Friday, July 16, 2010

Headbutting--The Best Argument for Wearing a Helmet Yet

I am not exactly amazed when people still deny they're risking their lives by riding without helmets. More like mildly interested in yet another example of the human capacity to believe whatever we want in the face of obvious facts, evidence, and (un)common sense to the contrary. Now, I'm quite willing, even anxious, for those who wish to risk their lives in such a manner to go ahead (pun intended) and do so. The way I see it, they stand to improve the human gene pool by possibly removing themselves from it earlier than necessary. They should win a Darwin Award, if they have not already.

However, watching the now-infamous headbutting incident at the TDF yesterday--and yes, Canvendish's legs won that sprint, not Renshaw's head--my first thought was, Yet another reason to wear a helmet. Then I thought about the possibilities. Would Renshaw have butted Dean if he, Renshaw, had been helmetless? What would have been the outcome if the headbutt were committed sans helmet? The answers might be Yes, he would, and Much, Much Worse--especially for all the non-butters behind them.

On the whole, however, my main reaction to the scene is disappointment. Not that a TDFer would stoop to unethical tactics, nor that he was evicted from the race for them--both are to be expected. However, I am sorry I revealed the history of my busted helmet (below) before now. Think how much I could have gotten for it on Ebay if I had advertised it as a genuine replica of the result of a Renshaw-encounter.


  1. It's a real shame that you feel it's necessary to make a post such as this.

    What I find hilarious about pro-helmet wearers on the internet is that they are so over-zealous & narrow-minded.

    Most non-helmet wearers are actually 'pro choice', but would encourage anybody to not take a helmet at face value & assume they are suddenly ready for battle, because as I pointed out in the comment that you deleted on one of your previous posts, a cycle helmets scope for protection is actually quite limited & there are also some negative safety issues to their use.

    That individuals like yourself portray such a holier than thou image of yourselves for wearing one, and that you make statements such as (quoting from this post) "The way I see it, they stand to improve the human gene pool by possibly removing themselves from it earlier than necessary" is quite frankly disgusting.

    I was looking forward to seeing your blog develop over the coming months, but as a result of the quoted statement above am no longer following your blog.

    With great regret, I also request that you no longer follow mine.

  2. As a man of science, and of the bike, I take the evidence based approach, not just cherry picking the ones which support my original position but looking at a broad spectrum of research and then drawing conclusions based on all of the work, weighted by the scientific rigour of each individual piece. Sadly a lot of the research supporting helmets is flawed. Impact tests which don't resemble a real crash, ignoring the effects of risk compensation, citing reductions in head injuries after mandatory helmet laws which don't take into account the death of cycling which means cycling numbers go down when people are prevented from choosing for themselves.

    Treating non-helmet wearers as Darwin award candidates is bad for cycling. It is inattentive motorists who kill most cyclists. A helmet wouldn't have saved them and may have made matters worse. We need to challenge bad driving, not bad-mouth those who make the informed choice to not use a helmet.

  3. Lighten up, folks. No reason to take anything I say so seriously! Whatever excuse anybody needs in order to believe they're better off crashing without a helmet than with one is, as I said above, okay by me. Enjoy the breeze.