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Old November 10th, 2012, 12:01 AM   #8421
Slagathor
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I think it's time to introduce some facts into this debate:

According to the SWOV (1), every year, 9200 people are seriously injured in a bicycle accident (all forms) of which almost a third (32%) suffer a head injury. That figure is too inflated for our subject of conversation (because head injuries also include, for instance, broken jaws which a helmet wouldn't protect), but it will have to do.

Studies into the causes of bicycle accidents are shockingly rare. The most reliable and in-depth study (2) dates from 1995. I'll mention the figures just for the sake of argument:
Out of 1600 bicycle accidents on the public road per year, 59% are single actor accidents and 41% feature other (motorized) vehicles). Since helmets have proven largely ineffective against the second category, we'll focus on the first:

- The 59% single actor accidents can be split into 3 groups: 12% hit an obstacle such as a kerb or a pole or a parked car while 34% report some sort of bicycle wheel malfunction and 13% said they were performing stunts with the bike.

Studies struggle to find a significant positive effect of the helmet in terms of reducing head injuries. While New Zealand reported a fall in the number of head injuries by some 19% (3), Australia reported a rise of 10% in the number of head injuries (4) after helmets were made mandatory.

The most vulnerable groups are children (particularly those who are passengers on adult bicycles) and older people. Although evidence of increased safety by helmets in those demographics is controversial, the old-fashioned freight bicycle is scoring better points. Children are protected by a surrounding case and seats with seat belts while the 3-wheeled version protects the cyclists from falling over when they hit obstacles or when the road surface is bad.

Even if you are of the persuasion that the government should impose additional measures to decrease head injuries in cyclists, the helmet law doesn't appear to be the best way of doing it. Proof of its effectiveness is sketchy and in nations like the Netherlands (with a long cycling tradition), its effectiveness will further be undermined by a very unwilling population. Forbidding the notoriously dangerous catapult seat in favor of the (already popular and hip) cargo bike or making it easier or cheaper for the elderly to buy 3-wheeled bicycles would probably be a lot more effective not just in decreasing head injuries, but injuries overall (older people tend to break hips and ankles most).

But again, that's only if you feel the government should interfere.

----------

(1) SWOV. 2012. Factsheet Fietshelmen. SWOV, Leidschendam.

(2) Ing. C.C. Schoon & A. Blokpoel, SWOV. 2000. Frequentie en oorzaken van enkelvoudige fietsongevallen. SWOV, Leidschendam.

(3) O’Hare, M., Langford, J., Johnston, I. & Vulcan, P. 2004. Bicycle helmet use and effectiveness. Monash University Accident Research Centre MUARC, Clayton.

(4) Robinson, D.L. 2006. Do enforced bicycle helmet laws improve public health ? No clear evidence from countries that enforced the waring of helmets. British Medical Journal 322: 722-725.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #8422
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Mmm apparently 45% of the bicycle accidents involved a motor vehicle in 1995. According to the KiM data, it's 15% nowadays. Discrepancy may be due to the lack of reported accidents in the 1990s not involving a motor vehicle. Accident reporting is still relatively poor, even today about 5 - 10% of the overall traffic fatalities are not registered.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 12:09 AM   #8423
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That doesn't surprise me. I really struggled to find data.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:00 AM   #8424
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I'd reply but I'm very drunk right now. Maybe tomorrow. The only thing that I can think of is that no foreigner will ever be able to understand that transport on bikes is a way of life, it is and always has been, no foreigner will dictate a self respecting Dutchman into wearing helmets, so they will do it their way, the same way I'm going to wake up in the morning with a sodding headache. Nite all xxx
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:10 AM   #8425
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Best post ever

That could have been a Braveheart-style declaration of war
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:13 AM   #8426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g.spinoza

So the lady will be fined and next time she will think about what's more important, having her hair done or her wallet full.

They said the same thing about seatbelts and helmet for mopeds which, at least in Italy, weren't mandatory for people over 18 until some years ago, or the smoking ban in bars and restaurant. "People will never leave the table in the middle of a dinner to go outside and smoke."

They'll do, or be fined. Their choice.

EDIT: Suburbanist was first, saying more or less the same I did.
The other alternative is that this lady will no longer ride her bike. Not based on any rational argument, but because of the things I said: she doesn't want to mess up her hair before going to a meeting, and does not want to carry around a helmet. This means she will need a car or another form of transportation. I think bike use should be stimulated, not be made less attractive.

Some people (EDIT: not Road_UK, LOL) may underestimate how important bikes are in many Dutch people's lives, and how changing that would be very impactfull.

Just a random thought: on an average high school you would need space for 1.500 helmets.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:20 AM   #8427
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In my high school there's now space for about 75 helmets. It's on a wall just over 5 meters long and 5 racks high. Always about 75% full: used by moped drivers.
There's noe way there will ever be place for 2600 helmets, unless they build a whole new floor on top of the school...

I'd say at my school it's in the summer:
85% bike
10% bus
5% other (walking. car etc.)

In winter it's a bit different. People from Dinteloord and other places far away from school (Dinteloord is about 20 kms one way) use the bus. So I'd say

75% bike
20% bus
5% other (less people walking, more by car)

Just to show how many people cycle.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:23 AM   #8428
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road_UK View Post
I'd reply but I'm very drunk right now. Maybe tomorrow. The only thing that I can think of is that no foreigner will ever be able to understand that transport on bikes is a way of life, it is and always has been, no foreigner will dictate a self respecting Dutchman into wearing helmets, so they will do it their way, the same way I'm going to wake up in the morning with a sodding headache. Nite all xxx
Geez, should I be scared of Suburbanist the dictator that forced the Dutch to wear the helmet? Believe me from all the things that expat needs to understand about the Dutch is the bike the easieast one.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 06:32 AM   #8429
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I'm extremely skeptical of these "it's just how life goes here" line of argumentation. I stick to science, medical science in this case.

Remember: not a long time ago, all over Southern Europe, driving while mildly drunk was considered a sort-of way-of-life and the accidents that happened as a consequence mere "tragedies", "unfortunate events", almost random things.

But years of cracking down on formerly (socially) acceptable behavior helped reduce the problem.

Same thing could happen in respect to cycling with helmets in the Netherlads.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 07:32 AM   #8430
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I'm extremely skeptical of these "it's just how life goes here" line of argumentation. I stick to science, medical science in this case.

Remember: not a long time ago, all over Southern Europe, driving while mildly drunk was considered a sort-of way-of-life and the accidents that happened as a consequence mere "tragedies", "unfortunate events", almost random things.

But years of cracking down on formerly (socially) acceptable behavior helped reduce the problem.

Same thing could happen in respect to cycling with helmets in the Netherlads.
It would make cycling less attractive & the roads more full...

If someone told me to wear a helmet on bicycle, I'd tell him he's mental. Hell, back when I used to go to high school, about half the students didn't even have bicycle lights...

To be entirely honest, I am not particularly in favour of seatbelts either, but they have less disadvantages than a helmet. I always wear mine but I do not think the government is there to tell people to wear them or not!

Cyclist accidents increasing is purely because of more crowded cycle paths and the ageing of the population. As someone else said, students would ride in trains of 3-4 beside each other tailgating each other every single and barely anything happened. When someone falls of their bike it's usually some slow old person.

Nanny state should not stick its big nose is so much business.

Helmets are impractical, uncomfortable, not fashionable and a hassle.

Quote:
Maybe they will sound less ridiculous when they survive and others don't...
Maybe we should all drive 30 km/h max to reduce the road deaths ?
OR better, not travel at all!

Come on, there is always a risk when travelling... Where do you stop the war against mobility and freedom and nanny state bull?
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Old November 10th, 2012, 11:35 AM   #8431
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I'm extremely skeptical of these "it's just how life goes here" line of argumentation. I stick to science, medical science in this case.

Remember: not a long time ago, all over Southern Europe, driving while mildly drunk was considered a sort-of way-of-life and the accidents that happened as a consequence mere "tragedies", "unfortunate events", almost random things.

But years of cracking down on formerly (socially) acceptable behavior helped reduce the problem.

Same thing could happen in respect to cycling with helmets in the Netherlads.
Do you ride a bike in your new host country?
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Old November 10th, 2012, 11:59 AM   #8432
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Road fatality among bikers is extremely low in the Netherlands, when it is being compared to the enormous part of the bike in the modal split. Also in the Netherlands motorists are used to bikers, and bikers often have their own seperated bikelanes, a front-start on greenphase of traffic lights, etcetera. A lot of measurements have already been taken which have improved safety for bikers in such a way that the need for helmets is much less - because the chance of accidents per bike-kilometer is much lower than in other states. Helmets are just a last resort, if you can't think of anything else in the field of infrastructure, etcetera. Well, in the Netherlands they have thought of all those other measurements, so why the hell forcing people to wear a helmet ? It's no use, it won't save large numbers, no it won't even save dozens of lives a year.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 12:12 PM   #8433
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Traffic safety comes with the masses. Although the overall number of bicycle fatalities is relatively high (especially compared to all traffic fatalities in the Netherlands), the number of fatalities per 1 billion kilometers is very low.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 01:09 PM   #8434
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdog View Post
As someone else said, students would ride in trains of 3-4 beside each other tailgating each other every single and barely anything happened.
That was me

And I found some dashcam footage to show an example. Most of the time the groups are longer though. But I rarely go by car to school so I don't have much footage to choose from.

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Old November 10th, 2012, 01:14 PM   #8435
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One can even find bicycle traffic jams in student cities.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 01:28 PM   #8436
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You can find bicycle traffic jams at the location above too

I was a little too late that morning, I passed at around 8:15. At 8:05 it's busiest. That whole parallel road is filled with cyclists waiting for the light ahead to turn green.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 04:43 PM   #8437
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdog View Post
....
Come on, there is always a risk when travelling... Where do you stop the war against mobility and freedom and nanny state bull?
Suburbanist can be accused of many things, but not a war against mobility.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 05:03 PM   #8438
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LOL tell me about it...
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Old November 11th, 2012, 08:37 AM   #8439
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I'm extremely skeptical of these "it's just how life goes here" line of argumentation. I stick to science, medical science in this case.

Remember: not a long time ago, all over Southern Europe, driving while mildly drunk was considered a sort-of way-of-life and the accidents that happened as a consequence mere "tragedies", "unfortunate events", almost random things.

But years of cracking down on formerly (socially) acceptable behavior helped reduce the problem.

Same thing could happen in respect to cycling with helmets in the Netherlads.
You could introduce helmets for cyclists, you could introduce airbags for cyclists, you could introduce the same for pedestrians. I am sure that medical science will prove that it is safer for pedestrians to wear a helmet. Where do you want to draw the line? It is a fact that it is nowhere in the world as safe to ride a bike as in The Netherlands, while nobody wears a helmet.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 09:59 AM   #8440
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Can we go back on topic.
Thanks.
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