Wearing bicycle helmets increases injuries.

Helvi in Amsterdam

Helvi in Amsterdam

It seems a contradiction. But according to some reading, The Netherlands, where just about everyone rides a bicycle, those injured in bicycle accidents are most likely to be those wearing helmets. Surely, when a Dutch head hits the ground it is equally painful? Is the head of a Dutch non helmet-wearer harder? Of course not. However, what the investigators found is that the few that do wear helmets in Holland (less than -.5%) it is because they ride mountain bikes or racing bikes. In other words they engage in some form of competitive bicycle riding, which normal bicycle riders don’t. In Holland the danger to bicycle riders is the motor car not the cycling. This is why both are separated as much as possible.


I am sorry for giving you this link. (Just be happy I did not publish the full text!) Here in Australia, the issue of bicycling is truly and well in the hands of sport and fashion. The fact the Government is even thinking of imposing identity on bicycle riders seems to indicate that riding bicycles is seen as dangerous enough in case of accidents. And, they are right. It is dangerous because riding bicycles is much more seen as a sport instead as a way to getting from A-B. The way the rider dresses up. Hours are spent to get into artery-tight lycra. I bet the sperm counts count are drastically lower in male bicycle riders, and I am not even a doctor. The shoes alone costs hundreds and have to be multi ribbed for speed and brightly coloured. If the fashion is not expensive enough, has anyone looked at the cost of those bicycles? You can spend thousands.

Most bicycles in Australia are also highly dangerous. They fall mainly in racing bicycles genre.  They are supposed to be ridden with head lower than bum, facing the ground. How dangerous is that? They have very thin tyres. When those tyres are slightly underinflated it doesn’t take much for the steel rim to connect to the road and the inevitable tumble of the rider. Then, we have here, like in America a very aggressive car-riding population. They think nothing of tooting their horn making sure the bicycle rider understands it is the car drivers’ domain. There have been jailing of drivers who were shown to deliberately drive in to bicycle riders.

In Holland it is proven that the car driver is the one who ought to wear helmets. Far more people get head injuries driving cars than riding bicycles.

Here a copy from WWW. “Tree huggers.”

“It’s also Dutch policy not to encourage helmets because overall it is counterproductive; if you could somehow preserve the bicycle use we see today AND also wear helmets, yes, a few deaths would be avoided. But in practice you can’t promote helmets without discouraging cycling – where helmets have been made mandatory, cycling levels drop. That has a public health cost — lack of exercise is far more dangerous than biking without a helmet. The exact value of “far more dangerous” depends on the local risk of cycling – in England the estimate is that per cyclist the risk:reward ratio is about 1:10; here in the US (with our riskier roads) it is about 1:5, but in the Netherlands it is 1:25. That is, for each year of life lost to bicycle crashes in the Netherlands, 25 years are gained from better health because of the exercise.”


“You’re talking about the Netherlands, where helmet use is almost non-existent, bike use is very high, and yet it has the lowest cycling death and injury rate in the world.
If helmets really were effective, the USA would be the safest place to cycle, right?…

the Dutch don’t need bike helmets because cycling is not an intrinsically dangerous activity – it’s the road environment that is dangerous, and the Dutch have created a safe cycling environment.

The majority of head injuries are sustained by car occupants. Perhaps it is motor vehicle drivers and their passengers who should be wearing helmets?

Similarly, from dr2chase:

Because it doesn’t make sense — cycling there is 5 times safer than cycling here in the US. It would make more sense (that is, the risk is higher) to ask you why you don’t wear a helmet when you drive your car. To put it differently – your risk of head injury per trip or per hour is higher if you drive a car in the US, than if you ride a bike in the Netherlands.”

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16 Responses to “Wearing bicycle helmets increases injuries.”

  1. berlioz1935 Says:

    Interesting numbers you are publishing. You would think those statistics are available to our lawmakers. Our PM talks about innovations but cuts funds to any sort of research. We are not in the forefront of anything except in drinking alcohol and playing the pokies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Cycling here is promoted as a sport rather than a safe form of transport. In Holland too, there are those that ride racing bikes or mountain bikes and they tend to wear helmets. Generally, for transport use people don’t.
      Even on the few cycling paths in Australia, the racing bike dominates, and one sees many manically riding cyclists head bent downwards, racing to a time table.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. happy go lucky Says:

    I agree with what you are saying especially about the bike culture, their Lycra, unsuitable bikes for our very bad road systems etc. However the sheer difference in the number of kilometres of roads and the topography, if that is the right word, between the two countries may need to be considered when one considers the difficulty and costs for safe bike only lanes.
    There are some in the big cities but nowhere enough of them and quite often Peter out and join the road again.
    It needs more than dollars. It needs planning. Something Australia is not very good at. Much more satisfying to plan the next test match or game of footy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Cycling in whatever form is a healthy form of exercise. Instead of eating sugar one should really get on a bike. I noticed that our deputy PM, Barnaby Jones scoffed at the idea of a sugar tax. He thought it would damage our sugar cane farmers. Of course it would. But, at what cost protecting the farmers against the tens of thousands of yearly deaths caused by our love of sugar eating and diabetes.
      Schools are even reluctant to ban the striped sugar canes that some tuck shops are still fond of selling.
      It is all so hopeless.


  3. stuartbramhall Says:

    The reason Dutch cyclists have fewer accidents is because their streets are deliberately laid out to reduce contact between cyclists and and motorists. I know because my bicycle groups is trying to make roading changes here in New Plymouth that will create more separation. I have fallen off my bicycle numerous times when motorists have thoughtlessly opened their car door into me. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet I would be brain dead by now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You have a good point there, Stuart.

      Separating cyclists from steel cars is all important. In the long run, that pays off. I have fallen of my bike in Holland many times. But, being seated below the handle-bars means that by sitting upright on the bike, the head doesn’t hit the road first.

      The racing bikes here in Australia are designed to injure or even kill. The rider is seated well above the handle-bars. Those handle-bars are often curled downwards to the road as well. It necessitates the rider to have his head pointing towards the bitumen instead of upwards observing what is ahead and around.. It is no wonder the head is the first body part to make contact with the road.

      I ride my bicycle not wearing a helmet. I have noticed a few others as well. A small revolution. A kind of bicycle freedom Che Guevara. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Snow Melts Somewhere Says:

    Interesting. Over here helmets are obligatory but even so, not everyone wears them. And biking s quite popular. Once I started wearing one, I can’t ride a bike without it now because I feel so vulnerable! We having cycling deaths each year over here, usually involving cars and crazy cycling enthusiasts in those lycra tights you described. Still, traffic is pretty crazy here (ie drivers of cars are very disrespectful towards bikes and pedestrians) and I don’t feel comfortable riding my bike in town without my helmet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I would not have thought car drivers in Finland are disrespectful. But then again, I am somewhat disposed towards all thing Finnish to be superb.
      The Finns have always been greatest racing car drivers, and I suppose they practise their skills on the public road and sometimes hit cyclists.
      Helvi tells me during her time, most country kids in Finland rode their bikes to schools. She used to ride 10km each way to school for years, even during minus 20C.
      Those sweaty skin tight lycra clad riders are really off-putting, especially when standing next to my croissant and coffee latte.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The Snow Melts Somewhere Says:

        I’ve heard about those long trips to school, too. By skis and by bike. Luckily, I live in Helsinki so over here that’s not an issue. Don’t know if drivers are more considerate elsewhere – but I’ve heard that teenage boys race bikes all around the countryside, going at crazy speeds on roads that are mostly empty. Living the Mika Häkkinen dream! That’s ok I guess, but in the city it’s not…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres Says:

    It seems to me that the car-cyclist issue is becoming less of a problem here. Both drivers and bikers seem to be getting more polite, and it’s not at all uncommon to see car drivers move over for the bike-riders. There are plenty of the lycra-clad, but they move in packs, and are careful to string themselves along the road vertically rather than horizontally, which helps.

    We’re getting more and more bike lanes, too, especially along wide, multi-laned roads where they could easily take a part of it to make a bike lane. And there are lots of recreational bike paths being built that go across country rather than using the street. All good moves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad to hear that cyclists in the US are treated with respect and consideration. I suppose the more of them ride bikes the better they will be accepted as part road users.
      Cycle lanes are the answer.

      In Holland they are considering banning the sale of new petrol-diesel cars by 2020 in the move to electric cars. Of course, that is a different issue.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. smilecalm Says:

    reminders of years when
    my head was helmet
    free in Amsterdam 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Curt Mekemson Says:

    My two-cents worth Gerard. 🙂 I’d be dead or a veggie if not for a bike helmet, so I am a bit prejudiced. I did a major header once, an almost guaranteed head cracker. Holland is a lot like Burning Man in the sense that thousands of people are out bicycling traveling at speeds of 5-7 miles per hour over flat terrain. The difference is at Burning Man there is far less organization in terms of which direction people travel. Holland has more rules! 🙂 And, yet, in both instances, helmets aren’t worn and injuries are minimal! So I would argue that the need to wear a helmet is circumstantial. I am quite happy to wander around Burning Man without one and I would to be wandering along the canals in Amsterdam. Going down a hill at 20 to 40 miles is another issue, as is having 18 wheelers fly by me. As for style, I am notedly opposed to it. I don’t want to look like a bicyclist. Bright colors I get. I want to be seen but a $10 T-shirt can accomplish that as much as a $100 lycra top. –Curt


  8. The Snow Melts Somewhere Says:

    This post reminded me of your post 🙂


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