Folks, I saw a sobering sight yesterday at the park on the corner of the Esplanade and Whyte Street, Somerton Park. A cyclist went to ground, falling over his handlebars and landing hard on his back and head. His helmet split in three places at the back.

Whilst he didn't have any obvious scratches or blood, he was stunned, and when he sat up it became obvious that he had lost his short term memory. Hopefully it was just concussion and not brain injury, but I'm not sure. I stayed with him and insisted that he go to hospital for scans. He didn't want to get an ambulance, but he agreed to call his wife and allow her to drive him to hospital.

Given the force of the impact, and the damage to the rear of his helmet, I'm certain that he would have suffered extremely traumatic head injuries if he wasn't wearing a helmet, even though he was riding slowly when he went down. 

Here's why it happened

  • there are roadworks on that section of The Esplanade, and pedestrians and cyclists are being detoured through the park
  • there's temporary fencing right around the roadworks, including right alongside a path in the park which cyclists use as the detour
  • there's a long banner (advertising the construction company) on the fence, affixed along its top edge
  • when the wind flows, the banner blows inwards across the path
  • there are little holes with flaps on the banner, to allow the wind to pass through, and these holes are a hazard for cyclists. Handlebars catch in them. 

The cyclist who went down was travelling fairly slowly, and when his handlebars caught in the banner hole, his bike came to a sudden stop and he went flying across his handlebars. A second cyclist (a young woman) became caught about 20 minutes after the first guy, but luckily she stayed on her bike. 

I've reported this hazard to the Holdfast Bay Council. 

The lessons for me from this incident are:

  • Helmets can save your life! Sure, we may get more people on bikes (eg women who don't want helmet hair, or people who ride very short distances) if helmets were non-compulsory, but I'd always to choose to wear one. 
  • Brain injuries can happen very easily. 
  • Detours for cyclists around roadworks are often thought through very poorly, unlike detours for motorists.

Protect your noggins, people!


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Bike helmets are supposed to absorb impact energy. That either causes to to compress or fracture, either way it reduces the input energy to the head on impact.

I think that depends on how hard you land. The result of an accident looks like they are designed to work once.

Yeah mandatory helmet laws discourage people from riding bikes, just like mandatory seat belts discourage people from driving. Lets hope they dont bring in mandatory wearing of oven mitts, what will happen to all the aspiring master chefs, will they be discourage from baking!!!

Give me a break, you're better off with a piece of overpriced foam on your head & if your too silly to use one then yes you need to be saved from yourself. It wont stop a B double or a hit in the right place at any speed kiling you but it will help. Ive seen plenty of bike stacks & plenty of damaged helmets & they have all been better off then bouncing their head off the track or road.

This is exactly what I mean. It's seeing the accidents first hand, that has shown me their worth.

I will advocate for safer cycling conditions and, until that occurs in Australia, I will not waste my time on repealing bicycle helmet laws. Helmets are designed to work once, then be replaced. Testing a used helmet for its accident-worthiness is not viable.

Current Third Party Insurance in SA is 'no fault' based. If you were not at fault, but considered to have contributed to increasing the severity of your injuries, you will receive less compensation. An example is not wearing an approved helmet while cycling -- I can vouch for this from the questioning I received after I was injured by a driver who 'failed to stand and give way'. Another common example is not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle.

The current CTP Green Paper, with submissions closing on on 27-Apr-2012, has not been announced widely. I saw a 1 minute segment on ABC News but when I phoned Transport general number and Motor Registration, they did not know about it. The government says there is blow-out with road injuries payments again and want to reduce the payouts AGAIN. Completed my research today and will organise my notes, before posting a discussion on AC to encourage cyclists to write a submission.

Not wanting to be a 'Party Pooper' and at the same time having sympathy for the rider he was riding along the walkpath that is clearly marked. "Pedestrians'. I know this does not take away the fact that he was injured but that walkpath is very narrow and I ride thru there a few times a week and think it should be avoided by cyclists. Just saying !

I have found that generally when shared paths have been closed, and there is a detour marked, there is usually only detour signage for "pedestrians", despite the fact that cyclists use the path also. I'm not familiar with this particular route.

There is a Detour sign on the road, presumably for road traffic, and there is a 'Pedestrian' sign indicating where pedestrians should walk. One side of the footpath is closed , along with the road.


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