Unintended Consequences.

I am fascinated by unintended consequences. I just finished reading a
paper about the effectiveness of bicycle helmets. It seems that Australia
enacted legislation that required the use of bicycle helmets by all
bicyclists. As a result, bicycle related head injuries went down 11%. But
bicycle usage fell by about 20% due to the added cost and inconvience. So,
the overall result was that the likelyhood of sustaining a head injury
while bicycling increased with the requirment of wearing a helmet.
Further, since it is estimated that bicycling can increase your lifespan
by between 2 to 10 years, and the actual rate of head injury while
bicycling is so low, the net effect is a substantial decrease in lifespan,
at least amongst potential and actual bicyclists.

Now, I have no idea how accurate any of this is. But this is
interesting, if only because I never thought about bicycle helmets
before. I am not fond of wearing one, but figured it was worth the
effort. Maybe not?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Perhaps wearing a helmet gives the wearer a feeling of safety, in turn causing the wearer to behave less safe.
    Same with a big car or a small car: you won’t drive 160km/h in a small car, because it does not feel safe, whereas in a big car you might. It *is* not safe, but still you feel like it is.

    Reply

  2. If you’re shipwrecked and find yourself on a deserted island, a helmet can protect you from injuries sustained from falling coconuts.

    Reply

  3. Bicycle helmets are a very interesting subject for unexpected results and overstatement of their effectiveness,
    Most of the information is put about by helmet manufacturers and to sell the helmets they first have to convince you that cycling is dangerous, which it is not, and then that wearing a helmet will protect you, which it seems is not true either as they are just not strong enough. Check you http://cyclehelmets.org for more information.

    Reply

  4. A few years ago I went head first over the handlebars. My new helmet saved me from a serious head injury. But I fell because I was screwing around; I figured that since I had the helmet, I could ride more challenging terrain.

    Reply

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