r/fuckcars Commie Commuter Oct 06 '22

What are everyone’s thoughts on bike helmets? Personally I think people tend to use them as an excuse to build underperforming infrastructure. They also make cycling seem inherently unsafe, which discourages people from riding. Bicycles

Post image
3.2k Upvotes

3.0k

u/ugandan_knuckkles cars are weapons Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 07 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

You can still fall and hit your head even if there are no cars or anything car related nearby.

Edit: WHERE DID I SAID THIS IS NOT A POSSIBILITY WHILE WALKING

588

u/engin__r Oct 06 '22

Yeah, I fell and hit my head hard enough to have a two-day headache because I was biking in the rain. Not a car in sight.

I’d hate to know what sort of brain damage I’d have gotten if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet.

212

u/thanks_weirdpuppy Oct 06 '22

I fell on my own without a helmet, I got a concussion and a week-long migraine. I worried how much worse it could have been. I've been wearing a helmet ever since, no matter the distance.

137

u/RegulatoryCapture Oct 06 '22

Motorcyclists have a saying...ATGATT: All the gear all the time.

Even if you are just riding city streets with speed limits of 25 to the grocery store, you wear helmet, jacket, boots, gloves, etc. Even if you're just running down the block, you don't do it in a t-shirt and flipflops. There's some leeway in how you define "all the gear"--e.g. maybe a pair of jeans is OK, you don't need kevlar-lined pants with armored knees for this trip--but the point is that you always wear it.

Now, cyclists don't go as fast...but they go close. Hitting 20mph on a bike isn't that hard and is trivial with a class 1/2 e-bike, class 3 bikes can go 28, and it is easy to hit 30+ on a paved downhill.

I'm not saying cyclists need to suit up (although crashing on asphalt at 20-30mph is NOT fun), but a helmet is an easy way to protect against the worst kinds of accidents: the ones that are most likely to have lasting effects and/or death). Road rash and broken bones can heal, but your head is fragile and important.

27

u/rivalpinkbunny Oct 06 '22

yep!

"given the average coefficient of road surface friction, you'll lose 1mm of flesh for every 1mph you're traveling at over 30mph."

I googled this quote, but i first read this calculation in "Proficient Motorcycling" (sorta the motorcycle safety bible) 15 years ago and it stuck with me. All you people with your class 3 bikes should definitely keep this in mind.

51

u/MrEntity Oct 06 '22

I've been riding with only a hat since the '90s... Afer all these comments, I will definitely wear a helmet from now on.

100

u/featurenotabug Oct 06 '22

I'd suggest you put some clothes on while you're at it.

→ More replies
→ More replies

4

u/Medeski Oct 06 '22

I fell off my bike a few times. One time I got up and saw a huge rock in the road where my head had been. I was very happy I was wearing a helmet that day.

→ More replies

13

u/Murky_Row4105 Oct 06 '22

My exact same experience.

→ More replies

32

u/RealDanStaines Oct 06 '22

I know someone who had a nasty high-side fall hitting a pothole, broke both arms and broke his helmet in half. He was a Methodist pastor and had to partly relearn how to talk. The helmet ain't there for the cars, I'm telling you.

20

u/56Bot Oct 06 '22

Got lucky once, I didn't hit my head that hard on the ground, as to get a headache... But I wouldn't have a face anymore if I didn't wear my helmet. (I slid face down on a good 6 meters)

6

u/Iankill Oct 06 '22

Could be dead honestly

→ More replies

382

u/winelight Oct 06 '22

I certainly can. Only ever fallen on my own.

162

u/abegood ELECTRIC CARGO BIKE Oct 06 '22

Yup I've had a shoelace get caught while dismounting and my head hit the pavement. Wasn't hard but would have sucked without the helmet.

20

u/Pimenefusarund Oct 06 '22

Ive had this happen plenty of times when i was a stupid teenager who didnt tie their laces. But ive never hit my head with it

→ More replies
→ More replies

21

u/vanityfear Oct 06 '22

I can too! In fact, I’m quite good at it

11

u/kitty_o_shea Oct 06 '22

Same, I've had three bad spills on my bike, all nothing to do with cars. The first two left me badly bruised. That last one, a month ago, broke my eye socket. I was very woozy when it happened. I can't know for sure that it woukd have been worse if I hadn't been wearing a helmet, but I'm glad I was. I don't expect a helmet to protect me from being hit by a bus, but there must be some critical point at which wearing a helmet will make the difference.

On the subject of people being less cautious when they're wearing a helmet. Maybe I act differently if I'm not wearing one (e.g. if I unexpectedly pick up a share bike) but I don't think that's because I'm reckless when I'm wearing one; I think it's because I'm fearful and overcompensate when I amn't. And I don't want to feel fearful on the road.

69

u/aklordmaximus Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22 Helpful

Highjacking topcomment, sorry. But I can elaborate on the meme and the eternal helmet discussion going on.

I have worked at the Dutch Cylists Union (practically the organization that made the Netherlands as it is today, but a bit dull nowadays). And there are a few caveats with helmets, which I will explain.


First of all

For individual safety (aside from dumb behavior), a helmet is the best thing you can do for individual protection. And if it doesn't impact your frequency of cycling, this is the best thing to do.

However, things become more complicated when you look at it on a societal level. And especially mandatory helmet usage. The Dutch Cyclists Union is vehemently against mandatory helmets. Not against wearing a helmet, let that be clear. Even endorsing helmets for elderly and/or children.


Communal responsibility vs individual responsibility in origin

And why don't the Netherlands wear helmets in the first place?

During the '60 and '70's when the Netherlands protested for better cycling safety, and generally against cars. Basically, all points for this sub were already at play in the '70, that is why the Netherlands is an infrastructural utopia, so to speak. These protests where a clash of systems. The American infrastructural thinking with carbrains and the thinking of the street as place for people.

After a complex and tumult few decades, it was decided that the Netherlands as a whole and as a community should be responsible for each individual out on the street. This transferred the responsibility of the issues at hand towards the community instead of leaving it with the individual. When you make helmets mandatory, you shift responsibility towards the individual. Which goes completely against everything the Dutch Cyclists revolution stood for. Also, not to forget that even car safety such as seatbelts were only mandatory in the late '60's. Helmets would have been unthinkable back then.

So, the Dutch went ahead and (locally as well as nationally) took up responsibility and worked on improving safety for cyclists through infrastructure. Without the helmet ever being brought into the picture. This infrastructure alone made sure that the Netherlands has the lowest deaths/injuries per cycled kilometre. And most kilometres cycled per person. Although this number is increasing drastically due to elderly going too fast on E-bikes (ironically because they feel that safe on the infrastructure).


Convenience of cycling and the numbers.

But why don't we promote it more or make it mandatory?

So, the Dutch cycling culture matured without helmets in the picture. This had a big cultural impact on the way we use, and see, the bike. The Dutch developed an extreme casual cycling culture. You pick the bike for anything, small or big. Going drinking, to the church, to a wedding, to the supermarket, to your friends, to school, to ....

Any additional barrier to this ease of transport reduces the people using the bike. Also, not to forget the social pressure. As a Dutch person wearing a helmet on the bike, you are unique. Except if you are very old, or very young. So cultural pressure is one thing. Add a unhealthy dose of stubbornness and safe infrastructure and you get why people don't like to wear helmets. The helmet provides a (culturally speaking) big barrier. Even purely logistically speaking, it provides more work. When the Netherlands enforced mandatory helmets on mopeds (youths caused trouble and noise pollution with mopeds) the use of mopeds dropped off a cliff.

Even if mandatory helmets reduce cycling hours by 1% throughout the Netherlands, the loss of life years due to less healthy inhabitants would be massive. There has been some research done, and the health benefits of cycling are massive. Your quality of life is higher, costing less, and you live longer and get less cancer. Lives saved by helmets would not offset this. Not even by a small margin. But this is hard to make concrete since it is statistics versus very personal anekedotes. It is more powerful to understand that a helmet would have saved someone in an accident, but it is hard to grasp that the entire population would live 2 days longer (just pulling that number out of thin air).

Plainly speaking, if mandatory helmets would be enforced, the loss of life due to reduced cyclinghours would grossly outweigh the saved lives due to helmet usage.


Cyclists (and any public space user) safety is seen as a communal responsibility. There has been a very concious decision to steer away from mandatory helmets (and the implied individual responsibility) to make sure that there can be a systemic change. One through infrastructure, law and car drivers' attitude. In the Netherlands the car is always at fault. And when it is 100% the fault of the cyclists then the fault is split 50/50. That is the extend of the Dutch approach towards communal responsibility. A helmet would have been a low hanging fruit, preventing real change.

Nowadays it would be wise to wear, but you then go against cultural norms that have formed in casual cycling culture. And making it mandatory creates barriers, which leads to less bike usage. Which in turn decreases the health of the population (and support for cycling infrastructure).

17

u/CantFindNeutral Oct 06 '22

The Dutch are almost comically particular with safety though. 90% refuse to even humor a basic helmet for bicycles, skiing, ice skating, horse riding (if not required) yet the motorcyclists there rock more gear than anywhere else I’ve ever seen. Full body armor, airbag vest, neck braces, etc… just for commuting. And you also have probably the safest motorcycle conditions in the world too.

11

u/aklordmaximus Oct 06 '22

Yea, It's weird. I don't know where the bikers safety comes from, but it might have to do that getting a driver's licence for motorcycle is pretty strict (as are the requirements and skills needed for a driver's licence).

→ More replies
→ More replies

15

u/hicycles Oct 06 '22

I’m curious, as it doesn’t appear mentioned, what are the cycling related head injury rates among the Dutch, as compare with other nations?

9

u/engin__r Oct 06 '22

I’d be interested to see the rate of head injuries specifically for crashes not involving a car, since I figure other countries will have more head injuries caused by cars.

4

u/bigbramel Oct 06 '22

There's no data that correlate crash with a car which resulted in head injuries.

However I think I found most recently published numbers in the Netherlands. Source.

In the Netherlands in 2018, there have been 122.308 crashes that resulted into a trip to the hospital or GP.

Most crashes, at 39%, didn't involve another party.

Most seen injury is fracture at 42%.

Major head injuries are one of the lowest registered injuries at 3%.

ping /u/hicycles

→ More replies

3

u/aklordmaximus Oct 06 '22

Dutch research on head trauma related to cycling accidents (2018)

Summary:

About 75,000 bicycle accident victims are seen at the Emergency Department (ED) of a Dutch hospital each year, of which 15,000 cyclists are admitted to the hospital (not all necessarily head trauma related). We describe the causes and riskfactors of bicycle related head injury in a multicenter prospective study of patients with mild to moderate head injury, Glasgow Coma score 9-15, presenting at the ED.

From January 1 2013 to December 31 2015 806 patients with a mild to moderate head injury were enrolled in the Medical Spectrum Twente, hospital Enschede and the University Medical Centre Groningen. The number of bicycle accidents and circumstances, especially alcohol intoxication, were studied. In total 791 patients had a mild and 15 had a moderate head injury, 497 were male, 309 female, with a mean age of 42.8 (range 16-91) years. Of these 806 patients, 239 had a bicycle related head injury, of which 197 were cycling on a normal bike, 13 on an e-bike, 5 on a mountain bike, and 24 were cycle racing. The accidents on a normal bike included 106 male and 91 female patients, mean age 45.0 years; these accidents were often at night, after alcohol intoxication. Almost half (92 of 197) (47%) of bicycle related head injuries on a normal bike occurred after the consumption of alcohol. Bicycle accidents account for 30% of head injuries, often associated with alcohol use. The development of preventive strategies, for instance alcohol testing of cyclists, could minimize the injury burden of bicycle crashes and intoxicated cyclists.

As compared with other nations, I have no idea. You'd have to find comparative research but that is pretty hard to do. As you need to offset for injuries per cycled km/person. As simply taking numbers for cyclists might not account for the amount cycled.

I did find a German study (in English) that points more towards behavior and speed as areas to improve than helmet usage. But this one doesn't compare between countries and/or per km cycled per injury.

→ More replies

4

u/guacasloth64 Oct 06 '22

Thanks for the info, I had a few questions:

  1. Why does the cyclist union only endorse voluntary helmets for children and the elderly, and not adults? I get that it’s more socially acceptable for those groups, but why not encourage adult use?
  2. Has there been any efforts to spread/export this model of cycling policy/culture to other countries? If so, how successful have they been?

3

u/aklordmaximus Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

To be clear the Cyclists Union is highly decentralized, and the main office focuses on the larger picture, lobby and strategy. As these bear way more fruit in the long run. Changing behaviour is tough, and it is more profitable (for health and cyclists) to focus on better infrastructure. As in the Netherlands, it still isn't for granted that the bike is getting a fair share (€100m for cycling vs billions of € for car).

  1. Mainly because the two groups mentioned are more prone to harm when falling. And because change is more easily reached on the 'fringes of a group'. It is also more easily done because there are a lot of pressure points for these groups to care for health (by doctors, age, parents and such). The middle group, especially teens to students, are hard to reach and the Cyclists Union has no contact with the age group between 0-50. Marketing is tough and is something the Union is getting into. But it isn't a big organization (25~ ppl on and off in the main office and some 3000's of local voluntary participants.
  2. Funnily enough the Dutch Cycling Embassy shares the office (i think 4 ppl). They make best practices and function as a communications hub for international questions. However, because cycling is so integrated in Dutch society, there are a lot of semi-connected consortiums/organisations/groups/etc... Too many to name. Offering courses and documents on various layers of expertise. From the CROW on infrastructure standards to individuals from all organizations playing a large role in the European Cyclist Federation. The Dutch are not really exporters in the traditional sense. The Dutch take more or less the same role with the waterworks. People come to us for expertise, and we help and advise them based on casus (except in the water works we also have world renowned companies working globally and thus exporting in the traditional sense).

In the end this model of cycling is hard to export. It is a systemic approach to the issues faced. I can't stress this enough. If you want real change, you need to change the tools that the civil servants (governmental bureaucracy) can work with. Only if the guidebook for the layer behind the politics is changed, can you reach real change. People protesting is good, and creates political will. But even politicians' hands are tied to whatever tools their servants/officers have available. This is like THE MAIN THING PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW WHEN WANTING CHANGE. This is why the Netherlands was able to change. Not just protests, but political and bureaucratic change.

And that requires a large movement of sentiment and government policy, that can't be just exported. In the Netherlands we had a unique situation where a lot of different and terribly separated groups of society (No joke, The Netherlands were extremely pillarized) all found their own causes to protest against the cars. And the cyclists union used this opportunity to change streets in protests, while at the same time focus on legislation and policy and not to forget pure numbers and research to base regulation on. A thing often overlooked. Research such as the angle of attack of a hill/dike ideal for cyclists, the width of a cycle path, etc... These numbers enabled the governmental bureaucracy to immediately work with the changes.

Societal groups joining together were Provo's, Stop de kindermoord (stop childmurder), Against plan Jokinen (a plan to destroy parts of Amsterdam for a highway), Oilcrisis of the '70's, etc... These groups crossed socioeconomic barriers and were enough to leverage change. But this was a complex societal situation for the Netherlands. It could have just as been completely different. It is hard to export this. Each country has to fight their "own battle" so to speak.

We can however be the 'best practice'. Since a lot of things that other countries now face, we faced in the 70's. Even dumb shit like vendors afraid of dropping sales if people can't visit by car anymore. We have numbers and research to show that it works. BUT! these numbers don't persuade the vendors. These numbers are for the government to guarantee income to the vendors while the change is happening. In The Netherlands we had municipalities taking the leap completely blind. And councilman guaranteed the shops in a shopping street that they would reïmburse any lost income during the experiment of car free (wasn't needed of course). But this shows the approach and what our knowledge can bring. However, this requires local politicians to take the leap based on Dutch experiences. A good example is the mayor of Paris. She is awesome!

So to answer your question:

If so, how successful have they been?

I don't know. Each country faces their own systemic problems, and our cycle culture stems from a lot of historical and societal happenstances. We are however showcase that it can work and if you want to implement it, how to do it.

But on the other hand, we show a completely different view of street design. This scares most people because it also requires a complete systemic change. Meaning the more basic painted gutters of Copenhagen are more palatable. Though Germany is now also adding street design in their infrastructure books.

Any more questions? I'd be happy to answer.

→ More replies
→ More replies

38

u/[deleted] Oct 06 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

14

u/Disdobefundoe Oct 06 '22

Yup, quite the same, I've borrowed my bike from my friend's. His old one, he didn't have any spare helmets saddly. We went downhilling in the nearby forest, I was afraid that I'm going too fast so I've pressed the brakes slightly.

Well, slightly too much, the back wheel locked, slid over some smooth stone and I've landed sideways, tearing my forehead a bit. Since then I've been winning all the races with my friends because I've stopped using the brakes :')

→ More replies

8

u/scutiger- Oct 06 '22

Wow, you copy/paste bots are getting dumber. Pasting a comment in the same thread the original came from.

→ More replies

35

u/MuddyMustache Oct 06 '22

Had a teacher in 5th grade who fell off her bike on morning on the protected bike lane, there was a large frozen puddle, the bike went out from under her and she slammed her head into the asphalt.

There was a huge (like 2-3ft) pool of blood frozen in the ice when I passed the same spot on my way to school about an hour later, didn't know she was the one who had left it there until I got to school.

She survived, but never got back to working because of the serious brain injury she had sustained. She was in her 30's when it happened. You better believe I wear my helmet every day as I commute 2 miles to work along the excellent Danish bike infrastructure.

245

u/ChongoLikRock Oct 06 '22

I would be a vegetable right now if it weren’t for my bike helmet. Was biking an old dirt road as a kid and I hit a little crack in the road on a downhill and went flying. Landed on my forehead and split the helmet down the middle. Wear a helmet kids

68

u/civilrunner Oct 06 '22

Yeah, one of my family members crashed on his bike when young and was in a coma for months after hitting his head without a helmet. He had to redo a lot of college and is still not the same. I wear a helmet whenever I ride a bike and always have. I don't even feel comfortable at all riding a bike today without one.

67

u/Frozeria Oct 06 '22

And if you wear a helmet and take a big hit to the head, DO NOT USE IT ANYMORE. The helmets structural integrity is compromised and it won’t protect you like it should.

25

u/ChongoLikRock Oct 06 '22

Absolutely. I was at a summer camp when this happened. The camp nurse gave me $10 for the busted up helmet so she could show other kids why it’s important to wear them

18

u/fallingbomb Oct 06 '22

Is ePRiBlenOG a bot? His comment is a copy/paste of yours minus the first sentence.

Was biking an old dirt road as a kid and I hit a little crack in the road on a downhill and went flying. Landed on my forehead and split the helmet down the middle. Wear a helmet kids

3

u/A2CH123 Oct 06 '22

Going fast down dirt roads is terrifying. I mountain bike so im used to riding on rough terrain and down trails, but I am terrified to go too fast down loose dirt roads because weird ruts and gravel patches just come out of nowhere.

→ More replies
→ More replies

21

u/blearghhh_two Oct 06 '22

Yup. Someone in Toronto had their bike tire get caught in a streetcar track, they flew off their bike, hit their head, and died. I've never fallen off my bike, but of the times I've come close, many of them have had nothing to do with cars or other vehicles.

So even if there were no other things on the road, I'd be wearing a helmet.

→ More replies

34

u/Dashie_2010 Oct 06 '22

I agree, I always wair a helmet if I'm cycling even though people mock me for doing so., I came off my bike once when the front wheel slid on a slick manhole cover around a corner on a small rarely used back road, smacked my face into the ground and ended up with a dislocated jaw and permanent nerve damage and paralysis of the upper right side of my face, if I wasn't wairing a helmet I don't think I'd be alive and even if so my injuries would have been much worse. I don't force others to at all but personally especially after that, it's a must.

29

u/Responsible-Sir3396 Oct 06 '22

The front wheel of my bike once fell off for some unexplained reason. I hit the ground at speed head first and was carted off in an ambulance for brain scans (and treatment for broken bones). Had I not been wearing a helmet I don't think I would be alive. So yes, wear a helmet.

→ More replies

9

u/lol_alex Oct 06 '22

My neighbour fell because she lost her balance on a very slow turn. Had no helmet on. Turned down an ambulance, later had herself admitted because she had neurological issues. She had brain hemorrhage. Now she wears a helmet.

64

u/ITBoss Oct 06 '22

Yep we recently had a person die on the downhill because he had no helmet. If he had a helmet the chances of him surviving were high from the fall.

→ More replies

24

u/AdrianLazerMan Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

On a easy summerday ride my wife fell off of her bike because of an uneven patch in otherwise perfect pavement, she wasn't fast, but her good and expensive helmet was totally trashed, one side is pressed in 2 cm. She only got a concussion, I don't want to know what would have happened without the Helmet, ordered the same again a day later.

Kids wear a helmet.

3

u/Hawke666 Oct 06 '22

Kids wear a helmet.

Adults too.

→ More replies

19

u/katarh Big Bike Oct 06 '22

Other half had a nasty spill on a paved bike path because he smacked into a pine cone.

Hazards abound.

41

u/Ok-Neighbor-1983 Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

They say pride comes before a fall, and we are a proud people.

229 fatal bicycle accidents in NL 2021 https://www.statista.com/statistics/523310/netherlands-number-of-cyclist-road-fatalities/

141 fatal accidents in the UK 2020 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-pedal-cyclist-factsheet-2020/reported-road-casualties-in-great-britain-pedal-cycle-factsheet-202

Yes to better infrastructure for bike, and yes to protective wear.

Edit to add to this statement for clarification, in the Netherlands many view riding safety gear like helmets to be "undutch" and the sign of an ignorant tourist or immigrant with laughable fear of a perfectly safe activity "because this is the Netherlands and half of us were born on bikes". This is the pride I was addressing.

25

u/aklordmaximus Oct 06 '22

And now calculate against fatalities per cycled kilometre. As that is done in cases where there is a large gap in the behaviour between data sets.

16

u/Ok-Neighbor-1983 Oct 06 '22

Now take into consideration per capita statistics as well, as the UK has approximately 67 million people vs 17 million in the Netherlands.

I feel my point stands that riding protection in combination with proper infrastructure isn't a bad idea.

27

u/Tar_alcaran Oct 06 '22

I found averages of 25 miles for women, 95 miles for men in the UK in 2017 (from statista) That's 6.3billion km in total for all ages.

The Dutch cycling union reports 15 billion km in total in the Netherlands.

So in deaths per billion km its 141/6.3=22.4 vs 249/15=16.6

Cycling in the UK is almost exactly 33% more lethal than in the Netherlands.

7

u/Ok-Neighbor-1983 Oct 06 '22

Okay, but if you really want to get into it there are also less easily quantified, such as bike culture and ubiquity of awareness for bikers on the road... The average resident in the Netherlands learning to ride as of age three, the over the shoulder door check before existing vehicles, laws that are more inclined to hold the automotorist at fault in a collision, standardized hand singles that are taught from kinderopvang (kindergarten), just to name a few of the cultural differences... All of which contributes to our lower statistics, but I stand by my point that we could still improve our system (particular when it comes to younger riders like children)

I just that we should not be portraying safety gear as "dumb" or emblematic of bicycle hate. Why do you take such an issue with that?

7

u/winelight Oct 06 '22

I think it's where you're cycling, too. I'm not going steady speeds on good infrastructure, I'm cycling at up to 60+km/h on main roads, or today down a rough track that was either loose stones or slippery mud. Oh but that wasn't at 60 lol.

So the UK distance might be made up more of enthusiasts doing more dangerous cycling.

→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies

10

u/Tezypezy Oct 06 '22

Yes, but you can fall and hit your head while jogging, yet no one wears a helmet while jogging. This kind of "What if this happens..." argument is applied to bikes as though the helmet is an all powerful, life-preserving magical object. (There are certainly examples where helmets save people or where a person died because of head-related trauma and no helmet, but there are walkers hit by cars who suffer head trauma. Do we recommend helmets for walkers? Of course not.)

If you mountain bike, probably wear a helmet. If you speed-bike, probably wear a helmet. The point is that for casual cycling around a city, in our preferred society where the bike is a main mode of transportation, you don't need a helmet. You can wear one if you want (just as you can wear a helmet while walking), but the idea that the bike and the helmet are inherently linked is a notion that arises in societies that are not accustomed to viewing the bike as a main means of transportation.

I think people, especially Americans, are prone to imagining "biking in the city" as a high-octane deathtrap of snaking in and around cars in a densely packed NYC environment where you need to have lightning fast reflexes at every moment. In that case, yeah, wear a helmet. But in actually civilized societies, you simply don't need a helmet for the casual 9 min, 15 km/hr bike ride to the local grocery store. Wearing a helmet in that case would be as silly to many people as wearing a helmet for an equivalent walk.

5

u/misconceptions_annoy Oct 07 '22

Yeah but you have more control over your fall and how you land when you’re jogging and it’s your legs between you and the ground, than when it’s inert metal.

→ More replies

22

u/The_Etch Oct 06 '22

Even on foot.

9

u/TheQuestionableEgg Oct 06 '22

Usually lower speeds tho

20

u/PresidentBirb anti-car so I can get some killer calves 🦵🏻 Oct 06 '22

Just fell from the toilet while reading this actually

→ More replies
→ More replies

10

u/brendax Elitist Exerciser Oct 06 '22

yes but this can happen when just walking. For sport cycling I always wear a helmet. For mosying to the grocery store? eh

→ More replies

20

u/Mandinder Oct 06 '22

You can hit your head while walking. You're very likely to fall and hit your head in the shower. Shower with a helmet.

Joking, but based on kms travelled you're more likely to get a head injury in a car. You should probably wear a helmet when biking, but you should probably also wear one in a car.

17

u/Zoruman_1213 Oct 06 '22

Actually car safety features are designed to work under the assumption you aren't wearing any other protective gear. If you wanted to use a helmet in a car without increasing your chances of getting severe whiplash and/or a broken neck, you'd need to change out the standard 3 point seat belt for a 5 point harness, use a full face helmet, attach a neck brace that secures to your shoulders, and remove the cars airbags to prevent them from bouncing your now much harder and springier head around like a pinball.

→ More replies
→ More replies

1.4k

u/ydkLars Oct 06 '22

Have you ever been riding a bike during fall or winter? Ever slipped on leafes or a patch of ice? Cycling can be unsafe, No matter how proficient you are.

53

u/Northman67 Oct 06 '22

It's crazy how even one or two wet leaves can take one of your tires out from under you if you try to turn on it. I've gone down hard because of that although I was moving really fast coming off a downhill and trying to turn a corner. Didn't hit my head that time though just a little road rash and a wrecked pair of jeans. Still glad I was wearing a helmet.

14

u/autoencoder Oct 06 '22

You reduce risk by being aware of your speed, curve radius, and center of gravity.

I sometimes lean into the curve (when I trust the tires' grip).

Other times I get up from the chair and lean towards the outside of the curve, above the bike (going with inertia independently of the bike). That way if the bike starts slipping, I use it as a snowboard/sled.

It's probably not a good idea to go that quickly through a city. I only do this outside my village. But you can practice this in a safe place in order to reduce likelihood of later injuries (and for tons of fun).

6

u/secondary_shallot Oct 06 '22

Yup. I crashed real bad recently because I was wearing a heavier-than-usual backpack that threw my centre of gravity off. I hit a pothole going down a hill and became a meat crayon. Helmet saved my life. In an ideal world, sure, a smooth road is safer. But where I live potholes are inevitable bc of the climate. I know our road conditions, so as a cyclist it’s my responsibility to adjust the way I ride accordingly. I should’ve taken the hill more slowly and I didn’t. That’s my fault. My helmet; however, doesn’t care whether it was my fault or the roads fault - it protects me either way.

→ More replies
→ More replies

238

u/ashley-hazers Oct 06 '22

Exactly. Last fall there was a storm drain covered over with leaves. My tire slipped in and dead stopped the bike. I went right over the handle bars. I’m so thankful I had my helmet on. It had deep scrapes on the top from the crash.

72

u/wholesomefolsom96 Oct 06 '22

Growing up a family friend was riding her bike slowly at like walking pace. No helmet. Chain locked up and and flipped her over the handlebars...

Was some scary shit. Never try to fuck with brain damage.

13

u/Electrox7 Not Just Bikes Oct 06 '22

Chain locked up? Wouldn't the wheel still continue turning? I'm just curious so I know how to avoid it

19

u/AchievingFIsometime Oct 06 '22

If it's a freehub, yes. Most bikes have freehubs. Only certain bikes like fixed gear bikes don't have them.

And if your back wheel locks up, you aren't going over the bars. It will just skid to a stop. So I'm not really buying OPs story, at least with the detail given.

→ More replies

19

u/AlexV348 Bollard gang Oct 06 '22

I am also pro helmet, but more can be done to make roads/cycle paths safer in fall/winter. See: https://youtu.be/Uhx-26GfCBU

76

u/________________me 🚲 > 🚗 reclaim the city => cars out Oct 06 '22

NL here.

If you want to protect yourself against your own actions (...), that is really up to you.

What I think OP aims at is to wear gear 'to protect yourself against cars' which is quite a different story. There is a lot of victim blaming towards cyclists that were hit by a car. "Should have worn a helmet / vest etc..". That is really twisted.

10

u/anotherMrLizard Oct 06 '22

I once took a spill and smacked my head - helmet and all - on a lamp post when a pedestrian on his phone stepped out in front of me without warning - most definitely not a result of "my own actions" and I find it a bit strange that you should say that and then straight afterward make a comment about victim-blaming.

Anyway, it would have been supremely stupid for me to have ended up with a completely avoidable concussion, or worse, for want of a £25 piece of head protection.

→ More replies
→ More replies

18

u/Hembria Oct 06 '22

Agreed. I had a job once that involved dealing with paperwork for people with acquired brain injuries. What i learnt... a very ordinary day riding your bike, driving your car or walking down the stairs can change your life for ever. I always wear a helmet on my bike, I quite like my head!

→ More replies

5

u/JapaneseStudentHaru Oct 06 '22

When I was a child home alone once, a man came banging on my door really loud. Terrified my sister and I, but we eventually answered. He was really upset to learn it was just us at home because his wife had just had a serious bicycle accident.

No one else was around and it was a sunny summer day. They accident was caused by him bumping into her while they were turning, causing his bike to get tangled up with hers.

We went to try and help while the ambulance was on its way and her legs were pretzeled up into both bikes. Her head was bleeding profusely and she was confused and in and out of consciousness. They probably weren’t going faster than 20 mph on that tiny suburban road but she was still in bad shape. We tried to help him get her legs out but it was only making things worse.

I always wear a bike helmet. And I tell my husband to wear one too. Those accidents can cripple you for life.

→ More replies

1.3k

u/Gjetost Oct 06 '22 Silver

I had a childhood friend fall off her bike and fracture her skull. She recovered but she's now a Trump loving conservative. Wear your helmets kids.

296

u/tutier09 Oct 06 '22

Best pro helmet argument I've ever read (for the record: I wear one, too - my brain is way too precious to not protect it).

56

u/hideous-boy Oct 06 '22

lol pro-helmet vs anti-helmet feels remarkably stupid to me

pro-helmet: much less risk of head injuries and permanent damage

anti-helmet: uh it looks bad and makes people think biking can cause injuries

19

u/DangerToDangers Oct 06 '22

The anti-helmet argument is that helmets are an inconvenience and some people would be less likely to ride a bike if they were forced to wear a helmet. The amount of severe injuries with good bike infrastructure is not 0 and could definitely be lower with more helmet use, but it's still quite low.

I'm not saying I'm anti helmet. I'm just saying I understand why dutch people don't wear helmets.

3

u/hideous-boy Oct 06 '22

I don't think most people here are saying "make helmets mandatory"

only that anyone who doesn't wear one is taking a wholly unnecessary risk that truly isn't worth it

even if they were mandatory, which I'm not saying I support, it's a remarkably minor inconvenience

→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies

38

u/cheapcheap1 Oct 06 '22

did she get carbrain?

84

u/Fluid_Pound_4204 Oct 06 '22

I thought you said she recovered? Too sad to read about such brain damage.

38

u/diadmer Oct 06 '22

Neurologist friend tells kids, “If you’re embarrassed to wear a helmet, imagine how embarrassing it will be to have your mom drive you everywhere and change your bedpan and feed you through a straw for the rest of your life.”

12

u/[deleted] Oct 06 '22

[deleted]

6

u/thegamenerd Oct 06 '22

You could end up losing motor function and still have the mental capacity to understand what's going on.

I got a gnarly concussion 5 years ago, I had to relearn depth perception and how to tie my shoes (among a lot of other stuff) not to mention my hands were completely numb for weeks and so was half my face. And of course Alice in Wonderland syndrome that luckily only took about a month to go away.

There's a whole lot of memories I don't have anymore as well. Like years that are gone, people and places I don't remember, and memories that are more fog and fragments than actual memories.

0/10 wear your helmet kids, and wear a hard hat on the job if hitting your head is a possibility. PPE all the way.

25

u/sinchonexit2 Oct 06 '22

Say no more!

7

u/macroswitch Oct 06 '22

I had a childhood friend who fell off his bike and had brain swelling that required a hole to be drilled in his skull. He didn’t turn into a crazy person, but that shit was scary. He was a good bike rider too, just hit some gravel on a turn.

4

u/HighPitchEricsBelly Oct 06 '22

A fate worse than death, poor woman.

3

u/CrossP Oct 06 '22

Sounds like a joke, but even mild concussions (especially in childhood) are linked to a number of serious mental health issues including paranoia.

→ More replies

35

u/Final-Ad352 Oct 06 '22

Im dutch and can tell you: dutch people would not wear a helmet, even on british roads. They are stubborn as all hell.

8

u/Seameus Oct 06 '22

Well, it is kind of funny though, in NL you can easily spot a tourist on a bike. Because of the helmets…

5

u/justanotherbettor Oct 07 '22

It's so weird that Dutch people are so stubborn about not wearing a helmet. It just seems like a very unhealthy cultural thing that they randomly developed for no good reason. In Denmark, a lot of people use them and it's really not even an issue.

4

u/Seameus Oct 07 '22

I think it’s a mix of being stubborn, and looking like a fool… I don’t know, but as an dutchie, you won’t see me on a bike with a helmet 😅. Maybe stupid, but at least honest.

Also, I think if you wear a helmet, at least in NL, you get a false sense of safety? But! For old people it might be smart though, since they are more… brittle.

3

u/Hugje Oct 07 '22

Also I won't wear a helmet because I would have to take it everywhere I go.

4

u/Seameus Oct 07 '22

Yeah this also. And if you put it on your bike, people will steal it.

→ More replies
→ More replies

366

u/SingleTrackEnthusist Oct 06 '22

I wear a helmet every time I ride. I'm a very competent rider and place well in local Enduro races on extremely rough and demanding downhill runs. For road cycling I haven't fallen a single time with over 10,000 road miles ridden and that's even taking my skinny tire road bike on some washed out fire roads and even some single track trail.

There is practically zero chance that I will fall riding around on my commuter bike finishing errands but "practically zero" is not zero. I only have one brain and sometimes weird shit happens. Brain injuries can be permanent and a good quality helmet will dramatically reduce the odds of injury in the event some weird shit happens and I crash with my head hitting a hard object.

45

u/ForgotTheBogusName Oct 06 '22

This is my rationale too (and nowhere near accomplished as you) but, I ride in traffic and a little off road and on bike paths - if I crash, my head will break before a curb will and even falling on the softest ground will cause my brain to smash against the inside of my skull at an alarming force. No thanks.

→ More replies

10

u/furyousferret 🚲 > 🚗 Oct 06 '22

Over 100,000 miles here. Countless crashes and about half of them are due to me being lackadaisical.

→ More replies
→ More replies

322

u/Typ_mit_Playse Oct 06 '22

I don't care about any straw man whataboutism argumentation. I use a helmet since i use an ebike. For me it's just that: i can possibly lose control due to my own or others unwillingly misbehaviour, we're all just humans. And my skull bone will lose against concrete, stone or fast moving metal.

Thrust is just stronger with an ebike, i already slipped on wet tram rails and I'm sure the helmet saved me from a fracture or worse.

Also your responsiveness just gets worse the older you get, for that reason i guess I'd also use one without an ebike now. Not only because of my own fallibility, but more because you just can't trust any driver to not crash into you and i feel too old to jump off my bike quickly if something might happen

Edit; imo it shouldn't be mandatory. But also don't speak up against using one, don't make others not use one because of peer pressure, if they'd actually feel safer wearing one

44

u/MarcusPup Bike go wheeeeee Oct 06 '22

My indestructible r/neverbrokeabone skull will remain intact in a crash.

Brain, not so much, so yeah it's a good idea to wear one

65

u/GM_Pax 🚲 > 🚗 USA Oct 06 '22

Edit; imo it shouldn't be mandatory. But also don't speak up against using one, don't make others not use one because of peer pressure, if they'd actually feel safer wearing one

Exactly this.

I urge people to use helmets - especially those with added vulnerabilities, e.g. the elderly, children & youth, anyone with prior skull injuries.

But I don't think the answer is to make them mandatory, and I actively oppose "helmet shaming" directed at those who elect NOT to wear one.

29

u/MikeyLikesItIronicly Oct 06 '22

It can also be an excuse for law enforcement to pull someone over they don’t like. The only people I see without helmets where I live are poor people, and ticketing them isn’t going to help the afford a helmet.

19

u/TheAlbacor Oct 06 '22

This is exactly why some places have started offering vouchers to fix headlights on cars. It'd be nice if places who had mandatory helmet laws would also offer something similar for helmets and/or lights

https://www.lightsonus.org/

For the record, I'm not arguing that helmets SHOULD be mandatory, just that if we're going to mandate things it shouldn't become a barrier to entry.

4

u/GM_Pax 🚲 > 🚗 USA Oct 06 '22

100% in concurrence on that last bit. :)

→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies

31

u/Generic-Resource Oct 06 '22

So, it’s been shown in places that have mandated helmet use that cycling rates go down. Given that cycling has health benefits including reducing rates of cardiovascular disease and improves overall strength and fitness, it has been argued that measured purely in QUALYs (quality of life years) helmet mandates are actually detrimental to public health!

Obviously, cycling and wearing a helmet is better still, but if you want to improve public health do not mandate helmet use.

Personally I wear one when I’m going to work, training or going through the forest, but don’t always when I go to the local shops and never when using city bikes. That last one is a a big thing - mandates would almost destroy a city bike scheme…

14

u/annieisawesome Oct 06 '22

That's a really good point; I usually wear one, because where I live biking as transportation is scary and impractical, so when I ride my bike it's usually recreational, and on trails. If I wanted to just hop on and get to the store in 5 minutes though, gearing up that way might feel like a hassle. In a not just bikes video, he mentioned how people "dress for the destination, not the ride". Even if it's still a better idea to wear one, I can totally see why that extra step would deter some people from choosing a bike over other options

12

u/mailto_devnull Oct 06 '22

While I appreciate the spirit of your post, and am interested in reading more about the study... That kind of "actually/technically..." argument is the same as arguing that mandating car seats are detrimental to fertility rate because prospective parents have fewer children because of the added expense/bother.

→ More replies

12

u/Typ_mit_Playse Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

it’s been shown in places that have mandated helmet use that cycling rates go down.

Yeah i don't really get this from my present POV, imo people often have way too much wrong pride/arrogance. Though i also refused wearing one as a child (without an ebike)..

It might be just a temporary development until people get used to it. Where i am from it's like this: actually helmets are mandatory by law, always have been. but nobody cares, at least here in berlin. Even in a police control nobody asked me to get one, since you don't put anyone else in danger beside yourself. So it's defacto legally safe to not use one.

But since bike infrastructure gets better, fuel prices climb up and the public opinion seems to shift away from carbrainism here over the last years years, we have more and more cyclists, and in my experience most of them use a helmet. I feel like (most) people here have overcome those infantile 'but how will i look like?!' kind of thoughts by now.

(Also i can't compare it to places like the netherlands, where you maybe don't have to fear drivers' possible misbehaviour constantly. It's still car centric here and you're in the weaker minority as a cyclist.)

6

u/Generic-Resource Oct 06 '22

As far as I’m aware helmets aren’t a legal requirement in Germany which is probably why no one has ever asked you to get one!

As for the rest, you blame arrogance or pride but miss the point. Cycling is healthier than not cycling, anything you do to discourage that is negative to public health. Sure, cycling with a helmet is better still, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good… let people ride without mandates and judgement!

→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies

67

u/Macrophage87 Oct 06 '22

Personally, it's more force of habit. I just feel weird not having a helmet.

→ More replies

65

u/KBlahBlahBlah Oct 06 '22

I had a guy jump into the bike lane a few years ago last second. We were both fine, but I hit the ground and hit my head. If I wasn’t wearing a helmet, I might be fine or, my daughter might not have a dad.

I’ll always wear a helmet even though it’s “only been useful” that one time.

14

u/deird Oct 06 '22

My dad hit a dog that dashed in front of his bike. I saw his helmet afterwards: over an inch had been shaved off the top. If he hadn’t had a helmet, I wouldn’t have a dad.

57

u/Jakse Oct 06 '22

I always wear a helmet. I recently had a friend whose bike tire popped down a hill and got hurt quite bad. No ones fault, but the helmet made sure his head was at least okay.

26

u/badlydrawnboyz Oct 06 '22

This is what the Dutch don't understand... hills.

→ More replies

113

u/Bugstl Oct 06 '22

Its never stupid to wear a helmet.

→ More replies

10

u/financewiz Oct 06 '22

I rode bikes in a busy city for decades. I’m going to come right out and state what were the two most common dangers to the structural integrity of my skull:

  1. Street car tracks embedded in the road. If you’re not careful, those will whip your bike right out from under you.

  2. Post-Critical Mass, bicycle traffic became so popular that car-brained individuals join in. They speed, they tailgate, they ignore bicycle road laws. In short, they drive like an SUV in a school zone lane. It doesn’t resemble Copenhagen out there at all because the prevailing road culture in the US has forever been “Get these goddam bikes out of my way, I’m the important one!”

I had a friend who was a bike messenger (remember those?) he said, “I’ll listen to arguments about bike helmets but if you don’t wear gloves, you’re an idiot.” He also had choice words about pedestrians. Hey, wait a minute! Now it’s getting personal!

9

u/Astro_Alphard Oct 06 '22

Wait until you learn about airbags, crumple zones, seatbelts, and roll cages.

We spent 150 years trying to make putting a half asleep human in control of a high speed metal box "safe".

The first bike helmet came out in 1975.

If anything driving is inherently unsafe.

→ More replies

29

u/stolpie Oct 06 '22

I wear a helmet when I am on the bicycle outside of The Netherlands or when I am on a mountain/speed/ebike regardless where I am.

On my day-to-day commute on my "stadsfiets" (citybike) I don't wear a helmet since the route entirely runs through parks and seperate bicycle infrastructure, and I don't go really fast, cause getting to work sweaty isn't my idea of fun.

→ More replies

40

u/Brukselles Oct 06 '22

Relevant video

I do wear a helmet though and recommend it to everyone. But the obsessive focus on it as the most important safety measure is, to say the least, absurd.

→ More replies

31

u/Certainly-Not-A-Bot Oct 06 '22

When I biked in the Netherlands, I didn't wear a helmet and felt perfectly safe. When I bike in NA, I always wear a helmet and it doesn't feel safe

13

u/BattletechFan Oct 06 '22

Clearly the helmet is the thing making you feel unsafe!

haha.

5

u/[deleted] Oct 06 '22

[deleted]

→ More replies

15

u/ZequizFTW Commie Commuter Oct 06 '22

Same, but with Sweden and Minnesota. The helmets are used as a scapegoat and excuse whenever a cyclist is found to nor be wearing on in a collision.

→ More replies

17

u/krissyface Oct 06 '22

I’ve been hit by cars 4 times while on a bike.I’ve also wiped out on my own accord. My worst fall Was carrying my bike out of my house.

I wear a helmet religiously. Not a big deal to me.

130

u/SaxPanther Oct 06 '22

No matter how skilled you are and no matter how safe your infrastructure you can never account for unpredictable circumstances. Helmets are convenient and comfortable and can save your life.

35

u/freeradicalx Oct 06 '22

I don't think they're convenient or comfortable. I just get used to the slight detriment in enjoyment because I know it might save my life.

13

u/BattletechFan Oct 06 '22

Need to get a decent helmet then.

3

u/Mustikebab Oct 07 '22

I make around 6 bike trips a day. To work, to the store, to visit friends, to go the gym, to go out for drinks, etc. It would be super inconvenient to carry a helmet with me all day. Here in the Netherlands, I don't think there is a need for a helmet. In other countries with worse infrastructure, I would wear a helmet.

5

u/Klapgans69 Oct 06 '22

And it still sucks to carry around when you bike to the shop or to a party

→ More replies
→ More replies

35

u/OutsideTheBoxer Oct 06 '22

They are neither convenient or comfortable, but they can save your life.

7

u/Angry_sasquatch Oct 06 '22

I enjoy wearing mine in the winter because it keeps my head more warm and comfortable.

3

u/the_friendly_dildo Oct 06 '22

They are quick to put on and unless you're wearing the cheapest helmet imaginable, I can't imagine how you define wearing one as uncomfortable

→ More replies
→ More replies
→ More replies

38

u/Patte_Blanche Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

i recently learned about this "hierarchy of control" concept and i think it fits here.

People or organizations who only fight for the lowest stuff care more about painting themselves as good and wise than actually doing something useful for safety.

→ More replies

6

u/syklemil Oct 06 '22

I think my position is kind of medium:

  • Cycling isn't just one activity. Recommendations for sports cyclists (wielrenners) and urban cyclists (fietsers) should be different.
  • Wearing a helmet is individually sensible (generally, though there are downsides like motorists being more willing to engage in behaviour that puts the cyclist at risk)
  • Helmet mandates are counterproductive, reduce cycling levels and thus the safety from the "safety in numbers" effect
  • Good infrastructure is the better solution for urban cyclists
  • Season affects the use of a helmet. I'll heavily recommend them if there's ice, but at the peak of summer they're probably at their least useful.
  • Bike helmets aren't made for high-energy impacts, e.g. being hit by a car. They can help protect you when you fuck up on your own, but their use cases are more limited than the most ardent helmet activists seem to think.

15

u/mazarax Oct 06 '22

Interestingly, a motorcycle helmet for everyone inside a car, would also drastically reduce traffic fatalities.

But societies tell us: helmets is for riders, not drivers. (Unless the driver is at a racing track.)

6

u/SweetSweetFancyBaby Oct 06 '22

Car helmets now!

→ More replies

124

u/Clever-Name-47 Oct 06 '22

It's inarguably safer to wear a helmet. On the other hand, I think it's pretty well established that most people won't use bike infrastructure as everyday transportation if they have to wear them. And everyone (except for the people who break their skulls) would be better off if we all used bikes for everyday transportation. Meet people where they are, design for how people will actually use things, greatest good for the greatest number, etc. etc.

Bottom line: The Dutch have shown that a bike-centric world without helmets is safer than a car-centric world, period. Helmets should be a secondary concern at best at this point.

53

u/el_grort Oct 06 '22

Basically, shouldn't be mandated, but it would also be daft to actively discourage using helmets. Make bicycle centric infrastructure and it's less of an issue if people don't wear them, but they should still be available for those who do want them (for whatever reason, downhill trails/touring, just uncomfortable and use it to feel safe, for children while they learn, etc). It's not really an either or situation imo.

→ More replies

17

u/Timmetie Oct 06 '22

I'm Dutch and I'm unclear how helmets work for normal errands, do you lock the helmets to your bike?

If you rent a bike, do you also rent a helmet?

Not saying it would stop me biking if they were mandatory, but I haven't ever thought about the logistics of it.

→ More replies

11

u/LeifCarrotson Oct 06 '22

Why do you think that is considered well established, or why do you/"most people" feel that way?

It used to be that seatbelt wearing was something that was a chore, and choosing to wear a seatbelt or buy a car with them equipped was abnormal. That is, until we made it so that (1) cars detect when you're not wearing the seatbelt and beep at you until you put it on and (2) it's a hefty fine if you're pulled over not wearing it. Now it's habitual, everyone wears them all the time and no one complains, it's a non-issue.

I'm a bike commuter and XC racer. I wear my helmet every day, it's no big deal. My 5yo and all his friends wear his without complaint every time we go riding, he just associates the helmet with the bike. The only person I know who doesn't wear a helmet when biking is his grandfather.

19

u/Clever-Name-47 Oct 06 '22

As another commentator mentioned, seat belts are attached to the car. Helmets aren't. No matter how stupid it sounds, if you know anything about human behavior, you'll know that this really will make a difference for a huge fraction of the population.

Sometimes people want to wear hats when they ride. In rainy and sunny cities, that's not a minor thing.

People also think that that helmets mess their hair up more than hats or the wind do... and in my experience, they're right. Never underestimate the power of human vanity (We're a social species. Our brains are literally wired to consider "looking good" a matter of survival).

I will say that I think we can get people to accept the "look" of wearing a helmet as normal, if enough people do it. Our social inclinations cut both ways, in that respect. But the example of the Netherlands seems (seems!) to indicate that that's not enough.

→ More replies

10

u/mcslootypants Oct 06 '22

Helmets may become more accepted, but they are a major inconvenience for anyone that has longer styled hair.

Wearing a seat belt takes 2 seconds and you’re done.

Wearing a helmet means dragging all your hair styling equipment to the office and somehow doing your grooming there. I’m sure professional women will love that /s

→ More replies
→ More replies

5

u/Imp3riaLL Oct 06 '22

Commute bike going to work at about 18k/h = no helmet Race bike going downhill at about 50k/h = definitly a helmet

12

u/Spiritual-Hair5343 Oct 06 '22

Most common cause of head trauma? Car accident! If you want to protect the skulls of your population make helmet mandatory for everyone in a car.

Mandatory bike helmet doesn't work. NZ and Australia are the demonstration of the failure.

3

u/FieserMoep Oct 06 '22

What statistics are you referencing with that ratio, or more precise, what country?

52

u/Bij_so Oct 06 '22

Helmet can save life, you can just break your skull slipping on your own, it would be stupid not to wear one.

→ More replies

34

u/GenericPCUser Oct 06 '22

I mean, you should still wear one? I don't think helmets make bikes seem any more unsafe than seatbelts make cars seem unsafe.

Don't go out getting a brain injury to own the car drivers.

→ More replies

42

u/BonyDarkness Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

I did some time as medic in an ambulance.
I can’t stress enough how life saving a helmet can be. This thing might look ugly, might “destroy” your hairstyle and you can come up with a million other “reasons” why you don’t want to wear it but in the end it’s there to protect a very important part of your body - your head.

I was called to a multitude of accidents, bike on bike, bike on car, bike on pedestrian, bike on motorcycle… the people who didn’t wear a helmet we had to bring to the hospital with lights flashing and siren screaming, the ones with sometimes just got checked up a little and went their way again.

No amount of practice can safe you from a dumb fuck who smashes the accelerator and can’t be bothered to look left and right. You can do everything correctly and someone opens the door of the parked car and hits you. Nothing you can do against this, shit just happens sometime. Play it safe, don’t risk your life over some “fashion” or “coolness”

→ More replies

5

u/ImapiratekingAMA Oct 06 '22

I came here to figure out what the meme means but nobody is talking about it

→ More replies

3

u/jrstriker12 Oct 06 '22

Risk calculation based on where you are riding and what type of ride.

Fast Road Bike group ride -yes

Fast / Hard Mountain Bike or Gravel - yes

Easy, slow Sunday Ride in a bike only lane with a lot of space - maybe, but not required

Riding a city bike in heavily protected bike lanes - maybe, but not required.

Bike commute on local roads where I live - best bring full body armor

4

u/Peterceval Oct 06 '22

I've learnt on a French Youtube channel dedicated to cycling in Paris (Altisplay) the "Hierarchy of controls" used in industry but fits perfectly when talking about bikes transportation.

The order should be the following, from the most efficient to the less efficient.

  1. Elimination (physically remove the hazard) : remove as much as possible motor vehicules from the streets.
  2. Substitution (replace the hazard) : replace big heavy motor vehicules with smaller vehicules.
  3. Engineering controls (isolate people from the hazard) : dedicated secured bike lanes.
  4. Administrative controls (change the way people work) : education of drivers, police enforcement...
  5. Personnal protective equipment (protect the worker) : when everything else above failed or was not possible to realize. This is only at this stage you find the helmet.
→ More replies

4

u/aklordmaximus Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

Ooh, Juicy subject. I can elaborate.

I have worked at the Dutch Cylists Union (practically the organization that made the Netherlands as it is today, but a bit dull nowadays). And there are a few caveats with helmets, which I will explain.


First of all

For individual safety (aside from dumb behavior), a helmet is the best thing you can do for individual protection. And if it doesn't impact your frequency of cycling, this is the best thing to do.

However, things become more complicated when you look at it on a societal level. And especially mandatory helmet usage. The Dutch Cyclists Union is vehemently against mandatory helmets. Not against wearing a helmet, let that be clear. Even endorsing helmets for elderly and/or children.


Communal responsibility vs individual responsibility in origin

And why don't the Netherlands wear helmets in the first place?

During the '60 and '70's when the Netherlands protested for better cycling safety, and generally against cars. Basically, all points for this sub were already at play in the '70, that is why the Netherlands is an infrastructural utopia, so to speak). These protests where a clash of systems. The American infrastructural thinking with carbrains and the thinking of the street as place for people.

After a complex and tumult few decades, it was decided that the Netherlands as a whole and as a community should be responsible for each individual out on the street. This transferred the responsibility of the issues at hand towards the community instead of leaving it with the individual. When you make helmets mandatory, you shift responsibility towards the individual. Which goes completely against everything the Dutch Cyclists revolution stood for. Also, not to forget that even car safety such as seatbelts were only mandatory in the late '60's. Helmets would have been unthinkable back then.

So, the Dutch went ahead and (locally as well as nationally) took up responsibility and worked on improving safety for cyclists through infrastructure. Without the helmet ever being brought into the picture. This infrastructure alone made sure that the Netherlands has the lowest deaths/injuries per cycled kilometre. And most kilometres cycled per person.


Convenience of cycling and the numbers.

But why don't we promote it more or make it mandatory?

So, the Dutch cycling culture matured without helmets in the picture. This had a big cultural impact on the way we use, and see, the bike. The Dutch developed an extreme casual cycling culture. You pick the bike for anything, small or big. Going drinking, to the church, to a wedding, to the supermarket, to your friends, to school, to .... Any additional barrier to this ease of transport reduces the people using the bike. Also, not to forget the social pressure. As a Dutch person wearing a helmet on the bike, you are unique. Except if you are very old, or very young. So cultural pressure is one thing. Add a unhealthy dose of stubbornness and safe infrastructure and you get why people don't like to wear helmets. The helmet provides a (culturally speaking) big barrier. Even purely logistically speaking, it provides more work. When the Netherlands enforced mandatory helmets on mopeds (youths used them and caused trouble) the use of mopeds dropped off a cliff.

Even if mandatory helmets reduce cycling hours by 1% throughout the Netherlands, the loss of life years due to less healthy inhabitants would be massive. There has been some research done, and the health benefits of cycling are massive. Your quality of life is higher, costing less, and you live longer and get less cancer. Lives saved by helmets would not offset this. Not even by a small margin. But this is hard to make concrete since it is statistics versus very personal anekedotes. It is more powerful to understand that a helmet would have saved someone in an accident, but it is hard to grasp that the entire population would live 2 days longer (just pulling that number out of thin air).

Plainly speaking, if mandatory helmets would be enforced, the loss of life due to reduced cyclinghours would grossly outweigh the saved lives due to helmet usage.


Cyclists (and any public space user) safety is seen as a communal responsibility. There has been a very concious decision to steer away from mandatory helmets (and the implied individual responsibility) to make sure that there can be a systemic change. One through infrastructure, law and car drivers' attitude. In the Netherlands the car is always at fault. And when it is 100% the fault of the cyclists then the fault is split 50/50. That is the extend of the Dutch approach towards communal responsibility. A helmet would have been a low hanging fruit, preventing real change.

Nowadays it would be wise to wear, but you then go against cultural norms that have formed in casual cycling culture. And making it mandatory creates barriers, which leads to less bike usage. Which in turn decreases the health of the population (and support for cycling infrastructure).

4

u/ZeroBlade-NL Oct 06 '22

Do people wear a helmet while walking? Seen plenty of people fall and trip or get hit by other traffic or walk/run into stuff. It's a bit of a 'how safe do you want to be' vs 'how much do you care what other people think about you wearing a helmet'. I wear full gear motorcycling and no gear regular cycling. Don't own e-bike, don't know what I'd do then

10

u/rockfondling Oct 06 '22

I'm old enough to remember the first time I saw someone wearing a bicycle helmet (an American in Ireland in the early eighties). The only protective headgear was the padded leather hairnet device used only by some racers. Modern helmets were just not available in the UK at the time. Nobody cared and I don't remember any kind of campaign in favour of helmets.

So has the widespread use of helmets made any difference? This study from Australia is interesting because helmets were made mandatory there:

How many lives saved?

I can't find any hard evidence to counter the case made for helmets here.

But I really dislike the assumption that all cyclists should be wearing helmets. I do because I like to ride in the countryside and whiz down hills but even then the protective effect of the helmet is limited. I don't see why people doing their shopping around town on upright bicycles should be expected to wear helmets.

I have fallen off my bike many times but the common cause is losing traction on ice, sand, or mud. I have had some impressive road rash but never hit my head. Lucky me I guess.

There's a decent case for people in cars to wear helmets too since crashes are likely to result in head trauma. Hey, let's made helmets compulsory for all road users and maybe we would have to acknowedge what a stupidly dangerous mess we have created out there.

7

u/ronaldvr Oct 06 '22

Actually this is very very misleading: Here you can see bicycle participation fell about 30-50%, so logically the number of casualties on a bike falls too.

Secondly this does not take into account the actual health impact of people not cycling

And thirdly: it does not account for other risks which people encounter (as pedestrian for instance) as a base line,

and fourth the number looks actually large because they add up all yearswhich is quite silly and actually somewhat strange as the normal way to report this is by counting fatalities per year, and then the number suddenly is not so big at all i.e.

51 per year

Compared to pedestrians:

200

Cars:

1850 per year (nearly 50.000 in total)

So this article is a shameless use and prime example of the famous book 'How to lie with statistics'

4

u/rockfondling Oct 06 '22

Excellent! Thanks for the debunking of that piece.

11

u/cometparty Oct 06 '22

I think cycling is unsafe… around cars.

21

u/victorsaurus Oct 06 '22

My thoughts on it is that I once fell for no reason in a perfectly safe place and hit my head right against a curb. The helmet saved my life. Biking can be dangerous. Wear a helmet.

26

u/dnivi3 🚲 > 🚗 Oct 06 '22

Helmets? I live in the Netherlands and never bike with one. Hardly anyone does.

6

u/mailto_devnull Oct 06 '22

I hope one day in my country we get to the point where I don't need to wear one on a leisurely ride to the corner store :)

→ More replies

11

u/jrsnk Oct 06 '22

When mountain-biking, yes. While commuting on a bike, hell no!

9

u/dieinafirenazi Oct 06 '22

I wear one for every ride, but I'm not counting on it to save me. I was wearing one when I face planted so badly I broke three bones in my face and got a very bad concussion. I fell on the wrong part of my head for the helmet to help. Should have had a full face for commuting, I guess. The main reason I have one on when commuting is I figure when my kid is suing the driver who kills me it'll help increase the damages they are awarded if it seems I was doing all the safety things.

Mandatory helmet laws are counter productive. Wearing helmets is good.

→ More replies

14

u/averagemagnifique Oct 06 '22

I think condoms create a view that casual sex with multiple partners is inherently unsafe

9

u/Alexdeboer03 Oct 06 '22

There are studies that suggest that cars are less careful when interacting with bikers with helmets on

4

u/FieserMoep Oct 06 '22

And then most deadly accidents have the driver not see the bicycle at all. So wear a helmet.

→ More replies

8

u/Beneficial_Steak_945 Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 07 '22

Helmets have their place. For fast riders on sports bikes playing at riding the Tour de France, for mountain bikers, for the elderly or for people who otherwise have developed issues with balance or agility. Perhaps for young children who are still finding their balance and full control of the bike and are still developing their ability to read the road and the situation. And yes, for those speeding along at high velocity on e-bikes.

But not for every-day riders just going about their daily business, not for the youth just cycling to school or the people going to work or to run an errand.

8

u/seismatters Oct 06 '22

We all seem to agree that wearing a helmet while biking is a good idea. What no one is talking about though, is why aren't drivers wearing helmets when they drive around in cars??

8

u/incompetentfuckwad Oct 06 '22

Because they have seatbelts and airbags

→ More replies
→ More replies

25

u/biggerBrisket Oct 06 '22

Bicycling isn't inherently unsafe. Falling onto pavement head first is inherently unsafe. Wear a helmet, please.

Manufacturers used to make this argument against seatbelts. They thought they made the vehicle seem unsafe if it needed them.

→ More replies

14

u/freedom10101 Oct 06 '22

Accidents happen and hitting your head (even slightly) can cause injury and pain. I think wearing helmets is easy and worthwhile.

8

u/bike_fool Oct 06 '22

Drivers should wear helmets wherever they exceed 30 mph.

Seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, none of them are as effective as helmets. If it wasn't for the incredibly strong automakers lobby helmets would be required for all vehicles

→ More replies

3

u/k-spar Oct 06 '22

i think i don't want a TBI

3

u/hraath Oct 06 '22

Many things other than cars can cause you to fall off a bike and hit your head.

Maybe within the scope of smooth, flat, slow, short, well orchestrated cycle commuting you can mitigate a lot of risks.

Just remember that our poster child for comparison is NL, a small and geographicically uniform country with practically zero wilderness remaining.

In general purpose cycling such as for exercise, sport, leisure, your conditions might be less predictable and consistent.

Traumatic brain injury is not a joke.

3

u/Runge_Kutta90 Oct 06 '22

As somebody who has cycled regularly both in UK and the Netherlands (and my native Italy), I can tell you there is a huge natural difference between the Netherlands and the other two. Downhills. Dutch terrain is insanely flat, and on a casual bike ride you never go over 20-25km/h. In UK and Italy, you easily find very steep downhills where you can reach 50-60 km/h and the bike is obviously much more difficult to control. In these situations, you need to be way more careful, use protective gear and pay a lot of attention to maintenance, even in roads with basically no cars or outright closed to traffic.

3

u/hanzerik Oct 06 '22

If you're on a city bike, I agree, if you're on a racing bike, or an electrically enhanced bike you should wear one.

10

u/MoistBase Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 07 '22

Exactly. No one advocates for wearing a helmet when driving a car or going out for a walk when there is still a risk of head injury with those activities.

Edit: If there was a higher perceived risk with driving a car or walking, the focus would shift towards improving the infrastructure for those modes of transportation rather than advocating for helmet use.

Edit 2: My stance is the posts last sentence: Helmet advocacy makes cycling seem inherently unsafe, which discourages people from riding.

3

u/Zesphr Oct 06 '22

Yes because it's not like modern cars have seatbelts, air bags, crumple zones, re-enforced structures, and a myriad of other safety features. Whereas on a bike, you have... A head of hair maybe?

A car =/= a bike =/= walking. To say otherwise is complete bollocks

→ More replies
→ More replies

12

u/Obi_Vayne_Kenobi Oct 06 '22

I've kissed the asphalt more than once at my own fault. Didn't respect the ice, chain snapped, slipped on wet leaves.

I also live in a city where cycling is normal, we have bike lanes on the side walk at every street. There are still frequent accidents between cars and bikes. There's no reason not to wear a helmet, and tons of reasons for doing so. For example not wanting to wake up a vegetable.

9

u/LeskoLesko Oct 06 '22

I love bike helmets. They are incredibly strong and mine looks super cool, not being sarcastic.

And as someone who has had dozens of concussions, and who was recently hit by a truck pulling out of a driveway and slammed my head into the ground, I am pretty content with my decision to wear a helmet every single time I ride.

I don't understand people who don't wear helmets. I don't see cars looking at helmets before acting like assholes -- they act like assholes regardless, to pedestrians, to cyclists with helmets, to cyclists without helmets, to small cars, to big trucks, to semis.

Even when I'm riding in the woods on bikes only trail, I wear my helmet. What if I misjudge something and hit a tree? I don't want any more concussions. The ones I've had (from seizures) are more than enough.

4

u/Fedelm Oct 06 '22

I love bike helmets. They are incredibly strong and mine looks super cool, not being sarcastic.

I want a cool helmet! Link?

→ More replies

11

u/Probbable_idiot Oct 06 '22

I'm..so confused. Why do people think helmets are bad??? They save lives, why would you ride without them. It's like why you use seatbelts in a car. When you're going fast, you need to protect yourself! Obviously!

→ More replies

5

u/SuperCharlesXYZ Oct 06 '22

I don’t recall the exact numbers, but ever since Australia introduced a bike helmet law, the amount of people that bike went down by a lot, yet the road fatalities went up. My theory is it emboldened drivers to be less careful

8

u/OhneBremse_OhneLicht Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

I have friends whose lives have been saved in bicycle crashes in which no moving cars or pedestrians were involved because they were wearing helmets. My family had a colleague who died as a result of a low-speed fall from a bike while not wearing a helmet with nobody else around. I really don’t care if helmets are legally mandated or not (I would not oppose them if they were), protect your brain (use it or lose it).

9

u/Deuter_Nickadimas Oct 06 '22

This is an historically stupid post

2

u/bloibie Oct 06 '22

Some of the takes on this sub just baffle me

→ More replies

7

u/MottSpott Oct 06 '22

Whenever a cyclist is killed by a motorist in my neck of the woods, the reporting is always sure to mention if they weren't wearing a helmet. So I wear one out of spite just to rob them of that if it ever happens to me.

But helmets are only going to protect from certain types of falls, and I'll admit I love going for rides without them so I can feel the wind in my hair.

→ More replies

4

u/jamezca Oct 06 '22

I have cycled down hill in the dark away from any roads and my bike helmet saved me from being knocked unconscious by a low hanging branch.

They are incredibly useful when you travel faster than running pace

6

u/baconblackhole Oct 06 '22

I can't believe they are asking people to wear them crossing the street now.

It's another one of those things that has made all the steps leading these actions more revealing that all infrastructure is pretty entirely dedicated to cars.

6

u/woeeij Oct 06 '22

I think the kind of bike plays an important role here. Dutch style bikes often don’t have gears, offer an entirely upright seating position, and as a result go slower and are more stable and easier to keep upright at slow speeds. In America it can be hard to find a bike like that. Our bikes seem to all be some variation of a road bike, designed for higher speeds, and less stability and less visibility due to the prone riding position.

→ More replies

5

u/TheNorthJyde Oct 06 '22

In Denmark almost no one uses them. There are some that uses them.

→ More replies

6

u/zapembarcodes Oct 06 '22

I don't use one. 😕

I know, I know... I'm a stubborn f*ck.

6

u/LucasTheNeko Oct 06 '22

Well if you ask me helmets are not really the thing that is needed.

Of course you can have an accident without any cars involved because I dunno you drove over a little rock or something and of course there are cases were a helmet saved someone's life in such a situation.

But as far as I see for normal commute to / from work/school or similar helmets are needed because cars kill cyclist not because cycling is in itself as dangerous as for example motorcycles are.

But that's my opinion.

11

u/kvsMAIA Oct 06 '22

Bad analogy is bad

→ More replies

8

u/nerfedslut Oct 06 '22

Yeah Big helmet and the government are dedicated to fucking our infrastructure 🙄