09 May 2011

Just a quick topical comment

Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt has died during the Giro d'Italia.  Don't get me wrong: his death is a tragedy which should only attract sadness, regret and prayers for his family and friends.  It's just that one quote in the report caught my attention:  "As the camera probed between the branches it could be seen that his helmet was still in place, but a pool of blood was spreading on the dark grey asphalt beneath his head".  It is further reported he died from a fractured skull - even though medics got to him quite quickly.

I fear this is something I'm going to be referring to whenever I hear people harping on about the 'need' for cycling helmets and how much better we would all be if they were made compulsory.  Cycle helmets are not designed for extreme impacts - whether from going downhill at speed, or from crashing against a ton of steel in the form of a motor vehicle.  They protect cyclists from, say, an accidental fall at normal speeds, or a glancing blow from a low branch you hadn't seen (provided your teeth don't hit the branch first -happened to a friend, she spent a month in hospital).

To afford us the protection some people think helmets give us, we'd need motorcyclist helmets, sturdier and with protection for chin and face.  Ludicrous.

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