Friday, 10 October 2008

Friday 10th October 08

I took my youngest into school, not without incident though. He's been wearing a cycle helmet since he was put on a bike, at less than a year old and the whole family wear them as a normal thing to do. So why was it this morning that our little darling started to have an issue with the straps? They are not tight but he pulled them too loose, so that the helmet might come off his cranium if he were to fall off his bike or be knocked off. I tightened them, not overly so, just so they stopped the helmet slipping, and a huge paddy ensued! Oh the joys of parenthood! I just love it!

Gill is still unwell with toothache and yesterday fell down the stairs so she spent some of the morning in bed.

However, during the afternoon she got up and made some pastry for a pie for tea, I did a small amount of leafmould removal from last year's pile, digging it up and crumbling the lumps into garden refuse sacks where it will reside for another year before riddling and adding to potting media. All I have to do to know it's worth it is to eat a tomato from the vines in the conservatory... so tasty and delicious, and the only financial cost is the seeds, and they come cheap due to my having an allotment and the lottie holders can make an order for seeds, onion sets and potatoes.

I picked up our little one who had forgotten his weird ten minutes of hating the straps on his cycle helmet and came home via the logpile. I did some chainsawing whilst the kids played 'Spore' on the computer, making creatures and engaging in online battles with other Spore users... However they fell out for some reason, probably as they are sharing an account and disagreed over whether or not to spend or save some 'Sporebucks'. Gill and I threatened to prevent them using the computer over the weekend if the fighting didn't stop... and predictably they started to get on!

Gill made a veg pie for tea with home grown potatoes and tinned sweetcorn. We all watched Mastermind and Gardener's World, and then I went to get a bag of electrical flex which I'd pulled out of a skip a few days ago, as I wanted to strip the insulation off to retrieve the copper wire for recycling. I do this with a craft-knife blade which can be carefully run down the length of the wire, which enables the metal to be pulled out. Both boys were intrigued by the growing pile of copper wire and asked if they could play with it and make sculptures... so the rest of the evening til nearly 10pm was spent with copper wire sculpture making. Gill made a dragonfly and the boys made glasses, funny animals, an umbrella and several others. It was lovely! Even after the sculptures were made there was still lots of wire left for recycling, and I hope the boys will keep one creation each as a memento.

A busy evening followed.


Peter said...

Hi John,

I remember when I was a kid - a teenager even, my dad used to force me to wear a helmet, and I used to hate it. My friends didn't wear helmets, I felt safe enough, and I felt like it was needless interference with my appearance and ability to make my own choices.

I used to toss it in a hedge as soon as I got out of sight of the house.

Even to this day, I never wear a helmet. Possibly if my dad hadn't forced me to as a kid, I might wear one now. But stubborness runs deep.

Of course, I can see his point of view - he didn't want to be faced with his son dead or brain damaged because he didn't wear a helmet.

Rural Cornwall is probably a safer place to cycle than gridlocked York. And helmets are possibly more acceptable these days.

It sounds hard work though, briging up kids.

Compost John said...

Thank you Peter for this observation and your memories.

My problem with my son's outburst was that he's been completely happy with wearing a cycle helmet for the whole of his life... and therefore this was a suprise.

I was firm and quite strict, as I firmly believe that wearing a helmet can prevent some injuries.

Once when in my 20s, a pedal sheared off my bike as I accelerated away from some traffic lights, I came off my bike backwards and the back of my head, protected by a helmet, hit the ground really hard. The helmet was severely damaged, I dread to think what would have happened to me if I hadn't have been wearing a helmet. Definitely a head injury. No other vehicle was involved, so forget the falacy of 'dangerous York roads' versus 'safe Cornish roads'....

My plea to anyone is to please wear a helmet if you value your life! They are not uncomfortable and they don't make you look horrible or weird as so many people now wear them... it's daft not to!

Richard Keatinge said...

The trouble with bike helmets is that they don't seem to work - laws elsewhere have stopped a lot of people cycling and have done nothing for head injury rates, see It seems that helmets break easily, but simply don't absorb the impact, see the engineers quoted at Helmets have also strangled some young children who were wearing helmets while playing off their bicycles.

I don't wear a helmet and neither do my children. We do take good care when we travel and would like the roads to be a lot safer, but that's another matter.

Compost John said...

Wow... I've just spent a good long time reading the BMJ article and some of the responses, and the wikipedia article. I didn't realise this subject was so contentious.
It seems that although cycle helmets may prevent minor head injuries from low-speed impacts, the value of them re impacts with fast-moving motor vehicles is more debatable, as they may not function properly and many statistical analyses have found that increased helmet use does not correlate with decreased head injury.

I was suprised to read that so many people are obviously so opposed to wearing them, due to discomfort, hairstyle etc. I have never found mine hot, despite doing long rides and my well-known sweating abilities! But I have worn a helmet since childhood, when it was far less common. The opposition to wearing them is demonstrated by the stats from countries who have enacted compulsory wearing legislation, which show reduced cycling rates following the law change, and individuals stating the new law as to their reduced cycling.

There may also be other factors such as cyclists wearing helmets behaving more riskily or motorists behaving differently towards helmeted cyclists... so there obviously needs to be a lot more research.

What research makes clear is that other measures to increase cyclist safety, such as tougher drink-driving penalties and lowering motorist's speeds have a big positive impact.

So I acknowledge Richard Keatinge's digest of the situation, which is that there is no clear evidence that wearing a cycle helmet can increase an individual's safety. And I'd like to mention that there is much heated debate about the subject, and as I feel comfortable in a helmet and believe that it has prevented injury to me, I will continue to use one.

It is also true that, if used, that they should be well-fitted/adjusted, that the user should not think that wearing one means they can take more risks, and that they are removed when not cycling as there have been instances of children with ill-fitting helmets being harmed by them when doing other activities, such as playing in a 'jungle gym'.

Wearing them in the UK remains an individual's choice and I think should remain so until more research is undertaken.