Archive for the ‘Helmets’ Category

Helmets Negatively Affect Cycling Perceptions III

December 18, 2013

cycling-tbi

[Above is a breakdown of traumatic brain injuries and their causes.]

Finally the good stuff from the study:

“As compared to nonwearers, helmet wearers reported significantly less Perceived Exemption from Harm and greater Perceived Danger of Cycling.”

So there you have it. People who want us to wear helmets have the belief that cycling is dangerous.

I suggest that if you think cycling’s dangerous, don’t do it.

“Helmet wearers reported greater or more Emotional Benefits and Safety Benefits than nonwearers.”

Again, those who want us to wear helmets are doing it for emotional reasons rather than a real thought at how we can collectively spend our helmet money on something more substantial and useful.

Also, those who wear helmets have an exaggerated notion of how protective they actually are. I know at least one intelligent person who has modified her stance from thinking helmets were the bees knees to acknowledging that she wears a helmet out of habit and to feel good. This was based upon detailed reading of crash stats including the recent rash of unfortunate deaths of helmeted riders.

“Others have found that Personal Vanity and Discomfort played little to no role in the decision to use a helmet; the current study, however, found Personal Vanity and Discomfort to be highly predictive of helmet use or nonuse. Perhaps the fact that this sample was predominantly female elevated the importance of vanity for predicting helmet nonusage.”

OK, first of all, let’s be insulting and belittling of female attitudes. Instead of “vanity”, I’d prefer to use something like a “Healthy Concern for One’s Image” or the like. But whatever, dismiss one of the most important things in human existence, beauty.

Now that we know that people don’t like to wear helmets because we realize that cycling is safe and that helmets don’t help much. Furthermore, we don’t like to look like dorks for marginal safety gains at best.

So what does the researcher want to do? Push people to wear helmets, of course.

“Researchers highlight the importance of peer pressure and discuss how social cues can genuinely induce intention, citing a need for more campus outreach by organizations and individuals to recommend bicycle helmet.”

In conclusion, in order to get people to wear helmets, we must make them think that cycling is more dangerous, helmets would probably save your life in cases when it doesn’t, and that one’s own personal appearance isn’t that important.

We’ll do this by wasting money which could be used for real safety to repeat the tired message that we have all heard so many times that many of us believe it: “wear a helmet or you’re an organ donor.”

In order to get more helmets on people’s heads, we need to surround ourselves with like minded people who all spout the same party line.

Instead of this dark future, I suggest that we stop manipulating statistics to cover up the fact that only a few thousand people a year hurt their heads in cycling and only a few hundred die. There are many other dangers out there that we accept without questioning which we are spending far less energy on.

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Helmets Negatively Affect Cycling Perceptions II

December 17, 2013

Continuing where we left off yesterday. From the survey:

“Only 12% were self-reported helmet users; the
majority (72%) reported not wearing a helmet and having no intention to do so in the future.”

CDC [http://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/prevguid/m0036941/m0036941.asp]

“Although bicycle helmets provide effective protection against bicycle-related head injury, only approximately 18% of bicyclists wear helmets all or most of the time.”

Also, the CDC notes how unlikely a person who’s hospitalized for head injury is to be adult: “During the same years, greater than 75% of persons treated in emergency departments for bicycle-related head injury were less than 15 years of age.”

“Conversely, in a study of patients warranting emergency room care for a serious bicycle-related head injury, only 4% of patients had been wearing helmets.”

But only 6% of the adults are there for head injury anyway so this would not have made a difference in the vast majority of cases. Why they are fixating on such a tiny number is beyond me.

Helmets Negatively Affect Cycling Perceptions I

December 15, 2013

The helmet monster has arisen! I have been stirred up to do some more hard core helmet research.

Today the question is whether the whole helmet/yellow vest cult is scaring people away from cycling. I’d say YES.

As I have said a million times, cycling isn’t really that dangerous, all things considered.

I have read a recent paper that confirms this.

“…44,000 bicyclists were injured in 2006; 773 of these injuries resulted in death, accounting for 2% of all traffic fatalities that year. Head trauma is a particular problem with bicycling injuries; in 2004, for example, 10,769 bicyclists were hospitalized for head injuries.”

This seems like a lot, but our country as over 300 million people so this is a minor risk compared to other injuries.

It seems larger when we compare the injury rate to motoring which has a lower rate of fatalities because there are so few people cycling. On the other hand, the sheer numbers of motoring deaths far out weights that of cycling.

However, if you think of cycling as a sport as well as transportation, the picture looks rosier.

“High school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.” [http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/media/statistics.aspx]

What super-popular sport would you not expect to have a few injuries a year?

“Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.”

Thus, there are a variety of ways to get head injuries. Yet our authors state: “This lack of helmet use [in cycling] is of great concern for health educators and practitioners.”

Knowing the relative risks, this has me scratching my head because I know that this is NOT true.

For example, the CDC which doesn’t even list bicycle injuries on its severe traumatic brain injury page (TBI): http://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury/severe.html

On a separate page, the CDC did note this: “…7% of brain injuries are bicycle-related.” [http://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/prevguid/m0036941/m0036941.asp]

And yet, the paper posted above once again takes on the mystery of why more people don’t wear helmets while riding their bicycle as if all of us are complete idiots who have missed something obvious.

Yet despite not caring to list the link between cycling and high incidence of TBI:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note several barriers to helmet use, including cost, comfort, lack of knowledge regarding helmet efficacy, and negative peer pressure.”

“In contrast, positive correlates of undergraduates’ helmet use include past personal injury or hospitalization due to a bicycling accident, long distance bike travels, helmet ownership, being Caucasian, a history of a cycling-related injury to a close friend, perceived vulnerability to injury, perceived ability of helmets to prevent head injury, and having peers who routinely wear bicycle helmets.”

All of these sound like perfectly good reasons to wear a helmet.

For me the reason to wear a helmet: being pretty sure I’m going to get hit in the head that day and knowing that the helmet will protect me from whatever I hit my head on. In general, none of thes are true.

“Therefore, helmet-wearing practices likely reflect a person’s internal beliefs more so than external forces, such as laws. Rosenstock’s Heath Belief Model (HBM) provides a useful framework for conceptualizing personal attitudes that predict preventative health behaviors.”

“An individual’s readiness to act is a function of his/her perceptions of his/her own vulnerability to the health threat (eg, the chances of being injured while bicycling) and the severity of consequences (eg, the extent to which a bicycle-related injury would impair one’s physical, social, and occupational functioning).”

I found this to interesting. I do feel vulnerable while riding without a helmet. I feel much more protected while riding with a helmet aka safety compensation. Thus, I don’t wear a helmet as I know, intellectually, that a helmet offers little protection from real threats.

“The preferred path of action includes the perceived benefits and barriers factors,
and beliefs about benefits gained must outweigh the cost or barriers to action.”

I feel that this is true for me, but with helmets we rarely hear, my supposedly unbiased researchers, the downsides.