Apr 12, 2014 at 11:14 am #1315580
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Yeah…I had a bad one in Italy this week, and here's what I learned from the experience.
I was lucky. I should be fine, and able to backpack this summer with no real issues. But I look even worse than usual.
Wear a helmet.stupid! With a helmet I would have walked away from this crash. I have ridden over 52,000 miles on a bike in the last ten years or so, and only ridden without a helmet about twice, And that's all it took.
Stay at a good hotel. They were solicitous beyond belief, and efficient as well. I felt fully and totally cared for.
Have friends and clients in Italy. They were wonderful, and really went out of their way to make sure that I was OK.
Wear a helmet, stupid.
If you want the whole gory story, here's a link to our blog:Apr 12, 2014 at 11:39 am #2092285
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Just read the blog . . . and saw the photo. Ouch!
You are lucky and thanks for the reminder about helmets. Good luck recovering!Apr 14, 2014 at 6:15 am #2092757
I'm sorry for your accident but I can't agree with your recommendation about helmets. Riding a bicycle poses no statistically significant risk of severe head injury unless you are racing or taking risks in your riding.
Get well soon.Apr 14, 2014 at 11:50 am #2092876
@squarkLocale: SF Bay area
"no statistically significant risk of severe head injury unless you are racing or taking risks in your riding."
Did you read his blog? He was doing neither.Apr 14, 2014 at 11:59 am #2092879
Yes, I'm pretty surprised to see someone saying "don't wear a helmet" when biking, especially to someone who just was injured in a bike accident.
Yes, wear a helmet. You want one if/when your head contacts something hard (pavement, car, wooden pallets, etc.).Apr 14, 2014 at 12:09 pm #2092885
Not exactly the same but I know a gent who fell on ice (standing still/kid slid into him), spent the weekend in the hospital, can't remember almost a full day of his life, and still isn't 100% a few months later.
I won't bother asking for "no helmet" sources as it's silly.Apr 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm #2092892
@jbcLocale: Cascade Mountains
>I'm sorry for your accident but I can't agree with your recommendation about helmets. Riding a >bicycle poses no statistically significant risk of severe head injury unless you are racing or >taking risks in your riding.
You have any evidence o back up this? Or are you just stating your opinion? Evidence I have seen suggests otherwise:Apr 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm #2092897
Paul, We were in Turin for World Master's Games (my wife rows) and, yes, the hospitality was great. Thanks for the reminder about helmets (don't need a reminder in our house)* and how there are some advantages to universal, single-payer health care.
*I was 22 and always wore a helmet in traffic, but was going on a long, country ride. As I went over the yellow line, I had less traction, the bike went out from underneath me, and I hit the pavement first on my temple. The ER refused to stitch on my face and brought in a plastic surgeon. 40 stitches later, I was on my way. I haven't ridden without a helmet since.
*Although my wife is an internist, she's in the ER enough dealing with heart attacks and strokes that she sees some of the kids brought in from bicycling and ATC accidents without helmets. Wear your helmet!
Pro-tip: I can often score bicycling helmets, car seats, and life jackets at thrift stores. I've done that on vacations where I didn't want to schlep along the good ones from home and I've done it to have something at pre-positioned the grandparents' house. I don't need to do it in Alaska, because every boat dock in the State has a "Kids don't Float" warning sign with free, loaner life jackets.Apr 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm #2092957
A coworker was on a weekly REI organized bike ride, caught a crack in the road and went down breaking her collarbone and helmet. The EMT stated she may not be alive (or be living with traumatic brain injury) had it not been for her helmet.Apr 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm #2092970
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
And there was the guy I saw riding the wrong way down a one-way street with no helmet and smoking a cigarette. He would make a better organ donor if he didn't smoke!
Go down hard and fast on a motorcycle and you'll get to understand helmets. I scraped the whole side of a full face brain bucket after sliding on asphalt. Serious business.Apr 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm #2092973
>"He would make a better organ donor if he didn't smoke!"
Ah, but no one wanted his brain anyway, even if it hadn't been used much.
A friend in the UC Berkeley Hiking Club worked in the health services department. After a serious crash wearing her helmet (which they say to replace the helmet after a crash), she managed a free MRI – not of her head, but of the helmet. And then kept using it.
Yes, if the helmet absorbed enough energy to get broken, your head was FAR better off for de-accelarating over 1 cm instead of 1 mm.Apr 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm #2092974
I went on a bike-a-thon with a friend and she was still using her 1970's "Skid Lid" helmet. It got a lot of odd looks in the 1990's because it obviously protects your scalp more than your brain. I think she still wore it for the "old-timer" cred it garnered.Apr 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm #2092978
I ride about 6,000 miles a year. I have busted it more than once and not a single time when I was racing or really going all out. Sooner or later that helmet is going to save you. I know it has saved me., but to each their own. Good luck!Apr 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm #2092999
I never said or meant "don't wear a helmet"
There is a wealth of information on the net that supports what I did say. A good starting point is Cyclehelmets.org. The article about Relative risk in cycling is quite revealing. Cycling is a safe thing to do compared with many other activities we don't even question. And head injuries are not particularly most likely when cycling or not more than when walking on the street.
Car crashes with injuries usually involve head injury, often severe, too often deadly but nobody seems to recommend helmet use for driving or being a passenger in a car. Not even think of it.
Cycling is quite alien to many, hence the high perceived risk. The more people cycle, the less the perceived need for a cycling helmet.Apr 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm #2093005
Jeremy and AngelaParticipant
@requiemLocale: Northern California
Yes, wear a helmet. You want one if/when your head contacts something hard (pavement, car, wooden pallets, etc.).
This is why I wear a bike helmet on city streets: too many hard edges, including curbs. That said, I think many people have unrealistic expectations of helmets and should probably invest time in learning to fall safely.
I'm reminded both of a college classmate once sent flying by a car, and more recently a centenarian neighbor back home who survived a fall by essentially rolling out of it. I've had my own airborne experiences on my bike (right hook'd by an SUV) and on skis, but so far have yet to have my helmet take an impact. A large chunk of that is luck, but a portion is also practice.Apr 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm #2093030
"Cycling is quite alien to many, hence the high perceived risk. The more people cycle, the less the perceived need for a cycling helmet."
It might be the more people cycle, the less the perceived need for a cycling helmet, but the more likely they will need one.Apr 15, 2014 at 12:26 am #2093109
Joe, it's right on the contrary. The safety is in the numbers. The more people that cycle, the less the relative risk of injury. Again from Cyclehelmets.org about Safety in numbers
That's why the Netherlands is the safest country in the world in which to ride a bike:
Cycling fatalities per 100 million trips
Netherlands: 1.6 Germany: 8.2 USA: 21
Cycling fatalities per 100 million km traveled
Netherlands: 2.0 Germany: 3.2 USA: 7.2
(source)Apr 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm #2093294
@barrypLocale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
“That's why the Netherlands is the safest country in the world in which to ride a bike:”
An Australian journalist writes: "Rarities in Amsterdam seem to be stretch-fabric-clad cyclists and fat cyclists. Helmets are non-existent, and when people asked me where I was from, they would grimace and mutter: "Ah, yes, helmet laws." These had gained international notoriety on a par with our deadly sea animals. Despite the lack of helmets, cycling in the Netherlands is safer than in any other country, and the Dutch have one-third the number of cycling fatalities (per 100,000 people) that Australia has.(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet)
From the OPs blog (as seen 4/14/14): “And if I had been weaing a helmet, the damage would have been negligible.”
Those are so hard to judge. Your eye and nose could have still got smashed WITH a helmet. …Need a controlled scientific test to make those statements. In fact it’s dangerous to make those statements because it sounds like a cure-all for accidents.
For safety, the US is putting too much emphasis on helmets. It’s like building a hospital at the bottom of a cliff instead of a fence at the top of the cliff.
And if you want a true helmet, use the ones the Olympic BMX racers use. No way would they use our little Bell versions. And keep an eye on children with helmets so they don’t strangle themselves in tip overs.
-He who never buys a used helmetApr 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm #2093307
There are lots of things going in the Netherlands that help cyclist safety.
So much of the country cycles, that motorist view cyclists as fellow humans instead of annoying hipster trash delayed their daily commute.
There are so many cyclists, motorists aren't surprised to see them.
There are so many cyclists, bike lane and dedicated bike paths get built.
The Dutch rarely live even 20 miles from where they work. Typically, they live in the same city. And they shop in their own neighborhood. That means predictable routes from residential to work/schools that leads to bike lanes, etc.
Public transportation within cities, between cities, and between countries is great. So very few young Dutch own a car. A lot of Dutch families have a car only for the trip to Grandmothers and the annual August trip to the south of France. That makes the French tollroads and German autobahns pretty scary in August, but means more people on bikes and public transit 48 weeks of the year.
There are no hills! For miles and miles, the tallest thing I saw was a freeway overpass. And there was a sailboat(!!!), sailing in it (i.e. the overpass was a sea-level canal and I'd been below sea level for days). With no hills, bicycling is a lot easier and you never get going faster than you can pedal.
A lot Dutch cycling is done upright and at low speed. Sure, some people have nice racing bikes and ride them on weekends in masse like American yuppies go out on their crotch-rocket motorcycles on weekend mornings. But your leave-it-at-the-curb, daily-rider bike is a beater, often with handlebars for upright cycling – tall, moving at a predictable speed, easy for a motorist to notice.Apr 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm #2093312
I was going to write all of that, but as usual David, you covered it all and much better than I would have. When cycling culture is normalized and past some tipping point, it all gets MUCH more safe.
I, for one, know that being more upright and keeping my speed down (and riding only in bike lanes, etc.) is my key to daily bike commuting safely! If I was surrounded by other bikers riding slowly on a dedicated/separated lane all on our short trip into work on our upright city bikes, then I'd be really safe. And might even take the helmet off!Apr 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm #2093363
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
One more element in Holland. In any accident involving a cyclist and a motorist, the motorist is automatically deemed at legal fault.Apr 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm #2093841
Statistics are great. They help evaluate risk. But the real world isn't particular about what side of the curve it puts YOU on.
Last May, while road cycling in Ireland, far away from the cities, my rental put me on the ground. A poorly routed speedo cable tensioned the front brake as I cranked to the right in a track stand. Zero speed. Boom! WTF?! Cracked my helmet in three places. Head was fine. I had a great trip.
In years past I have cracked several mountain biking helmets.
I can still walk, talk, tie my shoes, and feed myself.
I intend to continue wearing a helmet when cycling, regardless of the statistics.
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