Correspondence and Publication Regarding Julian Barnes' Article

August 2001

On July 29, 2001, an article appeared in the New York Times on the subject of bicycle helmet efficacy. The author (Julian Barnes) asked why, given that bike helmet use has increased significantly in the last decade or so, we have not seen a corresponding decrease in cyclist head injuries; in fact, they seem to be increasing. The controversial topic of "risk compensation" was mentioned in the article.
My review of Barnes' text
I praise Barnes for opening up a subject that has for too long been considered above or beyond discussion in the mainstream press, but criticize him for hewing too closely to the traditionalist "road safety establishment" line.
BHSI response to NYT article
Randy Swart (the force behind BHSI) criticizes Barnes for just the opposite reason: he accuses the NYT of bad journalism and biased coverage in presenting too negative a view of the traditionalist approach.
My critique of BHSI response
I propose that the BHSI response is naive with regard to the existing literature on risk compensation.
Malcolm Wardlaw replies to Barnes
Mr Wardlaw makes the same points he made ably in his BMJ article last year: that the risks of cycling are greatly exaggerated by officialdom, and that current policy serves to discourage cycling rather than promote it.

Want to join the correspondence? If you have seen an interesting posting on this subject (specifically inspired by or responding to the NYT article), send me the URL or a copy of the text.
De Clarke