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why aren't there more helmet laws?(57 posts)

why aren't there more helmet laws?wulf
Jun 27, 2002 9:07 AM
I am not aware of any laws that require cyclists to wear helmets, barring competitions. Why the hell not? I ride a lot at a local park, and I see tons of people riding without helmets - people on cruisers, guys down on their aero bars, all kinds.

I've had close calls there with those stupid retractable dog leashes, people not looking before crossing the street (adult, who no doubt yell at their kids for doing that ver thing...), and being without a helmet is just stupid.

I do know that they recently put a law into effect in Lakewood, CO that if your kid was under 12 and didn't have a helmet on, the parent would get a $10 ticket. Good for the kids, but why not everyone???

I don't care how good some people think they are at handling their bike (I make no such claims, I'm learning), they're asking for it.

- Wulf
2 reasons?DougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 9:14 AM
1. freedom -- don't require something unless it's really necessary

2. necessity? -- despite being a great idea, I'd like it to be proven that helmets save a substantial number of lives; in many fatal cyclist accidents, there is a good chance the rider was wearing a helmet, or would have been killed anyway.

My view: persuade, don't mandate.

2 reasons?wulf
Jun 27, 2002 9:30 AM
I get the freedom thing, and I understand you there.

On the "necessity" side, it's pretty difficult, after the fact, to determine if a rider might have survived some horrific accident had he/she been wearing a helmet. However, I think the health-care community in general steps to the plate and claims that helmets would prevent xx% of head injuries. How many lives that translates to saving, or, how many "normal" lives (no permanent damamge) they might preserve, I don't know.

- Wulf
I forgot the stat's, but the majority cause of bike rider deathsTig
Jun 27, 2002 9:53 AM closed head trauma. This is especially true for minors. Helmets can make a big difference when worn properly. In the cases where they wouldn't make a difference, it just doesn't matter. Like a seatbelt, if you die in an accident with a helmet, then nothing would have made much of a difference (with exception to not being there, or maybe an airbag/safer car).
I agree, I disagree...miposy
Jun 27, 2002 10:08 AM
I completely agree that freedom is the correct and only answer needed here. It should be our right to wear, or not wear, helmets or seatbelts. We should meddle with Darwin as little as possible.

However, I ALWAYS wear a helmet and seatbelt. I do so because I believe it is unsafe not to, and I wish to live a long and healthy life.

With all due respect, I think everything you said in number two is fraught with faulty logic and complete hooey. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out when a helmet will and won't save you in an accident. Yes, there is a velocity at which the helmet becomes irrelevant. However, most cyclists spend most of their time between 10 and 25 mph, and a helmet is effective in protecting your melon when decelerated quickly from those speeds. Even if you or what you are impacted by are going faster, who knows at what velocity your noggin will impact something in a crash.

Wearing a helmet, though it should always be a choice for an adult, is by far the smartest thing to do when on a bike or motorcycle.
part two not clearDougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 10:27 AM
I wasn't very clear. The point is, do we mandate something if only a very few lives will actually be saved? What are the real numbers? In other words, if only 10 cyclists out of 10 million per year would be saved, do we require all 10 million to wear helmets (I don't know the numbers, I'm just advancing the question.) However, if 100,000 cyclists per year would be saved out of 10 million, there is a darn good argument to mandate them. Sort of a risk / detriment analysis.

the CDC has stats on head injuries & cycling..._rt_
Jun 27, 2002 10:58 AM
yes, the Centers for Disease Control. anthrax is only one very small piece of the CDC pie.

go here for info:

or here:

or, in case you're too lazy to click on the link here's some info from the website listed above

There are 85 million bicycle riders in the US
About 800 bicyclists die in the US every year
About 550,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries ever year
Bicycle crashes and injuries are under reported, since the majority do not involve emergency room visits.
One in eight of the cyclists injured has a brain injury.
Two-thirds of the deaths here are from traumatic brain injury.
Eighty eight percent of cyclists' brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet.
Many years of potential life are lost because about half of the deaths are children under 15 years old.
Direct costs of cyclists injuries are estimated at $81 million.
Indirect costs of cyclists' injuries are estimated at $2.3 billion.
Helmets are cheap, although in the 1990's the typical discount store rock bottom price has risen from under $10 to about $15.
[emphasis added]

i don't know what you consider to be "a substantial number of lives", but i consider 1 life saved substantial.

I was too lazy to do the research, much appreciated (nm)wulf
Jun 27, 2002 11:16 AM
no problem. i knew where it was so it was easy._rt_
Jun 27, 2002 11:24 AM
about the numbers...collinsc
Jun 27, 2002 12:01 PM
85 million riders. 800 die. Thats a very small fraction
550,000 injuries. 800 die. 0.145% of riders injured will die.

800 die, 2/3 have brain injuries. 534 brain injuries. 0.096% of riders injured will have brain injuries

534 brain injuries, 88% could be prevented, 470 people could still be alive.(that alone should make a person want to wear a helmet, but thats not the argument here)

so, 470 people should have been wearing helmets. 470/85,000,000 = not much

The issue isn't whether you should or should not be wearing a helmet, but whether you should or should not force EVERYONE to wear one.
Figures lie and liars figure...eschelon
Jun 27, 2002 12:10 PM
and you my man have made them all liars! Although I never ride without mine, it pisses me off to no end when people start beating their war drums demanding our beaurocrats make laws to force us to do something based on some contorted and skewed statistical fact twisted in every fashion to manipulate a reasonable person to lean a particular way....right on dude.
1 person is too many_rt_
Jun 27, 2002 12:50 PM
not reallyDougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 1:42 PM
That argument has some merit if you focus only on that one individual. However, if you apply that reasoning to all apsects of life, we'd all have to live in concrete bunkers and never leave home.

If "one person is too many," then outlaw bathtubs, cars, smoke, swimming pools, stairs, obesity, dogs, (see?...).

We (should) only outlaw things when the risk becomes unacceptable compared to loss of freedom or recources to reduce the risk.

It's people like you...eschelon
Jun 27, 2002 9:34 AM
who try to control the whole frickin' world and what everyone is doing in it that makes life suck most of the time. Spare me any of their "logical" rationalizations of cause and effect of economic and societal loss and burdens...mind your own business and keep your need to save the world from ourselves to yourself and your family.

Stop trying to be our mother/father...because you're not.
Are you insane?namir
Jun 27, 2002 10:01 AM
What if you were driving and accidentally hit a cyclist who wasn't wearing a helmet, and they turned around and sued you for everything because of "pain & suffering" and "lost wages" and all the things we can sue for?
What if the injuries you were sued for (despite no fault of you own...let's posit that the cyclist swerved into the path of YOUR car) could have been avoided by the chump wearing a helmet? I bet you wouldn't like that too much, would you? I bet you'd feel pretty darn pissed off that the jerk who you hit by no fault of your could have saved you all this trouble by spending a few bucks and getting a good safe helmet and wearing it.

What would you think if that happened?

Jun 27, 2002 10:04 AM
When I become a tort lawyer, I'm going to come after folks like you who don't want to take responsibility.
Jun 27, 2002 10:08 AM
Dude, chill. What responsibility is he not taking? The responsibility to meddle in other people's business? The responsibility to say what another person can and cant do?

Good luck becomeing a tort lawyer, don't ever let democracy stand in the way.
Jun 27, 2002 10:24 AM
Let's say echelon were riding without a helmet and was the injured party in the situation described above. I would guess he would sue the driver, even if the driver were not at fault.

The responsibility issue comes from echelon's willingness (by means of personal injury lawsuit) to pass along the costs of his decision to not wear a helmet (head injury and associated medical bills, lost wages, pain/suffering) to an innocent driver.
In this hypothetical situation, if echelon had been wearing a helmet and merely broken the helment instead of sustaining a head injury, he (echelon) would have avoided incurring the enormous costs associated with legal action (bills, court fees, taxpayer costs for court use/people's time, etc) by wearing a helmet.

Laws exist to protect people like the innocent driver in the above scenario.

I would hate to see anyone forced to pay damages in a civil case for something that could have been avoided.

read Doug's post (nm)collinsc
Jun 27, 2002 10:26 AM
lawyers suckmr_spin
Jun 27, 2002 10:31 AM
I love this. A guy just riding along is hit by a car, and lawyers try to assign him some of the blame? You might as well kick the guy in the ribs while he's lying in the road. If he asked you to run him over that would be one thing, but I'm guessing he didn't. He was just riding along, minding his own business and you changed his life. If you had not chosen to drive that day, none of this would be happening. If you had chosen a different route, it wouldn't be happening. If you had been more attentive, none of this would be happening. How can it possibly be the victim's fault?

I'm going to start wearing a helmet wherever I go now. I don't want to lose my home if someone runs me over.
lack of common sense sucksDougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 12:28 PM
The cyclist is not at fault for causing the accident. He is at fault of contributing to cause his head injury, possibly. It's the same thing as seat belts. If you have the means to protect yourself and don't take advantage of it, they someone else should not pay for your decision.

Remember that in each case it's up to a jury, not lawyers, to determine whether to allocate the fault.

The system used to be that if the plaintiff, the cyclist here, was even partially negligent, he would get nothing. Nada. Comparative fault is much better for victims, usually.

Look at it another way. What if the cyclist is hit, injured, but then refuses to go to a doctor. His injury then gets much worse than if he had seen a doctor. Should the driver pay for the entire injury that could have been healed?

it sure doesmr_spin
Jun 27, 2002 1:07 PM
The logical extension of this strategy, which is really just passing the buck, is that the state is also partially responsible for allowing cars and bikes to share the same space. After all, they had the means to prevent this accident by banning the practice. Or maybe the city should have built a wall, or closed the street to cars. Or...

All of these shared responsibilities just result in wider lawsuits or more lawsuits. Sorry about the lawyers suck thing, but this whole thing just pisses me off. Let me try another example to demonstrate why. Are women who dress provocatively responsible if they are raped?

The bottom line is that the cyclist did not run into the car--the car ran into him. He is a totally innocent victim and whatever his medical injuries, he shouldn't have to pay them. He needs to be made whole. Period. Helmet or not. I can't imagine too many juries can't see this for what it is. Even the OJ jury isn't that dumb.

As for your final example, it is a good one. But as you know, victims of any tort have a duty to mitigate damages, so making the injuries worse by not going to the doctor could certainly be used to reduce the award. But what if the victim (the cyclist, that is!) were a Christian Scientist?
you are mixing several conceptsDougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 1:29 PM
>>Are women who dress provocatively responsible if they are raped?

Hell, no. Rape is an intentional act. Comparative fault does not apply. Simalarly, it would not apply if the driver hit the cyclist intentionally.

Comparative fault applies in civil negligence cases (not criminal nor intentional torts). It simply means one must take reasonable steps, be reasonably prudent, to prevent harm to others or oneself. Juries, within certain parameters, determine what is reasonable under the circumstances. Not riding at all usually would not be necessary to remain prudent. Not riding at night in a thunderstorm could be something else.

Keep in mind that a jury might well determine that a helmet is not necessary to be prudent. Who knows. But if you assume that a helmet would have totally prevented the injury (for argument purposes), that they are cheap and readily available, are commonly worn by many cyclists, then the driver has a darn good argument.

Neither I nor other lawyers decide these things. We just make the arguments. Juries, society that is, decide.

thank you, Doug. You're a bastion of reason, as always. nmnamir
Jun 27, 2002 2:54 PM
Jun 27, 2002 6:14 PM
Hey namir,

If someone was in an accident and the majority of the injuries were as a result of someone not wearing a helmet then the compensation would be lessened b/c of the failure of the victim to take responsibility. So relax , your argument does not hold water.
comparative fault 101DougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 10:19 AM
If you hit someone, and they weren't wearing a helmet, and you can prove that wearing a helmet would have prevented serious injury, then the cyclist's recovery, if any, is reduced by the percentage of fault of the cyclist. If not wearing the helmet caused him to be 90% at fault for the injury, then his damages are reduced by that amount. It's his risk.

Rather than argue that the cyclist is stupid and shouldn't recover if not wearing a helmet, or that the government should mandate helmets for greater safety, wouldn't it be much, much safer to just ban cycling (or driving) entirely?

BTW, it's sort of petty to pick on spelling or typo errors.

listen to yourselfmr_spin
Jun 27, 2002 10:24 AM
"I'm going to come after folks like you who don't want to take responsibility."

So you run down a cyclist, accidently. Because the cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet, he is somehow responsible?

Who is the victim here? Why you are, of course. Trust me, you are well on your way to becoming a tort lawyer! Always blame the victim.
With off the wall logical thinking like that...eschelon
Jun 27, 2002 10:25 AM
you'll make a lousy attorney. What responsibility are you talking about that I am not taking on? All I said was that people need to stop trying to control everyone else's actions and lives.

Damn, dude, I feel for've wasted all that money and time towards law school with a 2 cylinder brain engine that wishes it was a v12 brain need to change your aspirations and profession in life...

Maybe you should be a religious clergy...your skills of logic and deduction would fit right in! know, like the "virgin birth", Jonah being swallowed by a fish, and "Thou shalt have no other gods before me...except the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God thing. Yeah, this would be perfect for you.
How much you want to bet he'd be sued either way?collinsc
Jun 27, 2002 10:06 AM
For what its worth, in principle, I agree with eschelon and Doug.

That said, I always wear a helmet, as does everyone I ride with.
Don't bring up hypothetical situations...eschelon
Jun 27, 2002 10:17 AM
unless you have evidence to support your ideas.

I have been involved in bicycle and automobile accidents and my helmet had nothing to do with me still being alive. You place way too much value on the helmet thing...the helmet is useful but it is far from being the "ultimate" and final life-saving device.

My being alive today and not being a cripple has nothing to do with my helmet.

And stop talking out of your ass about bicycle and car accidents and your imaginary statistical evidence. Whenever anyone is hit by an automobile...regardless of whether said person was on a bike or walking...helmets/head injuries are not the over-riding factor in the totality of cases present.

Typically, the pedestrian/runner or biker stands about the same height as far as the oncoming automobile is concerned. The head is not the primary target of the is everything in direct path of the automobile...therefore, it's the massive internal and appendage injuries that will seriously threaten the life of the victim.
It's people like you...wulf
Jun 27, 2002 10:06 AM
You need your morning coffee or something, man.

Look, you can't disagree that people that don't wear helmets when they ride are jackasses. Most everyone knows the risk of not wearing one, and if you know the risk, and still don't wear it, you're an idiot.

I wasn't suggesting that we put laws into place, I was asking why we don't have them. Unfortunately, you interpreted my personal observations on why I think it's idiotic as my telling you that I want to control your life, and that "I make your life suck most of the time". I would contest that I have absolutely nothing to do with your life sucking, if it does.

You're paranoid.
whats the difference?collinsc
Jun 27, 2002 10:18 AM
between "suggesting that we put laws into place" and "asking why we don't have them"?

Asking why we don't have them readily implies that we need them, which is the very same thing as suggesting we put the laws into place.

Eschelon isnt talking about you specifically, or his life either, he is pointing out that the type of person who feels it is his duty (read: responsibility, namir) to make sure that everyone else is doing things their way. There are far too many people who try to impose their opinions on others, and that is what sucks.

Oh, and, are the helmetless jackasses? or are they just idiots? Be careful with excessive name calling, you paint yourself a nasty color when you dont watch that.

And to make sure its absolutely clear, I agree, they are idiots, I think its a terribly dumb idea to be riding around without a helmet. The issue is not how I feel about it, but how much I can do about it, and of course the answer is NOTHING.
whats the difference?wulf
Jun 27, 2002 10:41 AM
Semantics aside, there is still a difference between asking "why not" and suggesting they should be there. I wanted to hear why we don't have them, and I guess I've found out: people generally feel that it infringes on their right to live their lives the way they want to.

Alot of people don't like speed limit laws either, because they want the freedom to go as fast as they want to, but I guarantee there is data to support less loss of life there. So convincing is that data, at least to the Feds., that states without speed limits and those that set them higher than the DOT lays out don't get their full share of Fed. highway funds....yes, I speed, and yes, I've gotten tickets.

Do I think we should have helmet laws? I don't know. I always wear one, everyone I ride with does. I will never understand why some people don't - unless it's a matter of lack of education, which it a totally reversible condition. Although, if people understand why most states require those riding a motorcycle to wear a helmet, it doesn't take an intuitive wizard to figure it out.

I am new here, Collinsc, so I will watch the name-calling. I personally don't find jackass any more offensive than idiot, but I'll refrain regardless in the future, unless referring to myself as to avoid sounding nasty to some.
Good job. Stick to your guns. You won't get a reply to this b/c128
Jun 27, 2002 11:22 AM
you have vanquished the ideologues with the all too uncommon ruse of common sense...

(I like riding w/o a hellmit sometimes on a slow easy ride. I don't wear one when I go for a run either...!)
Jun 27, 2002 11:44 AM
I just meant to say that besides the different connotations of the two words, using them implies a serious bias towards the person and not towards the person's action.

Speed limits are a separate argument for another day.
Doug nailed itrockit
Jun 27, 2002 9:35 AM
FREEDOM. We need less goverment control in our lives...not more.
Give me a break.namir
Jun 27, 2002 10:03 AM
See my response to echelon. You "government control" folks really don't know what you're talking about.

Learn to spell government as well. It stems from "govern", so the word has an "n" in it.

the key to freedom is self responsibilityTig
Jun 27, 2002 10:08 AM
The more people that act stupid, the more likely it is for a governing body to step in with rules and laws. The more self-governing people are as a whole, the better off everyone is and less likely to put up with more laws. When someone chooses the self-serving, "I don't care" direction that sets in motion the whole negative process.

Besides, in effect, most laws only deal with punishing someone after they commit an offense, and do not prevent it.
I was pleased to see a whole family with helmets on yesterdayTig
Jun 27, 2002 9:46 AM
My rant on helmets: Unfortunately this is a rare scene. I see the kids with them on, but mom and dad are not wearing them. What kind of message does that send to the kids? When I see the kids not wearing them, I think of all the cars I've seen where the kids are unrestrained, jumping all over the place while mom is buckled up. I want to yell, "Wake the F up! If you love your kids, buckle them up! Deal with their complaints and save their precious lives." The same goes with helmets on kids.

I believe that there are 2 types of household rules for kids: The standard kind that we all know of, and the mandatory, no-give safety ones.

Adults are old enough to choose whether to wear one or not. I'm not one to try to categorize riders into so-called Fred groups, but a rider without a helmet at least puts them into a STUPID category. Still, it is their choice. All the local club rides I attend have a helmet requirement.

OK, time for a little off-subject rant since I'm drifting anyway: When kids get to middle school age and the cool image pressure kicks in, forget the helmets. Picking my daughter up from school reveals to me every stupid thing someone can do on a bike near/in traffic known to mankind. Bike messengers and testosterone pumped racers on a fast race/training group ride can't compare! The statistics on bike related deaths for minors must be filled with boys in the 10-15 age group. Sad.

Wulf, do yourself a favor and try to stay off the multi-use tails when they are busy. I'll take to the roads over that menagerie any day!
i do wear a helmut ,but i dont know whypukka
Jun 27, 2002 10:04 AM
not strictly true,my wife kind of pressured me , i have a 2 month old boy,so she kind of did the "its not just you anymore"routine, what i mean is, i riding a bike from about 6 years old i started time trialing at 13 and commuting since i was 16(pretty much everyday)Im 35 now and have never worn a helmut,i've had a few crashes ,spills,non to serious, a seperated shoulder,cut legs(ripping the new shorts at 17 years old on minimum wage hurt more)cut up hands,but i believe the way i ride as saved me so far,i expect every car to turn on me or to pull out in front of me and i anticipate this ,making your self visible is the most important thing to remain safe, sometimes this annoys the motorist,but in most of my run-ins with cars the first thing they all say is "sorry mate i didn't see you"
all that said i'll put on my giro and ride home tonight
I think I will I will have a good laugh at the human condition.amflyer
Jun 27, 2002 10:08 AM
Not that it will help anything...
Why stop with bikes?Shad
Jun 27, 2002 10:21 AM
Maybe everybody should wear a helmet all the time. That would save lives too. Perhaps no one should drive over 10 mph; we could save lives there as well. Why don't we all just wear protective suits of armor? Where should this arbitrary line be drawn? We've already had the discussion of the overweight people increasing health care costs. No more fries for fatty? The "you are costing me money" argument is lame. Let people make their own choices.

Live and let live. If I feel like riding my bike without a helmet because it's hot, that's my own business. It's part of the risk of living the way I want to.
Why stop at helmets???...mandate Cup wearing for all men!nmeschelon
Jun 27, 2002 10:30 AM
Have you ever noticed?LC
Jun 27, 2002 10:25 AM
Most of the time when you see a cyclist doing something stupid and breaking traffic laws they are not wearing a helmet. Maybe this is a good thing and it is really the way of getting them off the road and giving the rest of us a bad rep?

Strange that the county I live in requires helmets, but the city says you don't have to wear a helmet. Wonder if they could ticket you not wearing a helmet while standing on the city limits line?
Help.....the government is controling my lifeScot_Gore
Jun 27, 2002 11:11 AM
A law made stop at no less than 5 red lights on my way in this AM.

When I got out of the car in the parking lot another law made go up to the corner to cross the street in this land of the free.

Another law made me hook the end of my toilet up to "the peoples" pipe that runs down to the treatment center. I should have the freedom to run my poop into the neighbors back yard shouldn't I.

In other words, there's lots of laws that control your behavior to some degree for the benefit of the other people who live around you. It's not a far stretch from "pedestrians must cross at the corner" to "Cyclists must wear helmets".

I don't think Wulf is trying to florinate your water or nothing (whoops already did that) he's justing suggesting that helmet use might be another way make life better for most while not harming indiviual freedom to a great degree.

please, oh please save us from ourselves......Jekyll
Jun 27, 2002 11:13 AM
I need the wisdom of intellectual giants like Strom Thurman and Robert Bird to mandate yet another way for me to save me from myself....
Anybody notice how they f*cked up their little grand standing routine in the senate this morning when they botched the pledge of allegiance? Much too funny....
Aren't seatbelts & motorcycles the analogy to consider?PdxMark
Jun 27, 2002 11:15 AM
Some (many?) states have laws requiring children and adults to wear seatbelts. Do these laws infringe a person's freedom? Well, yes, but don't all laws do that? So why have the laws? Because legistatures have decided that reducing the societal cost of death & injury in car accidents outweighs a person's "right" to spatter their face against the inside of their windshield.

What are the societal costs of car crash injuries? Medical costs, lost productivity, etc.... "Insurance" pays for those, some would say, but that actually means WE all pay for those.

So bike helmets. Kids are required to wear them in some places. Even adults are required to do so to participate in just about any organized ride. So why aren't there bike helmet laws for adults? With 70% of cycling fatalities being adults, my thought is that the 560 nationwide adult cycling fatalities a year are not perceived to be a great enough societal cost that legislatures feel a need to "do something." Contrast that with the 30,000-40,000 driving fatalities a year.

Do helmets make sense? Yes. But with so relatively few fatalities, legislatures are simply not going to make the effort or wade into a situation that is not a clear problem.
using that logicJekyll
Jun 27, 2002 11:42 AM
All of us will be forced by law to eat only the things deemed "good" for us, alcohol will be outlawed, as will sex, reading and computers will be banned because of effect they have on eyes, going out in the sun will be illegal and leaving your personal, government approved bubble will get you the death penalty....
Wear a helmet, seat belt, etc because its the smart thing to do. Don't legislate what I can or cannot do to my body, what I wear on it or for that matter what I put in it or who I share it with. This idiocy about "social" costs is a black hole - every action can be deemed to have a "social" cost - where do you stop... Hell I had whole milk this morning with my cereal rater than skim - now I'm dodging the "social" cost police for my possible future incurred health costs.
yeah, insurance companies don't like charging high rates...nmeschelon
Jun 27, 2002 11:44 AM
the funny thing about a rant is that it often is just thatPdxMark
Jun 27, 2002 12:49 PM
By the "logic" of your rant, any safety legislation would require that every measurable risk factor be legislated. It's quite a discussion technique. Pose a preposterous, exagerrated hypothetical and attack IT as preposterous and exagerrated. You must have learned that at the Limbaugh School of Policy Analysis.

You could argue, and even seem to, that ANY legislation that imposes ANY limit on your freedom to injure yourself is an affront to your (exagerrated) sense of constitutional right. No-one but you has suggested that. You might want a society in which there are no limits on what you, or anyone can do. I don't.

As for bike helmets, I didn't say there should be laws requiring their use. I said (implicitly) that until tens of thousands of people are killed each year in bike crashes, I doubt there will be any laws requiring adults to wear bike helmets.

As for your maverick, care to the wind, rant, it makes me wonder... do you wear helmets as required for orgnaized rides?
the funny thing about a rant is that it often is just thatJekyll
Jun 27, 2002 1:33 PM
Any legislation that limits my ability to do things to myself IS an affront to me. The notion of social cost is a coverall for "do-gooder" legislation. Everything we do carries a "social" cost, even breathing and taking a dump does (we do already legislate how we flush).
People like you resort to name calling and far fetched associations to try to show how your particular do-gooder causes are not "unreasonable" as those of others. There are far more people who die every year from skin cancer than from bike crashes. Applying sun block or staying out of the sun could save many lives. Why not legislate that - how is that more far fetched than bike helmets? Just because it has not entered your notion of "that would be a good law" it does not mean that it has not crossed someone else equably limited mind. 30 years ago the idea of FORCING people to wear seat belts in their own vehicles sounded just as absurd as raising taxes on fatty foods does today. I fear what that example harkens of the future.
We can legislate a safer society. But would it be a society many of us want to live in?
And since you seem to be concerned about my helmet habits, I wear one on every ride - because I WANT to.
Jun 27, 2002 2:22 PM
Apologies for any digs... It seems that we can agree to disagree.

My sense is that there are reasonable balances between minimal intrusions (seatbelts) and significant benefit (reducing the formerly 40,000 annual car deaths). It's all a balance.

You seem not to agree. Any limit is an intrusion... though, I wonder how elimination of all limits applies to product safety... but I won't go there...

Sorry for getting sarcastic.
re: why aren't there more helmet laws?CFBlue
Jun 27, 2002 12:58 PM
There are a lot of sites on the 'net, some official, many more not, having to do with the helmet wars. Things I remember from various sites:

A) helmet foam does not start to compress until close to 5 mph, so it offers no protection up to that point , and after about 13 mph the foam copmpresses all the way, any additional force is transmitted direct. So, except for scraping/sliding protection, you have a window from about 5-13 mph where it does you any good at all, except for the sliding.

B) helmets add weight for the neck to support. Stats do indicate increase of neck injuries with a helmet. This is apparently not due only to the extra weight of the helmet, but to the shape. An egg shape helmet with the'aero shape duck bill' off the back further increases the risk of neck injury.

C) I believe it was Australia that found on passing a mandatory helmet law, the number of cyclists dropped. The reason given was "if its dangeros enough to require a helmet, its too dangerous to do". The law of unintended consequences. Somehow, and this doesn't make sense to me, the number of head injuries the hospitals reported didn't go down, maybe it was head injuries per 1000 riders. The question is, with the reduction of people riding, and thereby getting no health benefit from the exercise, what will the additional cost of health care be for society/vs what might have been spent if the fewer had head injuries? I hope I made that question clear.

Rather than arguing freedom/responsibility/etc, spend some time checking into real world stats about helmet use, and form a real opinion, based on results of helmet use. Go to your fav search engine and be prepared.

I have, and my conclusion is "follow the money trail". One more expensive accessory with little practical value (remember the 5-13 mph usefulness), and a trade off in possible reduction in head injuries vs increase in neck damage that could also lead to paralysis.

Oh, and one other thing that bothers me about bicycle helmet that makes me wonder how useful they are. Where is the face/chin coverage? Answer... there is none, because no one would wear it because it is too heavy/hot. But that is the only helmet that offer reasonable, real world protection, IMHO.

for starters:

Mike E
in a 4-5 foot fall off a bike...PdxMark
Jun 27, 2002 1:41 PM
your head hits the pavement at 10-11 mph, well within your effective helmet range.

If you're riding 20 mph along a rode and do an endo, your head is still falling just 4-5 feet... you'll slide until 20 mph of skin comes off, but you've still just done a 4-5 foot fall.
Anyone w/ 40%+ fat in his diet MUST be thrown in jail...elviento
Jun 27, 2002 1:24 PM
because that's bad for your arteries.

Paternalism. That's what it's called, my brother...
Why I am against helmet laws.bikedodger
Jun 27, 2002 1:25 PM
A while ago, while I was living in California, the legislature there passed a mandatory helmet law for children. My children at the time biked to school. They had helmets and choose not to wear them. After the law, I daughter refused to wear a helmet and started to walk to school. She has not biked since then. Her school had a fairly large fenced area for bike parking. Before the law, that area was very crowded with bikes. My daughter used to complain about finding space for her bike. After the law was passed, there was plenty of space for bikes, and the street in front of the school was much more crowded with parents dropping off kids who used to bike. I picked my daughter up at school and few times and saw very few students on bikes. Those that I saw either had the helmet pushed to the back of their head or had the helmet looped on the handlebars.

My youngest son agreed to wear a new helmet that I got for him. Within a week, he came home with the helmet in pieces. He had left the helmet on the bike in the bike lot. The school did not allow helmets in the class rooms. When he came out the helmet was in pieces on the groud. Someone had stomped on it. He also started walking to school and has not biked since.

I am sure the number of head injuries to child bikers were down, but it is due more to significantly less children on bikes than to protecion by helmets. Helmets are very fragile and have to be properly worn to do any good at all.

Of the cyclists I read about in the local (Denver/Boulder CO) papers who have died in accidents, almost all were wearing helmets. Getting hit by a car causes massive fatal injuries that are not prevented by helmets. In fact, there is a good argument to be made that helmets may increase the number of head injuries. A helmet weighs more that half a pound and is located at the top of the head. This results in the head being flung around more in an accident and causes more violent impacts.

That being said, I always wear a helmet on my bike and encourage others to do so, but I am against laws requiring everyone to do so.


Two serious drawbacks to helmet laws.the dad
Jun 27, 2002 2:10 PM
1. They dilute the gene pool.
2. They reduce the number of potential organ donors.