Dr. Henry Marsh, neurosurgeon:
A British brain surgeon says cycle helmets are too flimsy and can actually create more danger by creating the illusion of greater safety.
- Like many, he notes bike helmets do not offer much protection in the event of a collision with a car. Which is true. But he neglects that about 90% of bike crashes DO NOT INVOLVE VEHICLES. Most bike crashes involve bike versus roadway hazards (potholes, loose gravel), crashes with other cyclists, crashes with animals/pets and pedestrians, railroad track and water drain cover hazards, and more.
- He claims countries with helmet rules have no difference in bicycling injuries. Most injuries involve things like broken clavicles, wrists, and road rash, and helmets do nothing for those. Duh.
- Claims people wearing helmets engage in riskier behavior and that car drivers are more likely to be careless when near riders wearing bike helmets. Again, note that 90% of crashes don’t involve cars.
- Almost all bike related fatalities involve vehicle collisions. Few fatalities occur not involving vehicles. The Netherlands is often cited as an example proving that helmets have no value – by noting that there are few bicycle related fatalities. The Netherlands has an outstanding bike lane system that physically separates bikes from vehicles and hence, there are fewer opportunities for bike versus vehicle collisions. Thus, few fatalities. Those who ignore this confounding variable make false assertions that this proves helmets have no value. No, it only shows that “experts” are unable to understand basic logic.
- While head injuries are not the predominant bicycle related injury (road rash is number one, of course), head injuries have the real potential of being extremely serious. They are lower probability events with a large risk of serious injury. Therefore, following the “experts” advice here, since its lower probability/high risk, you don’t need to take precautions?
Like most discussions, there is a sole focus on car versus bike – which is a tiny minority of bike crashes.
At age 12, I hit a tiny pothole, hidden on a turn, while riding my bike on the way home from school. This tiny hole was, I was told, about 8″ long and 3″ wide. It twisted the front wheel of my bike to apparently collide with the curb on the turn. I was apparently thrown over the handlebars and landed on the back of my head and knocked out.
Due to incompetent health care, I was not x-rayed until 5 days later. I had a 5″ (13 cm) long fracture of my skull, highly likely subsequent internal bleeding, and late in life, retroactively diagnosed as a moderate traumatic brain injury. My “treatment” was to lie in bed, at home, basically non-communicative and unable to care for myself, and vomiting. Bicycle helmets did not exist at that time.
In my 20s, twice as an adult, I had two additional bike crashes. Both broke my Bell helmet, both broke other bones, and both knocked me out; first one briefly, the second one longer and harder. The 2nd of these would have resulted in massive head and brain trauma if not for wearing a bike helmet. It did, in fact, result in brain injuries that also were not diagnosed until age 58. This was retroactively diagnosed because of a speech disorder that occurred immediately after and whose only known cause is brain trauma. The first of these involved a downhill roadway surface banked in the wrong direction. The second involved an improperly designed intersection encountered on a group bike ride. The entire intersection was already known (to the city) as the most dangerous intersection in the city and has since been redesigned and rebuilt to eliminate the hazards.
My current and previous doctor – once I was diagnosed, late in life, with post TBI issues – have recommended I not ride a bike at all, even wearing a helmet, due to potential cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries and the risk for such if I had another crash.
Dr. Marsh forms false arguments like this one:
For him, riding without a helmet is also a symbol of the livable city. The problem, as he sees it, is drivers, not cyclists.
Again, he focuses on the 10% of accidents that involve vehicles and ignores the 90% that do not involve vehicles. Dr. Marsh is a menace to the public when he voices erroneous arguments like this:
He argues that bike helmets are promoted by the car industry in order to discourage people from riding bikes, and therefore, [will be] buying more cars.
He makes this assertion devoid of evidence. It is equally valid to point out that Dr. Marsh is a neurosurgeon – is he promoting the non-use of bike helmet to selfishly drum up business for himself? Makes as much sense.
CNet news’ Chris Matyszczyk, the reporter, failed to observe obvious logical errors in Dr. Marsh’s arguments. Like most reporters, he was likely blinded by Dr. Marsh’s title and could not bring himself to think and question skeptically.
Fortunately, Dr. Marsh is now retired and less likely to promote false arguments on bike helmets in order to benefit his own business.
We have medical professionals saying helmets do not work – while simultaneously promoting the wearing of cloth facial coverings which have been proven to have no benefit. It is as if everything coming from “experts” is bullshit: inconsistent, contradictory and generally incoherent.
NOTE – I DO NOT FAVOR MANDATORY HELMET LAWS. HELMETS, LIKE CLOTH FACIAL COVERINGS, SHOULD BE A VOLUNTARY DECISION BASED ON YOUR RISK ASSESSMENT, AND NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL FOR EVERYONE. IF YOU WISH TO WEAR A HELMET OR FACE MASK, THAT IS FINE.
Update: Another article by a media moron editor – who fails to grasp the issues and writes a column largely promoting the non-use of helmets in the United States. The media is filled with people unable to think logically.
The implication of these articles by “experts” is that
- You are a fool and stupid to wear a bike helmet
- The same experts call you a fool and stupid if you are not wearing a cloth facial covering.
This is the suicide of expertise and why many no longer believe experts. They have blown up their own trust and credibility.