Southerly by David Haywood

Read Post

Southerly: Bob's Top Five

135 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

  • giovanni tiso,

    But then you use other methods to promote cycling. It's still not the helmet's fault! Besides what Rob and others have said about the larger trends involved in the fact that people drive and are driven around more.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Jolisa wrote:

    I completely buy your science, David. I just don't fancy testing it on New Haven roads, or letting my kids test it...

    Oh, but this comment suggests that I'm still not managing to explain myself properly!

    The studies I've been talking about say nothing about helmet safety -- they're about the effect of the compulsory helmet law.

    IN OTHER WORDS, YOU ARE TESTING THE SCIENCE EVERY TIME YOU CYCLE ON NEW HAVEN ROADS UNDER YOUR NON-COMPULSORY HELMET REGIME.

    According to the science, the fact that you don't have compulsory cycle helmets in New Haven means that every time you cycle, you and your kids are less likely to suffer an accident (than if you were cycling under a compulsory helmet regime).

    Similarly, according to the science, you and your kids will be enjoying some (probably very slight) economic benefit from the fact that the New Haven economy doesn't have to pay for the additional negative health consequences (heart disease, diabetes, etc) that would have occurred under a compulsory helmet regime.

    In fact, you and the kids have the best of both worlds -- you have all the health and safety benefits of non-compulsory cycle helmet laws, and you wear helmets anyway (yes, George, I know that the efficacy of helmets is uncertain). I wish that I cycled in your world.

    I now officially admit that I obviously can't explain science for shit and shall give up trying. If you're reading this post, Kathryn Ryan, then please consider it to be my formal resignation.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    To be fair, we're harsher than her audience

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19481 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    It's still not the helmet's fault!

    But I NEVER EVER said it was the helmet's fault. I said the studies showed that it was the effect of the compulsory cycle helmet law!

    Yes, it may be possible to introduce a raft of legislation to force people onto bicycles (although good luck staying in power if you try). You'll note that I haven't suggested a solution to this problem -- I've only reported what the studies seem to say.

    But ask yourself this question: why don't they have compulsory cycle helmet laws in Holland? Why don't they have them in Denmark? Why don't they have them in Germany?

    And why have other countries used NZ and Australia's experiences with cycle helmet laws as a reason not to enact similar laws in their jurisdiction? And why is Israel in the process of repealing their version of NZ's law (although this has yet to pass its final reading)?

    And yes, of course, the clever statisticians who work on this stuff have various methods for testing the significance of different factors. That's what being a clever statistician is all about!

    Anyway, I'm working in the four hours per week that I've set aside not to work in -- so I'm off to watch a DVD.

    P.S. Apologies if this reply sounds shouty -- I certainly don't mean it that way. Perhaps this debate all boils down to the difference between the reality-based pragmatism of the engineer, as opposed to the healthy idealism of the uncynical non-engineer. It's probably much better to be idealistic, I dare say.

    P.P.S. And, of course, I still love you, Giovanni!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But I NEVER EVER said it was the helmet's fault. I said the studies showed that it was the effect of the compulsory cycle helmet law!

    Really, I do get it. But still to me the only reason to repeal the law is if in fact the helmet doesn't offer significant protection to the cyclist. (Which sounds like might well be the case.) But if it in fact does, then it makes perfect sense to recognise it in law, as we do for things like motorbike helmets and safety belts on cars, and then deal with the problem of promoting greater use of bikes some other way (cycling routes, higher road costs for cars, free use of bikes sponsored by the municipality, advertising campaigns).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    We could always train our car drivers better

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19481 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    And why do so many of us drive our kids to school?

    No one reason. But a lingering memory of not being driven to school and having to ..**gasp.. horror** ...walk. We are creatures who like comfort, and only get used to routine by having it imprinted from childhood - car as bribery. Now mum has a car, and it can be used to make her days busy. NZ has a larger share of Safety Nazis for some reason, which seems to translate into politicians who will legislate for everything and at the drop of a helmet. haha!
    You do realise that the level of life comfort we enjoy in the western world isn't sustainable and it will be forcibly lowered by external circumstances don't you? And it will probably happen in your child's life time. No more jetting round the world to watch other humans who have been able to devote their lives to becoming very good at some specialised aspect of a sport. And while they may be fit while doing it, for most of them that will fade with time and injuries. And they could end up sickness bennies.
    Now that 's what you call cynical and idealistic. And managing to sound the least grumpy I been in weeks...and didn't that 50 years of Tele get off to a good start last week.
    Seems my keyboard is missing a thingy.....for bold.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1698 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Since she was six, my daughter and I cycled to school through her time at primary school (only one particularly tricky intersection on the route, and we would get off our bikes and become pedestrians for that section).
    Going to Intermediate the policy was you could arrive at the school gates either in P.E. gear or formal uniform, and the daughter continued to cycle to school. Then the policy was changed that you had to arrive at the school in Official Uniform and the daughter stopped cycling to commute- Not because of having to cycle in a helmet (having not known anything else) but because of having to cycle in a kilt.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1443 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    Great cycle safety thread it's turned into, and don't give up your new day job, Dave. Counter-intuitive science is a welcome mid-morning shake-up. I think the differences in opinion here aren't so much about pragmatism vs idealism, as individuals vs population, as you've been trying to get across.

    My husband's been active in Dunedin cycling advocacy, and knows of the stick-wielder of whom Kyle speaks. He preferred the approach of an anti-helmet friend who got a letter from a doctor testifying that helmets gave her claustrophobia (or something). It occurred to me that if someone wanted to mount a serious campaign to get the helmet law repealed, the best way could be to do it through doctor's letters - find a brave medic who was willing to write a form letter about the lack of major protection afforded by helmets and/or public health benefits for repeal of shifting car drivers to cycling (under-estimated by the NZTA's Economic Evaluation Manual v2 as $1.42 per km) as a form letter that could be shown to the ptb as required. At least it would get publicity.

    I would be in favour of compulsory helmets for kids, not sure to what age, but they're more likely to have those falling impacts and if helmets are normalised when they're young they're more likely to keep wearing them (not wanting to get into George's arguments re helmet badness at this stage)

    http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/economic-evaluation-manual/volume-2/

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 238 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    I now officially admit that I obviously can't explain science for shit and shall give up trying. If you're reading this post, Kathryn Ryan, then please consider it to be my formal resignation.

    Nono! Don't do that!! We need as much proper science in the media as we can get! Please?

    I don't think this debate says anything about how good you are at explaining: it's a complex issue full of stuff we wish wasn't true. But it's one of the functions of science to unsettle our prejudices. It can be upsetting. That's not your fault.

    Please don't quit. Otherwise we'll have to argue about politics, or, heaven forbid, sport. ;-) And I'd much rather discuss science.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    JLM wrote:

    I would be in favour of compulsory helmets for kids

    So would I -- for the reasons you give (and also because kids can't get drivers' licences!). One of Scufham's papers has some data that may support this on a cost-benefit basis (although the paper is rather simplistic in its analysis).

    But the problem with repealing the current law, is that -- as when we made helmets compulsory -- we're in the position of not having data from another country. In other words, no other country has had such a law (with all its demonstrably negative consequences) and then repealed it. Although, as I said up-thread, Israel may be about to do so.

    Or, to put it another way, just because we repeal the law doesn't mean that we'll go back to the same cycling rate as we had before. The damage has already been done. There's a lot of research that says its very easy to get people off bikes, but terribly hard to get them back on.

    So it's complicated. If you were to repeal the law you might also have to introduce a bunch of other incentives to get people back on bikes (although, it has to be said, there would probably still be a cost-benefit advantage in simply repealing the law without any of that).

    Grace Dalley wrote:

    Please don't quit. Otherwise we'll have to argue about politics, or, heaven forbid, sport.

    Crikey, I was only kidding -- I need the money! Don't let Bob starve, Kathryn!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    . . . only one particularly tricky intersection on the route, and we would get off our bikes and become pedestrians for that section . . . and the daughter stopped cycling to commute- Not because of having to cycle in a helmet (having not known anything else) but because of having to cycle in a kilt.

    Perhaps the wind changed, and she was stuck with being a pedestrian. Stuff like that happens to kids.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4569 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    ..and didn't that 50 years of Tele get off to a good start last week.

    Yes, it was excellent, especially in respect of not privileging the history of any particular broadcaster...and if I can take the liberty of promoting my research site one more time, there is a discussion developing at http://www.historyoftvinnz.com

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2520 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Umm Kyle, that wouldn't happen to be a relative (of mine) with the stick would it?

    and as we found out at last night's party yes it was .....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2575 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I now officially admit that I obviously can't explain science for shit and shall give up trying. If you're reading this post, Kathryn Ryan, then please consider it to be my formal resignation

    .

    F$#K off Haywood (LOUDLY). You dare and I will disown you.

    The opportunity for folk "out there" to have another science nutter expose their lack of BTA* is paramount. Further, if it gets them to learn they have the ability to develop one then all the better.

    At least Kathryn had it sorted so she was/is able to entice YOU to elicite another way of explaining thingys. Like the law of unintended consequences. It is good interviewing technique on show isn't it?


    *Bullshit Detection Abilitity

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1582 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    I need the money! Don't let Bob starve, Kathryn!

    Now let's be honest, the fear of your child starving isn't really the reason.
    What am I doing up at this hour it's 1-1. And I dont care about sport its 'nsomnia. I wonder if those sports chaps are up, I guess not.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1698 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Just a quick note that there are other reasons for not liking helmets, besides hair-related vanity.

    Heat's one. Some people I know swear blind that they overheat when they wear helmets, particularly in summer. I personally think that's because they haven't tried any reasonably modern helmets, where the venting is designed to help direct the airflow to keep you cool - but it's a potential reason.

    The actual physical reality of the helmet is another. To put it simply, helmets are a pain to carry around. They're impractical to attach to your bike (if you lock it to the frame, they're just at dog-urination level), and they're a bit annoyingly shaped for carrying around in a bag. When you're not wearing one, a helmet is another bloody thing to have to lug around/look after.

    I should point out that in over a decade of fairly committed cycling, I have never had a crash that included me hitting my head. However, I did once have a bee fly into the vents in my helmet and freak out on top of my head while I was doing 30kph. On that occasion, wearing the helmet markedly increased my chance of an accident, as it was very hard to concentrate until I'd done an emergency stop and removed the bee.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    David,

    Does the data isolate the two major factors you've identified from each other?

    1 relates to the cyclist, cycling less (because of having to wear a helmet among other things?) and this affecting society's general health.

    2 relates to drivers driving in a less safe way around cyclists because they are wearing a helmet.

    1 obviously relates directly to the helmet law, but 2 is more indirect and the problem there really is the behaviour of drivers.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6242 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    letters salad?

    BTA* = Bullshit Detection Ability

    Surely BDA - Bad acronym fail?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7630 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    SNAFU

    BDA

    I can't even figure out where "T"hat came from either......

    Bugger.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1582 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    On the subject of correlation vs causation, it occurs to me that the drop in cycling-as-transport could also be related to the introduction of Japanese used car imports, which happened at about the same time as the bike helmet legislation and the education campaigns that preceded it.

    I'm having a Bad Google Day and can't determine whether Australia had a similar overlap. I also can't find any indication that cheaper cars have been considered as a factor by people analyzing the effects of the helmet laws, but that might be the Bad Google Day too.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    More bike science over here. Warning: it's the Daily Mail. But it's worth it, for the accompanying photo. It would be a crime to put a helmet on that gorgeous hair.

    And the one in the dress has pretty hair too.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Plus, Amy: I think you're totally onto something. Before Mr Honda's el cheapo second car, it was Shanks' pony or on yer bike, for getting to and from school or the shops, for your average one-car family.

    Number of two-car households would be an interesting statistic to map against bike use. Also, average distance from home to work. A ten minute ride is one thing, but half an hour would start to look too much like hard work, if you had a car to jump into instead.

    Has the absolute number of bikes gone down, by the way? Or just the usage thereof? We had one bike per person, growing up, until my brother started being able to buy his own bikes, at which point we had one bike per person except for Greg who had a whole bunch.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Heat's one. Some people I know swear blind that they overheat when they wear helmets, particularly in summer. I personally think that's because they haven't tried any reasonably modern helmets, where the venting is designed to help direct the airflow to keep you cool - but it's a potential reason.

    Admission. I habitually wear a cycle helmet BUT if I'm grinding up to a saddle at about 5km/h in Central Otago in summer, there is bugger all airflow for ventilation, and I'll happily swing my helmet from the handlebars. Always put it on before starting and descent of course. Also, I stopped cycle commuting after a concussion and hand grating.

    the introduction of Japanese used car imports

    There is also a secondary wave related to this. It took not quite a decade after the introduction of Japanese imports for these to filter down in numbers to the $500 car class. In the mid-late 90s, students (including myself) were still buying NZ new cars from the 70s (so 20 odd years old) whose value had held up surprisingly well.
    Somewhat relatedly, it amused me that my first two cars' combined cost was less than the bike I owned at the time.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I habitually wear a cycle helmet BUT if I'm grinding up to a saddle at about 5km/h in Central Otago in summer, there is bugger all airflow for ventilation, and I'll happily swing my helmet from the handlebars. Always put it on before starting and descent of course.

    In this, you take the same position as the management of the Tour de France, who require riders to wear helmets at all times - except in the final climb of the day, where the stage finishes at the top of a climb of at least 5k. If you want a souvenir, standing around at the bottom of the final climb is a good way to pick up helmets as the riders hurl them off before hitting the climb.

    A ten minute ride is one thing, but half an hour would start to look too much like hard work, if you had a car to jump into instead.

    This is an interesting one. I used to work a 30-minute bike ride from home. People were amazed that I rode it five days a week. What they didn't realise was that in rush hour traffic, it was also a 30-minute drive (or a 40-minute bus ride). Yes, the car's faster on an empty road, but at 8am going into the CBD, the bike is often faster in real terms.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.