weehamster- did you have a look at the link I posted above?
Seriously- it's impossible to have this debate without knowledge of the content of that site.
weehamster wrote:I do have a problem when someone is seen not wearing a helmet, especially one who is famous face (and in this case, the influential world of fashion). This is seen as it is ok not to wear helmets (or probably in this case ,not fashionable to wear one). Do you think it is a positive message to send out.
Absolutely. This is the most positive message it is possible to send out. The more people realise that it is not necessary to have any special equipment - aside from a bike and night gear - the better. I was delighted to see the photos of Elle Macpherson - and Agnes Deyn (regularly) and Pixie Geldof (see yesterday's edition of the Star [go on- just this once]) - riding a normal bike in a normal way as part of her normal day.
And in the last week I've seen Gordon D'Arcy and Denis Hickie both riding bikes in Dublin city- neither one wearing a helmet. (Doing Leinster proud!)
I'm not saying I would carry a toddler on my handlebars as Elle did, but your objection to the photo was on the grounds of the absence of a helmet on her own head.
weehamster wrote:This same irresponsible reaction by people occurred during the law for mandatory helmet wearing was brought in for users of Motorbikes. Helmets help to greatly reduce head trauma. This is the reason why everyone should wear one, not because someone is tell you to do so.
What do you mean 'greatly
reduce head trauma' [my emphasis]? That's a statement bordering on the meaningless, and typical of the groundless generalisations proffered by the promoters of helmets when all fact-based research and analysis indicates otherwise. In a relatively limited number of cases, helmets will prevent such an injury (incidents that are generally high speed crashes that don't involve other vehicles, i.e. a road racer who becomes unseated when descending a mountain at speed, for example). In a higher
number of cases in other situations - falling down at home; driving a car; walking to the shops - a helmet would prevent similar injury types. I presume, for the sake of consistency, you advocate the wearing of helmets in all such situations?
Furthermore, your statement ignores the fact that, in some situations, helmets can actually reduce a cyclist's safety. Admittedly, these incidents are not all that common (rotational force applied to the neck being the most usual), but they do exist.
However, notwithstanding all of the above, there is another, more important dimension at work here that must be acknowledged. The collective or cumulative aspect of this debate is the critical one and, in essence, it is a textbook illustration of the fact that the common good is not just the sum of all individual goods. Even allowing for the fact that helmets can occasionally protect the individual in limited cases, it has been conclusively proven that the promotion of helmet wearing - the introduction of mandatory helmet laws, for example - results in a reduction in cyclist numbers (the reasons are numerous, but perceptions of the safety of the mode
is the most significant one). When you consider that the accident rate for cycling actually rises as cycling numbers fall, this leads to the conclusion that promotion of helmets is a counter-productive measure which ultimately reduces the overall safety of cycling.
In addition, there is evidence to show that a car overtaking a cyclist will leave more room if the cyclist is not wearing a helmet, demonstrating again - though for different reasons - that helmet wearing actually increases risk for cyclists.
Finally, it has been calculated that, for every life year saved by the wearing of a helmet (someone who hits their head in an accident that would probably have killed them without the helmet [can never be conclusively proven, obviously]), 20 life years are lost through a variety of other means directly linked to the reduction in the number of cyclists- obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.
What this all points to is the conclusion that the promotion of helmet wearing is a well-meaning exercise (probably- we can't ignore the fact that many promoters happen to be manufacturers of the products, so the purity of their motive is, at best, questionable) that has the opposite effect from that which is intended.
Given the fact, mentioned above, that risk goes up as numbers go down, the opposite is obviously also true- as numbers increase, the accident rate falls. (This is different from, say, the accident rate for cars, where there is a relatively proportional relationship between the number of cars on the road and the number of people killed or seriously injured.) Therefore, I would argue that the best way of increasing the safety of cyclists is to get more people cycling, an objective which is not achievable by the promotion of helmets and which is, in fact, undermined by that very act. Otherwise, you are not just treating the symptoms rather than the disease, you are actually preparing petri dishes for the spores.
website has been following the debate in detail for some time. I would suggest having a look at the posts on helmets
for a balanced perspective.
(Lastly - honest, I'm nearly finished! - this is an interesting article on mandatory motorcycle helmets that gave me pause for thought: http://www.forbes.com/fyi/1999/0503/041.html