Tuesday 21 July 2015

Geraint Thomas Sports Crash and Helmets

Watched this and was duly worried about the man. The crash did look awful, slaming into a telegraph pole and falling head over heels down into a ditch. I expected there was potential for concussion, broken bones, deep wounds to the body, and so on.

from ITV Footage.

There was quite a wait whilst people tried to find out what happened. Also, sadly, there where no race cameras nearby on the road to show him getting back on, so we were left wondering even with the positive commentary.

from Bicycling.co.za.

Then, he appeared, cycling towards the finish, looking irritated and working hard not to lose time. I think everyone watching breathed a sigh of relief. He started joking during the post race interviews and seemed completely unscathed.

from The Guardian.

Then, I start getting this nagging feeling. And I realised this clip would be played over and over with all those helmet proponents screaming that it exactly supports their point of view. Looking through lots of the comments, I've managed to spot some stuff already appearing, surprise surprise, on the Australian websites.

Quite why a downhill race has any comparison to going down the shops is beyond me, of course. It's like saying driving around town is the same as racing Formula One.

Anyway, I'd thought I'd spotted something earlier, so I had a good look through the footage. Did the crash actually impact on the helmet?

It's difficult to see, but it really looks like the helmet didn't hit the telegraph pole at all. The point of impact looks to be the side of his neck and shoulder. At the time he's looking perpendicular to his direction of travel and the centre of the pole is clearly behind an upward facing helmet.

When talking about the accident later, words like "headbutted" where used. But this was clearly far from the case. I've no problem with Geraint using these words, it happened very quickly and it's very difficult to know what actually happened. Also, it's not far from a reasonable description. No-one would use the words "hit the side of shoulder and neck" when a good ole "headbutt" will do. Sadly, reporting of this word will conflate the "helmet saved me" story.

In conclusion, I expect a whole load of helmet support from the parts of the world that have low cycle use, like the Antipodes, UK, and USA, whilst completely ignoring the evidence. In fact, this whole story shows exactly why helmets are a sideline when it comes to safety.

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