Neurosurgeon says bike helmets are 'useless'
Monday, June 2, 2014, 3:44 PM - Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh has caused an uproar after making the controversial claim that bike helmets are 'useless' because they are too 'flimsy' to protect riders who have been in a serious accident.
"I ride a bike and I never wear a helmet. In the countries where bike helmets are compulsory there has been no reduction in bike injuries whatsoever," Dr. Marsh also apparently said.
"I see lots of people in bike accidents and these flimsy little helmets don't help."
Dr. Marsh, who says he has been riding a bicycle for 40 years sans helmet and has "only fallen off once," argues that bicycle helmets may even put some riders at greater risk.
UK website the Mirror cites a study by researchers at the University of Bath which suggests that drivers get about 3 inches closer to drivers who are wearing safety gear.
Dr. Marsh isn't the only one weighing in on the helmet debate.
A blog post on Howiechong.com called Why it Makes Sense to Ride Without a Helmet has been making the rounds online since February, racking up thousands of "likes" on Facebook.
The author starts by citing a 1989 study in the New England Journal of Medicine which argues that "riders with helmets had an 85% reduction in their risk of head injury and an 88% reduction in their risk of brain injury," but that isn't enough to sway the author towards the benefits of bike helmets.
The reason, according to the blog post, is because head injuries can occur anywhere, backing up the argument with 1978 statistics from San Diego County.
The data used in the article suggests that most of the head injuries (53%) that occurred that year were the result of motor vehicle accidents, compared to the 6% of head injuries sustained by bike injuries during the same time frame.
It has sparked intense debate online, with some accusing the author of "throwing out statistics with no understanding of their meaning".
Still, the statements made by Dr. Marsh -- and howiechong.com -- aren't being taken lightly by safety advocates, with many saying that abandoning bicycle helmets is irresponsible.
“He has got a responsibility. If somebody stops wearing a helmet because of what he says then he needs to take responsibility for the consequences," Angela Lee, chief executive of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative, told the Liverpool Echo of Dr. Marsh.
“It would be a travesty if somebody takes their helmet off because of this. It is such a negligent thing to say for a person in that position."