It seems that helmets aren't good enough if you really want to be safe while cycling; a new study published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery suggests that street cyclists should wear body armour. According to the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine,
Trauma to the head is still the No. 1 injury in both cycling groups, [mountain biking and street cycling] which underscores the importance of wearing a good-quality, properly fitted helmet,” says Dr. Chad Ball, the senior author of the research paper. At the same time, almost half of the injuries we noted were either to the chest or abdomen, suggesting that greater physical protection in those areas could also help reduce or prevent serious injury.
The doctors suggest that "Street cyclists were most often injured after being struck by a motor vehicle" and therefore their recommendation is that "Helmets and thoracic protection should be advocated for injury prevention."
One would think that perhaps a better solution would be to figure out why so many cyclists are being struck by motor vehicles and deal with that problem, but that's not how it works in car-centric Alberta. The problem with this kind of argument, as I have learned from Mikael Colville-Andersen, is that it is always about the bikes, that cycling is somehow inherently dangerous and cyclists are in need of extra protection.
In fact, In 2010, according to Alberta Transportation, 250 people were killed in cars and 16,500 people were injured in cars. 35 pedestrians were killed and 1129 were injured. 31 motorcyclists were killed and 683 were injured. 6 cyclists were killed and 461 were injured. Nobody is saying that pedestrians should wear helmets or body armour, or that drivers and passengers in cars should wear helmets, but the numbers tell us that they should.
Mikael points out that studies like this do nothing but scare people off bikes. Instead of armour we need proper infrastructure where cars don't hit cyclists.
via Bike Biz Online