Helmets – this is the argument …

Mikael Colville-Andersen (born January 29, 1968 in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada) is a Canadian-Danish urban designer and urban mobility expert. He is the CEO of Copenhagenize Design Company, which he founded in 2009, and he works with cities and governments around the world in coaching them towards becoming more bicycle friendly. He is a sought-after keynote speaker at design and architecture conferences and events around the world on the subjects of urbanism, liveable cities and bicycle history.

Take 15 minutes and listen to this TED talk by Mikael Coalville-Andersen. In it he eloquently articulates the reason it is more beneficial to not wear a bike helmet. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to encourage more cyclist in our cities. It is healthier, cleaner, and the cities are certainly more livable. No question! And, that will happen, he argues, if cyclists are not compelled to wear helmets. And yes, the argument is backed by science. Numerable studies demonstrate that it is just as safe, perhaps safer, if you don’t wear a helmet when cycling.

My, my. This is a complicated debate.

Well, as one who has suffered from two concussions, it’s not that complicated. Any head injury can be debilitating. Minor, low-speed hits to the head can be just as dangerous as the high-speed incident I experienced. And, there can be no argument that protection worn on the head reduces the severity of the fall no matter how hard it may be.

Watch this video and let me know what you think. In particular, does wearing a helmet deter you from cycling? And if so, why?


Do you wear a helmet?

I don’t understand why it is so controversial.

I understand the conflicting evidence about the benefits of wearing a helmet when cycling. But no matter what the numbers, if there is a benefit, no matter how small, why wouldn’t you wear one?

The manager of one of the local bike shops I frequent is adamant there is no benefit at all. He argues, with all who will listen, that there is no evidence that wearing a helmet is any safer.

Well, I have some evidence for him.

Recently, I experienced a high-speed crash while descending a long hill. After climbing for almost an hour, I was looking forward to a long descent to recover, and rest my legs. At the crest of the hill, I stopped briefly to remove my wind jacket, rolled it up, and stuffed into my middle jersey pocket before the descent. A third of the way down, the wind jacket (allegedly) came out the of the pocket and lodged in the rear wheel, immediately stopping it from turning. At this point, according to my bike computer, I was doing 62.4 kph. The rear wheel fishtailed, I was unable to maintain control, was thrown to the ground, and rolled repeatedly down the open road ahead. I first landed on my right side absorbing the blow with my right hand, shoulder, and back of the head. Apparently, I continued rolling, scraping and cutting my forehead, lip, left hand, and knees along the way. I lost consciousness with the first impact, and thankfully don’t remember a thing until I awoke in the back of an ambulance 15 minutes later, strapped securely to a spine board.

I was fortunate. No bones were broken, and I only experienced relatively “minor” scrapes, bruises, cuts, and a concussion. The attending physician at the trauma centre where I was taken said “Have you seen your helmet? It is badly cracked and flattened at the back. It saved your life. You are very fortunate.”.

There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that helmets save lives. It saved mine. You can argue all you like that there is no credible evidence that helmets make cycling any safer, that cyclists need to pay more attention to safer cycling behaviour, and the habits of motorists must improve. I get it. There are many factors that affect a cyclists safety. However, no matter how little the benefit may be, why wouldn’t you wear one?

I learned the hard way. I experienced a freak accident, took a hard hit to the head, and would not be here to talk about it unless I was wearing a helmet.

There is no good reason not to wear a helmet.


iPhriday – good food …

There are no better ingredients than fresh fruits and vegetables (and the odd micro brew) to fuel your rides.

These photographs were taken with my iPhone 5C, and have not been edited in any way. I’m joining Lisa from GrayDaysAndCoffee to share smartphone photos each Friday. Please join us and share your favourite photographs.

What tire size?

I posted previously about the need to correctly inflate your tires to maintain a 15% tire drop both front and back. This requires taking into account the weight of both the rider and bike, the weight distribution on the tires, and the size of the tire.

But what is the best tire size?

I have 3 sets of 700C wheels, each with different tires. The Shimano training wheels have 25 mm and 28 mm tires, and the Dura-Ace racing wheels are equipped with 23 mm tires. I believed that narrower tires roll with less resistance, and are faster. So, I trained on the wider, more comfortable tires, saving the 23 mm tires for race events.

Well, apparently, I was mistaken. 25 mm tires, if inflated the same, have a smaller contact patch on the road, and consequently, roll with less resistance (see attached chart). So, although a few grams heavier, they roll faster, and are more comfortable, particularly on long rides.

So today, I swapped out the 23 mm tires on the Dura-Ace wheels to 25 mm Vittoria Rubino Pro folding tires. I want new tires and tubes for the upcoming Whistler Gran Fondo. There is no need to take more chances with a possible flat than is necessary.