Skip to content

A Helmet saved his life?

December 15, 2013

Since Ben Goldacre has blogged on the thorny subject of bicycle helmets  I am  going to tell my Helmet saved his life story.

Many years ago when cycling through the Alps we were descending the Foscagno Pass when one of my travelling companions had the misfortune to hit a hole in the road or some gravel, loose control of his bike and crash. Since we were young and foolish this happened at speed probably somewhere between 35 and 40 mph possibly more. Not having speed computers back then it’s hard to tell for sure.

They were carried off the mountain by some locals in a white Fiat, at great speed waving a white handkerchief out of the window, while their bikes were taken away by a man in a van and delivered later to the hospital where the white Fiat was taking them. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.

The result of this crash was my friend ended up in Hospital in Bormio with 10 stitches in his head and a very snazzy net covering his head. He was lucky.

His bike was not.

Dead Bike

The remains of a Falcon.

Dead Bike

Before the crash the bike had four panniers.


The force of the crash had destroyed the front wheel, forks and frame along with other more minor damage.

Since I was in front when the crash happened I missed all of this and so got to ride to Bormio.

The good news was that he was able to continue the trip after one day out and get over the mighty  Stelvio Pass the next day, once we found a bike and converted it from being an Italian racing bike into a going to ride around Europe Touring bike. He took it much slower on the descent.

Me on my own at the top of Stelvio 10th August 1985

Me  at the top of Stelvio 10th August 1985

Did his helmet save his life?  No. He was not wearing one. This was 1985 when helmets really did not exist for most cyclists. However if he had been wearing one and survived I would, to this day, be telling everyone that it had saved his life. I would believe it.

Could a helmet have prevented his head injuries? May be. Could it have broken his neck again may be. We will never know but I know it would not have saved his life.

This is my first hand anecdote that makes me distrust helmet saved his/her/my life anecdotes more than anything else.

I realise this post is close to trolling, since any post on bicycle helmets is close to trolling, so if you are going to comment please keep it civil.


From → Cycling

  1. Paul Timlett permalink

    Brilliant! You will no doubt be branded irresponsible, stupid, biased etc etc but your story is no more or less valid than the apparent evidence trotted out by helmet evangelists in similar scenarios where the victim was wearing a helmet.

  2. Chris permalink

    If he’d been wearing a helmet, he may have descended even faster because of the false assurance it provided, and ended up with worse injuries. We can never know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: