Not directly about cycling but this maybe of interest:

..despite growing concerns and attempts to make the game safer, there were still 152 concussions in the 2013 NFL season. So what can be done?

Believe it or not but one of the suggestions to increase player safety is to phase helmets out...

According to Dr. Robert Cantu a choice has to be made for the lesser of two evils. Removal of the helmets may reduce incidence of concussion but could result in an increase in fatalities.

The lecture is 27 May.

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Yeah, or change the rules.

It seems to me that the rules of the game are explicitly designed to promote impact. I know that AFL has changed how they give free kicks: previously they were giving frees when someone's head was in danger, but that had the perverse effect of making people put their head in danger. 

I think the boxing argument is pretty much the same as in NFL (which is different to the argument in AFL). They have found the padding allows repeated impacts, which results in concussive injuries. 

WRT to your incident: That's pretty lucky! I've seen one save someone's life too. I just laugh when someone calls one a beer cooler and fails to understand how effective they are. 

Just an anecdote - I've ridden MtBike & roadie for years and years, crashed a fews times as well. My helmet is still the same one, well probably the second. Of course I might land on my head one day but I haven't yet.

I'm more worried about blunt object trauma when there's a tonne or so momentum behind.

It's times like these I always think: is there anybody that has ever come off their bike after being hit by a car or for some other reason and said "gee I'm gald I wasn't wearing a helmet?"

I was clotheslined by a temporary steel cable across a bike path ( even with the horizon + no visible warnings) to prevent cars from parking there. Caught me between the forehead and helmet lip and drug me off the back of the bike. Of all the things you expect take you out...

Nope, but I've been hit by a car and the helmet made no difference. I was knocked unconscious but that was because my jaw hit the roofline of the car. The more serious injuries were to my torso, in particular my shoulder. Helmet made no difference. 

However this is hardly the point, as the accident could have been prevented with better cycling infrastructure, MHL is a way for governments to shift their responsibilities to provide safe transport infrastructure onto vulnerable road users.

But your question is really alluding to the argument that if X doesn't produce a negative, but might produce a positive, then why not X. In logic this is a form of informal fallacy known as a false dilemma. It fails to recognise the possible validity of other options.

Do you know the difference between injuries and statistical injuries? (Or between deaths and statistical deaths?)

There are some population-wide effects that we know cause injuries to people, but such that it's impossible to know which people or which injuries they were.

Take engine exhausts and lung disease as an example. If we already know that engine exhaust pollution causes people to contract lung diseases, then we might be able to work out that operating a car for some number of years will cause one person on average to contract a lung disease. 

But no matter how accurately or precisely we can determine the size of this causal link, we still can't blame any single person's lung disease on any single source of pollution. That's because pollution diffuses and affects everybody, and because the event of a person contracting a disease is chaotically affected by many other factors.

So we could say that one death results from every X kilograms of fuel burned, but because we couldn't say which actual death it causes we would say that it causes one statistical death.

This term also arises when we talk about deaths that didn't happen because we removed some known danger. If a hundred thousand cars were removed from operation on the road, we could measure the reduction in deaths and injuries, but we couldn't say which people would have died if the risk wasn't removed. We would call those hypothetical deaths statistical as well.

I say this because there's an important point that you seem to be missing.

If somebody actually gets hit by a car, it is easy to say "wearing a helmet then was better for that person." That's an actual injury.

But we know from statistics that the mandatory helmet law doesn't have much suppressive effect on the rate of cyclists' injuries, so it must be increasing the danger to us by some other mechanism. It is causing statistical injuries.

Whether that mechanism is increased car traffic, or risk compensation by cyclists, or risk compensation by motorists, it is very hard to say about any one particular injury, "that person wouldn't have been involved in a collision at all if the helmet law weren't there." We know there are some events matching that description, but deceptively, they're almost impossible to identify.

But we know from statistics that the mandatory helmet law doesn't have much suppressive effect on the rate of cyclists' injuries, so it must be increasing the danger to us by some other mechanism. It is causing statistical injuries.

This is a myth that anti-MHL people like to perpetrate. However:

Bicycle riders without a helmet are almost six times more likely to suffer a severe head injury than a helmeted rider, a new Australian study shows.


The effectiveness of mandatory helmet laws is also the topic of a US study presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington DC.

The study, by Dr William Meehan, of the Micheli Centre for Sports Injury Prevention in the US, compares injury and death rates of US bicycle riders younger than 16 years in US states with mandatory helmet laws and those without.

His team found states with mandatory helmet laws had significantly lower rates of fatalities/incapacitation injuries after bicycle-motor vehicle collisions than those without (2 per million versus 2.5 per million).

A new study reports the rate of hospitalisations for cycling-related head injuries in NSW has fallen markedly and consistently since 1990. The authors say it’s due to helmets and infrastructure.

"Bicycle riders without a helmet are almost six times more likely to suffer a severe head injury than a helmeted rider, a new Australian study shows."

No. You're still looking at the wrong thing. I agree that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a severe head injury under common circumstances. It does not follow that helmet wearing needs to be mandated for all circumstances. Continuing to breathe also reduces our risk of dying; by your logic it would follow that there should be a law requiring us to keep breathing, and holding your breath should be punishable by fines. There shouldn't, it shouldn't.

"Lead author Dr Michael Dinh from the University of Sydney and his team based their findings on a study of 348 patients aged over 15 years admitted to seven Sydney trauma hospitals in the 12 months from July 2008."

One, that's not a very big study, with a sample size of 348 people. Two, they were already admitted to hospital, so the researchers could only compare the size of the group who were injured and had helmets to the size of the group who were injured and didn't have helmets, but to get a proper picture they would also have needed to look at the size of the group who were not injured and didn't wear helmets, and who were not injured and did have helmets. It wasn't a randomized selection, and its results therefore can't be generalized to the population. Three, it took place over 12 months from July 2008 - so there was no control for the effect of the law, because there was a mandatory helmet law for that whole time rather than part of that time.

"US bicycle riders younger than 16 years"

Yes, children aren't good enough to look after themselves properly. It makes sense to require them to wear helmets whether they want to or not. What's true of children is not generally true of adults though.

That article ( ) is junk.

In ,

The graph's y-axis counts injury rates per 100000 population, not per kilometre cycled. The MHL introduction immediately preceded a sharp reduction in head injuries, but it was also followed by a sharp reduction in arm injuries. Why? I say, because it led to a sharp reduction in distance cycled. The authors conspicuously leave this out. They try to cover their tracks though, by saying

"a survey of NSW residents found the number who had cycled within the previous 12 months increased 50% between 2001 and 2010. Bicycle imports grew 145% between 2000 and 2009 and the number of cyclists counted in the Sydney CBD increased 156% between 2002 and 2010."

but those increases came long after the 1991 MHL introduction. They're not the data that would redeem this flawed study.

My point still stands, that it is a serious mistake to think that actual injuries are worth counting and statistical injuries aren't. Even in places where a MHL has some benefits overall, as imperfect humans we are still prone to assume that it has no costs, just because the costs are hard to observe.

Now since that was annoying, I'll return the favour by requiring you to do some reading in order to counter my argument.

Seeing The helmet debate today, I thought about adding my 2 cents but I choose to err on the side of caution, as it has turned up again I'll give you a laugh since it has to to with NFL. Jump onto the web and hunt down last seasons episode of South Park tilted "Sarcastaball". You can buy it on iTunes or if you're savvy with the net it can be found for free. 


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