Helmet question

flipper

Member
What about if you spend most of your time tooling around on bike paths, where you're never really near cars nor really riding off road? Maybe that's a reasonable place to consider not wearing a helmet, though running head on into a baby stroller could still cause some damage.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
What about if you spend most of your time tooling around on bike paths, where you're never really near cars nor really riding off road? Maybe that's a reasonable place to consider not wearing a helmet, though running head on into a baby stroller could still cause some damage.

We don't have dedicated bike paths, they are multi-use paths and pedestrians tend to take up the middle, wear headphones blasting music, and then not hear what's around them. I've come close to having accidents on these paths a few times because I had to suddenly stop due to someone else's actions. I don't see the need to not wear a helmet especially when my helmet is comfortable.

Again, what is the benefit of not wearing a bike helmet? Am I somehow safer? Is my head better protected without one? If I fall will my injuries be worse because of a helmet? Other than "cause I don't feel like it" what are valid reasons and benefits of no helmet?
 

flipper

Member
PM: You're right, there are no benefits worth talking about to not wearing a helmet. OTOH, I am almost psychotically vain (with *no* reason to be so), with a huge misshapen melon, and, well, any excuse to not wear a helmet, no matter how lame or misguided, is music to my soon-to-maybe-be-cauliflowered ears. Plus, they hurt like hell on my particular bean. Plus, did I mention how vain I am?
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
What about if you spend most of your time tooling around on bike paths, where you're never really near cars nor really riding off road? Maybe that's a reasonable place to consider not wearing a helmet, though running head on into a baby stroller could still cause some damage.
Was on a bike/ped rail trail last fall and had 3 deer come down onto the path from a 8' high bank, I had to stop on a dime to stop from hitting them or them hitting me. I went head first over the handle bars and head and shoulder hit first. I was glad I had a helmet on! You never know... Average speeds are higher on an ebike, you must take that into account. Rarely is there anyone around early in the morning when I ride. Had I not been wearing a helmet that morning I could have been laying there for some time. I don't know how much a bike helmet would help if hit by a car at speed, but I know how much a helmet helped me in a single vehicle accident. Only had a sore shoulder and a headache.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
We don't have dedicated bike paths, they are multi-use paths and pedestrians tend to take up the middle, wear headphones blasting music, and then not hear what's around them. I've come close to having accidents on these paths a few times because I had to suddenly stop due to someone else's actions. I don't see the need to not wear a helmet especially when my helmet is comfortable.

Again, what is the benefit of not wearing a bike helmet? Am I somehow safer? Is my head better protected without one? If I fall will my injuries be worse because of a helmet? Other than "cause I don't feel like it" what are valid reasons and benefits of no helmet?

Answers to some of your questions:

Riders tend to go faster wearing a helmet (this may not apply to you).

Riders tend to be ... shall we say "less cautious" when wearing a helmet.

In short, the psychological effects of wearing helmets can lead riders to putting themselves into more danger.
___________

On the road, drivers tend to be less cautious around riders who are wearing helmets.

Therefore, unfortunately, wearing a helmet can make you more liable to be hit by an automobile.
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This isn't one of those "comfort" things. It is serious consideration of the fact that you may be injured worse by wearing a helmet.
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As far as near-accidents with pedestrians, I hold the bicyclist responsible 100 percent of the time. I nearly come to a complete stop when going by pedestrians and always speak to them.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
Speed & taking risks do not apply to me, as I don't ride fast and I don't take risks, even with an electric powered bike. I'm not vain when I'm riding a bike because I'm perspiring & exercising. People do unpredictable things, as do cars. Trends and statistics don't guarantee any car is going to not hit me due to whether I have a helmet on or not. I don't see how I will be injured worse wearing a helmet. I can see that I might be injured anyway and the helmet may not prevent all head injuries, but worse? That makes it sound like no one should ever wear a helmet.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
I can see that I might be injured anyway and the helmet may not prevent all head injuries, but worse?

As I understand it, the position in one of the articles was that a helmet can increase the risk of neck injury, for one. They also stated it can increase the risk of head injury as well, including concussion, by making it more likely that you strike something because your head is functionally larger.
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I still wear my helmet. I am not advocating that anyone stop wearing a helmet.
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My personal focus in this conversation is about the false sense of security that helmet wearing creates.
 

Cameron Newland

Well-Known Member
Answers to some of your questions:
As far as near-accidents with pedestrians, I hold the bicyclist responsible 100 percent of the time. I nearly come to a complete stop when going by pedestrians and always speak to them.

Doesn't that seem kind of silly? I mean, let's consider consequentialism for a moment. Indulge me. Let's assume we've got a bicycle rider traveling 20 mph on a multi-use path and an oblivious pedestrian darts from the pedestrian area of the path into the bike portion of the path and in front of the rider, causing a collision. In that case, I think the cyclist's only responsibility might be to stop accelerating for, say, 50-100 feet before passing the pedestrian so as to reduce their speeds and have more time and distance to swerve or brake if the pedestrian darts out. Let's be clear, though: when a pedestrian darts out in front of a bicycle traveling in a bike lane and gets hit without looking, is the pedestrian's fault. The cyclist ought to take measures to eliminate risks for both themselves and others, however, there is no good reason to walk into a bike lane without looking. Even if a small child darts out into a bike lane and gets hit, that's also not the cyclist's fault, that is the fault of the inattentive parent who didn't value the life of their own child enough to ensure that their child didn't get hit (granted, I think that when passing children, cyclists ought to slow down more than they usually do).

Perhaps I'm getting off-topic, as this is a thread about helmets, but I just don't think cyclists have any responsibility to slow down to a crawl when they're on a path meant for them. Similarly, motorists on the freeway aren't at fault when a drunk cyclist thinks to mount his bike and attempt to cross the freeway.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
I just don't think cyclists have any responsibility to slow down to a crawl when they're on a path meant for them.

You make sense. I shouldn't have said 100%. If someone leaps from behind a tree into your path there's obviously nothing you can do.

Where I disagree with you is: first, the path isn't made for bikes if it's a multi-use path, it is made to SHARE. Second, no one should be riding 20 miles per hour on a multi-use path unless no pedestrians are present - even then they are probably illegal.

Pedestrians always have the moral right-of-way; they are the most vulnerable. Even if they are crossing against the light, cars must wait for them. Even if they're moving erratically on a bike path the bicyclist must make allowances for that.

Pedestrian safety is the bicyclist's responsibility in all but extreme cases as mentioned above.

It distresses me when bicyclists speed by pedestrians. It frightens me when I'm walking, it is dangerous, and it gives bicycling a bad name.

Sharing the path means you don't get to go as fast as you want. It means pedestrians have the right of way even if they're moving erratically. I'm pretty certain the law where you live supports that statement.

It means you virtually never get to blame a pedestrian for a collision or a near collision.

Recently a bicyclist killed a pedestrian in Central Park. Bicycles are human-powered vehicles. I guarantee you a court will consider our electric bicycles to be vehicles if we run someone over. "They were moving erratically" is not going to be a defense ... please slow way down when pedestrians are around.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Note: you stated "multi-use path" but then seemed to discuss divisions of the path. Where I live a multi-use path is just a plain path, there are no markings for bikes here and pedestrians there.

If you're talking about a bike lane on the street then I agree the pedestrian has a higher level of responsibility, but even in that case the bicyclist must be safe and prudent and make every effort to avoid hitting a pedestrian, morally and by law.
 

Cameron Newland

Well-Known Member
Note: you stated "multi-use path" but then seemed to discuss divisions of the path. Where I live a multi-use path is just a plain path, there are no markings for bikes here and pedestrians there.

If you're talking about a bike lane on the street then I agree the pedestrian has a higher level of responsibility, but even in that case the bicyclist must be safe and prudent and make every effort to avoid hitting a pedestrian, morally and by law.

I spend half of my commute riding on a multi-use path called Chandler Bike Path in which roughly half is designated for pedestrians, and then the other half is for cyclists and has a clear white dividing line that separates it from the pedestrian area, and also a dashed-yellow painted dividing line to serve as a was to separate bicycle traffic going in either direction. On my commute, I usually encounter anywhere from 10 to 100 pedestrians on the multi-use path, and 90% of them stay within the pedestrian area, but often there are runners who need to pass slow-walking pedestrians, and they do so by darting out into the bicycle path without looking to see if there are any cyclists. Some of them have given up on staying within the pedestrian area because they have to leave it so often to pass walkers, so they straddle the line between the pedestrian area and the bike path. There are also groups of moms with strollers who walk three-abreast, and one of the moms is always walking in the bike lane, oblivious to the dangers and the presence of fast-moving cyclists. Also, small children who aren't properly supervised by their parents tend to dart out on to the bike path. I try to slow to 15 mph when passing pedestrians so that I can more easily swerve or brake if they dart out in front of me. I think the better solution, though, would be to have separate paved paths for pedestrians and cyclists, and to have them clearly marked as such, and also to have fines for violators posted on signs every block or so (though I imagine you wouldn't need any enforcement of these rules if the rules were posted often enough and if the paths were painted so as to make it clear which groups could use the paths).

I've found that on Strava, cyclists seem to universally hate this bike path so much that they've nicknamed sections of it "Chandler Moron Bike Path". I assume that their disdain for the path has to do with the trouble they've had on the path, whether that came as a result of strange interactions with slow/inexperienced cyclists or with pedestrians who darted out in front of them or blocked their path.
 
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PowerMe

Well-Known Member
At least you have a delineation for pedestrians vs cyclists. On our multi-use paths, it's a free-for-all. I regularly encounter pedestrians walking 2 and 3 abreast, completely oblivious that they are taking up the whole width of a path. Or people walking 2 abreast with 2 or 3 dogs. Some people will see you coming as you are coming towards each other and they STILL won't move out of the way! It's maddening. I always yell, "on your left" along with ringing my little bike bell when I am coming up on anyone from the rear. People with headphones on will often not be able to hear, even when you're yelling "on your left" ding-ding at them. This irks me to no end because I ride responsibly and not fast at all (we're talking 10 to 12 mph) and I don't hog the paths I ride. I've had to stop on several occasions as I was getting run off the path.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
I spend half of my commute riding on a multi-use path called Chandler Bike Path in which roughly half is designated for pedestrians, and then the other half is for cyclists and has a clear white dividing line that separates it from the pedestrian area, and also a dashed-yellow painted dividing line to serve as a was to separate bicycle traffic going in either direction. On my commute, I usually encounter anywhere from 10 to 100 pedestrians on the multi-use path, and 90% of them stay within the pedestrian area, but often there are runners who need to pass slow-walking pedestrians, and they do so by darting out into the bicycle path without looking to see if there are any cyclists. Some of them have given up on staying within the pedestrian area because they have to leave it so often to pass walkers, so they straddle the line between the pedestrian area and the bike path. There are also groups of moms with strollers who walk three-abreast, and one of the moms is always walking in the bike lane, oblivious to the dangers and the presence of fast-moving cyclists. Also, small children who aren't properly supervised by their parents tend to dart out on to the bike path. I try to slow to 15 mph when passing pedestrians so that I can more easily swerve or brake if they dart out in front of me. I think the better solution, though, would be to have separate paved paths for pedestrians and cyclists, and to have them clearly marked as such, and also to have fines for violators posted on signs every block or so (though I imagine you wouldn't need any enforcement of these rules if the rules were posted often enough and if the paths were painted so as to make it clear which groups could use the paths).

I've found that on Strava, cyclists seem to universally hate this bike path so much that they've nicknamed sections of it "Chandler Moron Bike Path". I assume that their disdain for the path has to do with the trouble they've had on the path, whether that came as a result of strange interactions with slow/inexperienced cyclists or with pedestrians who darted out in front of them or blocked their path.

I agree with you, bikes need their own path. With that many pedestrians, bikes should not even be on that path.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
You won't find many wearing lycra spandex either. If you do wear lycra and a helmet they assume you are American. Cycling isn't an activity, it's transportation!
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Yes, regular clothing. Using the bike as a tool, a means to get home from work. On the wide, safe, pervasive bike paths. In the city where they only live a few miles from where they work. No need for lycra or padded pants or bent over handlebars.

But mostly what's missing from the equation, why there's no helmets necessary, is low speed and ....no cars.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
Everyone I saw riding yesterday (and it was well over 50 people) wore helmets (and mondo lycra) Then again, they were on race bikes, trying to look like Tour de France entrants, and they were going fast!