10 years. No doubt today safer provision for cycling would have been provided if they had not chosen the helmet law option. This option would have increased cycling levels and improved safety. Cheaper options to improve cycling safety could also have been investigated.

      The UK's…

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    10. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      There's only one component of what you just said that isn't cherry-picked. That statement is 'allowing for choice supports individual freedom'. That is the only statement that the anti-MHL lobby should be pushing because the data out there, that I have read, is supportive of the efficacy of bicycle helmets in a collision. I have read one paper that postulates an increase in DAI from helmets but that was a poor study that I believe has been supplanted by further research (and even if plausible only…

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    11. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, you make some points to address.

      1. Helmets are protective in a collision

      2. Ceasing MHLs will raise the TBI rates for cyclists, should a larger percentage of cyclists stop wearing helmets (except for the proviso I mentioned above)

      3. This increase in TBI is worth it to prevent the decrease in individual liberty that the population is subject to.

      Points 1&2
      http://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/media/vanilla/file/Uni%20NSW%20-%20Helmets.pdf
      Table 2 provides figures for head and…

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    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Yes I've seen the interpretation of the Australian back and forward between Risseland Olivier for years. I believe Olivier has the last word (currently) and the statistics are currently in favour of helmets being protective of head injury in epidemiological terms.
      As to your contention that diabetes, heart disease will drop if helmet laws are repealed, you are completely overreaching. You'd first have to demonstrate that the only factor that prevents more people from cycling is helmets (studies…

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    13. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Apologise for typo's... Typing rapidly on iPad....

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    14. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Interesting, a quick google search revealed that in the US 0.4% of commuting trips are made by bike. In 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…

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    15. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The low rate of cycling can usually be explained by a mix of factors. Most have been mentioned. London, for example, has a massive public transport network designed for commuting - but out in smaller towns and villages, driving is often the only option. Hence that are very happy that cycling is advancing a bit - takes the pressure off the Tube and the roads. As I mentioned previously, a big factor is culture. Australia (outside Fitzroy etc.) has a car culture. This has the practical effect of people…

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    16. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      Thanks, Simon,
      Yes I agree with your comments. I think that when the dollar drops again and the next oil crisis hits we may see the impetus to change, as occurred in Denmark in the 1970s.
      I am gettin sick of crapping on about helmets and infrastructure when really nothing will change culturally without a big rude shock, like petrol going to $3 a litre. Until then I think that everyone is pretty happy ferrying the kids to school in the Prado and driving 500 m to the shop to pick up the paper.
      The shame is that it will really hit those who live in the outer suburbs pretty hard... The ones without existing transport alternatives.

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    17. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      It’s interesting to hear the tales of many cycling accidents. That’s what I hear from most Australian cyclists. They all have SEVERAL accidents they were involved in, some of them where the helmet cracked and they believed it “saved” them. Helmets have become a religious artifact for some.
      I find it difficult to relate to such experience. I never had a bicycle accident since I was a kid, not even a near miss ( I ride almost every day). I don’t think of bicycle accidents as worth worrying about…

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    18. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      Oh dear....
      I've made you resort to crag.asn instead of those horribly biased academic reports.

      It's always tempting to retreat to those things that make us secure in our cognitive biases.
      Tell me when Rissel and V. published their paper using head/arm injury data to state that helmets were ineffective after MHLs did you use this data in your arguments?
      If so, do you now accept their forced retraction and subsequent analysis by Olivier that helmets are efficacious?

      Opinion based blogs won't help you to change MHL laws. Using evidence and sound arguments might. it's your choice.

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    19. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Interesting how every point made is ignored.
      Instead the reply is full of condescending and denigrating statements.

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    20. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Harvey C

      You only voiced opinions, harvey. Nothing you have stated is substantially different to oter commentary that you have written. Would you have me repeat what I've written?
      Ok, how do you explain poorer cycling participation rates in 3 major western countries that do not hav MHLs? To wit, how does MHL at all contribute to the debate on cycling participation?
      The only common feature I English as. First language. One may as well conclude that speaking English deters cycling.

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    21. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Some data for England and Wales may be of interest.

      http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_299766.pdf

      England and Wales methods of travel to work in 2011
      In the 2011 Census, 15.3 million people (57.5 per cent) travelled to work by driving a car or van. A further 1.4 million people (5.1 per cent) commuted to work as passengers in cars or vans, giving a vehicle occupancy rate of 1.09 persons per vehicle. Some 1.4 million people (5.4 per cent) stated in the 2011 Census that they worked mostly at or from home, while 2.8 million people (10.7 per cent) walked to work and 760,000 (2.9 per cent) cycled to work.

      I know that in England and Wales during the winter months when it can often be wet, windy, icy, snow and dark at 5.00 pm that cycling can be quite a task. Narrow roads and high traffic density also add to cycling problems in many parts. Victoria and UK are similar size but UK has about 12 times the pop.

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    22. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Again, you avoid the data that shows that the difference between two Northern European countries without MHLs is that you are 9 times more likely to ride to work in The Netherlands than in England.
      Denmark: 6. Times as likely, with a similar climate. Germany over three times. The figures for the UK as a whole, in 2007, show 15 times more people commute by bike in the netherlands than in the UK.
      What is it that distinguishes north west European countries from England and Wales?
      The strongest predictor of cycling in the first world is if you are living in north west Europe. If you live in north west, southern and Eastern Europe your cycling participation rates are 5% or less.
      If you live in a first world country outside continental Europe your cycling participation rates are less than 2%, irrespective of weather, MHLs or population size.

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    23. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Correction: if you live in north west continental Europe your cycling participation rate will be above 7%. South westveurope 5% or less Eastern Europe 3 % if you live in the First World outside continual Europe, less than 2%.
      Irrespective of weather, population size and MHLs.
      If you live in the first world outside continental Europe the strongest predictor of cycling participation rates, going off 2007 data, is having MHLs ( which is absurd, but that's what you get if you assume MHLs are the only…

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    24. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Colin Clarke

      Thanks, Colin. The figures you cite are quite informative because they are more comparable.
      UK 2011 census: 760,000 (2.9 per cent) cycled to work
      Aus 2011, 1.29% cycled to work.

      The report Seamus cites has a footnote saying that the Aust data were for commuter trips (cycling to work or full time education) rather than percentages of trips (including public transport) in cities, so it isn't a realistic comparison.

      A better comparison is the ratio of bike to car trips. In the UK (including…

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    25. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Thanks Dorothy, they are interesting points.
      As far as the us having 'widespread MHLs': 64 us counties have MHLs for over 16s... out of 3033 us counties. That's 2%.
      there areno statewide MHls mandated for adult citizens. There are 22 states that mandate helmets for children and around 200counties that have mhls for children.
      Is that your definition of widespread, or would you say that 98% of counties that allow adults to ride to work and make commuter trips is marginal?
      Cycling head injury…

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    26. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Addit: the discussion with Colin was stats in the UK in 2007. You omitted the results from Scotland,which shows that 1.3%of trips are made by bike.
      So 2.9 % of English and welsh cycle to work and 1.3% of scots 'make trips by bike'.

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    27. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      What do you make of:

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

      Which is curiously not mentioned on cycle helmets.org.

      Still inrested in poor cycling rates in the 98%of American counties without MHLs for adults and the relatively poor cycling participation rate in non north-west European counties in general...

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    28. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The effects of provincial bicycle helmet legislation on helmet use and bicycle ridership in Canada
      http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1201.html

      "you've failed to mention the cycle to work scheme and infrastructure development around that time. Again, infrastructure as a main driver to promote cycling."
      What about the all the money spent on infrastructure and Travelsmart programs in Australia?

      Where I live, if you divide the spending on cycling infrastructure by the number of people cycling to work it would work at somewhere between $10,000 to $20,000 each. This may be a crude calculation, but it leads me to question whether the spending on infrastructure per cyclist is higher in other countries - based on my personal experience of cycling in these countries I can't help thinking that it might even be lower.

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    29. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dorothy L Robinson

      Dorothy, you wrote:

      'What about the all the money spent on infrastructure and Travelsmart programs in Australia?'
      What about it?
      How is that relevant to the UK which has no MHLs, a 2.9% cycle to work rate in England and Wales and 1.3% for scots, as compared with a 27% rate in the Netherlands and 16% or thereabouts in Denmark.
      You speculate on the relative spending between Australia and other countries. Given hat Denmark, for example, has been spending on infrastructure since the1970s I'd say…

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    30. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Citizen SG

      This tit for tat is getting rather silly. I for one am losing the plot now and I expect comments will be closed soon.
      It is possible to distil some useful points of agreement from trawling through all the (mostly inadequate) past studies. The summary seems to be that MHLs are bad policy because other countries do better without them, and some Australians hate them. Other countries have different socioeconomic conditions and cultures. Variables other than MHLS are important in Aus for determining…

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    31. Harvey C

      Cyclist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      “Ok, how do you explain”
      Not another red herring!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring
      Anyway, Dorothy has dealt with your misleading stats presented as fact.

      When attempting to justify your condescending attitude, you claimed:
      “You only voiced opinions, harvey. Nothing you have stated is substantially different”
      That is not true.
      You keep ignoring evidence that doesn't fit with your beliefs in helmets, like for example the issues below:
      Why is a polystyrene device designed only for…

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    32. Colin Clarke

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

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      This poor situation, disputed figures, heavy fines, misleading reports is at the heart of the problem. The Federal Government of Australia promoted having state bicycle helmet laws, they should have a full inquiry and hear from witnesses.

      Seamus has this focus on infrastructure and certainly it warrants full consideration but the report being discussed is mainly about cyclists and helmets.

      Info on Canada
      http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/16/4/219/reply#injuryprev_el_2778

      Now the discussion is wondering off to helmet laws in Canada, and the USA. they both show similar outcomces in some ways to Au.

      The main evidence shows that the outcome from helmet laws relates to discouraging cycling. The best approach is to improve safety for cyclists without having helmet legislation. Any advice to wear a helmet also requires suitable warning.

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    33. Dorothy L Robinson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      I think there’s much doubt that well-designed infrastructure encourages cycling, as would repealing helmet laws, or that both measures together are likely to produce greater benefits than either individually. The important questions are the costs and benefits.

      Although the two economic evaluations of helmet laws (for WA and NZ) did not consider lost health and environmental benefits of reduced cycling or reduced safety in numbers, they were still unable to find any substantial benefits of legislation…

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  23. Richard Hockey

    logged in via Facebook

    Interesting paper by Piet De Jong The Health Impact of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws seems to have flown under the radar.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1368064
    "In jurisdictions where cycling is safe, a helmet law is likely to have a large unintended negative health impact. In jurisdiction where cycling is relatively unsafe, helmets will do little to make it safer and a helmet law, under relatively extreme assumptions may make a small positive contribution to net societal health."

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    1. Tim Churches

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Richard Hockey

      Richard,

      Don't worry, de Jong is mentioned a lot in each and every one of these online helmet debates. However, there are a few things about the de Jong BCA (benefit-cost analysis) that do tend to fly under the radar. The first is that the de Jong analysis does not apply to Australia and New Zealand. If you read the paper, de Jong has proposed a model for assessing the benefits vs costs of introducing mandatory helmet laws where they don't exist. Of course, in Australia and New Zealand, the relevant…

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    2. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Churches

      Thanks Tim, we may never get a definitive answer on this one. I do think however that the pro helmet brrigade (I must admit here that I used to be one ) can be a little bit precious at times given the lack of evidence base in most of road safety. Mandatory helmet legislation only got up because it was seen as low hanging fruit and it had a 'think of the children ' element. In hindsight I think its a bit more complicated and has probably done a lot of damage to promoting safe cycling in this country as well as making it more difficult in getting more important road safety measures implemented.
      R

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  24. Colin Clarke

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

    GB head injury age related.

    http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/UsefulReports/Road%20casualties2008.pdf

    85/201 Chart 6d page 81 shows head injuries v age

    Body region of injury also varies according to the age of the casualty, as shown in chart 6d:
    • Over half of child casualties had head injuries; the proportion of head injuries falls with age

    The head injuries are for vehicle occupants but the pattern of injuries, a higher rate for children seems the same as for cycling.

    McDermott 93 included 14 fatality cases when there were more than double this number of deaths in the area. This NSW report includes a fraction of the deaths and does not say how many were wearing helmets. It looks to be lacking in important areas.

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  25. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Do you think this might explain some of the decrease in cycling commuting and cycling participation rates correlating with MHLs in the 90s? Could it explain the difference between cycling in Australia and north-west Europe?

    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 travelled to work…

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