More on Studying Cyclists' Injuries

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I am writing in regard to Brackenridge Hospital and St. David's HealthCare's plan to collect data on cyclists with head injuries in regard to whether they were wearing a helmet or not at the time of their wreck ["Bicycle Helmet Headbutting Resumes," News, Oct. 20]. While I applaud any attempt to collect data for the sake of cyclist safety, I hope that they expand the areas in which they collect data for this study. In doing so, they could more thoroughly shed light on policy changes that could actually prevent accidents from occurring to begin with rather than only determining whether wearing a helmet provided protection after a wreck has already occurred.
    I am aware of Brackenridge's position on the mandatory helmet ordinance (that is, that they are in favor of it) from hearing their testimony at the public hearings (and by reading about the design of this study). It seems that any study that has the intent of "put[ing] real numbers behind proponents' arguments that a helmet law would save millions of dollars in uncompensated medical care costs" is a politically motivated study with tunnel vision as to the overall issue of cyclist safety.
    I strongly encourage those funding and designing the study to also collect other data, such as the cause of the bicycle accident, or if a bicycle lane was present at the time.
    If this study were to find (for purposes of illustration) that a vast majority of bicycle accidents are caused by cars and that they take place in areas without bicycle lanes, that would provide far more information as to how to go about preventing accidents in the first place. Researching what policy changes can prevent accidents would be more beneficial to cyclists than a study that seeks only to control the damage done after to an unchanged number of wrecks.
Gwendolyn Norton
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