New evidence emerges about the safety value of bike helmets
Today’s newsletter is about a subject I’ve talked about before. Helmets. Should you or shouldn’t you wear a helmet when road cycling?
I know there is a fierce debate about the issue, with committed advocates of both sides. I’ve read plenty of opinions, and have my own views, which I’ve stated before.
I know one of the arguments against the wearing of helmets when cycling is that a helmet will give a false sense of security and encourage more risky behaviour on the road.
Even so I’ve made it clear that I wouldn’t consider getting onto a bike without wearing a helmet.
There’s 2 reasons for this. The first is that where I live it’s illegal to ride on the road without a helmet. The second, and much more important reason, is that I’ve seen close friends hit the road at speed. In one case I’m convinced that a friend of mine, who fell right beside me, is only alive, or least only alive without a brain injury, because of his helmet.
He went face down onto the road at about 30 mph. You should have seen the mess the helmet was in. After a period of convalescence he was fine.
I cycle with quite a few other people from our cycling club, at times up to 100 people if you add up the different groups. I have never seen anyone road cycling with us without a helmet. If they did they would be told in no uncertain terms to get one before they came back.
But the helmet debate continues
But still the debate rages on, and so today’s newsletter is to add a little more to the discussion about helmets, specifically following the release of a new study from Australia.
The new study, by researchers at the University of New South Wales Transport and Road Safety Research Group and School of Mathematics and Statistics, just released, studied 6745 cyclists who were involved in a collision with a car during a period of 9 years in New South Wales in Australia.
About one quarter of the cyclists studied were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
The conclusions of the study were clearly in favour of the benefits of wearing a helmet for cyclists, concluding that
“The benefits of helmets were clear in this study. Cyclists without helmets had up to 3.9 times the risk of sustaining a head injury, compared with those who wore helmets. The more severe the injury, the greater the benefit: Helmet use reduced the risk of moderate head injury by 49 per cent, of serious head injury by 62 per cent, and of severe head injury by 74 per cent”.
Not only that but the study clearly quashed the notion that people wearing helmets when cycling engaged in more risky behaviour, concluding that “Non-helmeted cyclists were almost three times as likely to have disobeyed traffic controls as helmeted riders, and more than four times as likely to have been above the blood alcohol limit”
I’m sure this study won’t put an end to the argument. There will still be plenty of people who will argue that cycling without a helmet is safe, and even that it is safer than wearing a helmet.
What about you? Do you wear a helmet? Why, or why not? Visit the Over 40 Cyclist Facebook page and share your views.
And if you do wear a helmet why not find out more about how to fit a bike helmet correctly.