Cycling Holidays and Bike Helmets

October 13, 2014 by
Filed under: France 

Bike helmets on our holidays in France

Compulsory wearing of bike helmets in France is NOT law. We have quite a few cycling guests who arrive thinking it is.

Ok let me start by saying that this post is just my own personal views about mandatory cycling helmet laws and that I have no problems with any of our cycling guests wearing bike helmets. In fact we keep helmets of all different sizes for our guests to save them bringing them to our bike centre.

I never wear a helmet for various reasons.

I find them uncomfortable.

They are too hot in the summer.

On a road bike I get a neck ache as you have to alter your head angle to see properly when in a racing position.

It stops me from just getting on a bike on impulse to go some where.

I don’t believe there is any benefit safety wise.
Ok the last one might surprise you?
There has never, I repeat never, been any study that proves wearing a bicycle helmet is safer than not wearing one.
In fact quite a few studies suggest that it might be safer not to!

No cycle helmets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studies/statistics for this are very difficult to prove or disprove as you cannot replicate the same conditions over a long period with accidents involving humans.

In fact you can find results that show pedestrians and drivers and passengers of cars are more at risk of a head injury than cyclists. Pedestrians have always been more at risk from vehicles than when riding a bike.

Why are people not wearing helmets at all times then?
Cycling is not dangerous compared to lots of other sporting or every day activities.
There is only one death per 32 million kilometres cycled. (UK)
In fact cycling regularly increases your life expectancy.

No cycle helmets in Amsterdam?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However you can find lots of provable statistics that shows cycle use drops dramatically once helmets are made compulsory.

Australia was the first country in the world to do so and their cycling rates have never recovered. In fact Queensland want to rescind the law but the government veto stops them doing so.

Every country that brings in compulsion shows a drop in commuter cycling and an increase in car traffic. When obesity rates are rising surely it would make sense to encourage cycling?

Israel and Mexico stopped their compulsory laws, some provinces in Canada have them but are not all enforced, but still saw a drop in cycling.

So I am in favour of personal choice, wear one if you want to but don’t make it compulsory and stop the incorrect claims of safety with a helmet.

 

Further reading:

Bicycle research  foundation

Freestyle Cyclists (Australia)

 

Bike helmets at our Biking Centre in France

Comments

2 Comments on Cycling Holidays and Bike Helmets

  1. Bob Whitlie on Mon, 13th Oct 2014 6:16 pm
  2. Disagree.

    It may well be that peer reviewed studies don’t show any benefit in wearing cycling helmets.Yet speaking on the basis of two personal experiences, as with seat belts, my wife and I (and family) always wear a cycling helmet.

    My wife came off her bike north west of Carcassonne. No one was to blame, but she spent 14 days in Intensive Care (soin intensive) a further 14 days in hospital and was then air ambulanced home where she spent a further month in hospital rehab.

    She wouldn’t be cycling today had she not worn a cycling helmet.

    Whilst the Lot may or may not get cold in the winter, whilst cycling to work I hit unseen black ice. I came off my bike and ended up under a car. I was slightly concussed but suffered little damage. The cycling helmet took the blow- otherwise it would have bone against metal.

    As for wearing a helmet in a hot summer, well when cycling in Provence one August the temperature was C30+. Wearing a cycling helmet wasn’t an issue.

    It’s of interest too that the T de F boys wear un casque.

    Bonne route et bonne chance.

  3. LotCycling on Wed, 15th Oct 2014 9:46 am
  4. Thanks for your comments.

    Do you wear a helmet when walking on a pavement whilst in a town?
    Because your head is more at risk then. than when cycling on the road next to the pavement.

    Read all the info there is no evidence. How can you prove that your helmets saved you?
    I’ve had accidents whilst racing and wearing a helmet and I’ve had a damaged helmet. But I probably wouldn’t have damaged my head if I wasn’t wearing one. They make your head larger and increase the chance of rotational brain injury.

    Read these
    http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1209.html

    Brain surgeon: There’s no point wearing bicycle helmets – CNET

    Brain surgeon: There’s no point wearing bicycle helmets …
    A British brain surgeon says cycle helmets are too flimsy and can actually create more danger by creating the illusion of greater safety.

    Do helmets save lives?
    As an Accident and Emergency doctor, I see lots of people who have fallen off their bicycles, although the most seriously injured tend to get knocked off b…
    View on http://www.theguardian.com

    Do helmets save lives?

    Dr. George Snively, a founder, has said “it is impossible to build a [cycle] helmet that will offer significant impact protection”.
    A live brain is said to have the consistency of blancmange. Putting blancmange in a polystyrene box will not allow you safely to throw it against concrete without the contents being just as badly shaken as had the “protection” not been present.
    “Bike helmet saved my life” makes a headline. But such claims often follow off-the-cuff comments by doctors like me. Few of us who attend people with cycle injuries are likely to be experts on the mechanics of impact injury. Hundreds of people fall from bikes every day while not wearing helmets, and avoid serious injury. These cases go unreported.
    Campaigners for helmet laws approach the issue of cycle safety from the wrong direction, because two thirds of the most serious bike accidents are caused by car-drivers. This is certainly our experience in A&E departments, and something the BMA report also acknowledged. It calls for legislation aimed at drivers rather than cyclists; in particular, increased use of 20 mph speed limits in urban areas (although even at 20mph, and even if wearing a helmet, a direct impact to the head is likely to be fatal.)
    Pedestrians and car occupants are in fact more likely to suffer head injuries from road accidents than cyclists. In the US, 34% of fatal head injuries happen to people in cars. Some 7% are pedestrians, and only 1% cycle riders. Yet no-one seriously suggests that helmets are worn by anyone other than cyclists and motorcyclists.

    After all of that I believe in freedom of choice, so wear one if you want.

    Keep biking…

    John

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