How successful is mandatory helmet law?

There are a lot of voices and opinions calling for the repeal of the mandatory helmet law for cyclists, as well as calls to either remove existing cycling infrastructure or stop government spending on such programs, due to safety concerns. Both calls are unfounded.

Helmet_law copy Helmet_law copy1

When helmet legislation was enacted in 1991, the number of people cycling has flourished. There is no significant sign of widespread paradox opposition to the law, if there is, it is no more than mandatory helmets for motorcyclist or requiring to fasten seat belts in automobiles.

There are solid evidences of how helmet successfully protected cyclists from suffering fatal head injuries. The rate of head injuries have declined about 29% immediately following mandatory helmet legislation. The reduction was unrelated to any other changes occurring in cycling around the time. Put in plainly, helmets worked as intended.

Between 1991 and 2010, research shown that bicycle-related injuries (head injuries that were serious enough to require hospital admission) in New South Wales has declined. In addition, the increase arm injury rates reflect what is happening in the cycling environment, such as general safety improvements and the behavior of cyclists. By comparing arm and head injury rates highlights the importance of wearing a helmet.

Before the helmet law, the head-injury rate was consistently higher than that for arm injuries. But after the mandatory helmet law, head injuries dropped below arm injuries and the two gradually diverged. Arm injury numbers increased steadily at a rate of 3.3% a year (in a situation when cycling rates is increasing), yet head injuries stayed relatively flat. By 2006, the head injury rate had fallen to almost half that of arm injuries. In that time, arm injuries rose by 145%, yet head injuries rose by just 20%    (in the past decade alone, cycling participants increased by 51%).



Bike Helmets On Campus

This happens a lot when I am walking around the campus in the University of New South Wales, people bicycling without a helmet. What surprises me more is that they have their helmets either sitting on the bicycle handle or in their bags.  Do you need to wear a helmet when riding to classes even when it is about 500 meters away?

What can happen to a head dropped from the normal height where you ride,which is about 5 feet up, when it hits the concrete walkway.The gravitational force (9.81 meter per second square )will be exerted  to the heads when people experience from that drop height. Bike helmets are tested in a two meter drop, a little higher, but that 5 feet is all the impact that will need to mess up the brain. This is just falling from that height without any given speed. Forward speed will make it even worse! Remember these vector graphs?

Think about random things that happen when you ride on campus. Do you ever get distracted by passing members of the opposite gender, especially there are a lot of young girls in the university? Same gender, some cool and fit guys? Have you had near-collisions or collisions with pedestrians? Do you ever go on a class in a hurry just to make it on time? Have you ever seen a patch of crack or sand on a campus sidewalk? Are these sidewalk cracks where a bike wheel can catch? Do people ever leave cans or bottles around that could turn your front wheel? Do you ever extend your ride off campus to go somewhere close by going to a detour that will emerge with traffic? All these factors have to be considered when you are not wearing a helmet. Accidents can happen anytime, that is why they are called accidents.

Nobody keeps track of how many of those accidents were on a campus when they crashed. But we do know that you are making a major investment in yourself for a lifetime of good returns, and you do not want a fuddled brain to bring that to an end. Head injuries can cause multiple parts of your body to paralyze, and experience amnesia and other brain related symptoms.

Helmets are everywhere, even a cheap one can save your head from fatal injuries. You can lock it with your bike. It really would not mess up your hair much in a short ride. Give it a try!

(This article is more about logical and emotional comments)