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81-Year-Old Gene Hackman Hit On His Bike 102

GeneHackman

Gene Hackman in 1993 (AP Photo/File)

On Friday at approximately 3PM, Oscar-award winning actor Gene Hackman was hit by a pickup truck on his bicycle in the Florida Keys. The incident was covered widely by the media which made sure to point out that the 81-year-old Hackman was not wearing a helmet. Though true, this fact seems to distract us from the fact that he was hit from behind by a pickup truck.

Reading the media’s coverage of this incident it is very difficult to find any find any information on whether the driver would be charged or what possibly led to the pickup truck striking Hackman’s rear tire. After mentioning the lack of helmet near the beginning of the article CNN mentioned only that “alcohol was not a factor” afterwards.

The Daily Herald reported that “Hackman was riding without a helmet on an Islamorada street around 3 p.m. when the pickup hit him, throwing him onto the grassy shoulder”. The article mentions that no charges “were immediately reported”.

Of the top 11 results on Google News when searching for “Gene Hackman Bicycle”, five articles have the word “accident” in the title.

The word accident implies that the driver who hit Hackman from behind did nothing wrong, wasn’t negligent and this was an unavoidable incident. There is no evidence that this collision was merely an unavoidable “accident” (if it’s even possible). Yet this is what our media would lead you believe.

Furthermore, the media’s focus on Hackman’s lack of helmet – in a place where there is no law mandating helmet use – implies that Hackman should accept some of the blame because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

The Digital Journal even went as far as to state that Hackman’s not wearing a helmet led to him being airlifted “to ensure no head trauma had occurred”. Most other news agencies reported that he was airlifted because he was on an island, not because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Of those top 11 news results that covered the Hackman crash 7 mention the lack of helmet, and 8 mention the word “accident”.

This highlights how buried we are in car culture. If the driver wasn’t drunk, then it must have been an unavoidable accident. If the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet, well then duh, he gets what he deserves.

Perhaps instead of highlighting that Hackman wasn’t wearing a helmet, the media should mention that a man who is turning 82 this month is healthy enough to stay active and ride a bicycle. That should be a story in itself given how immobile our sedentary fast-food car culture makes most North Americans.

But instead of focusing on what should be a story of an 81-year-old doing what most 81-year-olds cannot do, the media focuses on helmets and all but ignores the root cause of the collision.

New York’s Gothamist website highlighted the lack of helmet in its headline entitled “Gene Hackman Not Wearing Helmet While Cycling And Getting Hit By Car” – as if getting hit by the car (it was actually a pickup truck) is secondary to Hackman’s not wearing a helmet.

If the media feels it is necessary to point out that a cyclist who is a victim of a collision with a car isn’t wearing a helmet, then they should also point out that victims of car crashes weren’t wearing helmets either.

Out of the 32,708 people who were killed in car crashes in the United States in 2010 I wonder how many news articles mentioned the lack of helmets?

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • Alicia

    Thank you!!! The coverage was driving me crazy. Your article is absolutely to the point.

  • Alicia

    Thank you!!! The coverage was driving me crazy. Your article is absolutely to the point.

  • http://twitter.com/WithinTheHive Michelle O. Valadez

    If the media wants to focus on something, maybe they should focus on the number of cyclists WEARING helmets that are injured and killed each year after being hit by a car.

    The media… all about distracting people from the real issues.

    Thank you for the article. You are spot on!

    • TAPman

      And those whose injuries are made worse by the helmet through rotational motion.

      Also, there is rarely a mention about crashes where the helmet made no difference.

      • Barnie

        Hah, there was a comedy report in London Metro/ES of a guy who survived having his head run over “due to his cycling helmet”.

        The fact that his helmet was ( unsurprisingly ) split in half was claimed to be a sign that it’d worked, not that it’d ( unsurprisingly ) been utterly incapable of withholding one corner of a 1 ton ( or more ) vehicle…

  • http://twitter.com/WithinTheHive Michelle Valadez

    If the media wants to focus on something, maybe they should focus on the number of cyclists WEARING helmets that are injured and killed each year after being hit by a car.

    The media… all about distracting people from the real issues.

    Thank you for the article. You are spot on!

  • kfg

    But James, maybe if Mr. Hackman had been wearing a helmet he’d still be alive today. So my question is, why is the media referring to it a “bicycling” accident.

    “32,708 people who were killed in car crashes in the United States in 2010″

    32,708? Really, 32,708? My, my; look how safe driving has become.

    • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

      @KFG — Mr Hackman *is* alive today, and his only injury was bruising to his arm. Apropos to that, helmet studies that claim to show a benefit for helmet wearers also show helmet wearers suffer fewer limb injuries.

      • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

        The sarcasm in kfg’s original comment was so strong that it was overlooked and mistaken for ignorance ;) I only got it because I know kfg’s sense of humour from past comments…

        • kfg

          As a result of my humor I have had the English refuse to believe I could be American. Comes from growing up on a steady diet of Dickens and Swift I suppose, but decades of dealing with this nonsense certainly serves to bring it out.

          I was hoping my second observation would serve as a clue to the uninitiated.

          • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

            The sad fact is that 32,708 is an improvement over the last decade or so, which has averaged 40,000 car fatalities a year. This isn’t due to improved car safety or better motorist behavior, though; it’s entirely because there’s less driving going on in this depressed economy.

          • kfg

            I remember the 60′s.

          • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

            @kfg – I thought that anyone who remembers the 60s wasn’t really there. Anyway, yeah, thanks largely to Ralph Nader the carnage per miles traveled has been reduced for those inside vehicles, but sprawl and other subsidy has increased the number of cars traveling, so the annual death toll was stuck at 40,000 for a while.

          • kfg

            Some of us who actually took a role in driving events found it advantageous to be out of country during the heady period.

    • TAPman

      And the fact that Hackman was airlifted to Miami has little to do with his helmet wearing (I’d want to be fully checked out if I was rammed from behind by some elderly pick-up driver, even if it is just for the insurance claim and future civil suit) and more to do with Geography and the unpredictability of the single-road-only based transportation system the Florida Keys are dependent on. Is there a trauma center in the Keys? With the lack of real estate and lack of affordable housing for staff, I doubt it, and even if there is one in, say, Key West, where this accident took place is closer to Miami. I suspect that air-lifting to hospital is quite common in that area.

  • kfg

    But James, maybe if Mr. Hackman had been wearing a helmet he’d still be alive today. So my question is, why is the media referring to it a “bicycling” accident.

    “32,708 people who were killed in car crashes in the United States in 2010″

    32,708? Really, 32,708? My, my; look how safe driving has become.

  • Justinpaulberger

    @kfg uhm. helmet or no Gene Hackman is alive today– he was slightly injured. google it.

    • kfg

      Oddly enough, what I wrote is dependent upon my having determined his condition first.

  • Justinpaulberger

    @kfg uhm. helmet or no Gene Hackman is alive today– he was slightly injured. google it.

  • AndrewRH

    UK’s Daily Mail doesn’t mention the H word. Rather, it quotes his spokesman: Early reports the 81-year-old had suffered serious head injuries were dismissed by his spokeswoman.

    Pretty clear to me then that it was media-driven hysteria to fulfil prejudices.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2086510/Gene-Hackman-bicycle-accident-Actor-81-flown-hospital-hit-car.html

  • AndrewRH

    UK’s Daily Mail doesn’t mention the H word. Rather, it quotes his spokesman: Early reports the 81-year-old had suffered serious head injuries were dismissed by his spokeswoman.

    Pretty clear to me then that it was media-driven hysteria to fulfil prejudices.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2086510/Gene-Hackman-bicycle-accident-Actor-81-flown-hospital-hit-car.html

  • kfg

    Oddly enough, what I wrote is dependent upon my having determined his condition first.

  • Heytalkin2u

    I’m glad Gene Hackman wasn’t injured. A few years ago my son was riding his bicycle when he also go hit from behing by a pick up truck. The sideview mirror hit my son’s head and fractured his skull in 3 places. The force of the hit caused my son who was 10 1/2 yrs old at the time to fall forward and hit his head on the corner of the bumper (and almost get pulled into the wheelwell). My son was airlifted to a pediatric trauma unit. Long story short, he made a full recovery, but we collected nothing and lost the court case…largely because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. I thank God he’s alive, but he may still have residual effects of that accident…and I would have limited means to pay for treatment, tutoring etc. The media SPIN seems to be more powerful than the truth.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      Was it law for him to wear a helmet? Was your son riding negligently? Did the opposing side argue that this whole thing would have been prevented if your son had been wearing a helmet?

      I’m sorry you didn’t win the court case.

      • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

        Steve — I’ve been told by lawyers that wearing a helmet makes it *much* easier to collect damages in a lawsuit. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s the reality of how juries and judges see the world. This perception that cycling is a dangerous activity that requires safety equipment a big part of the reason I oppose the view that helmets should be seen as normal for casual cyclists.

        • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

          A lawyer argued both pro-helmet and anti-helmet in a hit-and-run bike/car collision right in front of me. At the hearing, the lawyer for the other side argued that the other bicyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet, and thus unconcerned about safety and probably at fault. In the next breath, he said my helmet made me “menacing in appearance” and that the motorists had to flee for their own safety.

          (I’m happy to report that the unhelmeted bicyclist won that case.)

  • Heytalkin2u

    I’m glad Gene Hackman wasn’t injured. A few years ago my son was riding his bicycle when he also go hit from behing by a pick up truck. The sideview mirror hit my son’s head and fractured his skull in 3 places. The force of the hit caused my son who was 10 1/2 yrs old at the time to fall forward and hit his head on the corner of the bumper (and almost get pulled into the wheelwell). My son was airlifted to a pediatric trauma unit. Long story short, he made a full recovery, but we collected nothing and lost the court case…largely because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. I thank God he’s alive, but he may still have residual effects of that accident…and I would have limited means to pay for treatment, tutoring etc. The media SPIN seems to be more powerful than the truth.

  • Heytalkin2u

    Also, bicycle helmets aren’t made to provide protection from the impact of a moving vehicle…they’re not like DOT approve motorcycle helmets. Maybe truck drivers should put down the cell phones and watch where they’re going.

    • TAPman

      And maybe those over the age of 60, like the pick-up truck driver was, need to be road-tested on an annual basis.

  • Heytalkin2u

    Also, bicycle helmets aren’t made to provide protection from the impact of a moving vehicle…they’re not like DOT approve motorcycle helmets. Maybe truck drivers should put down the cell phones and watch where they’re going.

  • nitramluap

    Good post James. This is why in countries WITH helmet laws it is so unpleasant. The public & media essentially has the backing of Government in declaring that any cyclist not wearing a helmet ‘deserves’ the injuries coming their way… it’s really sad.

  • nitramluap

    Good post James. This is why in countries WITH helmet laws it is so unpleasant. The public & media essentially has the backing of Government in declaring that any cyclist not wearing a helmet ‘deserves’ the injuries coming their way… it’s really sad.

  • widdersbel

    Good article but: the word “accident” only means that it wasn’t done deliberately or maliciously, not that there is no blame. You can still be held responsible in law for an accident.

    I would say that “accident” is therefore an entirely appropriate word here. However, it seems rash to assume without supporting evidence that the driver didn’t deliberately knock Hackman off his bike – maybe he’d seen Welcome To Mooseport?

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      “Accident” also means ” an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally”. “Mishap” is a synonym.

  • widdersbel

    Good article but: the word “accident” only means that it wasn’t done deliberately or maliciously, not that there is no blame. You can still be held responsible in law for an accident.

    I would say that “accident” is therefore an entirely appropriate word here. However, it seems rash to assume without supporting evidence that the driver didn’t deliberately knock Hackman off his bike – maybe he’d seen Welcome To Mooseport?

  • Mike Moskowitz

    Do we actually know it wasn’t done deliberately or with malicious intent? :E

    Crash vs. accident:
    “Motor vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word “accident” promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control. In fact, they are predictable results of specific actions.

    Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not “acts of God” but predictable results of the laws of physics.

    The concept of “accident” works against bringing all the appropriate resources to bear on the enormous problem of motor vehicle collisions. Continuous use of “accident” fosters the idea that the resulting injuries are an una-voidable part of life.”

    So, if an errant baseball from a nearby field hit the driver and he was stunned and lost the control of his vehicle, it would be an accident. Pretty much everything else would be a crash.

  • Mike Moskowitz

    Do we actually know it wasn’t done deliberately or with malicious intent? :E

    Crash vs. accident:
    “Motor vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word “accident” promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control. In fact, they are predictable results of specific actions.

    Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not “acts of God” but predictable results of the laws of physics.

    The concept of “accident” works against bringing all the appropriate resources to bear on the enormous problem of motor vehicle collisions. Continuous use of “accident” fosters the idea that the resulting injuries are an una-voidable part of life.”

    So, if an errant baseball from a nearby field hit the driver and he was stunned and lost the control of his vehicle, it would be an accident. Pretty much everything else would be a crash.

  • http://www.fullfat.ca Octavian

    In cases like this, it is usually the fault of the driver, accident or not (malicious intent or not), but the helmet thing is quite contentious. When I drive a car, I wear a seatbelt because it protects me should anything happen. When I ride a bike, I wear a helmet because it offers some level of protection should anything happen. The highlighting by the media is in poor taste, but it does point out a problem: if you get hit or fall off your bike, your head injuries could be lessened by a helmet, just like a seatbelt lessens injuries sustained in a collision involving your car.
    I’m personally for freedom of choice, for helmets and seatbelts, but I also realize that they can save lives.
    It’s sad to see this kind of reporting though, and the apparent lack of police action. I’d venture a guess that the driver will be charged with reckless driving causing an injury.

    • Tallycyclist

      The seatbelt example gets used quite often, but it’s really not a good comparison with bike helmets, just like trying to compare bicycles to motorcycles is not an equal comparison. The size and speed differential alone are in completely different leagues, not to mention the more-intangible factors like behavior of the rider, etc. Motor vehicles are what makes traffic dangerous for everyone, because they are so big, heavy and capable of moving at high speeds. That’s why seatbelts are needed for car passengers/drivers. If the possible maximum speed of all cars was 5 mph, then the benefit of wearing one would be next to nothing.

      I believe there are situations where a bike helmet could mitigate some damage if the impact and speed was minimal. I too encourage personal freedom of choice. The attitude is the problem in the US. Many people , cyclist or not, think helmets are the final word for safety, surviving a crash, and determination for fault. The very first time I went for a recreational ride on a 12-foot paved path with colleagues, they couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to wear one. Seriously? An elbow pad would be more helpful as I’m not liking to fly head-first into a tree.

      On a side note, I find it very hard to believe that a $15 helmet at Walmart will protect to the same extent as a $100 + helmet at bike shop. Since they essentially have the same construction, then the only real difference would be in the shock-absorption capacity of the foam. If there’s no difference in protection, why is the cost so steep in the latter? If there is a difference, why is Walmart even allowed to sell such cheap helmets?

      As illustrated by this article, I’m well aware what would happen should I ever get run over by a car. While the media and general public focuses exclusively on the “cyclist without a helmet”, I’ll have my own worries such as internal injuries that would likely incur from being hit by a 5000 lb SUV traveling 40 mph. The unfortunate example below about losing in the court case because the son was not wearing a helmet clearly illustrates how biased and irrational our society has become about bike helmets, and the perpetual need to make all victims of the automobile collateral damage, in order to continue justifying our obsession with the car as a society.

      • kfg

        “the only real difference would be in the shock-absorption capacity of the foam.”

        The shock absorption capacity of the foam is essentially fixed by the testing standard. The matter is a simple Newtonian one of time, distance and spring rate to find an a priori result.

        However, “pro” helmets tend to be the least protective of all. In certain events racers are allowed to, and do, wear helmets that increase injury risks dramatically compared to not wearing a helmet. Head protection is not the principle concern of these riders. Weight is one of the concerns and a more “shock absorbing” helmet necessarily weighs more. Ventilation is another concern. Less area of foam means more pressure on the head and less structural integrity of the helmet.

        Have you even noticed that identical commodity items at Walmart cost less than at other outlets? How do they do that?

        Have you ever noticed that a pair of jeans with a “designer’s” name stitched onto them costs more than an otherwise identical pair of jeans?

        Did you know that you can buy a bicycle frame for a couple hundred or several thousand and you can’t tell them apart with an electron microscope because their material structure is identical?

        Why do you suppose these things are?

        • Tallycyclist

          True, brand name anything almost always cost more, whether or not they are any better in quality, function, design, what have you. Sometimes the quality is better and the higher price is more-justified. Identical commodity items are indeed cheaper in Walmart generally as well-it’s no secret how well (or not) the company pays and treats its employees.

          Some people are willing to spend more for the name. Indeed, the sum (dollar value) is greater than what the parts otherwise call for.

    • Barnie

      Bad comparison. Helmets have been shown to increase the likelihood of an accident/incident/whatever, seatbelts have not. Helmets are possibly actually a contributory cause to brain injuries due to increased rotational acceleration ( due to their greater size than the skull ). All the evidence for helmets is very, very negligible as to whether they increase safety or not ( or possibly even decrease it ). Seatbelts ( and motorcycle helmets ) on the other hand are well proven statistically to have greater benefits than losses.

      • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

        Even if helmets were proven to save lives at the same rate as seatbelts (I know, bicycle helmets aren’t even designed to save lives in the first place – if they were, they would be as heavy as motorcycle helmets). But even if they were, that shouldn’t necessarily make them mandatory. Cars are dangerous killing machines. Bicycles are not.

        I could name 5 safety features that would save many many lives of pedestrians. But should they be mandatory? Just because a motorcycle helmet or a body suit could save the life of a pedestrian, should we make it mandatory for pedestrians to wear body armour and motorcycle helmets? No, because walking isn’t inherently dangerous, and pedestrians are normally killed as a result of automobiles – so we should get to the root of the problem (automobiles) and focus on prevention rather than a band-aid solution such as outfitting all pedestrians with body armour and motorcycle helmets.

        Same goes for bicycling…

        I posted something along these lines a while back called “No cars. No Traffic Signals. No Deaths”: http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/06/no-cars-no-traffic-signals-no-deaths.html

        • Paulo

          Good point. In fact when someone on a bike is involved in a collision with a car a helmet is extremely unlikely to be of any safety benefit. Bike helmets can benefit if falling off of the bike, but when a car is involved…no measurable benefit.

          • Mark Kaepplein

            Consider how well the brain recovers from traumatic injury compared to bones and soft tissue. Now weigh against the inconvenience of wearing a helmet, padded/armored motorcycle jacket and pants, or Spandex.

        • Mark Kaepplein

          So, if a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by a car, the car is responsible for any injuries to the cyclist? What kind of Kool Aid is in cyclists’ water bottles? There are many fewer trains than cars in the US that could be retrofitted with safety features, yet, in 2010, trains colliding with motor vehicles killed 248, and trains colliding with pedestrians killed 434. So let’s all declare trains evil too. There are far more cost effective ways of reducing accidental deaths of all sorts than punitive measures against motorists.

      • Markk02474

        Helmets are a danger because they encourage higher risk behavior. There are fewer concussions in rugby than football, for example.

        Bike helmets weigh nothing compared to motorcycle helmets, where higher speeds of motorcycles generate even larger rotational forces. On a bicycle the helmet mass is a smaller fraction of skull mass than motorcycle. Between low speeds and low mass, bike helmets don’t add risk, users do.

  • http://www.fullfat.ca/ Octavian

    In case like this, it is usually the fault of the driver, accident or not (malicious intent or not), but the helmet thing is quite contentious. When I drive a car, I wear a seatbelt because it protects me should anything happen. When I ride a bike, I wear a helmet because it offers some level of protection should anything happen. The highlighting by the media is in poor taste, but it does point out a problem: if you get hit or fall off your bike, your head injuries could be lessened by a helmet, just like a seatbelt lessens injuries sustained in a collision involving your car.
    I’m personally for freedom of choice, for helmets and seatbelts, but I also realize that they can save lives.
    It’s sad to see this kind of reporting though, and the apparent lack of police action. I’d venture a guess that the driver will be charged with reckless driving causing an injury.

  • Tallycyclist

    The seatbelt example gets used quite often, but it’s really not a good comparison with bike helmets, just like trying to compare bicycles to motorcycles is not an equal comparison. The size and speed differential alone are in completely different leagues, not to mention the more-intangible factors like behavior of the rider, etc. Motor vehicles are what makes traffic dangerous for everyone, because they are so big, heavy and capable of moving at high speeds. That’s why seatbelts are needed for car passengers/drivers. If the possible maximum speed of all cars was 5 mph, then the benefit of wearing one would be next to nothing.

    I believe there are situations where a bike helmet could mitigate some damage if the impact and speed was minimal. I too encourage personal freedom of choice. The attitude is the problem in the US. Many people , cyclist or not, think helmets are the final word for safety, surviving a crash, and determination for fault. The very first time I went for a recreational ride on a 12-foot paved path with colleagues, they couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to wear one. Seriously? An elbow pad would be more helpful as I’m not liking to fly head-first into a tree.

    On a side note, I find it very hard to believe that a $15 helmet at Walmart will protect to the same extent as a $100 + helmet at bike shop. Since they essentially have the same construction, then the only real difference would be in the shock-absorption capacity of the foam. If there’s no difference in protection, why is the cost so steep in the latter? If there is a difference, why is Walmart even allowed to sell such cheap helmets?

    As illustrated by this article, I’m well aware what would happen should I ever get run over by a car. While the media and general public focuses exclusively on the “cyclist without a helmet”, I’ll have my own worries such as internal injuries that would likely incur from being hit by a 5000 lb SUV traveling 40 mph. The unfortunate example below about losing in the court case because the son was not wearing a helmet clearly illustrates how biased and irrational our society has become about bike helmets, and the perpetual need to make all victims of the automobile collateral damage, in order to continue justifying our obsession with the car as a society.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

    “Accident” also means “an unfortunate incident”.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

    Was it law for him to wear a helmet? Was your son riding negligently? Did the opposing side argue that this whole thing would have been prevented if your son had been wearing a helmet?

    I’m sorry you didn’t win the court case.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    Steve — I’ve been told by lawyers that wearing a helmet makes it *much* easier to collect damages in a lawsuit. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s the reality of how juries and judges see the world. This perception that cycling is a dangerous activity that requires safety equipment a big part of the reason I oppose the view that helmets should be seen as normal for casual cyclists.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    @KFG — Mr Hackman *is* alive today, and his only injury was bruising to his arm. Apropos to that, helmet studies that claim to show a benefit for helmet wearers also show helmet wearers suffer fewer limb injuries.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    The sarcasm in kfg’s original comment was so strong that it was overlooked and mistaken for ignorance ;) I only got it because I know kfg’s sense of humour from past comments…

  • TAPman

    Mr. Hackman is still alive today, kfg.

  • TAPman

    And those whose injuries are made worse by the helmet through rotational motion.

    Also, there is rarely a mention about crashes where the helmet made no difference.

  • TAPman

    And maybe those over the age of 60, like the pick-up truck driver was, need to be road-tested on an annual basis.

  • John__Henry

    Out of the 32,708 people who were killed in car crashes in the United States in 2010 I wonder how many lives could have been saved if we had mandatory helmet laws for all motorists. Even we can save one life it will be with it ;)

    • Richard in NC

      Good point John. Here is a portion of a letter I sent to Bicycle Times: Automobile accidents account for 61% of all traumatic brain injuries, while cycling accounts for only 3% (braininjury.com). So, why aren’t automobile drivers and passengers required to wear helmets?

    • Markk02474

      Good point. A recent press release claimed 3,000 odd deaths in the US were caused by drivers distracted by an electronic device. If you divide by the trillions of annual miles driven in the US, you will get killed by one of these drivers if you drive cross-country over 100,000 times. Are you willing to take that risk?

  • John__Henry

    Out of the 32,708 people who were killed in car crashes in the United States in 2010 I wonder how many lives could have been saved if we had mandatory helmet laws for all motorists. Even we can save one life it will be with it ;)

  • kfg

    As a result of my humor I have had the English refuse to believe I could be American. Comes from growing up on a steady diet of Dickens and Swift I suppose, but decades of dealing with this nonsense certainly serves to bring it out.

    I was hoping my second observation would serve as a clue to the uninitiated.

  • kfg

    “the only real difference would be in the shock-absorption capacity of the foam.”

    The shock absorption capacity of the foam is essentially fixed by the testing standard. The matter is a simple Newtonian one of time, distance and spring rate to find an a priori result.

    However, “pro” helmets tend to be the least protective of all. In certain events racers are allowed to, and do, wear helmets that increase injury risks dramatically compared to not wearing a helmet. Head protection is not the principle concern of these riders. Weight is one of the concerns and a more “shock absorbing” helmet necessarily weighs more. Ventilation is another concern. Less area of foam means more pressure on the head and less structural integrity of the helmet.

    Have you even noticed that identical commodity items at Walmart cost less than at other outlets? How do they do that?

    Have you ever noticed that a pair of jeans with a “designer’s” name stitched onto them costs more than an otherwise identical pair of jeans?

    Did you know that you can buy a bicycle frame for a couple hundred or several thousand and you can’t tell them apart with an electron microscope because their material structure is identical?

    Why do you suppose these things are?

  • http://www.urbanbicycles.org/ Jack

    Interestingly, the British Medical Journal reccommends against making helmets cumplosry.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8669773/Bicycle-helmets-should-not-be-compulsory-say-doctors.html

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    A lawyer argued both pro-helmet and anti-helmet in a hit-and-run bike/car collision right in front of me. At the hearing, the lawyer for the other side argued that the other bicyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet, and thus unconcerned about safety and probably at fault. In the next breath, he said my helmet made me “menacing in appearance” and that the motorists had to flee for their own safety.

    (I’m happy to report that the unhelmeted bicyclist won that case.)

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    The sad fact is that 32,708 is an improvement over the last decade or so, which has average 40,000 car fatalities a year. This isn’t due to improved car safety or better motorist behavior, though; it’s entirely because there’s less driving going on in this depressed economy.

  • kfg

    I remember the 60′s.

  • Barnie

    Bad comparison. Helmets have been shown to increase the likelihood of an accident/incident/whatever, seatbelts have not. Helmets are possibly actually a contributory cause to brain injuries due to increased rotational acceleration ( due to their greater size than the skull ). All the evidence for helmets is very, very negligible as to whether they increase safety or not ( or possibly even decrease it ). Seatbelts ( and motorcycle helmets ) on the other hand are well proven statistically to have greater benefits than losses.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Even if helmets were proven to save lives at the same rate as seatbelts (I know, bicycle helmets aren’t even designed to save lives in the first place – if they were, they would be as heavy as motorcycle helmets). But even if they were, that shouldn’t necessarily make them mandatory. Cars are dangerous killing machines. Bicycles are not.

    I could name 5 safety features that would save many many lives of pedestrians. But should they be mandatory? Just because a motorcycle helmet or a body suit could save the life of a pedestrian, should we make it mandatory for pedestrians to wear body armour and motorcycle helmets? No, because walking isn’t inherently dangerous, and pedestrians are normally killed as a result of automobiles – so we should get to the root of the problem (automobiles) and focus on prevention rather than a band-aid solution such as outfitting all pedestrians with body armour and motorcycle helmets.

    Same goes for bicycling…

    I posted something along these lines a while back called “No cars. No Traffic Signals. No Deaths”: http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/06/no-cars-no-traffic-signals-no-deaths.html

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    @kfg – I thought that anyone who remembers the 60s wasn’t really there. Anyway, yeah, thanks largely to Ralph Nader the carnage per miles traveled has been reduced for those inside vehicles, but sprawl and other subsidy has increased the number of cars traveling, so the annual death toll was stuck at 40,000 for a while.

  • Richard in NC

    Good point John. Here is a portion of a letter I sent to Bicycle Times: Automobile accidents account for 61% of all traumatic brain injuries, while cycling accounts for only 3% (braininjury.com). So, why aren’t automobile drivers and passengers required to wear helmets?

  • kfg

    Some of us who actually took a role in driving events found it advantageous to be out of country during the heady period.

  • Tallycyclist

    True, brand name anything almost always cost more, whether or not they are any better in quality, function, design, what have you. Sometimes the quality is better and the higher price is more-justified. Identical commodity items are indeed cheaper in Walmart generally as well-it’s no secret how well (or not) the company pays and treats its employees.

    Some people are willing to spend more for the name. Indeed, the sum (dollar value) is greater than what the parts otherwise call for.

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  • Brad

    I wonder how many consider the fact the Gene was fine despite his not wearing a helmet?

  • Brad

    I wonder how many consider the fact the Gene was fine despite his not wearing a helmet?

  • helena.richardson37

    All of the gears are contained inside the rear hub, making shifting smooth and easyHermosa Beach.

    bike

  • Anonymous416

    Contrast the coverage to that of a 32-car pile-up that happened 4 days later in Canada:

    http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/national/details.asp?c=38119

    Blame is placed on “snow and poor visibility”, not driving too fast. And nowhere does it speculate about whether people were wearing their seatbelts.

  • Anonymous416

    Contrast the coverage to that of a 32-car pile-up that happened 4 days later in Canada:

    http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/national/details.asp?c=38119

    Blame is placed on “snow and poor visibility”, not driving too fast. And nowhere does it speculate about whether people were wearing their seatbelts.

  • Markk02474

    Good point. A recent press release claimed 3,000 odd deaths in the US were caused by drivers distracted by an electronic device. If you divide by the trillions of annual miles driven in the US, you will get killed by one of these drivers if you drive cross-country over 100,000 times. Are you willing to take that risk?

  • Markk02474

    Helmets are a danger because they encourage higher risk behavior. There are fewer concussions in rugby than football, for example.

    Bike helmets weigh nothing compared to motorcycle helmets, where higher speeds of motorcycles generate even larger rotational forces. On a bicycle the helmet mass is a smaller fraction of skull mass than motorcycle. Between low speeds and low mass, bike helmets don’t add risk, users do.

  • http://www.metairievets.gardnerrealtors.com/ estate metairie real

    some good points here. makes me think twice about how i feel about bikes.

  • Martin Harris

    Even though it is considered an accident, the fact that he can still ride a bike at the age of 81 that’s not bad at all.

    Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer

  • http://www.freeman-freeman.com/ personal injury attorney

    I hope that noting serious happened. He’s one of my favorite actors. Thanks.

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    I hope that noting serious happened. He’s one of my favorite actors. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/lindsaybanks Lindsay Banks Bayley

    I’ve read studies saying the drivers exhibit more caution around cyclists who aren’t wearing helmets, on average giving them more space than to cyclists who wear helmets. It makes me want to get the Airbag Bike Helmet… if it weren’t so expensive! http://www.cyclelicio.us/2010/airbag-bike-helmet/

    This video on helmet laws was fascinating to me: http://video.tedxcopenhagen.dk/video/911034/mikael-colville-andersen

  • http://twitter.com/lindsaybanks Lindsay Banks

    I’ve read studies saying the drivers exhibit more caution around cyclists who aren’t wearing helmets, on average giving them more space than to cyclists who wear helmets. It makes me want to get the Airbag Bike Helmet… if it weren’t so expensive! http://www.cyclelicio.us/2010/airbag-bike-helmet/

  • http://www.comicbookandmoviereviews.com/ comicbookandmoviereviews

    Take care Gene pal. This review is for you – http://www.comicbookandmoviereviews.com/2012/03/french-connection.html

  • Paulo

    Good point. In fact when someone on a bike is involved in a collision with a car a helmet is extremely unlikely to be of any safety benefit. Bike helmets can benefit if falling off of the bike, but when a car is involved…no measurable benefit.

  • Mark Kaepplein

    So, if a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by a car, the car is responsible for any injuries to the cyclist? What kind of Kool Aid is in cyclists’ water bottles? There are many fewer trains than cars in the US that could be retrofitted with safety features, yet, in 2010, trains colliding with motor vehicles killed 248, and trains colliding with pedestrians killed 434. So let’s all declare trains evil too. There are far more cost effective ways of reducing accidental deaths of all sorts than punitive measures against motorists.

  • Mark Kaepplein

    Consider how well the brain recovers from traumatic injury compared to bones and soft tissue. Now weigh against the inconvenience of wearing a helmet, padded/armored motorcycle jacket and pants, or Spandex.

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  • http://www.avalonplumbingnola.com/ plumbing repair new orleans

    So, if a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by a car, the car is responsible for any injuries to the cyclist? What kind of Kool Aid is in cyclists’ water bottles? There are many fewer trains than cars in the US that could be retrofitted with safety features, yet, in 2010, trains colliding with motor vehicles killed 248, and trains colliding with pedestrians killed 434. So let’s all declare trains evil too. There are far more cost effective ways of reducing accidental deaths of all sorts than punitive measures against motorists.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O4G2QBIS7IP3R5RDIDVTMJJASI Mark

      Mass Bill H.408 was filed by a lawyer, so wants to cash in.
      http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H00408
      Massachusetts has issued 23 tickets to cyclists since 1/1/2011, in the whole state, except Cambridge MA which may have made local citations. Its real chaos and Kool Aid here from lack of any enforcement.

  • http://www.avalonplumbingnola.com/ plumbing repair new orleans

    So, if a cyclist runs a red light and gets hit by a car, the car is responsible for any injuries to the cyclist? What kind of Kool Aid is in cyclists’ water bottles? There are many fewer trains than cars in the US that could be retrofitted with safety features, yet, in 2010, trains colliding with motor vehicles killed 248, and trains colliding with pedestrians killed 434. So let’s all declare trains evil too. There are far more cost effective ways of reducing accidental deaths of all sorts than punitive measures against motorists.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O4G2QBIS7IP3R5RDIDVTMJJASI Mark

    Mass Bill H.408 was filed by a lawyer, so wants to cash in.
    http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H00408
    Massachusetts has issued 23 tickets to cyclists since 1/1/2011, in the whole state, except Cambridge MA which may have made local citations. Its real chaos and Kool Aid here from lack of any enforcement.

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    Every time when you face an accident which is due to someone else mistake in that case you should you always talk to a personal injury solicitor for better claims compensation. You can injury claims compensation very easy with help of a personal injury solicitor.

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    Every time when you face an accident which is due to someone else mistake in that case you should you always talk to a personal injury solicitor for better claims compensation. You can injury claims compensation very easy with help of a personal injury solicitor.

  • entergy smart

    I believe there are situations where a bike helmet could mitigate some damage if the impact and speed was minimal. I too encourage personal freedom of choice. The attitude is the problem in the US. Many people , cyclist or not, think helmets are the final word for safety, surviving a crash, and determination for fault. The very first time I went for a recreational ride on a 12-foot paved path with colleagues, they couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to wear one. Seriously? An elbow pad would be more helpful as I’m not liking to fly head-first into a tree.
    http://www.greenapplefoam.com/aboutus

  • entergy smart

    I believe there are situations where a bike helmet could mitigate some damage if the impact and speed was minimal. I too encourage personal freedom of choice. The attitude is the problem in the US. Many people , cyclist or not, think helmets are the final word for safety, surviving a crash, and determination for fault. The very first time I went for a recreational ride on a 12-foot paved path with colleagues, they couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to wear one. Seriously? An elbow pad would be more helpful as I’m not liking to fly head-first into a tree.
    http://www.greenapplefoam.com/aboutus

    • Shylynn

      I agree… If the rest of the world followed Hollands stellar example and built dedicated bikeways there wouldn’t be any vehicle issues!!!
      As for helmets … Absolutely it should be a personal choice! We should be encouraged to live in the present and NOT a bubble society!!! From CANADA!!!!

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