« Woodrow Wilson high school cycle track | Main | BicycleSpace part of one proposal for 5th and I »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ah, the foamy talisman, which makes it all safe and groovy! I saw the photo and wondered how long it would take some busybody to protest. It's enough to turn a man Librarian…I mean, into a Liberian child soldier.

Car drivers and passengers would be safer wearing helmets too, but that doesn't mean that driving without a helmet is unsafe.

Unfortunately, too many people believe that riding a bike is, in itself, inherently unsafe, as if it were skydiving or free climbing.

It's a conspiracy to give us helmet hair.

Cycling is safer with a helmet? If only?! The cyclist may be safer with a helmet, but wearing a helmet does make the acting of cycling safer anymore than wearing a seat belt makes driving safer. I rode thousands of miles in the 70s and 80s w/o a helmet, never once had an injury incident. One could argue that a helmet makes a cyclist take risks that he/she might not otherwise.

It all depends on where you draw the boundary. Is falling off your bike "cycling " or something else? Helmets certainly don't make you less likely to crash (and maybe more, but the evidence for that is weak) but they probably improve survivability.

There are people out there who aren't going to be happy until everyone does things exactly like they do--and then they'll be unhappy about that. Unfortunately, these people post a lot of online comments, and helmets are one of their favorite subjects to spread misinformation about.

I'll continue to wear my helmet when I want and not wear it when I want, and the busybodies be damned. Every now and then the trail police will shout something at me about it, but they should know better.

1. I will continue to ride with a helmet, all the time, while opposing mandatory bike helmet laws for adults

2. Since the article focused on the theft of a bike from Ms. Seremetis, and she rides without a helmet, the WaPo was correct to show her riding as she does

3. The letter writer seems to have an issue with Ms Seremetis herself, and her activities. She should discuss this with Ms Seremetis, who will probably explain her position.

4. Whether biking without a helmet is safe or not, is impacted by a number of factors including cyclist speed, traffic conditions (speed, volume, etc) on unseperated infra, the nature of seperated infra, etc - which is why the Dutch do not generally use helmets for urban riding.

Helmet Naziism is so uptight American. Cyclists of all ages in Europe and Asia, lands where cycling is considered normal, don't wear them. I have one but don't wear it. Over the years I've fallen a couple of time but didn't hit my head.

When somneone tells you cycling is unsafe, send them to this link. http://www.commutebybike.com/2013/03/10/your-biased-brain-and-the-real-risk-of-not-riding-your-bike/

Scalp. I get helmet scalp. I also ride, occasionally, onto a military reservation, where helmets are required and, if I am in uniform, must return the guard's salute, potentially bruising my right index finger, in addition to looking completely naff.

It's not like a recipe out of the food section. To me, that photo looks like a staged photo anyway, giving the *appearance* of biking. So many world problems... so little time. *sigh*. I'm not getting my pants all up in a bunch over it.

TB, that link and the links within it look to provide hours of good fun come the new year.

I'll just add that I think there is a bit of sexism here too. I can think of several times that people have complained about photos of women without helmets, and fewer of men without (though there was that city paper cover). Maybe we just don't care if men die?

Cycling is safer with a helmet? If only?! The cyclist may be safer with a helmet, but wearing a helmet does make the acting of cycling safer anymore than wearing a seat belt makes driving safer. I rode thousands of miles in the 70s and 80s w/o a helmet, never once had an injury incident.

I find it interesting that with all of the appeals on this blog to logic and evidence-based reasoning, no one has bothered to comment on this bizarre post. Do I need to point out that:

1) The contribution of seatbelts to increasing transportation safety is extremely well documented. (The data on helmets is much weaker.)

2) The anecdotal fact that that you avoided injury while riding a bike without a helmet says very little about the effect of helmets on bicycle safety. No one is making the argument that if you don't wear a helmet, you *will* incur injury. They are simply arguing that the risk for serious injury is statistically greater. (This is a disputed claim, or course.)

Guez, I took his argument to be that wearing a seatbelt does not reduce crashes. Thay may be true (but then it may not be), so I didn't push back. And I thought the anecdotal evidence was so pointless that it didn't require a response.

An interesting article in the NY Times about ski helmets and thier lack of effectiveness in avoiding brain injuries: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/sports/on-slopes-rise-in-helmet-use-but-no-decline-in-brain-injuries.html?_r=0

The anecdotal evidence reinforces one argument, that cycling is not an inherently dangerous activity such that riding without a helmet is recklessness.

Bicycle helmets address the consequences of cycling accidents, not the causes. Helmets almost certainly reduce the severity of a head injury in a low impact/low speed crash, but does nothing to reduce the likelihood of a crash. I consider my daily commute via bicycle to have been safe when I make it to my destination w/o having come in close contact with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a stationary object. An incident that causes my head to collide with something harder than bugs or rain would not be considered a safe trip.

Addressing the causes of accidents makes cycling (and driving and walking) safer. I am sorry if my viewpoint seems bizarre. Not the first time in my 60+ years that my points have been cited as bizarre.

Ride safe, and I do recommend using a helmet.


If we're going to bring out anecdotal evidence, I'll mention that I had a fall a few years ago, hit my head, but it didn't crack open, thereby "reinforcing" the argument that helmets have miraculous life-saving powers.

Your turn.

There is, in point of fact, no evidence that cycling helmets reduce the consequences of low impact crashes. As discussed here previously, they are designed to prevent skull fractures, not concussion, by absorbing point loads, not decelerations.

As for anecdotal evidence, I have ridden a bicycle as my preferred mode of transport for some 50 years, including several years of active racing, and hit my head exactly once--when I stuck my gloved hand into my front spokes in an act of consummate oafishness. Nevertheless, I suffer from disinhibition, trouble concentrating, and memory loss, all symptoms of mild TBI. Go figure.

Risk is a function of probability and severity. You focus on the second and ignore the first.

The best assessment of risk for cycling and head injury is that it isn't risky at all, particularly when compared to alternative sports (if it's for recreation) or modes of transportation. The probability is very small and the incremental risk of not wearing a wearing a helmet, while not zero, is not anything like a doubling or tripling of severity. Many of these head injuries occur in crashes so severe a helmet would be useless. In other instances (and this has happened to me), the helmet offered no protection because the design does not cover the entire head. In others, the impact is sufficiently small that helmetlessness is irrelevant. So we have an unlikely occurrence, a subset of which has a result in which a helmet makes a difference. That's enough for me as a personal choice to wear one, but not enough to cause me to hector those who are making an alternative, but perfectly rational, choice not to wear one.

Regardless of whether bicycle helmets reduce injuries overall, or reduce the number of riders, we're missing the most important point: a rider without a helmet is a grand opportunity to spit bile at a perfect stranger, all the while casting myself in the role of a decent and caring person. And that's a rare opportunity indeed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader