Scientist David Haywood talks about bike helmets

(…and why a giant atom-bomb powered pogo stick never took off).

Any comments on the topic must be polite and supported by facts.


12 thoughts on “Scientist David Haywood talks about bike helmets

  1. Nice to hear these arguments get an airing in the mainstream media. I must say that on the downhill run into work, I’m comforted by my helmet, but just pootling on short errands at low speed, I’d rather go without.

    I see quite a few people in the CBD biking sans helmet. What are the chances of being pinged?

    I was astonished to discover just now that there is an actual Wikipedia pages devoted in bike helmets in NZ —


  2. The fine for not wearing a helmet is around $50, by the way.

    @ Stephen – no idea but I think the chances are lower if you’re wearing a hat.

    @ Malcolm – care to elaborate? I ask because I know NZ doesn’t keep stats on bike-related helmet/no helmet head injuries, and didn’t before the helmet regulation was brought in. To me this says we didn’t know if there was a problem with any age group and we don’t know if there is now (unacceptable, in my view). Do you know of any overseas research on the matter?


    1. Simon Kennett

      Children aged 10-14 contributed to 15% of cycling casualties between 2006-2010, far more than any other age group. Children are typically learner riders and have yet to develop the spatial awareness skills needed to deal with complex traffic situations.

      NZ has head injury stats for cyclists – you can look at them pre-helmet era and post-helmet law and try to draw some conclusions, but the sample size is small and there are so many confounding factors that it’s impossible to say anything with certainty.

      The overseas evidence for helmets reducing minor-moderate head injuries is pretty convincing, but whether that justifies a helmet law is another question.


    2. Malcolm

      I just think kids are more vulnerable on bikes than adults. Smaller bodies/bikes, more likely to make unpredictable movements, harder to see. Maybe could be lower than 16.


  3. Wiebke

    If you never wear a helmet and cycle every day without (I did this for a month) then you get probably at least 2 fines..which is a bit too expensive. And the worst, you get a 30 min lecture about safety each time.
    By the way cycling home from town last week without helmet and light I was stopped by police and just told to get off the road. There are nice policemen around, just not many..


    1. atom

      it’s probably cheaper than a ticket to get a doctor’s note, then get an exemption based on medical grounds.

      “How to get an exemption” –

      then the police will start to recognize you as having an exemption and just give you a wave 😉

      cycling without a light at night? on the road? that’s really not a good idea.


      1. Wiebke

        I know, I thought the back light was ok because the front light was working…
        I don’t really have a medical reason, does ” I get depressed when cycling wearing a helmet” count?


      2. Hmmm, seems like there’s a need for a list of cycle-friendly helmet-opposed GPs. I mean, I get localised hair loss from the foam inserts in my helmet and I’m sure alopecia areata is a known medical condition…


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