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Do You Really Need Bike Helmet While You Are Cycling?

January 20th, 2010 · 5 Comments ·
 
 

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I just watched a documentary talking about the law of getting cyclist to wear helmet. I am talking about leisure activity of cycling, and not the downhill mountain bike or those involved in Extreme games. Apparently, many states in US and countries like New Zealand have already make it compulsory to wear helmets while cycling.

I cycled when I was a kid. I fell and get myself injured, but not on my head. Bruises and minor cuts on my elbows and knees were common. So, I was the generation grew up cycling without helmets.

Mun’s Comment:

  • I believe that many cyclists are wearing helmets because they perceive they may fall and get their heads injured. Nine out of ten, when asked about “bike safety”, they talk about the use of helmet. However, I would think the correct rider behavior and skill in handling the bike are more important. If cyclists operate their bicycles sensibly and abide by rules on the road, the risk is quite minimum.
  • If that is a law to get people wear helmet while cycling, it may make sense to car drivers to wear one too. Talking about head injuries, I think most car drivers have worse experience considering the speed and the impact of a crash. Not forget to mention the players in soccer or rugby and boxing. Ahem.
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  • That is one interesting study done by a traffic psychologist which found out that cyclists who wear helmets are more likely to be knocked by motorists compared to those who do not. On average, drivers steered an extra 3.3 inches away from those without helmets to those wearing the safety hats. Motorists tend to pass “very close” to the cyclist who wears helmet. So, look as if wearing helmet may backfire in this case.
  • Even if one were to wear the helmet, he should not treat it as an immunity and therefore take more risks in his riding activities. Bicycle helmet is designed to reduce the effect of an impact. How good a helmet is depends on its material and the design. Moreover, it just protects the head. Other parts of the body are still exposed to other injuries if we fall or crash into something.

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  • I am not against anyone or law that get people to wear helmet, but neither do I advocate the use of helmets for cyclists. Cycling in park or in residential areas is not a dangerous activity. We do not wear protective gear for other everyday activities such as having meal in restaurant, walking or driving a car. As for children or new cyclists, yes, I do encourage them to wear helmet for protection, but for those who have cycled for years, helmet should be an optional item.

In case you need to buy and want to use the helmet safely, either for your kids and for yourself, here are some tips:

Tips in Buying and Using Bike Helmet:

  • Pick bright colors that are visible to drivers
  • Buy those helmets which are well ventilated.
  • Try the helmet and make sure it fits nicely and can be adjusted.
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  • Fasten the strap and do not wear anything like cap underneath it.
  • If you really fall from the bicycle and your helmet has git a surface hard, replace it. Helmet loses its shock absorption capability once it is seriously hit.
  • Most helmets are made for specific activity. So, do not replace your bike helmet with baseball, hockey or motorbike helmets. Get the right helmet.

Check out some of the good bike helmets from Amazon.

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5 responses so far ↓
  • astrothsknot // Jan 23, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    Safety laws come into being because they are needed, not because legislators have nothing better to do.

    As for your first comment

    “I believe that many cyclists are wearing helmets because they perceive they may fall and get their heads injured. Nine out of ten, when asked about “bike safety”, they talk about the use of helmet. However, I would think the correct rider behavior and skill in handling the bike are more important. If cyclists operate their bicycles sensibly and abide by rules on the road, the risk is quite minimum. ”

    I would say that while correct handling of the bike or any equipment has a strong role in its safe use, let me offer up this piece of info from http://rospa.com (ROSPA are a UK charity who campaign for the safety of the UK public. They’re highly respected)

    “Over half the cyclists who are hurt in accidents injure their heads, and nearly
    three-quarters of those killed have head injuries.Wearing a cycle helmet reduces the
    risk of receiving head and brain injuries in an accident as a helmet will cushion your
    head in a fall and its protective material reduces the force of a crash before it reaches
    your head.”

    There’s lots of such studies which can be accessed fromt their site, many done in conjunction with leading European universities.

    Whilst I’m usually impressed with your research and balance in your posts, in this case you off one piece of evidence to support an ill-informed opinion.

    If you chose to wear a helmet or not to wear one, laws aside, that’s a personal view. But at leat be aware of why you’re doing what you doing.

  • sylvesteR // Jan 24, 2010 at 1:01 AM

    Studies can be rather debatable as they do not cover in a large scale. So it’s just a common generalization but if people insists on wearing a helmet, I guess a coconut will be sturdy enough to be worn^^

  • iamyuanwu // Feb 3, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    I think you’re missing a whole lot of points:

    – It easier than you believe to fall on the head even if you’re cycling carefully, and as experienced cyclist. I have landed on the chin because the bike skided on a sandy patch on a road and I fell forward.

    – Cycling is not low speed, you can easily cycling up to 30-50km/h. At speeds like this, serious injuries can happen.

    – The helmet is meant to reduce friction when land on the ground so that you don’t break your neck. You head skids on the road/car bonnet instead of your hair/skin scrapping the road and breaking your neck.

    – It’s to protect your head in case you get hit by other vehicles (this is beyond your control. Experience doesn’t matter here.)

  • Dan // Apr 15, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Unfortunately the dumb must be catered to again. Instead of people having good judgement and knowing whether their activities on a bike require protective gear or not. We have to make laws that interfere with reasonable to protect the dumb. Look at the crosswalks in the world, do you not know how or when to cross the street by looking?

  • les mullin // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    well im one of them boring gits who say were a hat I have cycled since I was 4 years old and im 57 now. Admittingly some of you hoorah henries will say well hes an old welly and bound to be a bit doddrey at his age. Well until recently accident free. Just that one occasion that I bought the hat for in the first place. I hit a pot hole on a road id cycled a thousand times I was turning around on my new boardman cycle cross when I hit a pot hole at about 4 miles an hour. I hit the road with such force it broke 4 ribs front and back punctured my lung and broke 2 bones in my kneck were if I hadn’t worn a hat the handle bars would of impaled my neck as opposed to breaking it. I for one will always mention to people to wear a hat whether they take advise or not is upto them
    But to the guy who advised me I owe him my life.

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