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: 139
Latest Activity: Nov 22

Discussion Forum

Examples of helmet propaganda

Started by sydneyCommuter. Last reply by Kathy Francis Sep 28. 2 Replies

Fare Dodging Stockholm-Style

Started by Jason Brown. Last reply by YUGYUG Jul 17. 2 Replies

Comment Wall

Comment by Paul Martin on August 14, 2012 at 10:25pm

No way, José.

Can they be certain it won't go off if I sneeze violently or quickly spin my head around to check for motorists about to rear end me? I doubt it. What if I forget that the pyrotechnics around my head are still 'armed' when I get off the bike and throw it down... or worse, if I decide to roll in the grass after a ride.

This thing has been talked about for years and has not yet seen the light of day - there is a good reason for that.

Their testing methods are hardly real-world either. Dummies on bicycles don't fall like a live human... they fall like a corpse. Humans protect themselves by stepping off the bike (provided you're not clipped in.... sigh) and putting their arms out.

And if it is now "impacts with cars" that they're claiming bicycle helmets are good for (which they're not) then shouldn't these be dispensed to any pedestrian that might cross a road? Do we have a supply of them on every street corner?

How about we tackle the real threat to pedestrians & cyclists?

Comment by Ride2Wk on August 14, 2012 at 11:13pm

Norwegian helmet research

Posted: 12 Aug 2012 07:51 PM PDT

Norwegian helmet research

Risk Compensation and Bicycle Helmets

Ross Owen Phillips,?Aslak Fyhri, and Fridulv Sagberg
This study investigated risk compensation by cyclists in response to bicycle helmet wearing by
observing changes in cycling behavior, reported experience of risk, and a possible objective
measure of experienced risk. The suitability of heart rate variability (HRV) as an objective
measure of experienced risk was assessed beforehand by recording HRV measures in nine
participants watching a thriller film. We observed a significant decrease in HRV in line with
expected increases in psychological challenge presented by the film. HRV was then used
along with cycling pace and self-reported risk in a field experiment in which 35 cyclist volunteers
cycled 0.4 km downhill, once with and once without a helmet. Routine helmet users
reported higher experienced risk and cycled slower when they did not wear their helmet in
the experiment than when they did wear their helmet, although there was no corresponding
change in HRV. For cyclists not accustomed to helmets, there were no changes in speed, perceived
risk, or any other measures when cycling with versus without a helmet. 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. They thus give some support to
those urging caution in the use of helmet laws.

The full paper is here:

Risk Compensation and Bicycle Helmets Phillips 2012


A comment from Cyclehelmets.org


Researchers in Norway have looked into possible reasons why there is no good evidence of reduced injury benefit in countries that have enacted cycle helmet legislation despite studies showing that helmets have the potential to reduce injuries.

It was found that the cyclist population can be divided into two sub-populations: one speed-happy group that cycle fast and have lots of cycle equipment including helmets, and one traditional kind of cyclist without much equipment, cycling slowly.

With all the limitations that have to be placed on a cross sectional study such as this, the results indicate that at least part of the reason why helmet laws do not appear to be bene?cial is that they disproportionately discourage the safest cyclists. Discouraging cyclists with the lowest accident risk increases the overall average risk per cyclist and thus any potential safety intervention, such as a helmet, has no (or possibly even a negative) net benefit.

The researchers conclude that this shift in the cycling population caused by helmet laws is a more likely explanation of why laws do not work than risk compensation (whereby cyclists take more risks because they feel better protected).

Bicycle Transport Alliance

Comment by stephen on August 15, 2012 at 1:37am

There are many factors at play and in each culture and situation some some may factor higher than others.
On the thing about the air bag - those things would scare the living daylights out of anyone if it went off, and most likely it would fail to go off when one did actually need it anyway.
It's really not that difficult to avoid accidents. Look where  you go , be aware of other vehicles and be prepared to stop or swerve if necessary. All this emphasis on or trying to minimise injury after it's already to late should be a secondary issue to accident avoidance.


If bike advocacy groups and others put the same amount of effort into providing voluntary advice and training for road users including bike users as is presently wasted in beating people over the head with helmet rhetoric and police effort forcing people to wear helmets which are in any case woefully inadequate to protect anyone there would be a far better outcome for almost everyone, bike users would be safer and it would be vastly more popular.

Comment by KathrynW on August 15, 2012 at 2:13pm

Re the 'invisible' Hovdig air bag helmet:

If someone handed me one of these I'd try it out of curiosity (while I'm forced to wear a helmet) but wouldn't seriously consider buying one due to the cost. Nothing adds to the insult of having to wear a helmet more than paying almost $600 for the privilege (and still getting fined because it doesn't have the right sticker)!

Having said that, I do respect the designers and their development of the product, and offer a little more info in their defence:

Comment from Stephen D: 'about the airbag ... most likely it would fail to go off when one did actually need it anyway.'

I think it's a bit sad that anything helmet related is immediately dismissed or disparaged here. I understand that this is a helmet-less riders group but I'm disappointed there isn't a little more discussion about an innovative product, whether you would wear it yourself or not, and whether you think helmet law is good or bad.

A more interesting point to me is whether people here think having such a product available (assuming it works as stated) to those who would otherwise be put off cycling by having to wear a traditional helmet (under MHL) is a good thing?

Comment from Paul: 'Can they be certain it won't go off if I sneeze violently or quickly spin my head around to check for motorists about to rear end me?'

I'd imagine that if your head is 'spinning around' you've got more to worry about than the air bag deploying lol! They have some interesting info on their website about the sensors, what is considered normal or abnormal movement, how it works etc. They'll go out of business pretty fast if the sensors aren't right.

'This thing has been talked about for years and has not yet seen the light of day'

The helmet is in production and available through the Hovding website for EU customers only so far. It's a whopping $570 but that's not surprising given the complexity of the components and it looks like it may be produced locally in Sweden. It's v1.0 of the product so no doubt reducing the unit price will be on their to-do list.

The reason it has been talked about for years is that it started as a joint masters thesis for two Swedish industrial design students. The design and development time on a product like this is not unusual at all. They've raised venture capital, won many grants and design awards and got the product to market in 7 years -- I think they should be applauded.

'Their testing methods are hardly real-world either. Dummies on bicycles don't fall like a live human... they fall like a corpse.'

Agreed, testing with dummies doesn't reflect a real-world crash response in a live human. It does show though, how the product performs in the tested scenarios. They also use (male and female stunt riders) in test accidents to gather data. They appear dedicated to continually improving the product and creating a database of real-world collision data:

"Inside Hövding there is a black box. The box records 10 seconds of data on the bicyclist's movement patterns during (and just before) a cycling accident. This data is interesting and valuable to us in our ongoing development work. We would be grateful if you could send in your Hövding to us if you are involved in a bicycling accident. We will examine the black box and recycle the product. To say thank you for your help, we'll give you a discount on a new Hövding in return."

Surely that information would be valuable to all of us -- bare-headed or not? Whether they share that valuable data is another thing entirely...

Comment by Ride2Wk on August 15, 2012 at 8:44pm

The Hövding is interesting and you are right about the effort they have put into it so credit to them there.

The thing that would put me off one (besides it costing more than many bikes)  is how hot it would become! It'd be OK in a Sydney winter but for the rest of the time I'd rather a ventilated "esky lid" that at least keeps some sun off my balding head in summer.

Comment by KathrynW on August 15, 2012 at 9:52pm

Yep, I agree -- not much of a market here given the price and our climate (not to mention the whole testing to meet Australian Standards thing). I usually wear some sort of scarf around my neck for about 8 months of the year where I live (cool climate), so for those months, I think I'd rather wear one of these than a normal helmet. I'm far more sensitive to having something on my head than around my neck/shoulders. 

To be honest, this is one of those products where I can't quite make up my mind whether it's the coolest or the dorkiest thing I've seen. (The model shot of the inflated airbag is not helping with the dork factor).

For me though, I think it would be interesting to see how non-cyclists who are completely put off by traditional helmets would view these. Ignoring the high cost for a moment -- would people be more likely to get on a bike if they could choose something like this instead? I'm not sure but my gut says yes (to a degree), especially in the female utility/commuting market.

I also like that it visually lessens the 'cycling is inherently dangerous' message that traditional helmets have because they are so noticeable (and dorky).  I don't think it would have the same effect as repealing MHL but I think it could be a positive where MHL are entrenched.

If hell froze over and it ever was approved here, I could definitely see a market in cheap rip-offs that make it look like you're wearing a Hovding but are actually a $20 fine-avoiding-scarf lol. I'd definitely buy one of those! 

Comment by St Etienne on August 15, 2012 at 11:24pm
In all honesty I would rather wear one of these Swedish safety snoods than a helmet; given, of course, that the thing does what it's supposed to do. It would certainly be an attractive alternative to those who find helmets uncomfortable or bouffant-unfriendly. But then again, I'd just like to ride my effin' bike with the same choice as 99% of the world's population.
Comment by stephen on August 15, 2012 at 11:50pm

To Summarise

BAD points.

1. The airbag will go off if one does movements or stunt riding outside the normal movement pattern of riding a bike.
2. The airbag will not go off if one runs directly into something.

3. The airbag will not go off if something runs directly into you.

4. It will deafen and probably disorient you when it does go off and is use once.

5. Appears to be another inconvenience to bike users and like helmets it should be free choice.

GOOD points

1. The airbag may go off in some types of falls and probably also a bike stops you go over the handle bars type tumble if the battery's are not flat.
2. Less conspicuous than a helmet.

Comment by Paul Martin on August 16, 2012 at 8:52am

I'm not keen on having a pyrotechnic around my neck and so close to my ears... particularly a 'cheap knockoff' version! Crikey.

Comment by KathrynW on August 16, 2012 at 10:54am
Clarification: when I said cheap rip off version, I meant like the props furniture shops used to (still do?) use - looks real enough at a glance but contains no working parts, thus 'fine-avoiding-scarf'. I guess it was meant in jest as an option for those of us who don't have the option of a medical certificate ;-)

And +1 to Etienne.


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