Archive for October, 2012

Bicycle As a Brand

October 30, 2012

LTRs probably know by now that branding and advertising are one of my biggest passions right now.

Last weekend, I realized that cycling itself was a brand.

Not a particular type of bicycle like a Surly or Canon, but rather the _idea_ of riding a bicycle to work is a brand.

As a brand, we are doing really, really badly.

Even the risk takers, like motorcyclists see cyclists as shy and weak.

This is crazy because they love motorcycles because of the danger. Then they say that they don’t want to ride a bicycle because it is too dangerous!

Those in the know, realize that branding makes no sense so this isn’t the end of the world.

People’s minds are flexible and subject to change.

First of all, I am not going into the motorcycle space to compete. I learned that this won’t work at all, which is totally fine with me.

Instead, I have decided to personally decide what a bicycle means to me and what makes it appealing to me.

So what do I see when I see a bicycle?

I see a pile of money, a great body, and a beautiful sunny day spent outside.

The pile of money is all the money I save in not driving.

The great body is obviously the fact that every second that others are sitting in traffic getting angry, I’m working out.

Finally, each time I ride my bicycle to work, instead of a morning commute that people like the band MGMT bitch about:

“We’ll get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute”

I look forward to my commute!

So this is what I tell people when they talk about my bicycle: pile of money, great body, and a smile. 🙂

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What is Victim Psychology?

October 29, 2012

Recently, I have been obsessed with getting to the bottom of one of the most unsettling anti-infrastructure appeals.

I can see now that it seems like Victim Psychology might have something to say about this.

What I am talking about specifically is when I talk about cycling infrastructure to those I would think would find it most appealing, and they still don’t get it.

I would have thought that the notion that our environment affects our decisions would be obvious.

Obviously, one sleeps better when one has a nice comfortable bed rather than when trying to sleep on a smelly bed of nails. This idea is pretty obvious to me.

Not to those who are “victims” it seems.

Instead of making our built environment safer and more sane, they are obsessed with pinning the blame on someone.

The cannonical paper, for me, on this is the infamous Orlando 2003 “safety” study where every other word was VIOLATION. In every collision, there was someone to blame.

Well, duh. In every collision someone did something they shouldn’t have done namely crashed their car into a bicycle at high speed. It’s not rocket science to say that this is a VIOLATION.

Suggesting that they should have paid attention more or whatever is besides the point. Someone should not get the death penalty nor have to live with the blood of someone on their hands if they mess up a little. That’s disproportional.

It also made zero sense to me until I read the following (from the above paper):

“The term generally refers not to a person who is the victim of a terrible act, such as a natural disaster, but rather to someone who avoids personal responsibility or bad feelings by blaming others. Many therapists and mental health professionals see victim psychology as a destructive mechanism that can inhibit personal relationships and a happy life.”

Yes! These people are ALWAYS angry.

“A person displaying victim psychology may be obsessed with fairness or morality. Generally, he or she believes that good things that occur are deserved, and bad things that occur are because someone else is being cruel, thoughtless, or unfair.”

Yes, I always hear cries of more punishment and “education” whenever there are “victims” around.

There’s the notion of punishing drivers and killing cyclists who mess up.

I guess I don’t buy into this because I don’t feel that the world is fair.

However, it can be safer.

Here’s some sweet sustainable safety:

“What causes crashes? In the original version of Sustainable Safety, the starting point was that crashes were in the end caused by predominantly unintentional errors by road users. Since it is quite often stated that hard-core or repeat offenders cause crashes, we have tried to investigate the distribution of crash causes.

This has led to the view that it is quite often difficult to attribute crash causes to actions that are either ‘unintentional errors’ or ‘deliberate violations’.”

Yes!

But do the victims hear us?

“Like a deer in the headlights, victim psychology can paralyze a person and prevent him or her from making logical decisions. Being so caught up in how unfair a situation is, a person may be unable to think of ways or actions that could solve the problem. Instead of determining how to fix an issue, arguments or problems can quickly dissolve into accusations of blame, which is generally helpful to no one.”

I suggest that we prevent crashes through modest changes in our existing infrastructure budget.

Sustainable safety is the breath of fresh air that we are sorely lacking.

Mindfulness Cycling 8/14

October 26, 2012

First I’d like to start with this quote:

“… If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.”

This comes from Cult Fit. Thanks Cult!

http://deerparkmonastery.org/mindfulness-practice/the-fourteen-mindfulness-trainings

I am really enjoying this series because writing it forces me to re-read the mindfulness trainings over and over again which is really helpful especially when I have some personal difficulty.

I do realize that this is all in my head as I someone in my position has always had a position of privilege which protected me against real problems.

This week we talk about:

The Eighth Mindfulness Training: True Community and Communication

“Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech.”

I can think of three places where communication matters, which is between cyclists and motorists on the road, between motorists and cyclists off the road, and between cyclists as a community.

I have found that the best on road communication is found in the front wheel of a car: if they are moving, I yield.

Second best is my hands: I point to where I want to go as well as waving cars past me as I yield to them.

Off road, motorists seem to want to vent to cyclists a great deal. Though their anger is totally out of proportion to what cyclists normally do, I feel that it is my role to listen.

This is very depressing and also draining so overall, I tend to conceal the fact that I like to ride a bicycle, and to not talk about cycling too much. It’s kind of a pity that it has to be this way, but you see the looks of contempt on people’s faces, even those who think of themselves as “nice people.”

Plus they say patronizing and ignorant things which totally ignore the fact that cycling is super-awesome for many, many reasons.

Thus, it’s best to not talk about it, too much. However, I must say, that in the past few weeks, I have gotten very much positive feedback when I let it slip that I ride a bicycle for more than play.

Finally, however, there’s the cycling community which is a hot mess.

We are at each other’s throats over “taking the lane” versus building infrastructure. We fight over clothing styles…Really? Really? How far from high school and it’s still about clothes. 🙂

We argue over which type of bicycle to wear and if flip-flops are “appropriate” footwear for cycling. (I think yes).

Oh, and helmets. Yeah! Let’s argue over useless headgear instead of enjoying the wind in our hair (or on our bald heads).

We can fight over all kinds of stupid stuff, but this is probably a waste of time. I am all into deep listening, but overall, I keep hearing the same stuff over and over again, and this is frustrating.

“Knowing that true community is rooted in inclusiveness and in the concrete practice of the harmony of views, thinking and speech, we will practice to share our understanding and experiences with members in our community in order to arrive at a collective insight.”

I am happy that there are inclusive communities out there, but the cycling community, for some reason, seems to divide itself into smaller and smaller groups.

So at this point, outside this blog, I try to listen more than I talk, and I don’t have much to share unless people have questions. Overall, I just don’t like talking about cycling, too much if we aren’t getting to the next level.

“Whenever difficulties arise, we will remain in our Sangha and practice looking deeply into ourselves and others to recognize all the causes and conditions, including our own habit energies, that have brought about the difficulties.”

This part, I totally agree with. Almost 100% of my problems are caused by me, but it’s nice to see a reminder on this.

“We will not behave as a victim but be active in finding ways to reconcile and resolve all conflicts however small.”

This is a great way to end it. Too often, in my internal monologue, I do think of myself as a victim. It’s nice to see that there is an alternative.

Cycle Fop

October 25, 2012

The cycling world is full of controversies for some reason. It seems that even the simplest ideas get tons of opinions and debate.

One of them is the notion of clothing.

I love this debate because when you search and replace the arguments with “car” hilarity ensues:

“What clothing should I buy for driving my car?”

“If I wear a suit in my car then other people are going to think that since they don’t look nice in a suit then they are going to be stuck taking the bus.”

Yes, these are the things we love to argue about. And since I love gossip and argument, I am in my element. 🙂

I first got involved in cycling foppery in the late nineties when I was obsessed with the writings of William Burroughs.

He always looked stylish in a suit, and thus, I tried to emulate this look, but in a lesser manner by wearing a pressed white shirt and dress slacks everywhere. I thought nothing of wearing this while I rode my bicycle.

Little did I know that a few years later there would be a whole movement known as Cycle Chic.

Nor did I realize that on the other end of the spectrum there would be those who thought that you had to wear lycra racing gear with sponsor logos all over it even if those companies weren’t even sponsoring you.

But while I did touring, I did wear some excellent bicycle pants which were relatively warm, but still comfortable on warmer days and best of all, super fast drying.

For a full year after I moved to San Diego, I wore the same pants nearly every day.

Only on special occasions did I wear nicer clothes for which I got tons of compliments. Most of all, I realized that it made my princess happy to be seen with a man who didn’t dress like a complete bum.

But what really made me change my mind was my mid-life crisis (mlc) and this conversation between Patrice O’ Neal and Gallager.

Note that I find everyone on the show to be offensive except for Patrice who is really awesome–the only comic I’d really like to hang out with if he hadn’t died.

So you don’t have to listen to all 14 parts of the interview, but just trust that Patrice inspired me when he started talking about how Gallager needed to raise his game and to dress better since he was older.

Since I am Patrice’s age, I realized that I, too, need to stop wearing goofy clothes, to stop dressing like a bum, and to start dressing like an adult.

Thus, I am in a clothing renaissance, but since Cycle Chic is all ready taken, I’m rollin with Cycle Fop.

Top Down Vs. Bottom Up

October 24, 2012

I used to be a bottom upper, I really was.

To backtrack for those who are not in the know, there is a debate on how to solve environmental problems. Somehow this has infected the cycling world as well.

The first approach is the Top Down which means that the government solves the problem by fiat. For example, when they discovered that cholera was killing lots of people, they created sanitation standards and we have no more cholera. Or when they decided that we should all have electricity and they build power grids and now we have electricity in our houses.

This is becoming more and more unpopular because unlike cholera, many people don’t see our problems as real. There are many reasons for that, but mainly people think that the government sucks at doing stuff.

This brings in the super-popular, Bottom Up approach which means that everyone does their best on their own.

This works well for some things. For example, the sleeping problem is best solved by this problem. We don’t have the government coming into our houses and tying us to our beds for eight hours.

(At least most of us don’t get this service, but it’s hard to be sure knowing some of my LTRs). 🙂

On the other hand, when it comes to cycling safety, I think that the bottom up approach sucks.

I first had an inkling that this was stupid when I read about an environmentalist talk about how if we all do a little bit, we’ll only get a little way to solving the problem.

This is also true of cycling safety.

I have noticed that the things that people really carry about we have a top down approach. It does not matter if you are a conservative or a liberal, the government is the answer to your problems in these cases.

For example, if you need a road, we don’t all go out there with pick axes and shovels, we get tax dollars and contract it out.

I feel that the same solution should apply to cycling.

I have also noticed that there is a pattern with the bottom up solutions which all suck.

Here are some shitty bottom up solutions that don’t work:

1. Wear a helmet

2. Education

3. Public awareness (yet another form of education where we hope that motorists are more aware)

4. Wearing bright colors

See why these are so popular? They don’t really ask anyone to _do_ anything. They cost only a little amount of money.

And best of all, they force a cyclist to bear 100% of the responsibility of her safety even though I have all ready proven that by riding a bicycle, she has all ready made the safer choice.

Now we’re going to penalize her for that by making do a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t work?

Does anyone really wonder why cycling is more unpopular than drugs?

Anti-Helmet Zealots Strikes Again

October 20, 2012

I have a new name!

It’s not Zed, though I’d take that.

No, it’s AHZ (Anti-Helmet Zealot!)

https://sites.google.com/site/bicyclehelmetmythsandfacts/

I love it: Shattered Myths! Kind of like the Rolling Stones song. 🙂

First of all, I’m not going to answer any of the points made on the above page.

But I will say this. Helmets ought not to be encouraged by cycling commuting because they are a HUGE waste of money. If half the cyclists who ride their bikes once or more a year spent their “helmet money” on infrastructure in one year we’d have Portland in all of our major cities. In fact, he actually conceeded that if we had better infrastructure then we would have less injuries than we do now with helmets.

Well, I have been asked to do it, and now I will, I’m going after serious injuries that were prevented by helmets.

First let’s talk claims.

You can quote me on this. If Mitt Romney wins the election, and he wants to get his scissors out, he can start by cutting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Not to digress, but they are a number of reasons that this is a piece of shit organization and being useless is not the only one. They are also a sleeper protectionist organization masquerading (and doing a shit job) as a safety agency. See wikipedia for details.

However, they did me a favor by putting out a juicy and crazy “Traffic Safety Facts” page:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&ved=0CFoQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.accidentreconstruction.com%2Fnewsletter%2Ffeb06%2FBikeHelmetUse.pdf&ei=cluDUOjAN-aC2AWgj4DwBw&usg=AFQjCNEo9o5_RQ5plnOLWuqB8udggjwzmg&sig2=HBqxb8prVOQ2OY1MMDINCQ

“The estimated annual cost of bicycle‐related injuries and deaths (for all ages) is $8 billion.”
First of all, note the use of the word “estimated”. See Mitch Hedberg for details on how they “estimate” things. 🙂
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This would be significant cost savings!

Imagine a magical alternative place, similar to the US, where they actually did have a helmet law. You’d expect the health care spending to go down, after such a law, or at least remain stable. Yes.

LTRs know that there is such a place: Australia.

Here’s a grapn of their health care costs:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CCwQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.commonwealthfund.org%2F~%2Fmedia%2FFiles%2FPublications%2FIssue%2520Brief%2F2012%2FMay%2F1595_Squires_explaining_high_hlt_care_spending_intl_brief.pdf&ei=qV-DUJ-GO6ec2AXhuoDoCg&usg=AFQjCNFS1hX1fropqhocBG8bEa-CRkFxpw&sig2=cZ9uQ8EDczpdaaAKhy-3Ow

Please look on page two at either graph. Note the lines for Australia. Do you see the big dip on the left graph? Haha, that’s NOT Australia and it’s not during the 90’s but it is the kind of dip that I’d expect if we had a few billion dollars cost savings in health car. I would not expect the spending to go up but that’s exactly what it did.

Why no change?

Because helmets don’t save any significant amount of money in health care costs.

This leads us to this excellent analysis of the effects of helmets on injury rates:

http://pjakma.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/study-shows-australian-cyclist-helmet-law-leads-to-increasing-head-injury-rates/

“A careful look at the study shows there appears to be a significant benefit only over a short-period of time, across the few months where the [mandatory helmet] law is passed. While beyond that the helmet law has managed to turn a decreasing head injury rate into an increasing head injury rate (fig 3)…So what is happening?”

The study mentions regression to the mean without being explicit:

“Another possibility is that injury rates just happened co-incidentally to be at a high prior to the law, and that the law has had little causal effect.”

I agree that this has to be a big factor. It almost always is when you have data that tend to be consistent overall but will fluctuate over time.

Conclusion:

“That means, so far as the study is accurate, that beyond a short-period, the study actually shows an apparent detrimental impact on safety in terms of head injury rates,”

While “correlation does not always indicate causation” sometimes it does.

Also, before you get causation you do need to have correlation. Since we don’t have it, it’s safe to say that helmets are useless, overall, for preventing injuries and for reducing health care costs.

Hopefully, Mitt will cut this bullshit organization that wastes our money putting out nonsense reports and “safety facts”.

Rethinking Safety In Numbers

October 19, 2012

Recent blog posts have pointed to research that suggests that the vast majority of cycling deaths were from fast moving vehicles.

We could spend the rest of our lives, like the Cross study and the Orlando 2003 study, in order to assign blame and to find out what precisely happened in the majority of the cases.

But the more you look at the data, the more you see that the main pattern is that there are a lot of ways to get hit by cars and die. The single most factor that mattered is speed. If you get rid of speed, you get rid of serious injury and death.

This brings us to my second point, which is more of a speculation of the Bad Apples Hypothesis. Basically this says that there are a couple of shitty drivers out there who do the majority of the damage. I have not proven this, but I have read many stories where motorists repeatedly drive without a license and, until they hurt someone, nothing happens to them. Sometimes, even then nothing happens. Thus, it turns out that the whole magically “licensing” system doesn’t really seem to work. This is especially true due to the fact that our “enforcement” system is broke in many ways including the sympathy that people get who are not allowed to drive because they are now stranded in their auto-centric housing that they CHOSE TO LIVE IN. This kind of sympathy is killing people.

All of this ties in with safety in numbers which I’ll get to next.

For those who are not LTRS, Safety in Numbers is the notion that the mere fact that more people cycle makes all cyclists safer.

For a long time, I was on the fence about this. I wanted it to be true because I like to believe that more cyclists magically makes us all safe. Maybe it does.

On the other hand it didn’t make sense. The more cyclists on the road, the more likely one of them will collide which means it’s more likely that they will die. Right?

Not unless the only real threat is high speed cars.

Since there might be a limited number of Bad Apples, this means that if there are more people cycling, you aren’t really safer because you can still get hit by a Bad Apple. On the other hand, since there are more cyclists out there the PERCENT FATALITIES goes down.

Perhaps this is why NYC has quadrupled their cycling numbers in the last few years, but fatalities are flat. This is because these people would have died no matter what due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once we hit a plateau with the maximum number of us cyclists getting run down, there are no more Bad Apples out there.

Anyway, this is pretty confusing, and it might be wrong, but it’s another way of looking at Safety In Numbers in a less mystical way. I’m sure that there is some truth to the standard assumption that cyclists are safer because many motorists learn to expect cyclists and drive accordingly. However, when there are still some Bad Apples out there, and we do nothing to stop them, there will be far more cycling fatalities than there should be.

And we have the soft on crime, revolving door system in place to protect our Bad Apples.

And no politician from the Left nor from the Right has ever had the courage to stand up and get the Bad Apples off the road.

High Speeds Are the Green Eggs and Ham of Cycling Fatalities

October 18, 2012

Before I write my own post, here’s a brilliant insight into motoring psychology. Too often the notion is that motorists are monsters or somehow insane. I do not think that this is a useful way to more forward. Rather, I think that motorists are normal humans who are doing the best they can in a really badly built environment. A bad place makes for a bad set of choices and it either expects people to be Buddha or to be human. People, like me, usually choose to be human.

Here’s a quote: “Implicit in the expectation of efficient travel is an expectation amongst many that automobiles are the only vehicles with the right of way on the streets, leaving little room for any other modes of transportation. The resulting tensions between bicyclists and drivers are problems of environmental design and culture, not one of bad decision-making either by bicyclists and/or drivers.”

Nothing new here–when is there ever 🙂 –but I thought about this when riding to work this morning. High speeds are like green eggs and ham to cycling deaths.

The other part of the analogy is every other thing that is blamed for killing cyclists.

“So what killed the cyclist?

Was it her earphones? Her dark colored clothes? Her lack of proper cycling education?

No, it was a high speed car.

Did she die with a helmet, without a helmet, on the sidewalk, on the road?

No, it was a high speed car.

Was it the cyclist’s fault, motorist’s fault, road designers fault, by standers fault?

No, it was a high speed car.

Was the cyclist taking the lane, hit by a door, going the right way or the wrong way?

No, it was a high speed car.”

That’s right, it doesn’t matter what the cyclist is doing, where she is, how smart or stupid she is nor the weather nor the time of day.

The single biggest variable in cyclists deaths is high speed cars.

That’s it.

It’s so simple that I feel stupid for saying it.

But look at the “safety literature” and there’s tons of nonsensical variables that are very carefully analyzed.

I feel like a fool for many of my prior posts with my “data analysis” because it’s all a waste of time.

But I guess I had to go through this to get to where I am today.

Acceptable Risk NYC Style

October 18, 2012

NOTE: The numbers here don’t totally match up on a yearly basis. This is a huge error that I regret, but my time is short. If someone wants to run the numbers with better data and share it, I’ll buy you a beer.

Also, if someone can correct my math, I’d appreciate it. It could be totally wrong as I suck at math.

Begin Post:

If you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

If you learn about “acceptable risk” you want to run the numbers for every place that has juicy data!

LTRs know that I love NYC data because it’s very complete compared to other areas.

Here I look at the total number of cyclists = 200,000 [http://www.bikesbelong.org/resources/stats-and-research/statistics/participation-statistics/]

There were an average of 23 deaths per year [http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bicyclefatalities.pdf] thus, the risk of cycling is 15 per 100,000 which is within the maximum tolerated risk for the general population.

This is far safer than the US as a whole. Why the difference?

I don’t know but I can guess that the reason is that streets in NYC tend to be slower. We know that speed kills.

In fact from the same study we see that over half the deaths were near arterials which as high speed streets. Getting cyclists off arterials seems to be the “single most effective way of saving lives”. (Yes, I keep repeating this phrase because we keep seeing it associated with helmets which is total nonsense.)

However, when you take into about that ninety plus percent of the deaths were because cyclists were hit by a car, a different pattern emerges.

Cycling is now at the rate of 1/100,000 which is at the safety rate for new nuclear power stations which is ten times safer than the normal level of risk. This is risk level three which is super high. Thus, in New York without cars, cycling is super duper safe.

It seems that the secret sauce that kills cyclists is cars.

The above paper obsesses over where cyclists were hit, what they were doing, who was at fault, were they wearing a helmet. But here’s the kicker: MOST CYCLISTS WERE HIT BY HIGH SPEED CARS. IF THOSE CARS WERE NOT THERE, THEN OVER 90% OF CYCLISTS IN NYC WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY.

Thus, for this case, it’s highly inaccurate to say that cycling is dangerous as it meets and exceeds the maximum acceptable risk.

Cycling Helmets Do Far, Far, Far More Harm than Good

October 17, 2012

LTRs can skip this.

In this article, I restate my earlier claims and cut n’ paste from a single article.

OK, I seem like I’m obsessed with helmets. That’s because I am.

The more I dig, the more more I find that helmets are actually a potential form of risk. (I do suggest reading the whole article and perhaps just skipping this blog post):

http://www.bmj.com/content/332/7543/722.2?tab=responses

I have mentioned that helmeted riders will intentionally and even worse, unintentionally take more risks.

Here’s an example where a helmet is implicated in a man who is paralysed. He has stated that if he did NOT have a helmet, he would not have taken a risk that has put him in a wheelchair.

“One such example was reported in the New York Times . In August 1999, Philip Dunham, then 15, was riding his mountain bike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and went over a jump on a trail. As he did, his back tire kicked up, the bike flipped over and he landed on his head. The helmet he was wearing did not protect his neck and he was paralysed from the neck down. Two years later, Philip has regained enough movement and strength in his arms to use a manual wheelchair. He has also gained some perspective. With the helmet he felt protected enough to ride off-road on a challenging trail. In hindsight, perhaps too safe. “It didn’t cross my mind that this could happen,” said Philip, now 17. “I definitely felt safe. I wouldn’t do something like that without a helmet.”

The name of the above series of comments, from the BMJ, is called: “No clear evidence from countries that have enforced the wearing of helmets”.

This should cause us pause. Why is there “no clear evidence”?

I’d say that if the effects of helmets on injuries is so small that the best attempts to measure it have failed, that it does not exist. There was certainly no 85% decrease in injuries which is the claim that can be found in many, many places.

The predictions of some of the most frequently cited papers:

Dorsch, 1987 -90% fatalities
Thompson, Rivara, Thompson, 1989 -85% head injuries, -88% brain injuries
Wasserman, 1990 -29% concussions, -82% skull fractures
McDermott, 1993 -39% head injuries,
but no significant reduction for adults
Thompson, Rivara, Thompson, 1996 -69% head injuries, -65% brain injuries
Table 1
Injury savings predicted by case-control studies

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1139.html

There are a few things I’d like from the pro-helmet crowd.

1. Clear data that shows that helmets work as intended and save lives. I’d like to know how many lives and in what circumstances.

2. I’d like to know where helmets are not intended to work. What are some scenerios where a helmet is known to fail? An example of this is sky diving. I don’t expect to live if I jump out of a 50 story building and land on my head. If the speed that helmets help me is in collisions with cars of 20 MPH or less, I have to say that unhelmeted pedestrians will survive 95% of the time. To reduce a risk below that is not worth the hassle.

I do not think that “safety in numbers” is a good reason to argue for helmets at all because it looks bad. That is, to say that we need to downplay helmets because it causes people not to cycle is not a good argument because it implies that we are lying to people and putting them at risk just to make cycling unpopular.

A better argument is that “helmets are useless. If you like helmets you must be for less expensive infrastructure improvements that actually work.”

If you really would like a laugh look at table three in the above link:

“Naive approaches simply reporting trends as effects of helmet laws (as in the Canadian study) would lead to the conclusion that bike helmet laws also prevent pedestrian injuries (Fig 3) A more plausible explanation is that helmet-law provinces also introduced other measures (e.g. speed cameras or random breath tests) and that they improved safety for all road users.”

Thus, claims of protection by helmets are, as I said earlier, are confounded by real increases in road safety. Thus, pedestrian injuries and fatalities should be accounted for when we argue that increased wearing of helmets saves lives.

But there’s more!

“Rotational injuries from sports helmets are a recognised problem: “The use of helmets increases the size and mass of the head. This may result in an increase in brain injury by a number of mechanisms. Blows that would have been glancing become more solid and thus transmit increased rotational force to the brain. These forces result in shearing stresses on neurones which may result in concussion and other forms of brain injury.” Experiments on monkeys show that rotational forces cause much more severe brain injuries than linear forces.”

Here’s a response to the story that “I fell off my bike and my helmet broke.”

(from the above article)

“Because of the difficulty finding adults who crashed or fell off their bikes, 86% of the community controls (CC) were children under 15.[2] At the time, a large observational survey in Seattle showed that 3.2% of child cyclists wore helmets, compared to 21.1% of children in the CC group.[3]

If, as Ms Thompson suggests, these helmet wearing rates are correct, it would seem that helmeted children fall off their bikes 7 times more often than non-wearers. There would be no point in recommending helmet wearing, because helmet wearers seem to have many more injuries than non-wearers.

Why should helmet wearers have more accidents? Clarke details how helmet use can lead to more head impacts plus additional accidents.[4] Thompson’s approach to helmet research appears to assume that differences in head injury rates were due to helmets.”

“These cycling numbers should be compared with WA cyclist hospital admissions in the years pre and post law enforcement:

1985 – 623

1986 – 660

1987 – 630

1988 – 698

1989 – 596

1990 – 638

1991 – 730

1992 – 574

1993 – 633

1994 – 644

1995 – 660

1996 – 715

1997 – 754

1998 – 850

1999 – 862

2000 – 913

There was no decline in overall cyclist hospital admissions despite the traffic surveys showing a ~30% decline in cyclists on the roads (more than 50% reduction in schoolchildren cycling from 1991 to 1996). ”

“As Robinson shows, there is solid reason to doubt the likely benefits of the monomaniacal focus on cycle helmets which currently dominates much “cycle safety” policy, and genuine cause for concern as to the effects of the relentless portrayal of cycling as dangerous which underpins helmet promotion.”