Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Stolen from Price Tags

with 12 comments

Stolen from Price Tags

There has not been much activity on this blog of late. Possibly due to the paywalls on the mainstream media I used to read. When I saw this graphic on Gordon Price’s blog, I knew I had to use it.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 22, 2012 at 8:48 am

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with , ,

12 Responses

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  1. I’ve always been an advocate for helmets while bicycle riding. These stats give me reason to pause.

    David Rolland

    November 22, 2012 at 10:01 am

  2. The only thing that a cycling helmet will protect you from is a traffic ticket

    Stephen Rees

    November 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

  3. looking at statistics this way seems ridiculous to me. Of course, if implementing compulsory helmet laws causes less people to cycle and more people to drive and/or to be sedentary, that is not a good thing for overall societal health.

    But for the individual cyclist, it seems obvious to me that a helmet will reduce the rate of head injury. Following the logic of some ofthe posters on this page, we should take the seat belts out of cars and planes, take the bumpers off, take out the oxygen masks and install trampolines and bouncy castles, because safety devices just make people more scared.

    Adam Fitch

    November 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

  4. “looking at statistics this way seems ridiculous to me”

    This reminds me strongly of the attitudes of the Republicans to polling data in the last Presidential Election in the US.

    If helmets did indeed reduce the rate of head injuries, then there would be data to support that. In fact, even helmet manufacturers – the people who advocate for helmet laws – do not make that claim. The best a helmet can do is reduce the severity of a head injury in the event of a collision – but helmets do not seem to be very effective at that either. In fact, the only convincing evidence I have seen – and which was used to supprt most helmet laws – was that when children wear helmets their injuries are less serious. Helmets do not reduce the risk of a collision: indeed there is some evidence that drivers tend to endanger cyclists wearing helmets more than those cyclists who don’t. And they offer very little protection in the event of a collision and only at low speeds – even when worn properly.

    Stephen Rees

    November 22, 2012 at 11:26 am

  5. Controversial!


    November 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm

  6. Nice share, Stephen. Readers who support Vancouver’s bixi bikeshare (which of course our helmet laws will hinder) may wish to use one of the template letters here to write to their Councillor and MLA:

  7. I rode a bicycle every day for 11 years without a helmet and drivers certainly didn’t give me an easy time. I lost count of the number of times a side mirror passed within an inch of my handlebars. I nearly t-boned more than a few cars that cut in front of me without noticing or caring that I was there. Luckily my only collisions were low speed affairs involving pedestrians and other cyclists. One of them resulted in a minor head injury and I probably would have fared better had I been wearing a helmet, but it was really cold and while my toque didn’t offer as much protection from the ground, it did a lot more than a helmet would have in preventing chills.

    What makes me shake my head is how many cyclists I see who have helmets tied to their frames or packs. Why bother bringing it along if you’re not going to wear it? Having it along for the ride isn’t going to spare you a ticket so leave it home and make a statement. Having it swinging from your handlebars impairs your ability to ride and just makes you look like an idiot.


    November 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

  8. Riding a bike Saves society 21 cents per km cycled. That includes 23 cents of reduced health care costs, and 2 cents of increased injury costs. Motoring imposes a cost of 1.8 cents/km. From a fiscal perspective, bike helmets are a bad idea.

    From a health/safety perspective, basically, Copenhagen is flat and separated. The seawall is also flat and separated. The only difference in terms of safety between copenhagen and the Vancouver Seawall is the weather. Riding on 10th avenue going 10 kph to shop at the corner store is less dangerous than shopping on Robson. Only 36% of injuries to bike riders are head injuries, while more than 40% for drivers.



    November 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm

  9. Frankly speaking, this graphic+text is a piece of scrap.

    The graphic represents the cause of head injury in Germany by activity, not the risk of head injury by activity. as concluded in the text.

    By the same token, you could find it is safer to jump of a plane without parachute than with, because there is less head injury without that with! and in Germany Caucasian people are more at risk than black…and all sort of nonsense.

    To avoid such misleading conclusion, there is a field called epidemiology…

    In Rotterdam, you will found much different outcome:

    Click to access Research%20Report%20M.%20Kingma.PDF

    p13 read:
    26% injured as a cyclist by a motor vehicle
    22% injured by driving
    19% injured as pedestrian by a motor vehicle
    15% injured by riding a bike alone

    for a certain group (19-24 age)…you see 40% of the cause of head injury with are tied to cycling 😉

    hopefully you will see why the helmet is not the proper answer…


    November 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm

  10. not piece of scrap, but piece of crap

    you will have corrected other grammar error by yourself 😉


    November 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

  11. Please allow me to be the voice of reason and common sense, as always…

    The biking culture in Europe and Japan is totally different from what I see in Vancouver.

    In both Europe and Japan one uses bikes for a relatively short distance, at LOW speed, wearing normal street clothes –including business attire– along narrow residential streets that are such a bewildering maze that only the locals drive cars there..and carefully too

    In Japan these narrow residential streets (found even in downtown Tokyo and Osaka) don’t even have sidewalks and many intersections are blind spots so cars HAVE to drive slowly.
    While European cities have totally separated bike lanes–often but not necessarily–on wide avenues, the Japanese have few bike lanes. Their choice is using residential streets or ride on the sidewalks of wide avenues.

    I use to ride bikes a lot– even in downtown Bordeaux–without a helmet (and nobody locked bikes)… but wouldn’t dream of riding a bike in Vancouver as I wouldn’t feel safe without a helmet, knees and elbows pads and possibly chest and back airbags..

    Red frog

    November 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

  12. I have to agree with Voony the graphic is misleading, but the general gist may still be correct. There is lots of evidence that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury for the individual rider but there is also some evidence that the increase in biking associated with no requirement to use a helmet changes behavior and reduces risk to the biking population as a whole not to mention the health gains to society through extra biking may outweigh the risk of head injury. I dont have strong feels on the subject but graphics like that suck.


    November 23, 2012 at 6:32 am

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