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An even greater issue is that helmet laws would directly counter Maryland's aims to roll out bikesharing, which is getting closer and closer to being a reality every day.

Yeah, it's the bikesharing that's a problem. When on my bike, I always wear my helmet. But if I'm grabbing a Cabi bike to make my trip home quicker..well, then I have to carry a helmet just in case. Seems silly. I'd have to weigh the probability I'll get caught and fined vs the cost of Cabi membership.

The approach Jim describes is necessary for the broader point of the net health effect. The other comments are correct to point out that a new Bikeshare system (and I think the Montgomery County expansion is essentially that) is very sensitive to demand being reduced. This law could literally doom Bikeshare in Montgomery County.

When/where is the hearing?

Wouldn't bother me because I always wear mine anyway. OTOH, in my one major wipeout, my worst injury was because the helmet pushed my glasses into my face, giving me a cut that needed stitches. OTOOH, without the helmet, maybe I would have gotten a concussion or worse.

I had the exact same experience. Except my helmet didn't even get a scratch.

"Wouldn't bother me because I always wear mine anyway."

This is not the point at all. Almost every serious cyclist wears a helmet nearly all of the time. But this law will seriously curtail bike use, which will decrease government spending on infrastructure, and that will affect you. The question asked here is how much it will affect ridership, not your personal anecdotes.

@Greenbelt: The hearing starts at 1PM Tuesday. There is no way to know the order of the 14 bills listed. Often bills with alot of people testifying are heard last, but since the Committee chairwoman is the sponsor, this one could be heard at any point. The latest incarnation of the 3-ft passing bill will also be heard, and one might hope they would be consecutive.

Usually you can get out of the requirement to show up by noon by having someone else sign you in.

Since I wear a helmet anyway, wouldn't stop me from biking. But Bossi has a point about CaBi users.

Jim, I put in a bunch of calls today to Kumar Barve asking WTF is going on and if Maryland had anything else stupider to legislate first.

That being said, a helmet law would have no effect on bicyling numbers since it isn't going to be an enforceable law. Much like when virginia passed $3000 speeding tickets.

Both the three foot law and helmet law are bad ideas and what happens when you stir the beast. It is a shame energy is used on these things when more important laws like dooring need action.

Why not examine the before and after fatalities and serious injuries of other places where there are mandatory helmet laws? Canada has some, there are a few US states with them, and Australia, and NZ have the best data.

Second, why do cyclists always need to prove things even if it's a negative?

If you are going to make a huge instrusive and expensive (to enforce) law, do you not think that the burden of proof could be on you to show that it actually works?

Look at the safest places for cycling. They don't have particularly brilliant and aware motorists, their cyclists didn't take a class, and they don't wear helmets.

They all have decent infrastructure. If MD wants to make cycling safe, there are experts they can hire who can educate them.

Why is it that while cycling is super safe, without motorists, cyclists are blamed for the problems created by others.

Saying you'll stop cycling is WEAK.

Explain that they created a problem by spending billions of tax dollars to create super dangerous streets which are wholly useless to normal cycling and demand a tiny fraction back for fixing it.

The safest cycling countries in the world spend about $25 per person on cycling infrastructure. It's LESS than buying everyone in MD a helmet!

Here's a good start in educating oneself about the cons of mandatory helmets:



Note: I wear a helmet 95% I ride a bicycle.

The helmet law will kill bike sharing and harm bicycling as a whole.

Infrastructure is the problem. How do we get the law makers to actually watch this video. It explains it all. Safe cycling and note, no helmets!!!


@charlie: Good work. Your Senator is on the key committee that will probably hear the bill if it passes the House, so don't forget to call her as well. Actually, hearing from a constituent before she gets flooded with emails might be a good thing. It's worth bending the ear of the legislative assistant.

@Fred: Advocates intend to present each of the potentially persuasive arguments, and we have to learn about them one at a time. Different people are persuaded by different arguments, so it is prudent to learn how to do each of them well.

Often, the issues that you see me raising are issues where I am trying to firm up the knowledge base. Seeking help to estimate a single parameter does not mean that I think such parameter is the only thing that matters, but rather that it is the particular parameter where I need help over the next few days.

We have to tailor our arguments to what the legislators have been saying. Because a completely different set of people control the budget than write the motor vehicle code, arguments to fund infrastructure instead will get nowhere. We have to keep the focus on the bill before us.

Usually the burden is on those pushing a new law. But when a Committee Chairman in the MD House of Delegates sponsors a bill to be heard in her own committee, the burden is on the proponents.

@Anybody: Where do I get a sheet of a foam similar to foam they used to make helmets?

@ Joe That video is great. Thanks for posting that.

How many people would stop biking supporting BikeMaryland because of the helmet law? (specifically, their decision not to oppose it)

To be fair LAB no longer has a policy of opposing mandatory helmet laws either.

I guess I am a bit old school and say raspberries to both. Ya I realize at first blush it seems contradictory being for bike safety but opposing mandatory bike helmet laws but recommending helmets anyway.

But for me the underlying issue is "cycling is safe" or stated differently "cycling is safer then walking." So why don't we make walking safer by requiring helmets?... In short it's putting the onus on the victim. Like requiring everyone in Baltimore and PG County to get a bulletproof vest.

Oh look, I found one that's near the same price of a good bicycling helmet, so let's make a mandatory bulletproof vest law as more people are killed by guns then cyclists that die.

(A spin of my "If gun safety laws were like bicycle safety laws, it would be illegal to stand in front of a gun.")

I always wear a helmet when I bike, but I am not currently a Cabi member. I can see where it would limit my usage of Cabi if I were a member.

I think that WABA, LAB and others need to recognize that repeating the phrase "wear a helmet" is not helping bicycling. As others have pointed out, emphasizing helmets just promotes the myth that bicycling is more dangerous than walking or driving. The fact is that people believe repeated messages after a while, especially non-cyclists who have no reason to question them.

Instead they should emphasizing the positive. And if they need to talk about safety, they should emphasize education, which probably works. The only reason we don't know for sure if education works is that all the research has been focused on helmets (this would make sense to me if it were only the helmet industry that funded such research). Sadly, the people in the ER always ask me about helmets but never ask if I've taken a safe-cycling course.

Jim - what is an email for you that I can send the full LeBlanc paper pdf to?

Jum - nevermind, we have in pubmed central for free


@JIm, no, I don't live in MD so I don't have a senator, but I encouraged Kumar -- who is an very old friend -- to kill the bill in order to not look as stupid as those legislators in virginia. He did understand that point. Will see what happens.

Thanks for the responses.

Personally, I don't think that education works at all. From what I have seen, they teach some objectively dangerous practices. All you need to know about cycling: stay off fast roads, don't ride fast, forget the laws, yield always.

I'm not suggesting messages to tell to politicians, but the problem with cycling is that the entire system is fragmented and everyone thinks that improving cycling is not their job.

The problem with arguing about helmets is that people who wear them have to justify their wearing them instead of admitting that they wasted their time and money.

When I mentioned the cost of infrastructure vs. helmets the point wasn't that we pool our helmet money and build bike lanes, but I wanted to point out that if one really studied the issue and they actually cared about cycling safety, instead of mandating mandatory helmets, they'd put out a law for mandatory cycle tracks which would cost the tax payers about the same in the long run.

The point is that we don't have infinite money. If we did, we can have a mandatory rabbit's foot law, too. Every time I think I'm going to crash, my rabbit's foot breaks so I know that it protected me.

You'd think I was being burdensome and a bit insane to suggest that we need mandatory rabbit's feet laws, but that's where we are in stupid helmet debate. We have to somehow prove that helmets don't ever work. I can't do that, but I can point out that MHLs in other places failed to get us the 85% reduction in injuries and serious injuries, yet I still see this hare brained number tossed around like it is related to the real world rather than stats that someone ran on Seattle children in accidents that didn't even have care accidents in them.

This is unfair and frustrating to those of us who actually study the issues.

Since these issues also arise on the post- hearing thread I'll reply tomorrow too Fred on that thread.

@barry. As we discussed LAB took a stand yesterday on their blog. Yea!

@charlie: I thought you lived in VA if you are the GGW charlie, but one never knows.

I wear a turban because of religion. Helmets don't fit over it. I ride 220 miles each week. this bill would limit my mobility significantly.I would west one if a t turban fitting helmet were designed.

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