I recall Doddsy (I think) putting up a post about not wearing helmets and not conforming to road rules and I joined the brigade of knockers sprouting forth my opinion that we should abide by the laws of the land and set an example to all etc etc etc.
I've spent the last 3 months in Europe and have ridden in 13 countries in that time. Not once did I wear a helmet. Many, many times I rode up footpaths, turned on red lights and rode the wrong way up one way streets. Why? Cos that's what everyone does. Its safe, it encourage people to ride rather than drive. You can hire a bike, ride it where you want to go and leave it in a different hire zone. NO worries about helmets, just ride.
At first I was shocked by this, but quickly I came to realise that it is inherent with a biking, commuting and social culture.
Not saying that this should or could be introduced into our culture (pity!) but when you experience it, it sure makes you think that us and our do-gooding doesn't really help the promotion of the bike as a realisitic form of everyday transport.
Need to think a bit more about this, but thought I'd share that I've had my opinion altered through the experience.
Welcome back Blighty....yeah I rode in Singapore, around the whole island without a helmet...
Back here in Oz...I would prefer to ride with a helmet :)
Horses for courses - I'd never go riding without a helmet while I'm mountain biking or riding a roady, I know its saved me more than once in a bunch or on the trail.
But if I want to go down the shops on a commute (not that I do), why shouldn't I just jump on without a helmet?? Its the disadvantage of nanny states - we don't get the choice to use common sense, its dictated to us.
An alternative point of view. Each year in the Netherlands (the supposed gold-standard of helmet free, no-nanny state, everyone lives forever cos they ride a bike)
1. Approx 67,000 cyclists are treated in A&E for cycling related crashes
2. 8000 cyclists are admitted to hospital
3. 190 people die as a result of a cycling crash
4. More than a quarter of all injured cyclists who are admitted to hospital have head or brain injuries (thats more than 2000 people per year)
5. Approx 3/4 of all cycling accidents that result in head and brain injuries (and a staggering 90% for young children) DO NOT involve motorised traffic. These are mostly cyclist-only crashes.
6. Based on a range of studies, wearing a bicycle helmet would result in a 45% lower risk of head/brain injury, 33% lower risk of brain injury, 27% lower risk of facial injury, and 29% lower risk of fatal injury.
OK, so all that free-and-easy Dutch cycling courage isn't quite as happy-go-lucky as it appears. Wearing helmets in the Netherlands could see 1000 less people with head and brain injuries and 55 fewer deaths, every single year. "But its my choice to cycle sans helmet!" I hear you cry. Maybe, but whose choice is it to pay the estimated $2 million- $10 million cost of long term care for people with brain injuries? That dastardly nanny-state and all those pesky tax-payers!!
Gee DD - I hope you are wearing a helmet now - to protect you from the torrents of abuse about to be hurled your way!
Haven't you read the rules of cycling debate? You can't use logic or balance (or worse statistics!) you have to have a firmly held virtually immovable opinion which you must state vehemently. Although Chapeau to Steve for describing how such opinions can be changed by alternate experiences...
Just BTW it would be really helpful to have some kind of denominator for your stats - like 67000 out of how many cycling? or even total population. Though, it wouldn't change what you say about the need for a health system response to that level of injury. Also could we please have the source for your data? (for transparency - not because I'm questioning it)
Heres the PDF...
The Netherlands has a population of 16.5 million. So if my calculations are right thats 4 cyclists per 1000 head of population going to hospital every year, 0.5 cyclists per 1000 head of population being admitted to hospital and about 1 cyclist per 10,000 head of population suffering a head injury. To put that into perspective, in Adelaide (1.2 million population) thats about 100 Adelaide Cyclists ending up with a cycling related brain injury every year. (while admitting that cycling participation rates will vary massibley between Adelaide and the Netherlands. EVen if its an order of magnitude, then thats still around 10 people in Adelaide suffering brain injuries).
Dahondude, can you please remove your post immediately! How dare you post facts that provide evidence that the perceived nirvana of cycling, and a system we should spend billions on emulating, is indeed a flawed perception. If you persist in diluting these arguments with relevant facts, we the uninformed shall take great umbrage!
I, for one, look forward to the day when I can be fed through a tube, and not have to waste time chewing my food!