Tuesday Oct 16, 2007

Cycle helmet compulsion again....

Like a broken record an attempt to reduce the numbers of cyclists by making cycle helmets compulsory has turned up as a 10 minute rule bill the the House of Commons:

Motion: Ten Minute Rule Motion - Bicycles (Children's Safety Helmets) - Mr Peter Bone

As with the best attempts to deter behaviour this just targets those below the age of 17. If you can stop then cycling young then they should be saved from ever taking it up. Once again time to write to your MP. For those who still believe cycle helmets are effective, and I wish that they were, see http://cyclehelmets.org for the depressing reality that the only thing they are effective at doing is reducing the levels of cycling. They don't have magic properties that allow polystyrene to protect cyclists from the effects of being hit by motor vehicles.

Friday Dec 08, 2006

Bad Media Coverage

It seems a Journalist can't write a good article about cycling without following it up with one that is utter tosh. So today The Independent has the “make helmets compulsory” article as they prevent 65% of head injuries and 75% of serious head injuries! If they did that I would happily agree but as has been pointed out numerous times they don't. The anecdotal reasons they don't are clear when you think about it, but the proof of the pudding is in the numbers. If they prevent 65% of head injuries this should be simple to measure in one of the places they have been made compulsory.

The http://cyclehelmets.org site has a page devoted to the “research” that produced the 85% claim.

In practice no where have they made any measurable difference, except in one way, to reduce the number of cyclists. Head injury rates have remained stubbornly unchanged and accident rates increase (the more cyclists you have the safer it is).

Via Simon.

Update. Should have noticed the date on the article. Old news. My Bad.

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Friday Mar 24, 2006

Cycle helmet paper

A refreshingly sane bit of research into cycle helmets from the National Childrens Buearu has this as part of it's conclusion about cycle helmets:

The conclusion from the arguments outlined above is that the case for cycle helmets is far from sound. The strong claims of injury reduction made by helmet proponents have not been borne out for fatalities (which this paper argues is the most methodologically sound test of effectiveness) in real-life settings with large populations. Technical and operational limitations on the effectiveness of helmets support this conclusion, and arguments from the way humans respond to risk give it further support. Two key arguments against helmet promotion – strong criticism of the key case-control studies and the first empirical evidence of risk compensation – have both recently appeared in peer-reviewed journals (Curnow 2005 and Mok and others 2004). The case of cycle helmets is arguably an example of a wider phenomenon in childhood accident prevention noted a decade ago by Dr Elizabeth Towner, first author of the Towner review: ‘Very few of our present interventions, intended to prevent these injuries, are actually known to work’ (Jarvis, Towner, & Walsh 1995).

This is from someone who rides a bike, wears a helmet and makes his daughter wear one. The full paper can be found here.


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Thursday Jun 30, 2005

Depressed about the future

I'm significantly disappointed today. Obviously the madness of the ID card bill getting it's second reading, but today it was beaten by the BMA's decision to campaign for mandatory helmets for cyclists. I've always thought that Doctors, being scientists would favour facts over emotion, truth over lies. It appears not the BMA.

The BMA now simultaneously have a policy to promote cycling, as it has great heath benefits and to a policy that has been shown to reduce cycling that of helmet compulsion.

Why?

Well as is so often the case there has been a campaign to get the BMA to take this position. To make the argument that cycle helmets are required you have to do a number of things:

  1. Show that cycling is dangerous.

  2. Show that cycle helmets reduce the danger.

  3. Show that cycle helmets do not deter cycling to such an extent that any benefit is lost.

  4. Show that the benefits are great enough that personal choice should be over ruled.

The problem is that none of the above can be shown.

  1. The government statistics for road accidents show the relative risks of various forms of transport:

    Cross modal comparison of fatality risk for passengers

2001

Fatalities per billion
passenger kilometres

Motor cycle/moped

112

Foot

48

Pedal cycle

33

Car

3

Van

0.9

Rail

0.1

Water

0.4

Bus or coach

0.2

Air

>0.01

Source: Road Casualties Great Britain 2002: DfT (2003).

Yes you did read that right. Foot travel is more dangerous than cycling. Walking helmets anyone?

  1. Cycle helmets are designed for impacts up to 13mph, the kind of impact you get from falling off a stationary bike. Oddly falling off a stationary bike is very rarely fatal. Being hit by a motor vehicle is what kills cyclists. No one claims that a cycle helmet would help when hit by a motor vehicle.

  2. Err they do. Everywhere mandatory helmets have been introduced the number of cyclists decreases. Not hard to see why. If to pop to the local shops by bike I have to put on a plastic hat which I then have to store when I get to the other end I may well just hop in the car. Also it makes me think that cycling is dangerous.

  3. Well clearly they have not done that.

My concern is that the Polatitions will treat the BMA's position with some weight believing that they are based on reasoned argument and we will actually get this anti cycling policy for real.

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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