Dublin Fire Brigade recommends a bicycle helmet after tweeting about a leg injury

Dublin Fire Brigade has tweeted a warning for people to always wear a helmet… after tweeting about a DublinBikes user suffering a leg injury after a collision with a taxi driver. The account did not reply directly to questions is there was also a head injury involved.

In a two-part tweet, the Dublin Fire Brigade said on Saturday: “A cyclist had a lucky escape in the city centre after a collision with a car. They were thrown clear from the collision suffering a nasty leg injury, but could of been so much worse. Remember to always wear a helmet.”

Keith Byrne, a cycling campaigner and former chairman of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, was one of those who replied to them. He asked: “You failed to mention any advice for drivers. Are you saying it was the person cycling fault?…also are you saying wear a helmet on your leg. I’m reading your advice as quite misguided and scare mongering?”

Dublin Fire Brigade replied: “We’re trying to encourage all road users to be as safe as possible, unfortunately July was a bad month for RTCs.”

Byrne responded: “Your encouragement looks one way. Your advice would be best to encourage drivers to give space to people walking and cycling.”

Other Twitter users who replied include Paul McDonnell, who said: “Understand motivation but focusing on bike (and esp helmet) disingenuous. Scaremongering and victim blaming.” Another, named Lucy, said “DFB Hope you’re also going to issue a warning to (taxi) drivers to look out for cyclists!!!” And, a third Twitter user, Shane Hogan, said: “I don’t see any “always wear seat belt” warnings with car crash pics. Why different approach?”

We checked what warning the Dublin Fire Brigade gave to motorists and it seems to be limited to very general advice, such as “Take care this bank holiday weekend on the roads if you’re out” — there are no recent tweets asking motorists to slow down or watch out of people walking and cycling.

The tweets with no collision avoiding safety advice for motorists including those with cars overturned, a car smashed through the window of a building, and cars driven into a pedestrian refuges. The tweets however make space to include traffic disruption warnings.

A search looking when the account last used the words “slow down” came back with four tweets from national slow down day in August 2015 and the next tweet found was from January 2015.

12 Comments

  1. Maybe a reminder to taxi drivers to try to keep on the correct side of the road.

  2. “Could of been”…surely they meant “could HAVE been” …not only wrong about the efficacy of helmet wearing – particularly in this case, but grammatically below standard as well…DFB – should stick to putting out fires/saving cats from trees and not social commentary on subjects they obviously now diddly squat about…

  3. Taxi Drivers appear to be becoming less aware or unwilling to care about cyclist. I believe its the new Uber culture. Most appear to be Indian where European cycling culture is absent. Some additional training for new Taxi drivers would benefit.

  4. Stephen McManus August 8, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I suspect that bike didn’t wedge itself under the metal cage on wheels but, surely, this ‘could of been’ avoided with a high-vis jacket, a bell and a steel tow Doc Martens boot, right?

  5. Are there any studies available which show the overall impact of introducing mandatory helmets for cyclists. I know when it was introduced in Australia, it had a tremendous negative impact on the number of cyclists on the road. Do we know if this had an impact on the number of serious injuries to the remaining cyclists?

    It would be interesting to know the proportion of head injuries suffered by cyclists before and after such a law was introduced.

  6. Also on the subject of mandatory helmets, do we know how many motorists and pedestrians suffer head injuries on Irish roads every year? Is anyone advocating for mandatory helmets for other road users too?

  7. There is an informative site here

    http://www.cycle-helmets.com

    looking at the effect of Australian helmet laws from a helmet-skeptic position. It seems there is evidence suggesting injury rates among cyclists have increased.


  8. Hugh
    August 9, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Are there any studies available which show the overall impact of introducing mandatory helmets for cyclists.

    This post by the Road Danger Reduction Forum got a lot of traffic at the time:
    https://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/17/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-law/

    Essentially, injury rate (i.e. injury per 100,000 cyclists) went up after compulsion, number of cyclists went down.

    There is more commentary here:
    https://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/27/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-law-the-evidence-and-what-it-means/

    There was an editorial in the BMJ a few years ago by David Spiegelhalter and Ben Goldacre.
    http://www.badscience.net/2013/12/bicycle-helmets-and-the-law-a-perfect-teaching-case-for-epidemiology/

    This is probably the take-home message:
    “The enduring popularity of helmets as a proposed major intervention for increased road safety may therefore lie not with their direct benefits – which seem too modest to capture compared with other strategies – but more with the cultural, psychological, and political aspects of popular debate around risk”

    Neatly encapsulated by an indirect call by the DFB to protect your legs with a helmet.

  9. Stephen McManus August 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I like these three in particular:

    – Wearing a bicycle helmet can increase risk taking (Bath University study) http://opus.bath.ac.uk/48015/1/Gamble_Walker_20151104.pdf and
    – 20% increase in injury rate when helmet enforced (NZ). http://www.cycle-helmets.com/nz-clarke-2012.pdf
    – European Cyclists Federation – Helmet Factsheet https://ecf.com/sites/ecf.com/files/Helmet-factsheet-_17042015_Final.pdf

    The law as is is perfect. Leave helmet use optional.

  10. Sorry about that, both comments approved now.

  11. Hi folks, thanks for those links. It’s useful to have reference to various research material when getting into discussions on the topic.

    What seems to be clear is that there is divided opinion on the effectiveness of mandatory cycle helmet laws. The fact that so many cycle advocates think it’s a bad idea speaks volumes. After all, cyclists are the people at most risk and presumably care about their own well-being.

    For my own part, I use a helmet (most of the time) and I insist my children wear helmets. I can see the benefit of protection from certain injuries. I have no problem with various arms of the state supporting the use of helmets and high-vis. However, the negative impact of mandatory helmet laws is a worry, and I would not like to see these introduced in Ireland.

    On the other hand, the message that is clear from around the world is that the primary cause of injury to cyclists is driver behavior. The main problems are twofold: 1) driving too fast, and 2) insufficient attention to the road or conditions. I have read this in numerous reports from Ireland, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and USA. Reports have been published by cycle groups, motoring groups and government agencies so there seems to be a general consensus on the subject (unlike helmet laws).

    Legislation should focus on the primary problems. This should be supported by education and promotion of measures tackling the secondary issues. So if emergency respondents want to see a reduction in cycle injuries, please be sure to focus on the cause; driver behavior.

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