Bicycle Helmet = Car Magnet.

Here's something strange: turns out, bicycle helmets are car magnets!

Last September a plucky psychologist at the University of Bath in England announced the results of a study in which he played both researcher and guinea pig. An avid cyclist, Ian Walker had heard several complaints from fellow riders that wearing a helmet seemed to result in bike riders receiving far less room to maneuver—effectively increasing the chances of an accident. So, Walker attached ultrasonic sensors to his bike and rode around Bath, allowing 2,300 vehicles to overtake him while he was either helmeted or naked-headed. In the process, he was actually contacted by a truck and a bus, both while helmeted—though, miraculously, he did not fall off his bike either time.

His findings, published in the March 2007 issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention, state that when Walker wore a helmet drivers typically drove an average of 3.35 inches closer to his bike than when his noggin wasn't covered. But, if he wore a wig of long, brown locks—appearing to be a woman from behind—he was granted 2.2 inches more room to ride.


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This was ONE study done in the UNITED KINGDOM. The British and Americans have very different personalities. And since the results of this "scientific study" based its findings how people react, the results were caused by personality. If such a study were to be done in the USA, it would also need to be done in different areas (such as cities, small towns and rural and straight flat or curvy mountainous), different States (California, Mississippi, Utah, etc.), and at different times (both months and time of day) to be even close to accurate data. They should also check perceived age difference and how fat or slender the bicyclist is because that could make even more difference as to how much space a car or truck driver gives a bicyclist.
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aj, thanks.
I guess being a mountain biker (ride on the road with cars? no thanks) I think; there are no cars, yet you still wear a helmet. Why? Because it doesn't matter WHY you crash, it's the fact that when you do crash (and you will someday) the helmet keeps your brain on the inside. You don't have to do a study to know that helmets don't prevent crashes, but they do prevent more serious injuries.
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actually sawall, it seems that he did three sets, with and without the helmet, and with a wig and no helmet.

Andy is kinda right , 2300 vehicles may not be enough to draw such conclusions, depending on the accuracy of the sensors and the locales he rode in. It would be more convincing with more people, in the test and more 'samples' to base a result on.
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He really ought to conduct another run of the tests whilst wearing the wig under the helmet. Currently, he can't make a statement about whether the drivers give him more space because they think he is female or because they think he doesn't have a helmet.
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