Rare data and analysis from New Zealand Medical Journal. 

The effect of mandatory helmet laws is hard to study.  There are few places with an established cycling culture that decide to introduce a mandatory helmet law, so as to provide a before and after comparison. New Zealand is one of them; the State of NSW, Australia is another.

NZMJ’s conclusions:

This evaluation of NZ’s bicycle helmet law finds it has failed in aspects of promoting cycling, safety, health, accident compensation, environmental issues and civil liberties. It is estimated to cost about 53 lives per year in premature deaths and result in thousands of fines plus legal aspects of discrimination in accident compensation cases. Road safety and cyclist’s safety should be improved by coherent policies, which support health, the environment, and without the legal requirement to wear a helmet.

.

Further interesting tidbits:

  • “Survey data from Australia indicated legislation was a poor approach as it discouraged cycling—e.g. child cycle use fell 44% by the second year of the helmet law in New South Wales, Australia.”
  •  “The survey information 1989/90–2003/06 suggests a drop of 53% and indicates that the helmet law discouraged cycling to a significant extent.”

 

My take on helmets (shamelessly cribbed from HUB’s policy):

  • Helmets are good.  Wearing one might save a head injury in a few kinds of crash.
  • Mandatory helmet laws are bad. They discourage cycling, and people do not reap the immediate and personal health benefits of riding a bike.
  • There are much better ways to improve safety for people riding a bike.

Comments

  1. Pretty much everyone who has looked it agrees that helmets are sometime useful, but should never be mandatory. If you’re riding a road bike or a commuter with clip-in pedals, a helmet makes sense. But for flat pedals, it’s way easier to disengage from the bike and carry on.

    Interestingly, present helmet standards have little do with what actually happens in an incident. Bicycling magazine did a conprehrnsive look at present technologies.

    See here: http://www.bicycling.com/sites/default/files/uploads/BI-June-13-Helmet.pdf

    1. Just had a chance to view the video clip. It looks as though a separated bike lane would have prevented this crash from happening in the first place. Primary prevention.

      1. Yes, Kay,

        Where possible, I support establishing designated bike routes, paths or separated bike lanes as a further safety measure in addition to helmets.

  2. Very glad the cyclist is OK. And wearing a helmet is probably a good idea. But he should know that the foam in his helmet, which cushions the impact, only works until the hard outer shell breaks. And it was reported that his helmet was destroyed. So it is hard to understand how his helmet provided cushioning that saved his life. It certainly could save him from abrasions. After an impact, if your helmet shell is not broken, but the foam is crushed, then it worked as designed.

    Should we take these anecdotal reports over the many studies that are available?

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Better that his helmet was destroyed, rather than his head. That is the point of wearing the helmet; it takes the brunt of the impact. Incidentally, his doctor also concluded that the helmet saved him from serious head injury or worse.

      1. That’s just anecdotal. Also lots of people injure their heads in various ways and situations, and yet we have no helmet law for drivers, pedestrians or many other activities that see more head injuries than cycling. Laws should be based on evidence such as this peer reviewed published study, not anecdotes.

        1. Antje,

          The best evidence is real cases of cyclists wearing helmets and avoiding serious head injury, not “estimates” based on unproven theory. Indeed, law may be informed by academic study, but it is decided on real-case precedent.

          1. Susan,

            that’s exactly the problem with your argument. You don’t seem to understand the difference between Population Health, which looks at the entire population, to the ‘doctor’s perspective’, that only looks at people that make it into the hospital. These are different populations, and there are different questions for which each one is relevant and you will get to different conclusions based on on that.

            But when it comes to evaluating the mandatory helmet law, the population health perspective is the relevant one.

          2. Susan

            You were given real stats at the top of this thread. Instead you chose to focus on an anecdote. Your stat is based on n=1, and the validity of his personal theory hasn’t been established.

          3. Jeff,

            I have clarified for you below the difference between theory and fact. Facts can not be disputed; theories are merely suppositions, guesses without proven merit.

    2. Actually, the point of the helmet is for the hard shell to break in an accident, absorbing significant energy. Then the foam does the rest of the job. If your helmet wasn’t destroyed in an accident, you didn’t hit your head hard enough 🙂

      1. Surely you jest. Once the hard shell breaks, there is nothing to hold the foam in place. The foam has to compress first. If the shell breaks and the foam isn’t compressed, then you could conclude that it was an oblique impact, and the helmet did little with respect to cushioning the blow. It may still have saved the wearer from abrasions.

        Perhaps you are thinking of motorcycle helmets. Bicycle helmets are designed not to break only up to a 6 foot drop on to an anvil. That doesn’t represent a significant amount of energy.

        1. That isn’t the question. A better question is, how much energy can a helmet absorb before failing catastrophically? Hint: they are tested for certification by being dropped six feet onto a flat surface, with no rotational energy, and no oblique impacts.

          An even better question is, what does the efficacy of helmets have to do with the efficacy of helmet laws, the subject of the post?

  3. Even better, would be if others were riding with him on the same route, instead of being deterred from cycling by mandatory helmet laws that promote the false belief that cycling is inherently dangerous.

    I wouldn’t ask my family doctor to design my bike. Why would I ask him to design my helmet?

  4. Others riding with him would not prevent him from being hit from behind, especially if the others were riding in front of him. Mandatory helmet laws do not prevent others from riding with him; that is the choice of other riders, and as you know many cyclists (such as the one that was hit) are not dissuaded from cycling simply because there is a mandatory helmet law. They readily opt to wear a helmet for their own safety.

    I would not ask my G.P. to design a helmet either, but the imput for helmet design by a specialist who is experienced in dealing with head injuries of cyclists might be an excellent idea.

  5. Others riding with him would reduce the chances of him being hit, due to the well documented benefits of safety in numbers.

    Mandatory helmet laws do not prevent others from riding with him, they just dissuade them from doing so, measured across a broader population.

    Did you review the study referenced in the post at the top of this thread? They estimated 53 premature deaths as a result of their ill-advised law.

  6. Jeff,

    As I already stated, riding with or without others would not guarantee that he would not be hit; in contrast, wearing a helmet is a more dependable risk-reduction factor.

    Further, human error, neither the helmet law nor the helmet, accounts for the estimate of 53 premature deaths, which is also only an estimate because the actual causes of death are unknown.

        1. Like I said, see Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Neither city has mandatory helmet laws and both cities have very high bicycling safety records, thereby demonstrating that wearing a helmet is not a more dependable risk-reduction factor than safety in numbers.

          This blog has linked to examples in other cities, including the very post we’re commenting on now.

          I think you are conflating the utility of a helmet with the utility of a mandatory helmet law.

          1. Agustin,

            I advocate strongly for the utility of a mandatory helmet law to inform cyclists both of the reality of potential dangers when cycling and the wisdom of wearing a helmet to protect oneself against those dangers. Without the instructive value of such mandatory laws, people often unwisely opt to put themselves at unnecessary risk of injury or death.

    1. While a helmet may mitigate some of the effects of a collision, the real goal of every cyclist is to avoid collisions.

      Having more cyclists around has been shown to reduce the rate of collisions. Not only are two cyclists more visible than one, but the regular presence of cyclists causes drivers to look for them. When NYC introduced bike share the total number of cycling injuries went down even though the number of people riding bikes went way up.

      Sadly, the simple act of wearing a helmet makes you more likely to be hit by a car. There are two human nature explanations and a third that’s pure evil.

      Firstly, putting on a helmet makes you feel more secure and leads to greater risk taking among some cyclists.

      Secondly, putting on a helmet makes you look more confident which makes those around you act more aggressively.

      Watch traffic for an hour and you’ll quickly see it for yourself. Cars pass cyclists wearing Spandex with only millimetres to spare, but they’ll change lanes to avoid a slow moving recreational cyclist.

      Finally, a small subset of drivers make deliberate moves to frighten cyclists they perceive to be taking space away from them. If you’ve got a helmet, rain gear and panniers you’re the enemy.

      1. David,

        The cyclist I am referring to was hit from behind, so he could not simply avoid the collision. Having other cyclists on the road with him would not have prevented the accident if the other cyclists were in front of the one who was struck by the car; there would be no increased visibility. Even if other cyclists were beside the one who was struck, there is no guarantee that the larger visibility of the cyclist “pack” would have prevented the accident if the motorist hit the cyclist because he stopped suddenly or turned without signalling, the motorist was looking at his cellphone instead of the road, or the motorist was “deliberate[ly] mov[ing] to frighten [the] cyclist”.

        Further, please provide evidence of your bizarre assertions that wearing a helmet contributes to (1) more risky cycling and (2) motorists specifically targetting the helmetted cyclist. As a cyclist and motorist, I do neither.

        1. Hi Susan, there are academic studies that looked at the effects of helmet use on the behaviour of the helmet wearing cyclists (in particular children if I remember correctly, who tend to take more risks when wearing a helmet) and on motorists’s passing distance (less when cyclists wear helmets).

          But this isn’t even the point. The effect of a helmet LAW is not the same as the effect of an individual wearing a helmet. Nobody is trying to say that individuals shouldn’t wear helmets, but we are talking about the overall effect on the health of society if there is a bike helmet law.

          Coincidentally Germany has recently considered introducing a helmet law. The government commissioned a cost-benefit study which found that the costs to society would far outweigh the benefits of the helmet law. I think the NZ article cited above spells out the effects when helmets are mandatory. Protecting your head in case of a fall or a collision is only one factor. It should be considered, but not exclusively as unfortunately the BC government did in the 90s when it introduced the helmet law without proper study or follow-up on public health effects.

        2. I’m sorry your friend was hit by a car and could do nothing to avoid it. A friend of mine was doored by a driver who looked in his side mirror, made eye contact, then opened the door anyway.

          Neither one deserved to be hurt and neither was to blame. In both cases wearing a helmet may have reduced the amount of injury they received.

          Both could have been riding in packs and still been hurt, I won’t deny that. Accidents happen, road rage happens, but taken across the entire population for long periods of time there is safety in numbers.

          When more people cycle fewer of them get hurt. Cycling accidents are almost unheard of in cycle friendly European cities. Bike share has doubled the number of cyclists in NYC and yet the total number of cycling injuries has gone down.

          The best way to prevent the incidents you and I have written about is to encourage more cycling and one way to do that is to eliminate the helmet law.

          1. Again, David, you are guilty of an “either-or” fallacy: you contend that encouraging more cycling requires the elimination of the helmet law. It does not. Encouraging cycling is achieved through on-going media advertising, education, word-of-mouth advocacy, observations of its increasing popularity, demonstrations, blogging and discussions (such as this), etc.

      2. “Secondly, putting on a helmet makes you look more confident which makes those around you act more aggressively”

        I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

  7. David,

    The cyclist that I am referencing was not a friend of mine; his story was reported on the news a couple of days ago. I have provided the link above. He credited his helmet for saving his head and possibly his life; as he was the person who experienced the accident first-hand, he is in the best position to know if the helmet protected him or not.

    Whether or not a helmet law discourages or encourages cycling is not a relevant concern compared to the safety of cyclists. It is simply foolhardy and dangerous to advocate cycling at all costs including sacrificing safety. Whether or not someone chooses to ride a bike is their choice; you cannot force people to cycle. If a few individuals choose not to cycle because they do not want to wear a mandatory helmet or they fear for their safety on a bike, that is their democratic right. Taking away the mandatory helmet law would send the erroneous message that a helmet is not essential to protect one’s head when riding a bike; already many people violate the law by not wearing a helmet and risking their lives. Take away the law and this number will increase, resulting in more injuries, deaths, costs to our medical system, etc. Laws warn the public to be careful of potential risk. Some members of the public may not require laws to act morally and prudently; however, I contend that the vast majority of society does need laws to keep themselves and others safe.

    1. Susan, if you read the article in the NZ medical journal (and other articles on helmet law and public health), the point is that there we are less healthy and have higher medical costs with a helmet law than without. This is not a matter of opinion or sending a message, but it can and has been studied.

      If you want to reduce injuries, deaths and medical costs it makes more sense to reduce speed limits in cities. This has actually proven effective, unlike a helmet law.

      1. Antje,

        I agree with the idea to reduce speed limits in cities as an additional safety measure along with mandatory helmets for cyclists. I also advocate increased enforcement of the rules of the road for both motorists and cyclists. In short, I vote for safety.

  8. We’re discussing the effect of mandatory helmet laws (they discourage people from riding bikes, and being active). Here’s another take on the effect of activity on public health.

    Prof Teschke is not alone. This article’s headline reads: Vancouver’s Chief Medical Health Officer Backs Transit YES vote. Because transit users are more active, and active people are less subject to common chronic illnesses. There are other health-related benefits too.

    http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/1272655/vancouvers-chief-medical-health-officer-backs-transit-yes-vote/

    1. Hi Ken,

      Although it may be possible that mandatory helmet laws may discourage a few people from getting on a bike because they do not wish to wear a helmet or fear cycling is unsafe, those individuals who wish to ride a bike will not let a mandatory helmet law impede their motivation; indeed, those who want to ride bikes will either happily do so wearing a helmet or cycle without a helmet. We see both of these types on the road daily. Further, any person who wants to be active has innumerable ways to do so, not only riding a bike. It is an “either-or” fallacy to suggest that one must either ride a bike or be inactive. To conclude that “mandatory helmet laws … discourage people from … being active” is overtly incorrect.

      1. Hi Susan.

        I know you think it’s absurd that helmet laws could make cycling less safe, but please take a moment and step back a bit. You would clearly agree that not all safety equipment should be mandatory — pedestrian helmets are silly, of course — so we should think carefully about whether the evidence shows us that mandatory helmet laws make people safer.

        Here’s another link covering NZ’s MHL:

        http://www.cycle-helmets.com/zealand_helmets.html

        Scroll down past the big tables, and look at the 2nd black and white plot. The black area shows the number of people cycling. The red line shows the risk of injury for each cyclist.

        It *very* clearly shows how, after the MHL was introduced people stopped cycling and cycling became more dangerous.

        You can scroll down further and see that these trends are strongest among teenagers. MHLs make cycling more dangerous for teens.

        Being “for safety”, as you describe yourself, should mean that you’re in favour of policies that make people safer. The MHL is not such a policy.

        1. That is your opinion, Mike, to which you are entitled. But, opinions are unproven; facts cannot be argued.

          1. Susan. Mandatory helmet laws do indeed discourage ridership. This is not opinion; it’s an assertion backed up with evidence. An example of this evidence is linked above.

            You want to claim the opposite? Bring on the evidence. Until such time, you are only giving your (baseless) opinion. To which, of course, you are entitled.

          2. Agustin,

            I do not believe that a mandatory helmet law alone discourages people from cycling; there are many other more substantial contributing factors to why some people choose not to ride a bike. Exercise or commuting preferences, age, ability, comfort, cost, peer pressure, convenience, time, vanity, degree of respect for laws generally, etc. all play a part in one’s decision to ride a bike or not. Why not target the more substantial deterrents to cycling which do not threaten the safety of the cyclist?

  9. In the state I live in person under the age of 18 wears a helmet. Motorcyclist wears a helmet. Person in different sports wears a helmet. So what the big deal. If those are discouraged by the need to wear a helmet, walk. On a organize bicycle rides its required to wear a helmet. I notice in bicycle helmet debate how offend used data from other countries and not from America why not. In searching the web I have found a few websites that have shown helmet save lives. And from a casual observation I notice that person both with and without helmets ride in a dangerous manner. So if other groups should wear helmets, so should you.

    http://bicyclesafe.com/helmets.html

    1. Cycling is about as safe as walking or driving. Lots of pedestrians and drivers get head injuries in crashes. Would you advocate that the helmet law be extended to pedestrians and drivers?

      1. Arnoschort,

        Motorists are protected inside the shell of the vehicle. Cyclists are not. Pedestrians have the right of way under the law as well as pedestrian-controlled crosswalks to keep them safe. Therefore, you are incorrect to suggest that “cycling is about as safe as walking or driving.” Consequently, I would not extend the helmet law to pedestrians and/or drivers due to the lower risk.

        1. You are basing your assessment of the risk on your own thoughts, not on the statistics that show how many using each mode get head injuries, and at what rate. Further up in this thread you stated that real world stats trump speculative theorizing. The real world stats do not support your speculative theorizing.

          1. No Jeff,

            I am stating fact, obviously. Theorizing is interesting but meaningless until substantiated by fact. Real world cases are facts; academic studies pose merely a series of possible hypotheses to specified research questions, not facts. The findings of individual studies either support or do not support the hypotheses, and a myriad of factors (time, place, size of study sample, type of data gathered, the manner it was gathered, etc.) consistently result in conflicting study findings. This is precisely why academic studies contain modalization (statements purposely worded with required uncertainty — “would, could, might, appears, suggests, argues that, contends that, indicates that, perhaps, possibly, maybe, etc.) to allow for inevitable errors in the results. If academic papers are not modalized (ie. stating absolutes as proven facts), they are slammed when peer reviewed as disreputable fiction.

    1. Agustin,

      It is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact that helmets are a safety measure for cyclists and protect the head. It is also a matter of fact that mandatory helmet laws inform cyclists of the importance of protecting one’s head in case of accident. It is also a fact that a law requiring individuals to wear a helmet as a preventative measure increases the number of people who do so, thereby increasing the number of individuals who are protected, which in turn decreases the chance of serious head injury or death.

  10. Here is a real world case for you Susan.

    While it has been observed that helmet laws increase helmet wearing as a percentage of riders, it has also been observed that they reduce the number of people riding. Whether or not you personally believe that the reduced ridership is due to the helmet law in any specific case, you can not calculate the risk percentage on just the initial number of riders, you need to at least consider the new number of riders, after the law was implemented, for a before/after comparison. Then you can see if more or fewer people are being injured.

    Alberta passed a helmet law, aimed at children, in 2002.

    There are two separate studies that I have read about the before and after statistics. Links widely available.

    In one study in Edmonton, ridership dropped for both children and teenagers. (by 59% for children, 41% for teens, relative to adults cycling).

    In a wider study in several Alberta cities, ridership dropped by 56% for children, and 27% for teens. Interestingly, ridership for adults, who were not required to wear helmets, rose by 21%.

    With that great reduction in riding, we would have expected the absolute number of ER visits for young cyclists to go down. But they went up, at least for children and teens (who were wearing helmets more often, but were a smaller population of riders). The ratio of ER visits by cyclists, pre and post law, corrected for ridership, rose 2.37 times for children. By 1.72 times for teens. But, and think about this, it went down for adults.

    We could also get into just the head injuries (similar story) and a control group of pedestrians.

    We can theorize about why the ridership in Alberta went down, but have good figures on the actual ridership. It isn’t speculative that it went down.

    If helmets actually were shown to improve the statistics, it would be a more challenging debate, considering these ridership figures. But when you get a 56-59% drop in ridership, and the absolute number of injuries as reported by hospitals and ERs goes up, we have a problem. We should be talking about what caused these accident rates to rise, and not about a helmet law of questionable value.

    1. Jeff,

      What were the study criteria used for estimating ridership increases or decreases? What were the other likely factors influencing ridership choices, such as weather conditions, changes in road conditions, time of year the estimates were made, accidents affecting the ridership choices at the time, etc.? Also, Jeff, as I’ve already stated, an “estimate” is just that — an estimate. It is a study based on incomplete data; it is not an accounting or real world cases that link head injury or head protection to helmets alone. Ridership may or may not have been affected by the presence or absence of a mandatory helmet law. Studies regarding fear of riding a bicycle, contributing largely to decreases in ridership, show a myriad of contributing factors, none of which involve wearing a helmet or not. Primarily, they involve social changes as well as changing traffic patterns and changes in infrastructure that people regard as making roads too dangerous for cyclists. Would you like the link to these studies that explain the complex, multi-faceted nature of bike-riding fear and decreases in ridership?

      1. You have previously been provided the links to these studies Susan.

        You can blame it on the weather, road conditions, or whatever you like, but then you should be prepared to explain why those conditions reduced ridership for the riders subject to the helmet law (children and teens) while having the opposite effect (increased ridership) for adults. Same roads and weather conditions. Awkward.

        You should know from your review of the studies above that they are based on real world data. An accounting of accidents from hospital ER and admissions records. No estimates. And for the children, the absolute number of ER visits and hospital admissions related to cycling went up, even though the number of child cyclists plummeted. Not just hospital visits based on ridership, but the absolute number. Another awkward fact.

        Bike riding fear is fueled by helmet laws, which promote the myth that riding bicycles is dangerous. Even though real world statistics show it isn’t.

        1. Jeff,

          It is you who used the word “estmate” in your summary of the study results. Further, I was not asking you for links to the study results that you have provided already; I was asking you if you would like me to provide you with links to the studies that support views different from yours in regard to reasons for declining ridership that have nothing to do with helmets. Again, would you like me to provide you with those links?

          1. There are very few jurisdictions in the world that have an adult helmet law which are enforced. The list is very short:
            Australia
            New Zealand
            BC, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia
            19 states in the US
            Spain – only rural areas and there are other exceptions
            Chile – urban areas only.

            Isn’t it a bit arrogant to think that we might be right in having a helmet law when most of the world does not have a law and two countries have repealed theirs in order to introduce bike sharing?

          2. There are numerous factors involved in deciding on a mandatory helmet law or not. One jurisdiction, society or country has its own mitigating factors. You are trying to compare apples and oranges.

        2. Susan:

          “It is you who used the word “estmate” in your summary of the study results…”

          You must be referring to the NZ study. In your post above you were responding to my post regarding the two studies about Alberta, and I don’t think I used the word estimate there.

          So let’s dispense with that diversion.

          You said you wanted real data. Now you have it. New helmet law for children, not for adults. Studied over several years. Total bicycle accidents for adults went down. Total bicycle accidents for children went up. Not what they were expecting, I am sure.

          Now add in the ridership. Ridership for children went down, no surprise. Ridership for adults went up. Good to see.

          Accident rates for adults (combining the above two figures) went down. Accident rates for children went up horrifically, since the numerator increased (accidents) and the denominator decreased (ridership).

          If you have a study to share about reasons for declining ridership, it needs to address what happens when a helmet law is applied to a portion of the population, and ridership for that portion of the population goes down, while ridership for the portion of the population that the law doesn’t apply to goes up concurrently. Same roads, same weather, etc.

          1. No Jeff,

            I was referring to your posting above in which YOU used the word “estimate” in your presentation of study findings. You wrote, “Did you review the study referenced in the post at the top of this thread? They estimated 53 premature deaths as a result of their ill-advised law.” Again, Jeff, an estimate is just that, a guess, a theory, not evidence, not fact. Further, your other study findings, like all study findings, are estimates only, whether you have chosen to use the word “estimate” or not in your summary of them. Studies provide possible, suggested, modalized theory, as all academics are aware; there are simply too many factors that can affect the results of any study to be able to conclude anything from the results. This is the very nature of research studies. I will, however, provide you with some alternative study results to show you this fact.

          2. Jeff,

            As promised above, the study findings that I have provided below propose just some of the numerous studied reasons why people choose not to cycle, none of which involve an opposition to mandatory helmet laws or fear caused by mandatory helmet laws. The fear of cycling that does account for some people opting not to cycle has other likely causations as described below:

            (1) Davidson suggests that some people opt not to ride bikes because they fear appearing inept in their ability to cycle, falling off the bike in public, and/or ugly or not socially acceptable in their appearance, such as overweight; for this reason, these individuals prefer to get their exercise on stationary bikes at home or in a gym (Davidson, J. (2003) Phobic Geographies: The Phenomenology and Spatiality of Identity, (Aldershot: Ashgate).

            (2) Harrison, 2001; McClintock 1992; and Ravenscroft 2002, 2004 assert that the open exposure of the body on a bike may cause people to choose not to bike at all or stop cycling because they fear the actions of motorists as well as the harassment or violence from strangers (including other cyclists on designated, separated bike paths). (Harrison, J. (2001) ‘Planning for More Cycling: the York Experience Bucks the Trend’, World Transport Policy and Practice, 7: 3, 21-7; McClintock, H. (1992) ‘Post-War Traffic Planning and Special Provision for the Bicycle’, in H. McClintock (ed.), The Bicycle and City Traffic: Principles and Practice, 19-39 (London: Belhaven); and Ravenscroft, N. (2004) ‘Tales from the Tracks: Discourses of Constraint in the Use of Mixed Cycle and Walking Routes’, in International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 39(1) 27-44;Ravenscroft, N., D. Uzzell and R. Leach (2002) ‘Danger Ahead? The Impact of Fear of Crime on People’s Recreational Use of Nonmotorised Shared-use Routes’, in Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 20(5) 741-56.

            (3) Maxwell argues that a landscape of fear in society, associated with socially accepted practices, such as parental responsibility in safely taking children to school in cars, discourages the desire or reason to cycle (Maxwell, S. (2001) ‘Negotiating Car Use in Everyday Life’, in D. Miller (ed.), Car Cultures, 203 – 22 (Oxford: Berg).)

            (4) The Department for Transport in the UK has found that roads are dangerous for cyclists, recommending that they wear preventative devices such as lights and high visibility clothing, and that cyclists ride on routes and paths designated for cyclists to increase their safety (Department for Transport (2000b) Road Safety Activity Book 2 (London: HMSO).

            (5) A study in Lancashire County notes that cyclist casualties reported to the police in 2001 totalled 421, and of these, 33% were children less than 16 years of age. Hospital casualty departments suggest more casualties from cycling were not reported (Lancashire County Council (2004) Passport to Safer Cycling.)

  11. Susan:

    “No Jeff, I was referring to your posting above in which YOU used the word “estimate””

    Actually, that isn’t the post you responded to at all. You responded to another post entirely. It was posted by me on January 29th at 5:20 pm. It had nothing to do with the NZ study, as I pointed out several times.

    You haven’t yet responded to the two Alberta studies.

    Also, if you nest your responses as deeply as you have been doing, they are unreadable (one word per line). There are multiple reply buttons, to different topics within the thread, and to the original post.

    Cheers

    Jeff

    1. Jeff,

      I have responded to the two Alberta studies; I have said, repeatedly, that study results are all estimates; that is the nature of academic research studies — they estimate possible answers worth exploring. They do not conclude any absolutes.

  12. Susan:

    I think the discussion about estimates is a tangent. Estimates don’t have to be guesses, they can be based on judgement and assessment.

    But since you don’t like judgements, I provided information on Alberta. There, we don’t even have to use measures or evaluations of ridership. After the helmet law was implemented, for a portion of the population, ER visits and hospital admissions went up. But only for the portion of the population that was required to wear a helmet. It went down for those who weren’t required to wear a helmet (adults). It was very convenient that the law was passed in such a way as to provide a control group. Same time, same place, same weather conditions. Looking forward to your explanation for why helmets apparently had the opposite effect as desired.

    1. Jeff,

      You have neglected to consider an endless supply of possible factors affecting the Alberta study and other studies. Your suggestion of only “Same time, same place, same weather conditions” by no means even begins to exhaust all of the possible contributing factors to the Alberta study. What were the changes in infrastructure on the roads during the testing period, what was the news in the media regarding bike crashes and/or injuries to cyclists during the testing period, what education program was underway in the communities tested focussing on bike safety or road accidents, etc., etc.?

      If you have trouble reading the bibliographical references and/or study results that I have presented in this blog, I have reposted this information in the blog from today “Commenting on Comments” regarding helmets; you should be able to read it better there where the page does not limit the words to one per line.

    2. Jeff,

      FACT: By definition, an “estimate” does have to be a guess, approximation or opinion. You simply cannot invent a non-existent definition, and by doing so, your argument fails as based on false principle.

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