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IMO, getting educated on safe bicycling practices is the number one thing a person can do to stay safe on a bicycle. Perhaps our social efforts should be focused on that.

The social efforts have already worked, and most cyclists are already wearing helmets. At this point helmets are just another anti-cyclist whipping boy.

And lights. I would mandate having lights when biking after dark.

Oh wait, never mind.

I have a really hard time believing that cycling leads to more head injuries than football. More likely, there is over- or under- reporting going on.

Smoking is just plain disgusting. In my unbiased, completely neutral opinion. (OK, maybe not so neutral.) Plus it has an immediate effect on everyone else in the immediate area.

Moderate alcohol use may confer modest healthy benefits, although it's true that too many people drink far too much of it. And many people become unruly and violent after drinking too much.

I guess I should say something about bike helmets too. I think they can be useful in some situations, but not that effective when getting struck by a car traveling at high speed.

I'm not as concerned about whether CaBi users wear helmets or not. It's fairly difficult to ride fast on CaBi bikes (which is a good thing). This means that any accidents tend to be at much lower speeds than other bike accidents. Plus the heavy weight and stable design (lower center of mass) makes the bikes more difficult to tip over.

I remember reading that there were no serious head injuries among CaBi users, at least up through this past winter. Or maybe one or two such injuries. In any case, that's an amazing number, considering that there have been a few million trips on CaBi over the past 2.5 years. The slow speeds make it easier for both riders and car drivers to avoid collisions.

Helme(n)ts make sense as a small part of a global approach to safety, but their main purpose, other than to support the industry, is talismanic. We wear them to make ourselves feel safe in a world where the threats are overwhelming and nearly all out of our control.

Mandates have the same superstitious motivation, but at the level of the society.

Oh, and Heaven preserve us from "better" helmets. Can you imagine how awkward and wienie-looking real concussion-mitigating kit would be?

To Smedley: I remember looking at the big dent in my bike helmet after a crash a few years ago, and thinking what would have happened to my brain had I not been wearing that helmet. I don't regard wearing my helmet as talismanic, but as a prudent precaution against real but statistically-unlikely dangers - similar to wearing a seat belt, and paying for auto and homeowners insurance.

The assault rifles and the thousand rounds of ammo in my basement - now THAT's talismanic. ;-)

PS actually new concussion-mitigating helmets look not so different from current ones: check out http://mipshelmet.com/find-a-helmet

Thanks, black jack. I wear a helmet for the reason you do, but I also recognize its talismanic importance to me. If I forget it, which I sometimes do, my anxiety, when I realize it's not on my head, is far out of proportion to the increased risk.

What's different about the gear you linked? I wonder what sort of data they're basing any claims on. Preventing concussion isn't as straightforward as preventing skull fractures.

All the misinformation surrounding helmets is not helping. I wear one based on my understanding that it will lessen the severity of a concussion upon impact. Not true?

No laws (not just helmet laws) should be enacted based on speculation, anecdotes, and subjective perception.

"No laws (not just helmet laws) should be enacted based on speculation, anecdotes, and subjective perception."

Why do you hate America, freewheel?

OK, MB, I'll reconsider my position. After all, if speculation (they haz WMDs?) was good enough to launch a war, then it should be good enough to enact helmet laws.

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