Lose the helmets…

2 10 2012

Click to read the article over at the NY Times…


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8 responses

2 10 2012
Gerco van Vulpen

Great article…. And i allways enjoy the comments… Usually the people that say that riding a bike without a helmet is insane, only have experience cycling in the US…. They will quickly change there minds riding overhere….

2 10 2012
thelazyrando

I’ve ridden a bike without helmets in cities in Canada and the USA. There are many places that are not particularly dangerous for cyclists in North America.

2 10 2012
Anne

Thanks for the link to that article. One point that came up in the comments and that could have been included is the difference between cycling for transportation and cycling for sport (or recreation as some people might consider it, but that term is ambiguous). People who are riding fast and aggressively should probably wear helmets, as part of their equipment, and few people would argue with that. But riding at slow speeds on bikes that have more relaxed geometry has no more risk than walking. They don’t even wear helmets on the Tour when they are on climbing legs.

The only thing that will make roads safer for cyclists is to have more cyclists on them, leading to more awareness, better traffic conditions and improved infrastructure.

2 10 2012
pledet

Thanks Vik. Another good read. It was important for me to wear a helmet when I was in my tweens and racing back and forth to university, jobs, and home. I took risks that I no longer take. I enjoyed my bike then and I enjoy it now. I would like to enjoy the guilt free pleasure of getting on my bike without a helmet when I’m heading to work ort the grocery store but would continue to wear it if I was riding at night or at a higher rate of speed in a pack (or on a unicycle!)

2 10 2012
thelazyrando

I wear helmets on bikes when I feel the risks warrant it. The key is having the choice to do so. Mandatory bike laws don’t give you a choice.

One thing I laugh about in BC is people riding with helmets strapped to their handlebars. They don’t want to wear the helmet and if they have it with them they won’t get a ticket from the police – they’ll just be told to put it on.

3 10 2012
Steve Jones

I’ve only ever had one serious accident on my bike. Funnily enough I was just coming back from the trail on my MTB where I’d had no problems at all doing single track all day. I slowed down at some traffic signals and my wheel caught something( that to this day) remains a mystery. The result was my bike weirdly stopped in an instant and tilted over smashing me on the sidewalk so fast I didn’t even have time to react and get my hands off the bars.No, I didn’t touch the brake lever or touch a vehicle. Like a lot of accidents it was fast and unexpected. I heard rather than felt the sound of my head cracking onto the sidewalk. Except it was the helmet I was wearing that was shattering not my head.For anyone who has had an experience like this or survived something much worse, there is no argument or debate. No question I would have been in hospital with serious head injuries on that day..or dead.I survived with just cuts and a dislocated thumb to enjoy lots of riding since then. I agree it feels great to ride without a helmet but you simply cannot know when an accident is going to happen.
There is always risk.You can’t predict it unless you have miraculous powers to see into the future. Good idea to minimize it.That means wearing a helmet. Choice? Sure. Choose carefully! Same thing with the Tikit. Mine also shows no cracks but I ride down 1,200m mountain roads here and I don’t want to wait until disaster happens! Good thing GreenGear are getting the notifications out about the problem, now lets see if they’ll step up after testing and offer a replacement part for those that want it. What was that you said about having a choice?The thought of my Tikit stem disintegrating as I’m coming down a road at speed with traffic behind me is more than scary. I’m quite happy to park my Tikit for now and give the Bike Friday people time to do a thorough investigation and come up with a good solution. The mark of a good company is when they pull out all the stops to ensure the quality and safety of their products and customers.

7 10 2012
heather

I am not sure this is the right attitude to take. Just because something hasn’t happened to you, does not mean it won’t. I find it laughable that putting on a dorky helmet is going to deter people from cycling. That is just so shallow. Cycling is amazing,fun, awesome, people should be out there riding their bikes! I have heard absurd arguments. Yes of course it does feel nice to ride without a helmet, and perhaps in a safe environment like Amsterdam or Copenhagen where everybody rides at a slowish pace and more importantly the infrastructure and laws protect cyclists. As ‘safe’ as cycling is, an accident can cause broken bones, nasty road rash that become scars for life etc.. I had a mishap yesterday where I lost control of my bike while I was stopped(no idea what happened) and gashed my toe, bashed up my other leg, twisted ankles and had to sit on the side of the road nursing bleeding toes and shock. My husband also had a fall last year, the helmet scraped as he skidded along the pavement and had he not worn a helmet, would have likely smashed his head. I think it really does depend on how you are riding, where, what context etc. I am overly cautious, but ride on a scary highway daily with logging trucks and such where stuff does fly. It would be foolish not to wear a helmet. I do forget it sometimes, and in the winter it can be a bother trying to wear a toque and a helmet… but I mainly wear my helmet because it IS the law. Having dealt with ICBC after a horrific car accident, I will never trust them, or take unnecessary risks. If you get into an accident and are not wearing your helmet, the insurance company will take offence and deem that you were riding without due care and exposing yourself to danger and risk-therefore, you are partially at fault, even if you in no way caused a vehicle to hit you.
Liberty and personal freedom is one thing, but a major injury is for life.

8 10 2012
thelazyrando

@Steve and Heather – I think you should do exactly what you want to do. If that’s wearing a helmet every time you get on your bike go for it.

The reality is that there are lots of potentially dangerous situations we all encounter every day from walking down the street to using the shower and driving a car. In each situation wearing a helmet would reduce the risk of a brain injury if we had an accident. What’s interesting is that nobody would suggest you wear a helmet in the car or in the shower even though it would be of benefit to your safety. Everywhere I use public transit there are no seatbelts or airbags or helmets and we travel at high speeds.

So this idea that bike safety and wearing helmets is some sort of rationale analysis of risk reduction is false. If it was we’d be making many different choices in other areas of our lives to try and be safe.

In my mind what’s driving the issue is fear which isn’t based on any facts. If it was factual we would all be as fearful for our safety when we climbed into a car or bus – which despite seat belts or airbags is far more dangerous than riding your bike. Yet we freak out about our bikes and zoom along at 100kph sipping a latte in a car without a second thought.

Personally I think that’s crazy!

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