Re: [greenwichcyclists] Urgent: Cycle helmets
- Good stuff Nick. Didn't take us long to get into politics and religion......
Helmets must be left to personal choice. Holdsworths in Putney have
somewhere a helmet I cracked wide open in a smash 10 years ago that I walked
away from. We all have our anecdotes. Australia is right...you make helmets
compulsory and more die from lack of exercise because they've not taken up
In most accidents helmets are as much use as a chocolate fireguard.
Pedestrians don't need to wear body armour.......but many cars do. Bull-bars
are fashion accessories that ensure that cars kill at lower speed. Why
should they be allowed? Why should some cyclists fell obliged to dress
protectively in helmets?
Safety needs to be built in to the infrastructure - into vehicles, into
roads, into lower speeds and not just slapped on.
----- Original Message -----
From: Nick Williams <nwilliam@...>
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 6:51 PM
Subject: [greenwichcyclists] Urgent: Cycle helmets
> Tracy Wye, the News Shopper journalist, had a call from a doctor
> (speicalising in head injuries) ticking her off for printing a photo of a
> cyclist without a helmet in the last edition. She also says she witnessed
> an accident today where a cylist was knocked off his bike and hit his head
> on the kerb, but was saved by his helmet. She has, therefore, decided to
> follow up this issue. I have contacted the LCC who supplied me with some
> great background information, and I've faxed her their fact sheet. But,
> course, this is something we may not agree with LCC's line on.
> I've drafted the comment below for her and I would appreciate your urgent
> thoughts/suggestions/comments. I anticipate turning the last paragraph
> into some kind of quote.
> I've faxed some stuff through to you on cycle helmets.
> A couple of points:
> 1. I was wrong about the Which Report. It has now been updated and their
> most recent guide gives them a clean bill of health generally (all credit
> to the Consumer Association for this). Their line is that "most cycle
> helmets now offer the protection they should", although they go on to say
> that "helmets are only really effective in accidents which occur at low
> speeds" and any helmet should be "close-fitting" to be effective. They
> also say "measures are needed to make UK roads safer for cyclists". The
> important point here is that people who have a helmet that is very old
> five years old) shouldn't be complacent about it. Also if your helmet is
> damaged in any way (and particularly after a crash) you should throw it
> away as although it may not be apparent, a helmet fractures inside to
> absord the shock - it won't work twice.
> 2. There's quite a lot of studies on the effectiveness of helmets, but
> much agreement about whether they are really useful. It seems an
> attractive proposition at first because head injuries account for two out
> of every three cyclist deaths. But, there are loads of buts! For
> example, helmets are only tested to withstand an impact of 13mph (20kph).
> But 92% of cycle accidents involve another vehicle which will typically be
> travelling much faster than this even on our crowded London streets. So,
> in other words a helmet is good if you simply fall off your bike or are
> pushed, but unlikely to help in the majority of cases where someone runs
> into you. Other surveys talk about risk compensation (people think they
> safer and take more risks, a phenomenon first observed when car seat belts
> became compulsory - drivers felt safer, took more risks and the number of
> accidents went up.)
> 3. There is general agreement that they could be particularly effective
> for children as they have softer bones and are more likely to fall off
> their bikes. However, even for children it's not straightforward.
> must fit snugly, or they may do more harm than good. And this can be
> expensive as it means you will have to replace your child's helmet several
> times while they are growing up.
> 4. When cycle helmets were made compulsory in Victoria, Australia 60% of
> young people and 40% of adults stopped cycling. This is why most
> organisations say that using a helmet should be a matter of choice - it's
> far more important that measures are taken to improve road safety more
> 5. The British Medical Association take a very pragmatic, cost-benefit
> view. They say that the health benefits gained from regular cycling far
> outweigh the risks for regular cyclists.
> Not sure how helpful all this is, as I said, we haven't discussed the
> particularly. I think we would agree that cyclists should make sure they
> get the facts when investing in a helmet; check that they fit correctly,
> renew them if they get damaged and don't take unnecessary risks just
> because you're wearing one. Helmets clearly can help in certain
> but they aren't a pancea. That's why we our priority is to campaign for
> safer roads and better cycling facilities to reduce the risk of accidents.
> We may be able to turn this into a quote!
> I'll not be in the office tomorrow, but if you need to contact me you can
> e-mail and I'll get back to you Thursday or phone me on 07970 025119.
> Nick Williams
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