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Helmet-less riding?

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This topic contains 164 replies, has 48 voices, and was last updated by  AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe 1 yr, 5 mos.

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Anonymous

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Feb 11 2012 at 2:42am #

So I’m working on a project for a class and would greatly appreciate your feedback.

Do you or anyone you know NOT wear a helmet while biking on public streets? Why do you or your friend choose to not wear a helmet?

I’m just wondering what attitudes and motivations are out there. Thanks :-)


mr marvelous

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Feb 11 2012 at 2:47am #

Uh oh. The helmet topic


Marko82

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Feb 11 2012 at 3:09am #

See previous thread

http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/topic/helmets


CPollack

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Feb 12 2012 at 11:06pm #

I didn’t wear a helmet up until i moved to Pittsburgh, which was June 2009. And the main reason i bought one, was so i didn’t get crap on every ride i went on. Haha. I do wear one every day now though and actually just bought a second helmet. (Race looking helmets are for road bikes.) Haha. But i see helmets much like religion. You wear one? Cool. Believe in Jesus? Good for you. Doesn’ mean you have to preach to others the safeties of wearing one. We know they are safer than NO helmet. In the very rare cases i forget my helmet or go out without one that’s my choice, no one elses. And that, i suppose is how i feel about helmets.

I have the ‘might as well’ mentality about them now, i don’t mind them..and my Bern helmet, i actually really enjoy wearing. It’s insanely comfortable and looks good!


rsprake

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Feb 13 2012 at 12:02am #

What Bern helmet do you wear? I can’t wear my Brentwood in temps above 50 without it being too hot.


CPollack

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Feb 13 2012 at 1:04am #

Uhhhhh, it’s the Macon or Watts? I wanna say. Not near it right now..It’s the visored one. I’m sure in the Summer it will be a bit toasty but i’ve only owned it for a week now, used it three times.


pearmask

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Feb 13 2012 at 1:59am #

Wanna see what my Watts looks like after my wreck? =D

My mom (a physician) got all teary-eyed when she saw it. It’s chilling.

I’ll be doing business with Bern again. It did its job, and it was comfy, too. (Although I don’t know whether I could have handled it during the hottest parts of the summer, to be fair.)


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 13 2012 at 2:08am #

Yes, please post pics. You appear to have a good head on your shoulders both before and after a major wreck, and the helmet made all the non-difference.


bear250220

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Feb 13 2012 at 2:20am #

i dont wear a helmut but i want to start wearing one are those bern helmuts the best ones i want to get a good one


stefb

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Feb 13 2012 at 2:47am #

My bern helmet has more coverage and less vents than my road helmet. Too bad I probably will get too hot to wear it in temps greater than 50 degrees, but I do appreciate how warm it is probably keeping me.


orionz06

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Feb 13 2012 at 12:50pm #

What is the appeal of the Bern helmets over a decent road type helmet?


edmonds59

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Feb 13 2012 at 1:49pm #

There may be some practical aspects such as, the hard shell may be more durable over time or something. But I think it’s pretty much just style, an alternative for people who don’t want to look like racer wannabes or “Cyclists”, instead of just people who happen to be riding bikes. If that alternative gets people to wear helmets who would otherwise balk, it’s a good thing. I have a white road helmet, a black mtn helmet, and am thinking of getting a Bern. Or Nutcase.


dmtroyer

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Feb 13 2012 at 1:58pm #

The bern style helmets seem to give more coverage, as well, at least on the sides and the back.


Aryn

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Feb 13 2012 at 4:14pm #

I have similar reasons to those CPollack originally stated. I rode without for a while, but bought one when I was living in the suburbs in Maryland for a bit (the scariest place I’d ever been). Finally got used to it, and I feel like so long as I own it I can’t justify not wearing it. If anything happens, it’s easy to say I don’t have a helmet, but I have one and just didn’t feel like wearing it today? so I have it and I wear it… and I don’t get yelled at by people in cars who think they know better.


Mick

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Feb 13 2012 at 4:57pm #

I’ve read a number of papers on helmet use.

Marko82 once posted a summary paper for me to critique. I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I know what I think about that paper, but without actually doing a referenced critique, I see no reason to argue about it. (que: sigh of relief from onlookers)

The protection provided by a standard bicycle helmet is extremely limited. I wear a helmet for the same reason I used to wear a necktie: if affects how people react to me.

Various times I rode wtihout a helmet.

When I was kid, no one wore bike helmets. Ever. IIRC, I was well over 20 years old before I ever saw a bike helmet in a non-racing situation.

When I was arguing about the science, I rode without it on the street. It was a little scary. The first time I did it, I felt I was taking my life in my hand – even though before 1976, I had thousands of miles in without ever wearing a helmet. I found that there were situations where I felt very vulnerable.

But those situations, like going down a hill at 30 mph with traffic, are hazards that standard bicycle helmets are not desgned to be helpful in. They simply are not in the design specs.

That feeling of vulnerability was realistic, of course. But a helmet doesn’t do much (if anything)to lessen that vulnerability.

The way people react to you without a helmet is very different. Getting yelled at, buzzed or cut off by cars, and shunned or ignored by other cyclists, was far more common without a helmet. The social aspects of riding without helmet were hurtful to me.

And what if a driver had killed me? I imagine the legal and media repercussions would have been, “He wasn’t wearing a helmet. End of story.” Even if I died of a crushed chest.

When I have ridden the trails to DC and back, there were some 90+ degree days that I took the helmet off. The irony is that these conditions, moderate speed with no traffic, are what a bike helmet is designed to handle.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 13 2012 at 5:29pm #

I’m Downtown without a helmet myself today, planning on biking home. My biggest problem with being helmetless is that I’m also without my main blinky, which is attached to my helmet. I don’t trust the ones on the bike, which tend to get blocked by what’s on the rack, and anyplace else I’ve attached one it’s gotten snapped off.


Marko82

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Feb 13 2012 at 5:51pm #

Mick, I have another site for you that (I think) represents your views on the subject.

http://cyclehelmets.org/1045.html

*If the risk of injury when cycling is very small, so the risk of head injury is much smaller. It takes over 3,000 years of average cycling to suffer a serious head injury, and the risk of death through head injury when cycling is very small indeed. Cyclists are a little less likely to die of head injury than pedestrians or car occupants.*


dmtroyer

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Feb 13 2012 at 6:01pm #

@marko wait. is that while wearing a helmet or not?


jonawebb

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Feb 13 2012 at 6:09pm #

BTW there is one published study (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457506001540) which measured the response (measured by the gap while passing) of drivers to cyclists riding with and without helmets, among other things. It turns out the best response was to a cyclist wearing a woman’s wig with long blonde hair and no helmet. Wearing a helmet actually made drivers pass closer.

So, for what it’s worth, you’re probably at less risk of getting pushed off the road by a car without a helmet than with one.

I think if you ask around you’ll find the 3,000 years estimate is absurd. The risk of head injury is much higher than that. I myself have been riding for decades, not millenia, and have suffered a concussion — I woke up in the emergency room after missing a turn. Broke my helmet but not my head.


Mick

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Feb 13 2012 at 6:23pm #

@marko

Mick, I have another site for you that (I think) represents your views on the subject.

http://cyclehelmets.org/1045.html

Marko, that is an excellent site. I’m not sure about the particular quote you made, but the site has excellent references for both pro- and anti-helmet studies.


Aryn

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Feb 13 2012 at 6:28pm #

What does that mean? Like every 3000 years in rider hours or whatever someone suffers a head injury? There are a lot of riders…

I’m sure this has been posted here before, maybe, but it is a neat take on not wearing them: http://video.tedxcopenhagen.dk/video/911034/mikael-colville-andersen


Marko82

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Feb 13 2012 at 6:37pm #

I think the site’s position is that the likelihood of a fatal bicycle head injury is so small that it is hard to tell whether wearing a helmet helps or not. Our gut may tell us that wearing a helmet is a good thing to do, but the ‘statistics’ around the issue is less than conclusive.

According to that site, you are more likely to die of a head injury as a pedestrian than as a cyclist. I didn’t review their claim, but it sorta makes sense since just about all pedestrian ‘accidents’ involve getting plowed over by a two ton car, so yeah a lot of head trauma there. But a lot of bicycle/car accidents are less than fatal because of the cyclist’s forward momentum, higher body position, relative speed, etc. Mind you this is all speculation on my part. Hell, it might be that cyclist are in better physical shape than your average pedestrian and therefore have a better shot at recovery.

BTW, I am very pro-helmet (especially for kids), but I think after a certain age it should be up to the rider.


Drewbacca

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Feb 13 2012 at 6:50pm #

“BTW, I am very pro-helmet (especially for kids), but I think after a certain age it should be up to the rider.”

The primary reason that I wear a helmet is for the example it sets. I don’t really have any reasons not to wear a helmet.


orionz06

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Feb 13 2012 at 7:52pm #

I have had things fly up from the road. My eye pro and helmet took the impact, not my eyes and head.

Back to the Bern helmets. They just don’t strike me as safer in that my experiences with that style of helmet (skate/freestyle BMX style) is that they often times hurt just as much when you hit your head. Has the padding inside changed drastically such that the helmet absorbs impact? In the woods I have fallen and had a helmet “crush” a great deal. I was fine, 100% fine. I know with my old helmet I would have likely had a massive headache. It seems that their protection is more for stuff flying up rather than impact.


pearmask

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Feb 13 2012 at 8:05pm #

For what it’s worth, I got a head injury in my first year of cycling – a non-fatal one, if you were wondering. Definitely would have been worse without a helmet. Your mileage may vary?

Brains really don’t like to decelerate rapidly, even from moderate-ish speeds like 20mph, and helmets can’t entirely fix that. But they can, if nothing else, make it hurt a LOT less and prevent other (not-caused-by-sheer-deceleration) injuries when your head hits asphalt. (Meaning your brain may get knocked around and you may get a concussion or more even with the best helmet, but you might at least be able to avoid cuts and scrapes and giant bumps and bruises and additional headaches and broken skulls on top of whatever’s going on internally.) Your call, if that matters to you.

@stu: I’ll post those photos of my helmet eventually. The photos aren’t actually that impressive compared to seeing the helmet in person and knowing about the accident + injuries, but they still make it pretty clear that I would have been worse off without it.


edmonds59

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Feb 13 2012 at 8:45pm #

The Berns are now made with the same deformable foam interior, the stuff that does the actual absorbing, as the more typical bike helmets. The main difference is the rigid exterior shell. If my head was heading for an actual pointy rock in the woods, I would want the Bern type.


orionz06

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Feb 13 2012 at 8:50pm #

Ok, so the real difference now between the two styles is the drastic reduction in venting.


edmonds59

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Feb 13 2012 at 9:07pm #

You could say that.


Benzo

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Feb 13 2012 at 9:23pm #

I can’t do mountain biking in the summer with my Bern. It’s just too damn hot. It was worse than trying bikram yoga with a hangover.

However, it did protect my skull when I went head first in to a barrier wall at Ray’s. I think I put a hole in the wall, but I wasn’t too much worse for wear, well, except a slightly kinked neck. However, I didn’t see any noticeable deformation of the helmet.


pearmask

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Feb 13 2012 at 9:30pm #

It’s worth noting Berns come in two varieties – they still have a multi-impact kind for skating and whatever (the kind you don’t have to get rid of after a single impact) and a kind that meets bike standards with the styrofoam you’d expect in a bike helmet (the kind that has to be replaced after one significant impact). They sell some styles in both varieties (the men’s Macon and Watts, the women’s Brighton, etc.), so if you’re buying a bike helmet, make sure you buy a bike helmet and not a “hard hat” or whatever they call the other ones.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 13 2012 at 10:07pm #

@pearmask – If stills don’t do the helmet justice, I wonder if you could do a quick video? Do you have the technology to do that? (I wish I myself did, but that’s another story.)


Jon C

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Feb 14 2012 at 1:49am #

spapperman – Helmet use has been well studied. If you are seeking information for an academic class, you would be better served by consulting the existing research. A quick search revealed several relevant papers:

The Bicycle Helmet Attitudes Scale: Using

the Health Belief Model to Predict Helmet Use Among Undergraduates

http://bit.ly/A4Idog (pdf)

Middle School Students and Bicycle Helmet Use: Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1746-1561.1998.tb00594.x/abstract

Barriers to Bicycle Helmet Use Among Children

http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/143/6/741


Erica

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Feb 14 2012 at 9:14am #

My helmet is a multitasker. It offers protection to my head in case of a fall, keeps my head relatively warm in winter, and flattens my hair, which is welcome now that I have short hair and it sticks up in every which direction.

However, I’d probably still wear it if it didn’t do the last two things.


pearmask

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Feb 14 2012 at 5:33pm #

Stu, I do have the technology. Photography equipment is the other hole into which my money disappears (other than bike stuff). I’ll post one eventually. Video/photo stuff is the kind of project that I tend to get way too wrapped up in, so I’ll do it once I am caught up on real-life things. (Bike wrecks are not a good use of time when you are a graduate student. Blergh.)

I guess I should also minimize how much I post here about that accident until the legal stuff is figured out, but I don’t know whether posting something like that would be an issue.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 14 2012 at 6:40pm #

Probably a good call. Hang onto it, and/or make the video while fresh in mind but keep it under wraps until the dust and lawyers settle.


Adam

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Feb 15 2012 at 7:13pm #

I read a few posts in the thread but the topic is too damn boring.

Sometimes I wear a helmet, sometimes I don’t. I would say I wear one when riding more often than I don’t. When doing other things like rollerblading I only wear one if I am with a yuppie skating group that won’t let you be in their club without one.

Wearing one is not a bad idea, nobody should feel stupid for wearing one. Its a personal choice. My kids will wear one because I make them. When they are old enough they can decide for themselves.

Sometimes I wear a seatbelt in the car, sometimes I don’t. Why? Because sometimes I feel like it, other times I don’t.

I don’t think it gets much more complicated or require this whole in-depth analysis.

I was hit head-on by a car going 30mph while I was also going 45mph down a hill. I flew over the car and landed 20 feet away in the grass on my back and sprung up off the ground and attacked the 90+ year old senile old hag who ran into me (who subsequently lost her license for life). The people who saw it thought they just witnessed someone’s death until I got up and thought they were about to witness the death of an old lady.

I’ve been injured for an entire season TWICE while wearing a helmet as well.

They say cigars will give you cancer and make you die, then George Burns smoked cigars every minute of his life and lived to almost 100 years old (or older, who knows) while “Jim Fixx” the health guru dropped dead at 52.

I don’t wear a helmet when I ski. I’m sorry but snow doesn’t hurt as much as pavement. Trees? Sure… But I’m not wearing a helmet when I ski anyway.

You know you live in a country full of idiots when they need to get into these huge debates about things that are basically a personal choice where people’s choices really have no effect on your own life (unless it is a spouse or good friend of course).

Do you think they are having a drawn out bicycle helmet debate in the 3rd world where kids are getting AK-47s for their 12th birthday?


Adam

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Feb 15 2012 at 7:16pm #

Also… The hypocracy of MAKING people wear seat belts while some stupid pig on a billboard is telling you to “CLICK IT OR TICKET” just makes me feel the need to tell THEM to “SUCK IT OR F#CK IT!”

Yet people who ride motorcycles don’t need to wear one. They also get to have the loudest exhaust known to man and that’s cool but I can get a ticket from a pig for an air leak in my car’s exhaust.

I think there are more important things to give a crap about this day and age than whether someone cares about their own personal safety or not who has nothing to do with you.


Boazo

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Feb 15 2012 at 7:47pm #

Hey pearmask, heres a link to some software that will let you make a 3D model out of your helmet !

3D models from photos


pearmask

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Feb 16 2012 at 2:28am #

sweeeeet. i’ll have to try that if i can find a computer with the system requirements.


stefb

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Feb 16 2012 at 11:45am #

My head is going to explode from just reading this thread. I can’t comprehend….. Ugh.

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