An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Is that a helmet? Or a target?



Here's more news on the counterintuitive--but maybe not so much--front: A British scientist has proven that wearing a helmet may be twice as dangerous as not wearing a helmet:


Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol last September.

Dr Walker, who was struck by both a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck. He found that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get particularly close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.

Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without. The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

Size of vehicle also played a role: the average car passed 1.33 metres away from the bicycle, the average white van was 10cm closer. The average truck was a further 9cm closer, and the average bus 4cm closer again - 23cm closer on average than a car.


Of course, this experiment was limited to a commuting scenario. It did not take into account singletrack riders and urban huckers, whose biggest threat is their own stupidity. One might argue that those who least need to wear helmets end up wearing them the most.

But really, the most important news here is that helmets should be designed to look more like wigs:


Furthermore, Dr. Walker wore a long wig on some trials to see if perceived gender had any effect on overtaking distances. It certainly did - drivers gave him an average 14cm more room.

Think maybe we could repurpose this old souvenir we bought up in Alexandria...

6 comments:

verlaine said...

Maybe they stayed farther away from the guy wearing a wig because the average person is freaked-out by transvestites.

fast freddy said...

Dr. Spanknut is from Bath. Nice place, but driving around there is frickin crazy. I would never ride my bike or moto there.

Pinchie said...

heh heh heh.

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