Bicycles Helmets? A Waste of Money?

Here’s a silly study. It purports to measure the effectiveness of bicycle helmets by looking at the  (minimal) changes in fatality rates since cyclists began using them in droves in the 1990s.  The Big Missing in the data is the reduction in the number of serious head injuries resulting from increased helmet usage.  Deaths are tragic to loved ones.  Head injuries are ruinously costly to families and societies.

This is the first concise summary I found on the effectiveness of helmets in reducing head injuries. The meta-analysis concluded that  “helmets provide a 63 to 88% reduction in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists.”

The data in the silly study are apparently culled from a 2010Transport Canada study. The article is festooned with Canadian Maple Leafs, suggesting Government of Canada sanction, but it was prepared by a cyclist-rights guy in Ottawa, Ontario.  His organization‘s stated objective has been to oppose “various politicians, bureaucrats, safety lobbyists, and misguided members of certain cycling organizations who would have cyclists ghettoized into bike lanes and onto bike paths, and slap foam hats on everyone’s head” The organization is defunct but the website lives on.


The May/June 2014″Intelligent Life” insert to the Economist featured an article on Seven Deadly Sins with seven different worldly people lobbying for one of the Sins.  They’re all interesting reads.

I particularly liked the article by Aminatta Forna (professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University and author of “The Hired Man”) and the following two paragraphs in particular.

I spend some of my time in west Africa where choices are fewer. In our family village most people are subsistence farmers and meals are shared and eaten from the same dish. Yet even there a visitor has asked for the “vegetarian option”. Off the coast nearby, Japanese factory trawlers heave tonnes of fish from the ocean, leaving little for local fishermen.

In west Africa, when a spendthrift loses his fortune, we say: “He ate it.” Future generations will look back at us, across the empty seas and the rainforests razed to make way for yet more cattle, ask what happened to the earth and say: “They ate it.”

via GLUTTONY IS THE DEADLIEST SIN | More Intelligent Life.