Helmetless riders


Helmetless riders

Sick of fools yelling "where's your helmet"? Can't understand why a safe mode of transport like cycling has been singled out for mandatory helmet wearing? Want to ride with the breeze in your hair? This is your group.

Members: 141
Latest Activity: Sep 23

Discussion Forum

Radio National and Bicycle Helmets

Started by Alan Todd. Last reply by sydneyCommuter Jul 18. 1 Reply

A helmet protected my brain

Started by John of Willoughby. Last reply by John of Willoughby May 24. 33 Replies

Comment Wall

Comment by Paul Martin on August 16, 2012 at 12:01pm

Ah, now I see what you mean. :)

The problem is that the police may want you to prove that it works! Another problem with this device is that if it goes off (even for a trivial accident) you are now stuck without one for the journey home! I guess you'd have to walk the bike home... 

Comment by Si on August 16, 2012 at 12:18pm

"The findings are consistent with the notion that those who use helmets routinely perceive reduced risk when wearing a helmet, and compensate by cycling faster."

Or are they consistent with the notion that those who use helmets routinely perceive increased risk when not wearing a helmet, and compensate by cycling more slowly...? This is still risk compensation, but perhaps showing some bias in the conclusion.

I am not sure what it is meant to demonstrate as there was no risk compensation in cyclists who did not normally wear helmets. Therefore, risk compensation WRT helmets is not a hard and fast rule.

Also from the study...

"[regular helmet users] perceived that they were more likely to have an accident when they were cycling without a helmet."

Is this result just in asking the wrong questions? Almost all the cyclists I know see the value of a helmet as potentially reducing the impact of an off rather than decreasing the risk of an off. Then again maybe people really are stupid.

Comment by Paul Martin on August 16, 2012 at 5:03pm

So I obtained some legal advice about my 'Notice to Appear' at the Magistrates Court here in Brisbane for not wearing a bicycle helmet and that advice was: "Don't both showing up to court".

In Queensland (I'm not sure if this applies to other states) I can make a written submission to the court, via email, for the matter to be heard in my absence. I can put in writing everything that I would have said in front of the Magistrate without the risk of mincing my words and turning my plea of 'guilty' into something that appears more like I'm wanting to plead 'not guilty'.

If the latter occurs then the Magistrate would order me to appear before him, plead 'not guilty' and argue my case. So I wrote a letter and emailed it to the Magistrate.

The legal advice I received this time was the same as the last time: there is no way of pleading 'not guilty' for this particular crime; the defence of 'necessity' is differently structured in Queensland and cannot be used in this scenario (unlike in NSW & Victoria); the law cannot be changed through the courts no matter how much evidence I have. Only the Transport Minister can change the law. How convenient...

The fine in Queensland for not wearing a bicycle helmet is $100 and is heavily enforced. The maximum penalty if forced to go to court (which I was) is $2000.

The Magistrate clearly thought it was a waste of everyone's time so I was only given the minimum penalty - a $100 fine. I also avoided having to pay the 'victims of crime' levy.

As an added bonus, unlike a normal infringement notice that the police issue, I can pay this one via BPay. Very convenient! :)

Now... I've got to pack my bike (and helmet) for my Ironman race on the weekend.  Ciao!

Comment by Dan on August 16, 2012 at 5:50pm

Pity you got hit with a fine. I've yet to receive a fine from the courts that is as large as the fixed penalty ($59 in NSW) - mostly I get let off with a Section 10, which I'm sure is also available in QLD. Good you avoided the levy, though, as this is a bugger and I've been stung with it over and over.

Comment by Dan on August 16, 2012 at 5:56pm

Si wrote:..Or are they consistent with the notion that those who use helmets routinely perceive increased risk when not wearing a helmet, and compensate by cycling more slowly...? This is still risk compensation, but perhaps showing some bias in the conclusion....

It's an interesting point, and you are right it could be read both ways round. It's something I have thought about. When I stopped wearing a helmet, I slowed down and took fewer risks; it was quite noticeable. However, I've now been riding lidless for several years. Have I sped up again? I suspect I have sped up somewhat, but not to where I was before - for example, I now split lanes again (which I stopped doing when I first went lidless), but am still definitely slower down the ANZAC Bridge spiral and don't bunny hop into the traffic lane to get over the lights at King St. That's all anecdotal, however, so doesn't really count for much. But I still ponder it!

Comment by St Etienne on August 16, 2012 at 11:48pm
I've never skied in my life so I'm not qualified to comment on this, but those of you who jet off to Aspen each year and don fancy white jumpsuits on the slopes may be interested in this piece on helmets and snow sports.

Comment by Paul Martin on August 17, 2012 at 8:56am

"Old-school skiers will be surprised to learn that more skiers (49 per cent) than snowboarders (46 per cent) are injured each year and that snowboarders are more likely to be wearing helmets than skiers. But more than 70 per cent of all injured skiers and boarders were wearing no protective gear."

Now I have not read the actual article but this smells of a journalist who doesn't understand statistics (or skiing... or much else). My very quick analysis of her analysis...

Injury Data

So, 49% of 'injured' (no mention of injury type at all!) are skiers and 46% are snowboarders and the conclusion she makes is that skiing is more dangerous? Skiiers outnumber snowboarders by orders of magnitude so this would imply that snowboarders are *over-represented* here.

Also, it is much easier to go from novice to dangerous activity on a snowboard than on two skis* (I can do both very well so I can vouch for this). From my extensive experience an observations over the last 34 years of skiing is that those of similar skill level (actual, not self reported...) are more likely to do stupid things when they're 'protected' by a helmet.

More boarders wear helmets than skiers

Well... for anyone who has tried to learn both you will realise that learning to snowboard results in much time being spent on one's arse as well as falling backwards onto the slope/snow... and sometimes ice. I learned without a helmet and it hurt a bit but I learned very quickly how to *not hit my head*.

Leading cause of death is head injury & spinal cord injury?

Well, no helmet will help with the latter and having seen some first hand head-vs-tree impacts I would bet every single penny I own that a helmet (even a thick, padded motorcycle helmet) would have done sweet FA to help. Trust me on this... I don't want to get too graphic here.

Most injuries between 10am & 1pm?

I'd hazard a guess that this is the time the most risk-taking boarders actually *wake up* and hit the slopes... and around lunchtime is when lots of people drink alcohol and then get back onto the slopes. That's just asking for trouble... but I guess we'll have new laws forcing all of us to wear helmets to make us 'safe'... sigh.

When I was young and did some racing I did wear a helmet (and I did use it when not racing). It was a helmet that more resembled a scooter helmet - large, thick hard shell, thick soft internal padding. It was very expensive.

Modern skiing helmets are nothing more than bicycle helmets (thin shell for aesthetics only; hard, compressed polystyrene; minimal padding) with fewer (or no) vents. They are really only good for a few things: 1) keeping your head warm, 2) keeping your headphones in, and 3) mounting a camera to it... which I suspect is one BIG reason many snowboarders wear the things. Every second boarder has a GoPro camera on their helmet...

These short-sighted do-gooders need to take a deep breath and mind their own goddamn business. If ski resorts make skiing helmets compulsory I'll never ski again. No loss to me.

* ie. Q: What's the difference between a novice snowboarder & their instructor? A: Two days.

Comment by Martyn P on August 17, 2012 at 10:56am

Lol. Did you just throw down a skier vs snowboard gauntlet?!

Challenge.....resisted. Can't be arsed. They're both equally dangerous but agreed snowboarders are the bigger risk takers. Blame the x-games red bull energy jackass in your face marketing industry for that. Unless you're putting your life at risk, you simply can't be enjoying yourself apparently.

Can't afford to snowboard in Australia so its irrelevant to me. Its a sport I'll pick up again when/if I move back to Europe, and it will be without a helmet.

Comment by Paul Martin on August 17, 2012 at 11:22am

Haha ;)

It was meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek but there is an element of truth to it... and I partake in both activities and enjoy them equally.

My point was that it is much easier for an adult (particularly) to go from complete novice to being able to go down moderately difficult slopes on a snowboard compared to downhill skis. For children the difference isn't so great.

The types of falls involved with snowboarding are very different to skiing (particularly when learning) which I'm sure you're well aware of. And as it is easier to be 'good' at snowboarding in a short space of time they tend to be the ones that take silly risks and have accidents.

I recently chatted to some boarders in Japan who were doing some crazy stuff (some were good and some were just stupid) and I asked them if they'd do the same things without their helmets on. Their answer? "No way!". Risk compensation at its finest.

Anyway, this whole nonsense of mandatory helmets for skiing & snowboarding will drive plenty of people away from the pastime. Given that this is an industry that relies on discretionary spending I can't see them wanting to turn *anyone* away for the foreseeable future.

Comment by Colin on August 17, 2012 at 11:51am
Snowboarding injuries are more upper body and head, because with both legs locked onto the one board you have no ability to use your lower body to break your fall. The falls are more "toppling".

Skiing injuries tend to be to the leg, as each leg is attached to a long twisting lever.

Differences in accident rates between the two are likely to be mostly due to the different demographic profiles - there are more young risk takers amongst snowboarders. My own experience is that there are more snotty entitled grumps amongst skiers.


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