The Helmet Debate

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    Ah yes @un, great of you to set the tone!

  • As a recovering Helmet-evangelist, I pretty much agree with this guy:

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    @JoeSoap76 - Thanks for sharing a useful compendium

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    I was thinking about vaccines and helmets:

    Vaccines: They increase an immediate risk to the individual but increase benefits to society as a whole.
    Helmets: They decrease an immediate risk to the individual but decrease benefits to society as a whole.

    The risk of unexpected complications or allergies are outweighed by the reduction in risk of epidemics via herd immunity.
    The risk of imminent head injury vs risk compensation and reduction in physical activity due to reduced attractiveness of cycling.

  • OK, I'll bite....
    I think the thing for me is a disbelief that the 'helmet debate' is still a thing for cyclists. OK, when we speak to our non-cycling and novice cycling friends, but within cycling circles, we still have this discussion? (Obvs not in Glasgow, mind)
    To me that shows the complete failure of cycling advocacy and a failure of general health improvement messages. I was reminded of David Spiegelhalter's piece on More or Less some years ago ( ) where he gives some quite amazing statistics. My favourites being the teleporting effect of cycle commuting (that each hour spent cycling gives roughly an hour extra on life expectancy, so each hour on a bike, you get back) and that there is one fatality per c300 years of cycling activity. So cycling is about 1/4 as dangerous as the background risk of death 😉 (I know, I know, but it is fun to murder stats sometimes).
    The summary is that the benefits outweigh the risks by 5-10 times.

    Is cycling dangerous? It is massively less dangerous than not cycling. "Do you wear a helmet?" is the wrong question. "Do you cycle?" is the only question.

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    I remember listening to that episode and enjoying the teleporting comparison! It's something I've used myself when talking about the benefits of cycling.

  • Aye, the teleporting comparison is pretty effective: it captures people's imagination pretty well. I tend to use these ^ quite a lot. Especially if challenged about clothes or helmet or something. Folk's perception of risk is bizarre & we do not help ourselves by failing to point out what the real risks are!

  • Just in case anyone is reading over the weekend, here's some more grist for the mill & a position to which I alluded to above:
    "So, basically, the more people hate cyclists, the more they want to regulate them and helmet them and licence them, rather than actually give them some basic safe infrastructure (which might mean giving up some precious road.)"
    Source for the souce:
    So I guess, the position I would take, is that the 'helmet debate' (in quotes since it is rarely, if ever, actually debated) is fundamentally an anti-cycling debate & to indulge in it is to oppose cycling, regardless of points made....
    I have to stop there since my irony meter has just broken for some reason. I'll be back when I have found one that works properly....

  • Does anyone have the original source for the "teleporting" statistic - it's fantastic.

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    @frenchy, the cycling part starts after time 19:35 and the "teleporting" reference from 22:38