Bike helmets that look like hats

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132 Responses to “Bike helmets that look like hats”

  1. Halloween Jack says:

    I’ve long since given up on trying to convince anti-helmet types that they’re a good idea. The evidence is out there, the studies are out there, they can have a chat with any emergency department doctor or nurse about what can happen to the unprotected human head in a bike accident… and they go on, constructing these straw-man arguments where all bike accidents are either minor scrapes or head-first 60 MPH impacts on concrete.

    Whatever. Your vanity about “helmet hair” is still mildly amusing. Enjoy your status as the youngest resident of the local nursing home, post-accident.

  2. CitizenJohnJohn says:

    Spiderking

    I remember that too. The guy who invented it turned up to the Interbike show one year with a prototype, and sold the design to Giro.

    Giro made a production version the following year and it completely and utterly bombed.

    The idea was that disguising a helmet as a baseball cap would somehow make it easier to persuade kids to wear it, because it would look cool. Epic fail.

    I’m a cycling journalist. I’ve been watching arguments about helmets for almost 20 years, and it always amazes me that helmet advocates get desperately strident at the notion that anyone could question the efficacy of helmets.

    #73 is a great example. “Do not resuscitate”. Do you have the slightest idea how absurd you sound? Do you apply that reasoning to everyone who chooses to take a risk that you don’t?

    I see people exceeding the speed limit in their cars all the time, a baheviour that both puts them at risk and puts other road users at risk. Do I think they should not be treated in the event of a crash? Of course not.

    I once saw the owner of a major bike shop here in Sydney get up and leave the dinner table at a product launch because she was disgusted when I suggested that, just maybe, advocacy of helmets, which its implied message of “riding a bike is *dangerous*” wasn’t the smartest thing the bike industry could do to promote itself.

    Givrn that the helmet industry is trying to sell you something, its claims about the effeciveness of its products should be looked at as sceptically as any other salesperson’s claims. Yet far too many people seem to believe them with almost religious fervour.

    So, how’s the evidence?

    When helmet use became mandatory in Australia, the death rate among cyclists did indeed drop.

    The problem for helmet advocates is that the death rate among pedestrians dropped too, by almost exactly the same amount.

    Other road safety measures introduced at the same time, in particular random breath testing, seem to have actually improved road safety. The evidence that helmets make a significant difference is very thin indeed.

    The deep problem seems to be that helmets are designed to prevent injury in falls at relatively low speeds, and that don’t involve motor vehicles.

    The British Standard for helmets is typical. The accident its test protocol simulates involves a collision with a flat surface or kerb when the rider is travelling at 10 mph.

    A helmet that protects you in that circumstance is going to do almost nothing when you’re struck by a a couple of tons of SUV doing 50mph. And those are the collisions that routinely kill cyclists.

    This is why, #75, “mountain bikers rarely complain about wearing helmets, and they don’t even have cars to contend with.”

    Mountain biking speeds are generally lower than road cycling speeds, crashes are far more frequent and the crash type is exactly the type helmets are designed to mitigate. I am sure my helmet has saved me a couple of trips to ER after mountain biking crashes; I am sure it’s saved me a couple of concussions. Do I think it’s saved my life? No. Not once.

    Now, it turns out that the long-term effects of concussion can be rather unpleasant, and the effects of repeated concussion are very unpleasant indeed. For us mountain bikers, who crash comparatively often and are likely to sustain concussions that helmets can prevent, wearing a helmet makes lots of sense.

    There’s a cultural and image issue for mountain bikers too. We’re gnarly dudes, ripping down hillsides on our bikes. We’re serious, we’re taking risks, we *need* protection, look at us. Look! At! Us! Attention whores, the lot of us.

    At least we’ve stopped wearing the hideous dayglo way too many of us (myself included) wore in the late 80s.

    Road cyclists, especially experienced ones, crash very infrequently. In ‘Effective Cycling’ John Forester cites evidence that the crash rate of experienced cyclists is about the same as that of car drivers.

    Of course, nobody suggests car drivers should be wearing helmets, because the risk involved in driving a car is one we all routinely accept. They don’t have this argument in European countries because cycling is seen as a routine, everyday activity, just like driving.

    And that’s the rub. This isn’t an argument about the effectiveness or otherwise of helmets, it’s between those who see cycling as a routine and mundane part of everyday life and those who see it as a special activity that’s specially risky and therefore needs special equipment.

  3. Takuan says:

    the helmet did nothing. If they had been cycling correctly and instantly interpreted the doctor as assassin, they may have escaped. Almost certainly they were riding in the lane as if they were automobiles, lulled into a fantasy of invulnerability brought about by ludicrous “protective gear” and absurd road rules that maintain against the face of all commonsense physics that they were the equals of the car.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3YGhtJnGxg

  4. SeamusAndrewMurphy says:

    Hey #105, I thank you for that clarification. I read the pertinent. Will still wear a helmet regardless.

    Still, there’s lots to bitch about regarding Mass’ “nagging grandma” laws.

  5. Takuan says:

    let those who fantasize helmets will save them wear them. And leave it at that. In the interim, since the law has pushed me off my bike, I no longer care if there are facilities for cyclists.

  6. Takuan says:

    ah, if only the raging nannies WOULD actually shut up and leave the rest of us alone. But alas, they seem to ooze everywhere, cozening corrupt politicos with lobbying helmet makers and hand wringing mommies. “Think of the CHILDREN!”. Indeed. Now think of the adults. Mandated helmets for peddling down your back lanes? Where then are the required bathing helmets for all those slip-in-the-tub fatalities? Why has skateboarding not been banned because of the harm it wreaks and the medical expense? Mountain climbing? Absurd! The little good it does for the huge risk entailed?

  7. nprnncbl says:

    Snowrunner:

    They are guessing. I have found a lot of “guesswork” when it came to helmet safety, but not a lot hard data that actually did look at it.

    The thing is: How would you test it? Have a guy crash once with helmet and once without?

    I think you’re misunderstanding (and possibly misrepresenting) the scientific method, in much the same way that the Intelligent Design camp presents Darwinism as just a “theory,” and hence not well established: presenting a tested hypothesis as “guesswork” and reducing the realm of experimentation to a test that cannot be done.

    The NEJM article cited poses a question– do bicycle helmets reduce injury rates in the event of an accident? — and then goes on to devise a controlled study, which answers the question affirmatively.

    You seem to be starting with the conclusion: bicycle helmets do not help. Then you guess (emphasis my own):

    The helmet could be of a benefit if you happen to hit a curb in that instance, but I would say the odds are utterly low.

    Depending on how fast you’re gong the helmet may lessen the head injuries, but if you go with sufficent force you’d probably still end up breaking your neck.

    when you look at the numbers it seems that bike lanes would contribute a lot more prevent the death of cyclists than wearing a helmet

    That’s not the issue: saying that bike lanes improve safety does not at all imply that helmets do not.

    You do raise an interesting question: does wearing a bicycle helmet increase the odds of having an accident? And you seem to have concluded that yes, it does. If you can cite any studies that investigated this question, I would be very interested.

    Personally, I would rather have a styrofoam cup break, absorbing some of the energy from impact, than my skull. But I suspect there will be no convincing you: any study that concludes that bicycle helmets are effective will inevitably have some flaw that makes you disagree, and any single demonstration of helmet failure (such as the Segway crash) will support your foregone conclusion that bicycle helmets are worthless.

  8. godisafiction says:

    #5 piratescandance

    If you’re getting head injuries under your belt, either your pants are way too high or you need a cup, not a helmet.

  9. ivan256 says:

    #9: Massachusetts requires adults to wear a helmet. Not only that, but if you ride without one busybody jerks will pull off the road and block your path to lecture you about it.

    #64: If you’ve long since given up, then what is the point of the rest of your comment.

    Everybody in this thread that is lecturing people who don’t wear helmets:

    Ever consider that both you and the people not wearing helmets are right? You’re right. It’s smart to wear a helmet. They’re right. It should be their choice not to.

  10. nprnncbl says:

    Tak#92– I don’t doubt that driver’s perceptions of cyclists influence the berth, but I do have some reservations about a study with a single test subject, the author. It’s suggestive, but not terribly conclusive to me.

    However, the cited work of Dorothy Robinson on head injury rates in Australia seems worth a look.

  11. chumpmeat says:

    They’re cute, but I’m not so sure they’re safe. The slick plastic surface of a bike helmet is a protective feature – if your helmeted head makes sudden contact with the ground, a cloth cover is more likely to ‘catch’ and therefore cause the neck to bend overly.

  12. bryanarchy says:

    The bottom line is if wearing a helmet saves your life once, it’s more life for you than if you didn’t.

    I used to be lax on wearing a helmet, but I owe it to my girlfriend to wear one. After working with people with brain injuries, it was clear to us that neither of us wanted to change the other’s diaper if we had a preventable accident.

  13. nprnncbl says:

    Tak #65: What are you peddling in the back lanes? Can I buy some?

  14. membeth says:

    I was bucked off a galloping horse headfirst into a cast iron bench. The bench slid about two feet as a result of my crash. I also hit a post so hard I had a spinal fracture. Less than six months later, I’m doing just fine brains-wise because I was wearing a helmet.

    Horseback riders don’t often have accidents like this. It took riding for twenty years with a helmet before I actually hit my head. It may take you just as long to realize the benefits of wearing a bike helmet or you might get lucky and never hit your head at all. But there’s no downside to wearing one and the potential upside is enormous.

  15. ampmxmfm says:

    I really like the helmets that look more like skate helmets. A couple of brands I like are Bern and Tripple8. You can see them at http://zoobom.com

  16. nprnncbl says:

    #67 Ivan256: Who here is advocating helmet laws or that wearing a helmet is not a personal choice?

    On the other hand, Snowrunner is arguing explicitly that wearing helmets does not improve safety. That, I believe, is what has people (myself included) riled up. I wouldn’t want others to base their personal decisions on his unchallenged opinions (though, of course, they are welcome to) about helmet safety.

  17. Snowrunner says:

    @28 Ipsivey,

    I did not come across those, but I would like to notice:

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that “helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent,”

    They are guessing. I have found a lot of “guesswork” when it came to helmet safety, but not a lot hard data that actually did look at it.

    The thing is: How would you test it? Have a guy crash once with helmet and once without? The problem is how most bike accidents happen:

    The majority (of road riding, not talking about off road MTBing) you usually part ways in one of two ways:

    1. The bike slides out from under you, in which case you land on the side and on the shoulder. The helmet could be of a benefit if you happen to hit a curb in that instance, but I would say the odds are utterly low.

    2. You hit something (a car, a house etc.) Depending on how fast you’re gong the helmet may lessen the head injuries, but if you go with sufficent force you’d probably still end up breaking your neck.

    Look at the construction of a bike helmet, they are light, they are thin (compared to a motorcycle helmet), they do only provided a limited “crumble” zone and the amount of energy they can take up is limited by this.

    Even the helmet would be as efficent as the advocats claim it is, there is a well documented behaviour by humans to “push the envelope” a bit further so that the perceived danger is always the same. So if someone thinks the helmet makes them “invincible” it could easily have the opposit effect.

    As for the NY report, right in the beginning it tells an interesting story:

    Between 1996 and 2005, 225 cyclists died in crashes. Bicyclest deaths remained steady during the 10 year period.

    Now, if the helmet is such a great safety device shouldn’t we have seen a reduction in deaths?

    On the same page it says:

    Bicylce lanes and properly used bicycle equipment may reduce risk of fatalities

    •Only one fatal crash with a motor vehicle occurred when a bicyclist was in a marked bicycle lane.
    •Nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet.
    •Most fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury.

    So first of all it just MAY be that the helmets help, and then when you look at the numbers it seems that bike lanes would contribute a lot more prevent the death of cyclists than wearing a helmet.

    By their own numbers 99.556% of all fatalities are due to people not riding their bike in a bike lane, while “only” 71.78% of the fatalities are due to people receiving a head injury (no indication if it was fatal or what) and not wearing their helmet.

    And yes, I know I am playing with numbers here, but so are you. There is no definitive answer to if helmets help or not.

    As someone who has fallen and broken a bike helmet, and has several family members who have done so as well, I can tell you with confidence that bike helmets prevent serious injury in crashes. Trying to convince people otherwise is dangerous.

    I have gone down a few times over the handlebars and sideways too, none of that time was I wearing a helmet. I hit my shoulder, knee’s and back, but never my head.

    And THAT btw makes sense too, we are preprogrammed to protect our head at all costs with other bodies parts, even kids that fall put their hands out in front of them. It’s a reflex.

    To point to “crushed helmets” as proof that they saved your head is a bit misleading too, the helmet makes your head bigg and “stick out more” it could actually contribute to injuries due to the higher mass on your head and the fact that you have “less clearance” to clear an area.

    I would hold that if you manage to break a helmet and don’t have at least a concussion you probably broke the helmet in a way that you wouldn’t have needed it without it.

    And let’s be clear here, the moment someone can show me a study that actually shows that these helmets are useful I will be wearing one, but I haven’t found anything, the two links above are speculation that a helmet may help in preventing head injuries.

    On that note, the Germany automotive institute this week crash tested a Segway against a car, at 15 kph, with the dummy wearing a bike helmet the conclusion was that the person would have been dead. Why? Because as the guy who ran the test pointed out: There is no protected to the lower part of the head and that is where most of the impact hit. Think a bike has a different crash profile than a segway when it comes to cars?

  18. Takuan says:

    haters love helmets. It dehumanizes their victim into an anonymous bean head that they can crush with their vehicle without seeing as human. Helmets cause accidents.

  19. waytooearly says:

    I know anecdotes aren’t the same as statistics (whatever that saying is), but I am in posession of a helmet that’s split down the middle as a result of an accident where my head hit the ground after a car hit my body. I’m fairly certain that it would’ve been my head split down the middle if I wasn’t wearing my helmet. The rest of me certainly was busted up enough. Plus, as far as insurance goes, it’s a pretty good thing to be able to say “yes, I was wearing a helmet”.

    Snowrunner – I wish the cops would enforce the sidewalk laws too. It’s so dangerous to bike on the sidewalk, and it’s especially common along the Drive, where I live.

    But yeah, these things are cute. The Paris one especially.

  20. Snowrunner says:

    @29,

    I had a few concussions, one was when I sat up on an incline chest press and hit my head at the bar, the other one was in a car accident where my head hit the B-Pillar and knocked me out.

    I am riding bikes now for over 25 years, I have had my share of wipeouts and crashes, so far I have not hit my head, and I somewhat doubt that my 220 pounds are gong to be benefititting from a bike helmet that essentially is a styrofoam cup.

    As I said above, there are no studies that have looked into the effictiveness of bike helmets (for road riding / commuting), there is a lot of speculation and there seems to be a lot of “wishful thining” when it comes to bike helmets but no hard data.

    The thinking seems to be because Motorcycle helmets work bike helmets should work too, completely ignoring that they are completely differently constructed.

    I also just remember having a brief talk with someone last year who as part of her job tests icehockey helmets and she sort of admitted to me that bike helmets really aren’t as strong as one would wish for and that her recommendation would be to wear an icehockey helmet or similar (skateboard helmet?).

  21. zuzu says:

    It’s not that I think stupidity should be punishable by death. I just think we should take the warning labels off of everything and let the problem take care of itself.

  22. nprnncbl says:

    CitizenJohnJohn #114:

    it’s between those who see cycling as a routine and mundane part of everyday life and those who see it as a special activity that’s specially risky and therefore needs special equipment.

    I like how you omit those of us who cycle as a routine part of life but think helmets are a good idea; you’ve set up a false dichotomy. I routinely and mundanely wear a helmet.

    I do agree with you about the callousness of those who would deny medical treatment or claim others organs.

    And, after looking at some of the population studies and considering the points some of you have raised, I’ll concede that helmets may have more limited protective value than I had thought; it seems to boil down to:

    1. Helmets provide protection against head injury in specific circumstances, but
    2. Those circumstances are quite rare.

    This seems akin to the security measures against terrorism, where our minds seem to have problems grappling with the statistics of rare events, and the debate comes to be dominated by fear. It seems quite parallel in the case of public policy, where we curtail liberties to give the illusion that we are preventing events that will probably not happen.

    That said, I don’t see myself riding helmetless any time soon.

  23. Stuart Ellis says:

    How about one that looks like a Fez?

  24. Snowrunner says:

    And a last clarification here, my objection to the usefulness of helmets is limited to bike helmets in the context of riding a bike. Not about helmets in general, nor do I think that other modes of transport (e.g. inline skates which are in herently unstable) don’t benefit from people wearing their helmets.

    Safe riding.

  25. Brett Burton says:

    I hate helmets because they cause hat head. Making the helmet look like a hat is like decorating your car to look like a riding mower because the engine is loud.

  26. The Life Of Bryan says:

    there’s no downside to wearing one and the potential upside is enormous.

    Hey, you do risk management the same way I do!

  27. nprnncbl says:

    Tak#70: Haters don’t need helmets to dehumanize their victims; the bicycle itself is sufficient.

  28. Flur says:

    For those afraid of hat head or sweaty hair:

    Haven’t you noticed that most people perceive athletes as sexy? I know I do. When a toned guy on a bike stops and takes off his helmet, that sweaty, matted hair is sexy. When he runs his hand though it and it gets all spiky, that’s even sexier.

    Men who are afraid of sweat – that’s not sexy at all. That’s sad.

  29. foobar says:

    @1

    Probably still a lot better than not wearing a helmet, and at least as safe as a turban.

  30. buenoben says:

    I always wear my helmet for mundane everyday transportation on my bike. If I go snowboarding or skateboarding I probably won’t. My reasoning, if I’m going to hurt myself it’s sure not going to be while riding to work, not very logical perhaps but thats the way I roll.

  31. Ugly Canuck says:

    I always feel more secure with my helm or hardhat on.
    I know from experience (bad ones of others, that is) how devastating a head injury even slight can be.

  32. JG says:

    If you don’t wear a helmet that’s fine, but please then wear a T-shirt that reads; DO NOT RESUSCITATE.
    No reason for the rest of society to pay higher insurance costs or clog-up ICUs because you have made a free choice.

    The arguments against not wearing helmets sounds a bit like the old notion that seat belts are dangerous because they may delay you from exciting a burning vehicle.
    Still, it should be an individual’s choice.

    Land of the brave, home of the not so free.

  33. piratescandance says:

    I like it. I’m a daily cyclist with two head injuries under my belt, whatever gets people into riding with helmets i’m a fan of. It’s better that having you head smash onto rolling pavement.

  34. Takuan says:

    all bicycle helmet laws do is give cops another weapon to use selectively on people they want to roust. Oh, and enrich helmet manufacturers.

  35. Takuan says:

    why are wasting our time here when the filthy hang gliders go unchallenged?

  36. Boba Fett Diop says:

    For crying out loud, if you don’t want to wear a helmet, don’t wear one!

    Frankly, I’m in favor of anything which reduces the possibility of brain injury. You can give yourself a pretty good concussion falling off a bicycle that is standing still, and even concussions can add up. can add up.

    You’ll notice that mountain bikers rarely complain about wearing helmets, and they don’t even have cars to contend with. Nevertheless, adults should be able to do what they want, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. Me, I just switched from a skateboard style Pro-Tec (which was cooking my brain) to a superlight crazy-ass looking LAS with far superior ventilation.

    Takuan, normally I have a great deal of respect for your opinions and your high-quality brand of weirdness, and I think it is ridiculous that anyone is forcing you to wear a helmet for short trips down the shops, but I have to emphatically disagree with your last comment. I find that the haters rarely need an excuse to dehumanize cyclists, but that the even greater risk is inattentive (or just plain stupid) drivers. Your helmet is not going to antagonize them, because they’re not even going to see it. Your best defense is to be smarter than them, keep your head on a swivel, and take advantage of practical safety solutions.

    Snowrunner, can I have your liver? I’m nearly done with mine, and it looks like you might not be needing yours much longer.

  37. Takuan says:

    helmets are easy pickings for the salvationists. Why don’t they go after something hard like tobacco?

  38. Takuan says:

    I used to be a daily cyclist until they banned competent people from riding.

  39. Ugly Canuck says:

    Some safety regulations are more rational than others and the good ones are kind of self-reinforcing over time, so enforcement tends to be light…but where there’s a Rule the pettifogging enforcer always seems to crop up too.
    Sigh.

  40. Takuan says:

    Takuan’s Tenets of Cycling:

    1. YOU are the cyclist. If a car hits you or the pavement slaps you, it is YOUR doing.
    2. Trust no one.
    3. Ride invisibly. Your passing should draw no more notice than the wind.
    4. Trust no one.
    5. Know yourself, know your machine. Know your terrain.
    6. Trust no one.

  41. nprnncbl says:

    JG #73: they may delay you from exciting a burning vehicle

    JG Ballard?

  42. nmeyer79 says:

    Since the helmet is presumably relatively thick, won’t it just look like the HELMET is wearing a hat?

    Or it’ll look like you’ve got a ginormous noggin. Not sure if that’s cooler than looking like you’re, you know, just wearing a bike helmet.

  43. nprnncbl says:

    I don’t think I trust your tenets of cycling.

  44. SeamusAndrewMurphy says:

    Ha-ha concerning anyone who cycles without a helmet. There’s a reason you’re referred to as “organ donors”. I’ve gone down face first twice, the helmet didn’t survive. I did nicely.

    Year round commuter cyclist here. The real deal, and no fudgin’ either. Been doing it for years. I’ve had a number of close calls and realized that a helmet wouldn’t have always made a difference, but I wear one for the same reason I have blinking lights on when I ride at 4:30 in the morning. It’s insurance.

    You don’t want insurance, don’t wear a helmet, but expect scar tissue if you ride regularly.

  45. banjology says:

    I don’t think its the helmet that makes drivers dehumanize their victims. Instead, I have a feeling its more the fact that cyclists feel they can ride down the road without safety precautions (coughcoughhelmet) and still feel that drivers should treat them with the utmost care and respect.

  46. neilclavin says:

    Just saw these in a store in Berlin, Germany called Scandinavian Objects. They have a website which takes online orders here http://www.scandinavianobjects.com/

  47. The Life Of Bryan says:

    I like the idea, but that looks to have just a smidgen less airflow than I am accustomed to with garden-vareity Bell/Giro/Trek style helmets.

    I’m thinking perhaps I’ll go the other direction with aesthetics on my next lid… maybe some breakaway antlers or one of those limo-style TV antennas?

  48. coolville says:

    Bicycle helmets are the surest sign of illness in a bicycle culture. Where there is little or no bicycle culture, helmets are rife.

    Where there is established bicycle culture, helmets are absent because safe bicycle culture is present.

    Anybody who actually bothers checking the science knows that helmets are not designed to save lives or prevent serious injury.

    What’s sad about these Yakkay people is that quote vague, unreliable stats on their Danish website regarding helmets.

    They contribute to a sad, long history of fearmongering and they do it in Denmark – the safest place to cycle in the world. Another example of profit outbidding common sense and science.

    Helmets are and always will be dorky. These helmets are ridiculous. A cyclist who feels insecure in the traffic buys a helmet and then tries to cover up the fact that they are an insecure cyclist. And they end up with a head the size of Ireland.

    If Yakkay actually tried to do some background research into the science, they might gain some professional respect. Instead, they go for money.

  49. joshhaglund says:

    Takuan, where do you live that adults can not ride a bicycle without a helmet? Most cities require them for people under 18 and some require them for people who are on the job (employee safety thing). But I didn’t know there were areas which require adults on bicycles to wear a helmet.

  50. JG says:

    #76
    “Ride invisibly. Your passing should draw no more notice than the wind.”

    I prefer to ride with HIGH VISIBILITY, it’s safer for everyone IMO.
    I have one rule:
    Ride defensively and carry a big reflector.

  51. coldspell says:

    Where is the wig helmet option?

  52. nmeyer79 says:

    Coldspell- Bret hasn’t perfected it yet.

    (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0863046/ for those not in the know)

  53. joshhaglund says:

    fwiw, those “normal” bike helmets (the sorta aerodynamically shaped ones, not these that are styled like skate helmets), they are lighter and keep your head cooler by providing lots of air circulation and are lighter.

    And as others have pointed out, the hard smooth surface of a helmet helps dissipate the energy of an accident by allowing the helmet to skid, rather than transmitting the energy to your neck. So hopefully the “hat” component easily rips off during an accident.

  54. Snowrunner says:

    Seamusandrewmuprhy,

    I do ride lots, I had close calls too, but I am always riding under the assumption that every one out there is out to get me.

    The helmet may be a “last defense”, but against a truck or even a car it won’t do much. I’ve been riding now for 26 years, I had wipeouts, I had close calls, and yet, I still am doing fine. It matters what’s IN the helmet, not the helmet, there are far more important (active) things you can do to be safe on the road. Anybody who considereds a bike helmet an insurance should check the policy, because in all likelyhood you get hosed.

  55. ratcity says:

    Ughh… if you don’t toodle around on side streets (or even if you do) MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE. If you ride in Seattle you will clearly see 1. drivers stopping for you as a bicyclist (even when they don’t have to and probably shouldn’t) and 2. drivers being inattentive. This suggests that Takuan’s “they’re trying to kill you” is at best not the whole story.

    Be as visible as problem.

    Flur… I’d love to think that you or some other person would think I’m sexy when I get off my bike but sadly a sopping wet head of hair only calls attention to the fact that despite the fact that I’m riding my bike I am in fact chubby and out of shape. C’est la vie. It might still work out ok, because ceteris paribus people on bikes are cool.

  56. Anonymous says:

    TNH@109:

    The statistics are not stacked in favour of helmets – I don’t know about the US, but here in the UK deaths and serious injuries are slightly more common among helmeted cyclists. The notorious 85% figure quoted several times above is unreliable – please see this page for a detailed rebuttal.

    It’s interesting that you mention seatbelts – while belts do improve the safety of their wearers, seatbelt laws don’t reduce total road deaths – the fatalities are shifted from motorists to pedestrians , cyclists etc. The suggested reason is risk compensation by drivers – they behave more recklessly because the belt makes them feel safer – and a similar mechanism has been proposed to explain why cycle helmets don’t appear to make any difference.

    In any case, cycling is a safe activity – mile for mile, it’s a bit less dangerous than being a pedestrian. Mandatory pedestrian helmets anyone?

  57. beejamin says:

    3. Ride invisibly.

    Absolutely no fucking way do you want to be invisible to drivers. If they don’t notice you, they drive over you.

    I’ve smashed a helmet against a curb, and I really think I would be dead if I hadn’t had it on. People are right when they say that helmets aren’t going to save you if you get hit by a truck, but nothing is, right? You can bust your skull without any other vehicle being involved.

    And for what it’s worth, all of Australia has compulsory helmet laws.

  58. ratcity says:

    Yikes that should be “be as visible as possible.”

  59. neilclavin says:

    The shop owner let me take some photos – I posted them here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilclavin/sets/72157606810923413/

  60. CitizenJohnJohn says:

    #115, nprnncbl

    I was generalising, of course. The camps I mentioned are the ones at the noisy ends of the argument. You’ve rather demonstrated that you’re not really in there because you concede that “helmets may have more limited protective value than I had thought.”

    Your strident debaters, pro or con, are incapable of making such a reasoned point.

  61. Aloisius says:

    I love how all the models for their product are women with large amounts of hair. My guess is it looks funny on someone without lots of hair.

  62. pahool says:

    These look unbearably hot…

  63. Takuan says:

    @81
    You imagine it matters if the cars “see” you or not?
    If they do, it is to hit you. Better they not even know you are there.

  64. waytooearly says:

    @42

    I have house insurance, but I try to avoid doing anything to my house that would make me have to file a claim. The same goes with helmets. I wear one as Plan B, even though Plan A is to not get into an accident.

    What you said in your earlier comment is true, though, about getting hit by cars. Likely a helmet won’t protect you from that sort of damage. However, most times that people get hit by cars, they hit the ground pretty hard too. That’s where the helmet comes in.

    • Antinous says:

      Once upon a time, when I worked in the hospital, a messenger showed up and handed me two little, clear plastic, lidded cups. In the bottom of each was a square of gauze and a human eye. Blue. The label on the cups said “Twelve year old girl, bicycle accident.” Frankly, twelve-year olds bounce better than adults. You want to be an organ donor? I have a good friend who needs a liver and another good friend whose father is waiting for a lung. Bring it on. Once your brain’s gone, you’re just meat.

  65. dvdst says:

    In 2005 there were 784 bicycle deaths in the U.S. (all ages). http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm

    In 2005 there were 3,582 fatal unintentional drownings in the U.S. (all ages). According to the statistics more than 25% are children 14 and younger-I’ll bump that figure up to 30% so that 70% of the drownings were people of ages 15 and over this equals 2,507 fatal drownings. http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/drown.htm

    Mandatory scuba tank laws!

  66. Paula Wirth says:

    Funnily enough, my bike helmet saved not my head, but my nose and chin. Because when (ironically) a bike store van came careening down the street and knocked me out of the lane and over the curb, flying face first, the projecting front of the helmet kept my nose from taking the impact of the concrete, and my chin was just grazed. Definitely a bonus.

    It is an ugly person who can’t still look attractive, even with “hat head.”

  67. Takuan says:

    let me put it this way: how many opponents can you simultaneously engage? Depending on your training, experience, condition and environment,the number will vary. I myself would no longer ever ride in rush hour industrial traffic in inclement weather.
    Before each ride you must ask yourself, how many can I take today before they kill me? Mindfulness.
    If you can’t keep track of what is before you, behind you, beside you and lurking in cross streets, you cannot ride that day. How many mortal enemies can you keep an eye on at once today? Three?
    Then stay on the side streets. One? Stay home. Ten? Congratulations on being eighteen, you may commute to work or school. They are ALL trying to KILL you. They are trying very, very hard. You have a rock in your hand and they have a long sword. Putting a silly plastic beanie on your head is the same as wearing a religious juju. Good luck. Can I have your room?

  68. se7a7n7 says:

    How about a hat that looks like a helmet?

  69. arkizzle says:

    you’re just meat

    ..and not the tasty kind, either.

  70. Foolster41 says:

    I like the “tokyo” design, but won’t people with these be pulled over alot for not wearing a helmet. (Also, as someone else pointed out it looks like you have a huge noggin.)

  71. Takuan says:

    marinade

  72. mikelotus says:

    too bad they only sell in Denmark and Germany

  73. SteveMcQueensgotnothingonme says:

    So where can somebody in the United States purchase these? All the retail outlets listed on the site are in Denmark or Germany.

  74. Boba Fett Diop says:

    Well, wouldn’t you know it, after all this talk about helmets, I ate it pretty hard on the way home tonight. Hit some wet streetcar tracks at Dundas and Spadina. Didn’t hit my head, but I’m still glad I was wearing a helmet.

    Takuan, are you still living in Japan? Have they instituted a helmet law? How on earth are they going to make all the old guys who used to do the “Oji-san wobble” in front of my car wear helmets now?

  75. Snowrunner says:

    @50

    Done a long time ago, figured once I am gone I have no use of the parts anymore.

    @58

    I see two problems with this:

    1. The Study was done back in 89, the helmets have changed quite a bit, they have gotten lighter, more “airy” etc. I am not sure the same holds still true for a “modern day” bike helmet.

    2. Their “group” were people who received head injuries, that a “safety buffer” between your head and the pavement will have some form of impact (no pun intended) is quite clear, but it doesn’t say anything about the overall effectiveness of the helmet, nor the usefulness.

    The logic behind this was: “We looked a group of gun shot victims that seeked medical treatment in hospital and recognize that wearing a bullet proof west reduces the risk of fatal bullet wounds to the chest area.”

    It is odd that if bike helmets are such a boon to public safety the overall injury and death rate doesn’t seem to be coming down.

  76. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Takuan: Wow, a full-blown case of bicyclist’s road rage. I haven’t seen one of those since the days when Robert Legault used to bicycle in to Tor through Manhattan traffic. I’d get him a cup of coffee when he came in, then avoid him for twenty or thirty minutes while he calmed down.

    I don’t know what happened with you and the police and your helmet, but I’m sorry it did.

    Snowrunner, you’re arguing anecdotally when the statistics are stacked six feet high against you. Questions like whether helmets help protect against head injury are what statistics are for.

    It’s the same as seatbelts: in a small number of cases, unbelted passengers are safely thrown free, and live to broadcast forever their aversion to seatbelts. Statistics are there to tell us that if you’re unbelted in a bad accident and get thrown out of the car, you’ll probably wind up in the same kind of shape as someone who’s fallen off a five-story building.

    It’s silly to insist that wearing a heavily cushioned protective shell around your nogging won’t reduce your chances of serious head injury. If you were transporting melons, you’d know a container like that would reduce the risk of damage.

    You can’t count on dying.

    Beyond that, I’ll just say the same thing to you as I’ll say to Brett Burton: drop off a sample for tissue matching, and make sure your organ donor card is fully filled out. It would be a shame for you to go; but if we’re going to lose you anyway, we might as well cash you in for pennies on the dollar.

  77. anthony says:

    So, Taukan you don’t bike anymore?

  78. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Boba Fett Diop, that’s a nasty intersection to take a fall. Glad you’re here to type about it.

  79. The Life Of Bryan says:

    I skate and I ride. I’ve taken more than my fair share of pavement over the years. All those falls, and the helmet only hit the ground once. That means I looked like a dork and got my hair extra-sweaty thousands of times for just a single reduction of kinetic energy to my brainium… what a ripoff!

    Could it be that all this anecdata is subject to the anthropic principle? Those whose head hit the ground sans lid tend not to type so well and their viewpoints would be woefully underreported relative to those of us with better outcomes.

  80. Remez says:

    If you think your hair is more important than what’s under it, you are probably right.

  81. Takuan says:

    or those who amble bicyclatory down quiet treed lanes on minor errands at a walking pace don’t need ANY STEEKING HELMETS!

  82. jimh says:

    I am always amazed at how people come out of the woodwork on every discussion like this to defend not wearing helmets while riding. Usually the argument is essentially, they don’t protect you so why even wear one? I wear a multiple impact helmet, and it has had multiple impacts. I’m certain that my skull is in better shape today than it would be otherwise.

    I also know someone who didn’t think helmets were cool, and had to have a hole cut in his head to alleviate the pressure of internal brain swelling after his skull fracture. He cannot move quickly in any direction now, and for a while he’ll be wearing a helmet EVERYWHERE.

    But it’s a personal choice, after all. I actually think it’s pure Darwinism at work.

  83. MichaelRN says:

    Snowrunner, please stop by a local clinic to drop off a sample for HLA matching. I have a few patients that would be disappointed if your organs went to waste for lack of a timely type.

  84. Takuan says:

    downhill skiing should be immediately banned

  85. jimh says:

    Let it be added to the record that the witness made the “drinky-drinky” sign.

  86. SeamusAndrewMurphy says:

    Hmmm, Massachusetts would have a mandatory helmet law…grrrr.

    I live in Mass, wear a helmet, but not because of the law. Didn’t know it was mandatory. Cripe, is there anything in Ma. that is legal?

    I don’t wear the helmet to protect against cars. Nothing is going to protect against cars. Riding that hobby horse is ridiculous. Of course helmets fail on that account. So would body armor. I have gone down on sand though and bashed the back of my helmetted head. Done a couple of “over the handle bars” onto the front of my head and face, the helmet taking that brunt. I can’t see any argument against that level of protection.

    As to Takuan’s making himself invisible: WTF? I’ve never had a close call with anyone who saw me. Whenever possible, I make eye contact with sidestreet traffic or oncoming traffic of all types. Where the hell do you ride? What’cha doing, wearing a bullseye shirt?

    With your experience it’s best you don’t ride regularly. Who needs to get killed by aggressive nutjobs?

  87. Takuan says:

    sky diving also

  88. Aaron50 says:

    Yakkay helmets and covers are now available worldwide from http://www.50cycles.com

  89. Boba Fett Diop says:

    Oh, it’s my own damn fault. I’ll have some pretty bruises tomorrow.

  90. dr.hypercube says:

    Stuart @2 – exactly. Couldn’t agree more. (Would a Shriner fez be too much?)

  91. Snowrunner says:

    I think you’re misunderstanding (and possibly misrepresenting) the scientific method, in much the same way that the Intelligent Design camp presents Darwinism as just a “theory,” and hence not well established: presenting a tested hypothesis as “guesswork” and reducing the realm of experimentation to a test that cannot be done.

    The scientific method is essentially based on looking at accidents and then concluding that in the cases where people wore helmets something was different and it is attributed to the helmet. The Problem I have with this is that there hasn’t really been “crash tests” been done. and that makes sense too because a human body acts differently when it is in a crash than a dummy does (e.g. rolling head in, covering it, tightening of muscles etc.

    And btw, for the longest time I was of the same thinking: “Hey, helmet good” until I ended up looking at some of these studies because after holding my Motorcycle helmet and then my bike helmet I sort of doubted the effectiveness.

    The NEJM article cited poses a question– do bicycle helmets reduce injury rates in the event of an accident? — and then goes on to devise a controlled study, which answers the question affirmatively.

    You seem to be starting with the conclusion: bicycle helmets do not help. Then you guess (emphasis my own):

    No, I started originally with: Hey, bike helmets, good idea. It was later that I questioned that and then tried to find confirmation that these helmets actually ARE such a good idea. That’s were I simply didn’t find it. The look at results of helmet laws in other countries seems to show that there is no reduction in accidents or severety, so what is the sense in wearing a (bike) helmet?

    That’s not the issue: saying that bike lanes improve safety does not at all imply that helmets do not.

    Of course not, as I said I am just “messing with the numbers too” because both numbers really do not PROVE anything. They read good but are utterly meaningless without some additional reference material.

    The article said x% of the fatalities did not wear a helmet, but it did not say if the helmet would have prevented the fatality, so why have the number in there in the first place? It doesn’t prove either thing.

    You do raise an interesting question: does wearing a bicycle helmet increase the odds of having an accident? And you seem to have concluded that yes, it does. If you can cite any studies that investigated this question, I would be very interested.

    Drop me an email at snowrunner at gmail dot com and I try and dig it up for you again. The study (as I remember) wasn’t very conclusive either, the end result was more along the lines of:

    We cannot proof that helmets work, we could see an additional risk due to the helmet. The one thing we HAVE noticed is that if there is a helmet law in place OTHER minor injuries go down.

    But drop me a line and I’ll dig it up for you.

    Personally, I would rather have a styrofoam cup break, absorbing some of the energy from impact, than my skull. But I suspect there will be no convincing you: any study that concludes that bicycle helmets are effective will inevitably have some flaw that makes you disagree, and any single demonstration of helmet failure (such as the Segway crash) will support your foregone conclusion that bicycle helmets are worthless.

    I am not as hardheaded (haha) on this as you may think. But I have a serious problem in general with people doing symbolic things to “feel better”. With regards to the bike helmets I am getting the feeling this is exactly this. Someone looked at Motorcycle helmets and thought it would be a good idea to put one on cyclists as well, and yeah, it probably would be a good idea, but the way it was implemented probably is not. Look at the original bike helmets back in the 80s, they were heavy etc. I remember having a “BMX Helmet” which was essentially a motorcycle helmet with a wider mouth piece to allow for better breathing. the thing was heavy, made you sweat and was probably as effective as a Motorcycle helmet. Looking at modern bike helmets I just don’t see the same safety potential in them.

  92. mars says:

    How to stay alive on a bike: AVOID crashes. Wear DAY GLOW green. BLINKY red tail light. Head-mounted LED beam, with FRESH batteries. Pay COMPLETE ATTENTION to navigation through traffic (no headphones or cellphones).

    It’s foolish to deny that a $50 styrofoam shell will lessen cranial impacts of specific types… it will absorb something. How much? All we have is some death rate stat to make a binary judgement.

    I feel like bike helmets give automobile drivers more leeway to drive closer, faster & with less care:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-helmets-attract-cars-to-cyclists

    I have direct anecdotal evidence of this behavior from cars. This from a lifetime rider & daily commuter for seven-years (Austin & now San Francisco) with no bicycle accidents with another vehicle or head impact. I do wear a helmet on long road rides.

    My sister on the other hand rarely rides, and was in a helmeted bicycle crash a couple years ago where it probably prevented concussion.

  93. Snowrunner says:

    @69

    On the other hand, Snowrunner is arguing explicitly that wearing helmets does not improve safety. That, I believe, is what has people (myself included) riled up. I wouldn’t want others to base their personal decisions on his unchallenged opinions (though, of course, they are welcome to) about helmet safety.

    I argue there is no study that actually shows this. All the studies conducted could at best come up with a “maybe”.

    And just to be clear once again. A helmet CAN help, but I have serious doubts about the modern bike helmets and the way they are constructed.

    ———————–

    @75

    Frankly, I’m in favor of anything which reduces the possibility of brain injury. You can give yourself a pretty good concussion falling off a bicycle that is standing still, and even concussions can add up. can add up.

    Yes, you can also give yourself a pretty good concussion by slipping in the shower and hitting or yet, or falling off the chair in the office. Maybe we should just always wear a helmet? You know, just to be safe?

    You’ll notice that mountain bikers rarely complain about wearing helmets, and they don’t even have cars to contend with.

    Yes, and if you read my postings again you’ll see that I have specifically spoken about road cycling, not Moutain Biking. MTB helmets (at least the downhillers etc) tend to use a different helmet, up to and including full face helmets, and considering what they are doing and where they are going this makes perfect sense to me.

    Snowrunner, can I have your liver? I’m nearly done with mine, and it looks like you might not be needing yours much longer.

    Yeah, I am sure after 26+ years on the bike my luck will suddenly run out. Feel free to come by and pick it up.

    @79

    I don’t think its the helmet that makes drivers dehumanize their victims. Instead, I have a feeling its more the fact that cyclists feel they can ride down the road without safety precautions (coughcoughhelmet) and still feel that drivers should treat them with the utmost care and respect.

    So what? Helmets now come with a gurantee that cars won’t cut you off, won’t honk at you etc.? Maybe I do need to get myself a helmet then.

    —————————

    @81

    And for what it’s worth, all of Australia has compulsory helmet laws.

    Yes, and from what I have read the number of headinjuries and deaths hasn’t gone down because of that. Unless they lied to me of course.

  94. dewexdewex says:

    What about a large silicone glans?

  95. busterhermano says:

    There was a company in the US that tried this about a decade ago, and the end result was an enormous looking hat. Pretty bad.

    King county (Seattle area) has a helmet law on the books. Since so many people wear helmets, I don’t even notice how bad they look anymore.

  96. Ugly Canuck says:

    Ah yes s/he had an enormous-looking … hat.

  97. Takuan says:

    already posted,no one read it?

    May 10, 2007 in Health | 6 comments | Post a comment
    Strange but True: Helmets Attract Cars to Cyclists
    Although you might not want to leave your protective gear at home, just know that if you do, drivers will be a lot more scared of hitting you.

    By Nikhil Swaminathan

  98. simonemarie says:

    those look totally silly.

  99. wynneth says:

    @3 – I love helmets. The large scrape on my full face helmet exactly where my cheekbone would be is why I wear full face on my mountain bike. Do an unintentional headstand on a rock just once and you’ll be loving any helmet.

  100. rebdav says:

    As a paramedic and a major cycle crash survivor wieghing around 100kg I can say that helmets really do save lives. Your assignment, find an old cracked bicycle helmet at a thrift store and just try to break it, good luck. If yu are in good shape your muscle protects most of your body but the skull is just out there.

  101. foobar says:

    Vancouver has a helmet/turban law. It might be province wide, I’m not sure.

  102. mdhatter says:

    “those look totally silly.”

    so do neurons spread on asphalt.

  103. anthony says:

    I was a bike commuter for a few years, and wiped out pretty good a few times without a helmet: Once I was doored by someone who watched me flip over his opened door and land on my back in front of his truck before speeding off (broken finger and deep bruises). Another time my tires locked into a sunken, unused train track and became a kind of two-wheeled slot car until I ran into the side of a parked car, and once I flipped my bike by applying the brakes too hard in thick traffic. Now that I’m not so young and dumb I try to wear helmets when I ride.

  104. Snowrunner says:

    BC has a province wide helmet law and they can ticket you for $39 if you don’t wear one.

    IMO this law is utterly retarded, the way most crashes happen a bike helmet is of limited use, a full (motorcycle style) helmet would make a difference, but who here volunteers to ride with one of those?

    I tried to find a study that showed any kind of proof that a helmet actually does prevent head injuries, there is none. The best they could come up with is that if there is a helmet law in place OTHER light injuries are reduced, but they have no explaination for it.

    As far as Vancouver is concerned, the majority of people here ignores it and the cops, although trying to be “tough” seem to only half heartedly enforcing it (good). What gets me more is that the city actually HAS two good laws on the books that deserve to be enforced: No ear phones and no riding on the sidewalk, both rules that would contribute way more to safety than forcing people to ride around with a placebo on their head.

  105. byronba says:

    THELIFEOFBRYAN@#8: I dunno man, I’m kind of leaning toward the limo antenna myself…:)

    JOSHHAGLUND@#9: California also has a helmet law for bicycles.

  106. Ugly Canuck says:

    Many places do. I know my Province requires that children wear them. Most adults do as a matter of course, but I don’t know if its mandatory. Personally, I walk. Or the dogs.

  107. SeamusAndrewMurphy says:

    this looks shopped. i can tell from some of the pixels.

  108. Takuan says:

    the spineless who consent to the iron heel of mindless, kneejerk authoritarianism and meekly accept having silly hats rammed down their gullible gullets are why we all find ourselves in the descending loss-of-basic-civil rights spiral today. Ride with a law-enforced magic beanie and you ride with Bush AND Bin laden. If people stood up for their individual right to control their own destiny, the TSA wouldn’t be stealing your stuff and the DHS wouldn’t be murdering people. Let’s see some energy put into limiting unnecessary hand guns.

  109. error says:

    Helmets have been demonstrated limited protective value. Better than none, but far less than the helmet manufacturers would have you believe. But they have talismanic value, as a symbol warding off danger.

    I’d have no problem with that, if it didn’t affect me. But what this discourse of risk and danger does is convince the public that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity, and thus actively discourages uptake by the population. This is an enormous downside, contrary to the assertion above that there is none.

    Cyclehelmets.org has some graphs that show just how dramatically cycle use rates dropped in Australia after the laws were introduced, and how the injury rate per cyclist kilometre increased. Less cyclists on the road makes it a much more dangerous activity (thus proving the helmet evangelists right in their assertions of danger). The safest places in the world to be a cyclist are not coincidentally those where helmet use is extremely low (less than 5% of riders), and thus there is no looking stupid/feeling unsafe for a casual rider to contend with.

    All of which serves to put the onus for safety on the rider, rather than the society that privileges the rights of cars over that of other road users.

  110. Jelf says:

    The hats look really dumb to me but I *really* like look of the unadorned helmet. If one of their suppliers will ship to the UK, I think I might get one – the helmet I have currently looks hideous; it’s all ridges and holes, no style whatsoever.

  111. banjology says:

    @86 What was that? Please speak louder, its hard to hear you when you are all the way up there on your pedestal.

  112. NotMarc says:

    #34 Snowrunner:

    The 85% risk reduction the IIHS estimates comes from the 1989 study they cite. Its abstract:

    Abstract

    Bicycling accidents cause many serious injuries and, in the United States, about 1300 deaths per year, mainly from head injuries. Safety helmets are widely recommended for cyclists, but convincing evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. Over one year we conducted a case-control study in which the case patients were 235 persons with head injuries received while bicycling, who sought emergency care at one of five hospitals. One control group consisted of 433 persons who received emergency care at the same hospitals for bicycling injuries not involving the head. A second control group consisted of 558 members of a large health maintenance organization who had had bicycling accidents during the previous year. Seven percent of the case patients were wearing helmets at the time of their head injuries, as compared with 24 percent of the emergency room controls and 23 percent of the second control group. Of the 99 cyclists with serious brain injury only 4 percent wore helmets. In regression analyses to control for age, sex, income, education, cycling experience, and the severity of the accident, we found that riders with helmets had an 85 percent reduction in their risk of head injury (odds ratio, 0.15; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.07 to 0.29) and an 88 percent reduction in their risk of brain injury (odds ratio, 0.12; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.04 to 0.40). We conclude that bicycle safety helmets are highly effective in preventing head injury. Helmets are particularly important for children, since they suffer the majority of serious head injuries from bicycling accidents.

    Quoted from: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/320/21/1361

    Original article: New England Journal of Medicine
    Volume 320:1361-1367 – May 25, 1989 – Number 21

    A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets
    RS Thompson, FP Rivara, and DC Thompson

    I’m not a statistician (nor a medical professional), but I’m willing to lend a certain amount of trust to a controlled study that has been peer-reviewed for almost twenty years and cited by several dozen other works – read some of them at the link above.

  113. nprnncbl says:

    #67 ivan256: Massachusetts requires adults to wear a helmet.

    Really? According to Chapter 85, Section 11B (2)(iii) of the General Laws of Massachusetts, it’s only mandatory for 16 and under.

  114. Manny says:

    Crash helmets are outside my area of expertise. I can say, however, that the cap they called “knitted” is actually crochet.

  115. Takuan says:

    if the state can arbitrarily order you to do something of dubious utility, they can demand something worse next. It always gets WORSE. Never better. Personal freedom is the issue, not “safety”.

  116. jamie says:

    These guys do a similar cover-over-helmet arrangement in a bowler hat stylee. For the daper cyclist about town.

  117. Anonymous says:

    If they really wanted to comoflauge them as hats, shouldn’t the straps be flesh colored? I think that would really help them to look more casual.

  118. ispivey says:

    Snowrunner #24, I’m amazed you couldn’t find any studies showing that bicycle helmets prevent serious or fatal head injuries. I used Google to take a quick look.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that “helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent,” and cites an academic study: Thompson, R.S.; Rivara, F.P.; and Thompson, D.C. 1989. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. New England Journal of Medicine 320:1361-67.

    Additionally, in 95% of all fatal cycling accidents (2006, IIHS), the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. This is telling, because a 1999 survey indicated 50% of Americans wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle. While this does not necessarily show causality (there are other factors such as miles traveled, risk-taking behavior) the gap is wide enough to be suggestive.

    A 2006 NYC report on bicycle fatalities found:
    - Almost three-quarters of fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury.
    - Nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet.
    - Helmet use among those bicyclists with serious injuries was low (13%), but it was even lower among bicyclists killed (3%). (Ed. note: this suggests a causal link between helmet-wearing and severity of injury)

    Do you feel like such studies are not sufficiently convincing? As someone who has fallen and broken a bike helmet, and has several family members who have done so as well, I can tell you with confidence that bike helmets prevent serious injury in crashes. Trying to convince people otherwise is dangerous.

  119. Antinous says:

    Oy! It’s a thread about bike helmets. Save the vituperation for some actual evil.

  120. spiderking says:

    Am I the only one here old enough to remember the Giro Fat Hat? Looked like ball cap on steroids?
    Ridiculous.

  121. nprnncbl says:

    From a quick search on PubMed; these are all excerpts from abstracts, and I have not read the articles:

    Pediatrics. 2002 Nov;110(5):e60. Impact of mandatory helmet legislation on bicycle-related head injuries in children: a population-based study. Macpherson AK, To TM, Macarthur C, Chipman ML, Wright JG, Parkin PC.

    RESULTS: Of the 9650 children who were hospitalized because of a bicycle-related injury, 3426 sustained injuries to the head and face and the remaining 6224 had other injuries. The bicycle-related head injury rate declined significantly (45% reduction) in provinces where legislation had been adopted compared with provinces and territories that did not adopt legislation (27% reduction).

    Inj Prev. 1998 Jun;4(2):122-5. Epidemiology of bicycle injury, head injury, and helmet use among children in British Columbia: a five year descriptive study. Canadian Hospitals Injury, Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP).Linn S, Smith D, Sheps S.

    The proportion of admissions of injured bicyclists who did not use helmets was always higher than the proportion of admissions of those who used helmets (OR = 2.23, CI = 1.39 to 3.62). Head and face injuries occurred more often among those who did not use helmets (OR = 1.55, CI = 1.18 to 2.04). However, there was no excess of minor head injuries among non-users (OR = 1.10, CI = 0.60 to 2.06). Of the 62 concussions, 57 occurred to non-helmet users (OR = 4.04, CI = 1.55 to 11.47). Most injuries occurred in the upper (46.4%) or lower extremities (32.4%). Dental injuries occurred slightly more often among helmet users compared with non-users but this excess was not statistically significant (OR = 1.29, CI = 0.76 to 2.20).

    J Trauma. 2007 Jun;62(6):1440-5. Lateral head impacts and protection of the temporal area by bicycle safety helmets. Depreitere B, Van Lierde C, Vander Sloten J, Van der Perre G, Van Audekercke R, Plets C, Goffin J.

    The common designs of commercially available bicycle helmets do not prevent direct contact loading on the temporal and zygomatic arch region and this contact loading is potentially harmful. The present preliminary study strongly questions the effectiveness of these helmets in providing accurate protection of the temporal and zygomatic area.

    Traffic Inj Prev. 2005 Jun;6(2):127-34. Cycle helmets and road casualties in the UK. Hewson PJ.

    RESULTS: There is little evidence in UK from the subset of road collisions recorded by the police corresponding to the overall benefits that have been predicted by the results of a number of published case controlled studies. In particular, no association could be found between differing patterns of helmet wearing rates and casualty rates for adults and children. CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence that cycle helmets reduce the overall cyclist injury burden at the population level in the UK when data on road casualties is examined.

    Without reading the article, though, it’s not clear to me if they specifically looked at head trauma, or only the overall injury rates, which they report in their conclusion.

    Traffic Inj Prev. 2003 Dec;4(4):285-90. Protective effect of different types of bicycle helmets. Hansen KS, Engesaeter LB, Viste A.

    Compared to non-helmet users, this gave an odds ratio of 0.36 (CI = 0.21-0.60) for getting head injuries if the cyclists had been using hard shell helmets at the time of the injury, and 0.83 (CI = 0.41-1.67) for users of foam helmets. The odds ratio for getting face injuries was 0.90 (CI = 0.58-1.41) among users of hard shell helmets, and 1.87 (CI = 1.03-3.40) for users of foam helmets.

    Interesting; now I think I’ve actually learned something.

  122. eiderfarmer says:

    I used to have a world-war-II-era steel army helmet that I packed a bike helmet into. It was great fun to wear, and a good workout for the neck muscles.
    Potentially corollary to that, I have a friend who likes to quote, “If you have a five dollar head, put it in a five dollar helmet”.

  123. joshhaglund says:

    wow helmets.org is awesome! volunteer staffed — consumer funded

    it’s got all sorts of statistics and test methods and outlines different technologies used in helmets.

    Snowrunner, what’s up with thinking today’s helmets with more air flow, less mass because of updated materials, better manufacturing methods, and modeling would be any less effective than the helmets in the 1989 study? these things are tested.

    Better defined standards of helmet safety for the consumer would be nice tho.

  124. bryanarchy says:

    You know, all it took for toques (or knitted caps) to be cool was the grunge movement. Maybe if American Apparel made a helmet…

  125. joshhaglund says:

    #25 byronba: Are you sure about that? I ride a bike in los angeles and am certain we do not have a helmet law for adults.

    #24 Snowrunner: Sounds like you have never been in an accident involving head impact wearing a bike helmet. I’ve landed on my head 2x wearing a helmet. Both times I walked away with road rash (scrapes) but no head injury. My second crash certainly would have resulted in at least a mild concussion without the helmet.

  126. Pipenta says:

    I like the way bike helmets look just fine. Don’t understand the people who won’t wear them. The skull only provides so much protection for your brain. Overall, your noggin is about as sturdy as a ripe melon. A leg or an arm you can fix. Wrists are more painful and expensive, but you can fix ‘em. Heads? Not so much. Land good and hard on your head and it’s Humpty Dumpty Time campers! All the king’s horses and all the king’s neurosurgeons won’t be able to fix you.

    I, for one, am not so overly blessed with gray matter that I care to squander any for the sake of the wind blowing in my hair. (What am I, a golden retriever in a car sticking her head out the window?) I wear my helmet and I like my helmet.

    The solid helmets pictured are multi-impact helmets. I like the Pro-Tec ones myself. The lightweight streamlined styrofoam jobs with the thin shiny covers are one-crash helmets. Fall and land on one those jobs and you throw it away and get a new one, even if you can’t see any damage.

    If you want to look aggro, you wear a multi-impact. Traditionally this is done without the strap secured which is pretty moronic. If you want to look fast you wear the one-crash helmet and buckle up tight and lots of spandex and the fuck what anybody thinks because you are in ten times better shape than they are, and you’re going by so fast that noone gets a long look at you anyway. You’re athlete nerd cool, is what you are. The proof is in your quads and glutes.

    I like helmets. I don’t like those hats, not even without a helmet underneath them. I like stuff to look like what it is. Gear is good.

  127. plainsaman says:

    What, no Devo model?

  128. Pipenta says:

    And yeah, helmets are good. They are affordable and comfortable and I think they look pretty sharp. And they really work; helmets and seat belts and condoms. I believe in them. Last time I kept track of such things, when inline skating was at its peak of popularity, only a few people had died on them. Not a single one of the skaters who died was wearing a helmet.

    Back in the day, when I was in an urban skate club, we had weekly night skates. One rule: you had to wear a helmet. We periodically had people show up who wanted to skate with us, but did not want to wear the helmet. And they never had good data. What it usually boiled down to was they were afraid they didn’t look cool wearing a helmet.

    We would skate circles around them. And we wouldn’t let them skate with us.

    So there! :P

  129. ZombieBabyDiego says:

    anything less than a full face helmet for motorized cycling is retarded.
    it’s a special kind of retarded when a beanie helmet makes you look like you’re wearing a hat to cover up your hydrocephalic condition.

    you could also replace your cycling gloves with those big Hulk slip-on hands!

  130. Ugly Canuck says:

    Tak I blame the cars not the helmets.
    Eider be careful with heavy homemade head gear the neck is only designed for just so much lateral stress, but not more, before failure.

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