Lose the helmet…gain ridership?

In the ongoing “Great Helmet Debate”, a recent article in the New York Times raises some interesting points. The article is mostly about helmet use in bike-share programs (like Paris’s “Velib” or Minneapolis’s “Nice Ride“), but also addresses the different mindsets between Euro- and U.S.-based bicycle advocates:

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles.

Take a look at the full article by visiting the NYT page.

Personally, I am no fan of mandatory helmet laws for adults. The Libertarian-leaning among you (and others, of course) may agree that the government has no business legislating personal choices such as wearing a helmet. For children, that’s another matter altogether…I am definitely in favor of helmet laws for kids. My feeling is this: if you want to wear a helmet, cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too…but I reserve the right to privately think you’re a bit foolish for not doing so. I’m not going to get in your face about it, however — you’ve made your decision based on what you know or think and that’s fine with me.

Frankly, I don’t know enough about the helmet studies to know if helmet laws reduce cycling participation or not. I will say that the few I’ve looked at didn’t seem particularly rigorous from a scientific perspective.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter — the helmet debate can get people pretty heated up, so let’s try to keep the discussion friendly, ok? Alright, let’s hear from you in the comments below.


  1. Keith D October 11, 2012 6:01 am 

    I absolutely agree there should NEVER be any law forcing anyone to wear a helmet. The government has no business in my “business”.

    I ride 80 to 100 miles a week and I will never ride without a helmet…because that’s MY choice.

  2. Ghost Rider October 11, 2012 6:19 am 

    I found it very interesting that the author of the NYT article mentioned that everyone here in the U.S. has a “helmet saved my/my friend’s life” story…yet no one ever mentions such things in Europe, even when helmets are being worn.

  3. Mir.I.Am October 11, 2012 6:31 am 

    Well, well, well… Ghost Rider is keepin’ it real for the 600th time! I have to say, in Hawaii helmets are not required for moped, motorcycles, or bicycles. I don’t know about increased ridership regarding cycling – since we seem to have low numbers compared to other states, but I can say that I have made about 95% of my trips WITH a helmet. And the times without, I definitely take extra care… but it is nice to have the option!

  4. Iron_Man October 11, 2012 6:33 am 

    I find seatbelt laws for drivers to be abhorrent, so I clearly wouldn’t like a helmet law. I wear my seatbelt and I wear my helmet faithfully, it’s government protecting me from myself that I find so terrible. There’s no limit to the kind of pestering and soft tyranny I’ll endure with that kind of government hovering over me. We need law enforcement to be doing the vital job of protecting citizens from the harm of others and punishing those that violate other’s rights, not monitoring the personal behaviors of adults. Since cops so rarely care to pull a cyclist over for their reckless behavior that is already illegal (such as riding against traffic) why would I believe that a helmet law will all of a sudden cause understaffed police officers to take notice of cyclists and change rider behavior? We’re nannied and over-policed as it is, why in the world would we want to encourage more it?

    But as I said, I wear my helmet faithfully, save a few short jaunts here and there around the block. Though perhaps slow rides should be greater cause to wear a helmet, since I’m more likely to fall and hit my head when I’m riding slow and balance is affected.

  5. gf October 11, 2012 6:34 am 


    It is rare that I ride much more than a block or 2 without a helemet. Yet I never ever tell somebody they need to wear one. Of course I generally don’t say much to folks when I see other things that could be an issue – like saddle height or anything else.

    I will bitch when somebody runs a red light. Mostly because drivers who see a cyclist run a red light get pretty upset and I worry they make take their anger out on me.

  6. The Other GR October 11, 2012 6:34 am 

    Here is my viewpoint. I ask my children to wear their helmets every time they ride, so I will do the same to set an example. That being said it’s my choice and I wouldn’t force it on anyone (adults).

  7. Ghost Rider October 11, 2012 6:39 am 

    @Iron_Man — I added the bit about Libertarians with you in mind! 😉

    Florida has a somewhat novel law for motorcyclists — helmets are required unless the rider has at least $10K in personal injury insurance, in which case no helmet needs to be worn. I suppose that is to ensure taxpayers don’t have to subsidize emergency brain surgery for “donorcyclists”.

  8. Ghost Rider October 11, 2012 6:50 am 

    @Other GR — yes, absolutely on the setting-example-for-kids. Besides, helmets are required for kids in Florida (under 16, methinks).

  9. burnhamish October 11, 2012 7:02 am 

    Yes, I fell over once and my helmet saved my noggin, if not from severe brain trauma, at least from a nasty headache. No other traffic was involved, just my own carelessness on a sloped turn.

    You can’t legislate common sense- people have it, or they don’t. I don’t race, I don’t care about weight or aerodynamics, so the worst a helmet does to me is mess up my hair. I’m better off wearing it and never needing it than I am not wearing it and getting my brain scrambled.

  10. Iron_Man October 11, 2012 10:21 am 

    Thanks Jack!
    Every state that has a motorcycle helmet law has an ineffectual motorcycle helmet law. Look at most of the guys riding the Harley’s around with the skull caps. Those things are thin plastic novelty helmets (the labels even say so) that offer zero protection in a crash, yet will effectively satisfy the law. Seriously?! Just let folks be already Uncle Sam!

  11. BluesCat October 11, 2012 10:45 am 

    I always wear a helmet, but not just because of the statistics which show it is safer. My helmet serves as an accessory base for a rear-view mirror, which is almost a requirement for riding a recumbent.

    I classify bike helmets in the “optional” category.

    Not so with automobile seatbelts. Iron_Man, I have to disagree with you about seatbelt laws. Seatbelts protect more than just the driver using them: they also serve to protect OTHERS on the roadway.

    My own experience at the racetrack confirms this. When the car changes direction rapidly for some reason, as happens when a tire blowout occurs or when a failure in a drivetrain component causes the frontend or rearend to go in an unintended direction, the resulting G-forces want to remove you from behind the wheel and send you bouncing all over the cabin interior. Having a seatbelt to keep you planted behind the wheel enables you to keep steering away from other roadway occupants.

    Also, just this last month two colleagues of mine were involved in two, separate high speed crashes on the freeway. Both their cars were totalled, and in BOTH instances the accident investigators said the ability to stay behind the wheel enabled them to steer the car to the right, and not involve even more automobiles in the wreck!

  12. Mike Myers October 11, 2012 4:50 pm 

    I was hit from behind by a truck in 2007. Knocked unconscious, transported on a backboard, the whole shebang.

    I wasn’t seriously injured, but my helmet had a nice crack in the rear of it, so my head hit something.

    I would never demand someone wear one, but when I showed the broken one(complete with bloodstains) to people at the bike shop a couple of them bought helmets.

  13. Max Power October 11, 2012 6:07 pm 

    I suggest the compromise for states that currently have mandatory helmet laws (for pedalcyclists or motorcyclists):

    Make helmets optional if you have signed up as an organ donor on your driver’s license.

    The potential for brain damage is then balanced by the possibility of saving others’ lives.

  14. ridonrides October 11, 2012 8:51 pm 

    wearing a seatbelt doesn’t stop anyone from driving so wearing a helmet shouldn’t stop anyone from riding a bike. these laws are not passed to protect people, it’s just to fine people! i think it’s a valid way for the local government to make money. i also think if someone already bike commutes, they wouldn’t hesitate to put on a helmet to continue doing so. i do see how it could discourage people from starting to bike commute.

  15. Graham October 12, 2012 5:10 am 

    I disagree, ridonrides. I think that making helmets mandatory does decrease ridership. Particularly in countries where bicycle commuting isn’t the norm. It’s a glaring symbol that you are doing something “different” and possibly “dangerous.”

    Given that most people are averse to both standing out in a crowd and assuming unnecessary risks, they are less likely to try bicycle commuting. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t ridership go down when helmet laws were introduced in Australia?

    My 2 cents: I wear a helmet when doing technical riding, riding in close traffic, or riding with the children. As that accounts for 99% of my riding; well… Also, I look at it this way. I have invested $20,000 in my brain (college) and that is the only part of me that’s worth anything so doesn’t it make sense to invest $50 bucks on the off chance that it’ll be protected?

  16. Elizabeth October 12, 2012 8:30 am 

    My two cents? I encourage helmet use. However, helmets should be the last piece of the puzzle in being safe on the bike. First – the U.S. infrastructure simply doesn’t promote safe cycling in most places, so I will not bike without a helmet. And most motorists still fail to respect bicyclists on the roads. Finally, many cyclists take their life into their own hands by not following the rules of the roads.

    So – I will continue to wear my helmet. But I believe if we could get “shared” roads (in infrastructure or at least in the mindsets of motorists) we’d all be safer … with or without a helmet.

  17. bigbenaugust October 12, 2012 1:33 pm 

    So little of the USA has a “mature urban cycling system” that one is truly taking one’s life into one’s own hands when going out on the open road in anything less than a Ford Expedition or an M113 APC. In this case, I think the cyclist is better off going out there as well-prepared as possible. Lights, helmet, vest (if it’s cloudy/dark), reflectors and all. Now, I ride streets with a 50mph speed limit every day in all conditions (Central Expressway, the most direct route to work). I also ride streets crowded with distracted college students every day. Trust me, I need a helmet and a good set of brakes around here. If you are cruising along the MUP on Saturdays at 10mph, maybe you don’t need any of this stuff. The only place I don’t ride with a helmet is around the block when I am doing maintenance and need a test ride. I live in a mobile home park with a 10mph speed limit and plenty of speed bumps, so no one, car or bike, breaks 15 around the neighborhood.

    As to state laws, when California passed the helmet law for kids in… 1990-whatever (1993?) when I was in high school, my parents got me a cheapo helmet that looked like the packing material from a stereo (seriously) and I just quit riding for a while. When I came back to cycling at 23, I looked at the roads, realized I wanted to live, and put my helmet on. I make my son wear his on his Strider because a) it’s the law and b) he’s a bit of a daredevil and needs all the injury prevention we can muster. :)

  18. listenermark October 12, 2012 5:15 pm 

    After nearly a life-time of never wearing a helmet I now wear a helmet about half the time. Weather, time of day, and destination informs my decision. A lazy afternoon trip to the grocery store (round trip is four miles, mostly protected bike path) rarely rates a helmet (especially in the deep south summer.) Late night, crap weather, and trips over twenty miles almost always include a helmet. I am playing the odds the way I sees em. It’s not a completely rational approach, but humans aren’t highly rational creatures. To each his own.

  19. DoctorKennyG October 12, 2012 11:34 pm 

    If one wears a helmet even though one does not believe in a mandatory helmet law, then it seems one recognizes the merits and protections a helmet offers.

    Are there are lots of Libertarians who bicycle? Experience seems to say otherwise.

    If the phrase “mature urban cycling systems” means Amsterdam or Copenhagen, there’s nothing remotely close here in the U.S. and likely won’t be for decades–unless gas hits $10 a gallon.

    If one wears a helmet, but opposes a mandatory law, is one hoping to “cull the herd”? Seems more logical to support bike helmet laws but oppose seat belt laws to thin out the ranks of drivers.

    Finally, if one favors a mandatory law for kids, and if those kids grow up to become bicyclists then isn’t it likely one is growing the next generation of bicyclists to view helmets as normal? Even if they don’t become bicyclists as adults, they will still remember wearing a helmet as a kid and see that as normal and natural. Wouldn’t they likely be supportive of a mandatory helmet law for all bicyclists? Helmets for the next generation but not for me?

  20. Ghost Rider October 13, 2012 5:43 am 

    @DoctorKennyG — interesting insights.

    -people who don’t support mandatory helmet laws can still recognize the potential benefits of wearing helmets. The keyword is “choice” here: I find it to be of merit, but I’m not going to force my beliefs on anyone and I don’t think the government should either.

    -Frankly, I don’t know if Libertarians ride bikes or not…I don’t personally know any. I mentioned Libertarians as a “tip of the hat” to one of our longtime readers and commenters.

    -completely in agreement with your assessment of “mature urban cycling systems” in the U.S. My fear is that even $10/gal gas won’t keep Americans away from the pumps, though.

    -“Normal” does not equal “mandatory” — your reasoning is flawed on this one. Those of us who favor mandatory helmet laws for kids do so because children aren’t mature or knowledgeable enough to make a reasoned decision on their own. Wearing a helmet as a child certainly will color their experiences for the future and inform their decisions later. We all hope that their youthful experience will teach them that helmets are probably a good idea, but not something to force upon others.

  21. Cat MacKinnon October 13, 2012 5:45 am 

    i get where you’re coming from, but the heart of the matter isn’t so much about whether people “should” wear helmets as it is whether or not it’s okay for the government to force people to wear them. i don’t think any rational person would deny that wearing a helmet most of the time is probably a good idea. i mean, aside from perhaps being slightly uncomfortable to some people, there aren’t really any downsides. but i also think that “because i just don’t want to” is a valid reason too. grown adults are generally smart enough to know the specifics of their commute, and any risk factors that may go along with that.

    i don’t want the government telling me that it somehow knows better than i do, especially when every single person’s situation is different. also, travelling by car and by bicycle aren’t completely analogous and i’m not convinced that comparing proposed helmet laws to seatbelt laws is an entirely sound argument. sure, there are similarities, but there are also quite a few fundamental differences between cycling and driving a car (especially for cyclists who are able to ride on walkways and other areas that are separate from a street.) where i live, most sidewalks along major thoroughfares are considered “dual-use”, meaning it’s okay to ride your bike on them and they were designed extra-wide with that in mind. there are also plenty of unpaved pathways and trails in my neighborhood that are far removed from streets or moving vehicles.

    my point is that every situation for every commuter is different, and while i think that wearing a helmet most of the time is probably a good idea, i certainly don’t want anyone forcing me to do it. i also don’t foresee helmet laws being enforced very often either; one of the reasons a lot of us like commuting by bike is because we can travel on routes that cars cannot. it seems pretty likely that, if someone not wearing a helmet were approached by a police car, they’d just cut through a park or down an unpaved path or something to avoid getting a ticket. it seems marginally enforceable at best, a waste of police resources that are already stretched thin in most cities, and mostly just a symbolic law that both police and regular people are probably just going to ignore anyway. do people really expect a cop to pull across two lanes of rush hour traffic to attempt to catch someone they notice riding down the sidewalk without a helmet? situations like that seem like they’d be far more dangerous than the so-called problem they’re supposedly trying to “solve”.

  22. Cat MacKinnon October 13, 2012 6:06 am 

    i’d also like to throw out there the thought that maybe there’s a little bit of fear-mongering going on here from the lawmakers that support this sort of thing. at the risk of sounding like a bad parent, i’d like to bring up the fact that there are millions of adults who rode their bicycles as children without a helmet and who survived just fine, despite the inevitable crashes. now, i’m not saying that children shouldn’t wear helmets: i think it’s especially important, and especially when they’re young and have under-developed reflexes or common sense.

    that’s a little bit besides my point though. what i’m driving at is that, while there are certainly children that unfortunately suffer traumatic head injuries, it seems pretty obvious that the majority of kids don’t. as parents, it’s impossible to know what your child is doing all the time. once they start school, the days of knowing what your kids are doing 24/7 are over for good. the majority of kids turn out to be normal adults, and i think people should take statistics with a huge grain of salt, even if they’re presented under the guise of the government saying something is “for our own good.” i find it a bit offensive that government seems to assume we’re too stupid to raise our own children (or do what’s best for ourselves, for that matter.)

    the fact of the matter is that people get injured. it sucks and it’s especially terrible when it happens to kids. but it’s also a part of life, and no amount of “feel-good” legislation is ever going to change that. all it will do is chip away at anything that may have some kind of risk associated with it, even if that risk is greatly outweighed by the reward. people should just think very, very carefully before making emotional knee-jerk decisions about stuff like this and whether or not they’ll make any positive impact at all.

    i, personally, don’t want the government telling me how to live my life or how to raise my child. i think there are way more important things for them to be concerned about right now. and as a few other people stated, i think expanding urban cycling infrastructures and the safety measures that go along with them would be much more effective and useful.

  23. Katie Brown October 13, 2012 5:20 pm 

    Hmmmm…interesting debate. I suppose you are right— it’s personal choice whether or not you wear a helmet. I guess the question is, does a person’s choice to go helmetless cause harm to anyone else but him/herself? But then again, ALL of our actions affect others in way way or another. If we went by that, then every single thing we do would have to be regulated by the government which I definitely don’t want! The FL law is interesting, though. If a person doesn’t wear a helmet and ends up in the ER it’s not like they aren’t going to treat that person. Somebody has to pay for that, and while that person is being treated (for something they could have prevented with a helmet) someone else has to wait to be treated.

    I dunno… you could say the same for smoking, drinking, eating too much fat. Where do you draw the line, ya know?

  24. Katie Brown October 13, 2012 5:28 pm 

    Another thought that occurs to me is that making a law requiring cyclists to wear helmets reinforces this idea that cycling is unsafe. On the other hand, helmet laws would encourage people to wear them who only avoid it because they think helmets are dorky.

    But then again…a person who doesn’t wear a helmet because they don’t like the way it looks is a moron and removing them from the gene pool isn’t such a bad idea. Heh heh heh.

  25. DoctorKennyG October 13, 2012 8:50 pm 

    Something is obviously wrong. My web browser must not be displaying everything. I’m on a helmet discussion, and it’s not a firefight.

    Katie Brown,

    I have actually heard people make the argument that bike helmets cause bad hair days or they foul up a trip to the hair salon. You also presented a good segue into the issue of medical costs.

    There are at times disagreements over helmet laws with helmet law proponents being Americans and helmet law opponents being Aussies or Europeans. It’s certainly not a universal truth, just a trend I see.

    I cannot help but observe that under their universal healthcare systems, everyone who falls and suffers a head injury is covered. Here in the U.S., even though ACA extended coverage to millions, there are still many millions who aren’t covered. An ER room visit for a head injury that could be prevented or lessened by a helmet could mean another medical bankruptcy for someone who isn’t covered.

  26. Chazz Williams October 14, 2012 8:15 am 

    I don’t know, folks. I think a helmet is a real good idea. In good old TV land fashion, we relate sensational stories regrading good and evil. Here’s my story: biking across campus, my front tire edged a crack in the sidewalk throwing me over the handlebars. ( Happens all the time, cracks, car doors, oil in the rode, miscalculations…)It wasn’t a major deal. That little styro-dome on my head didn’t fend off a semi. BUT, what it did do was save me a trip to the emergency room to get a few stitches in my head. That trip would have cost me an arm and a leg because I had no health insurance at the time. HELMETS ARE A GOOD IDEA. I hope that the desire to be all cool and macho, which is everyone’s right doesn’t disuade others from making a practical choice.

    That being said, should we have cops ticketing bikers for not wearing head gear or forcing those who choose not to to buy bicycle rider insurance policies or have a certain amount of money in the bank? Sounds like a big waste of time to me. If you don’t mind hospital bills and collection agencies in your life, go for it: RIDE and BE FREE just like those guys in Easy Rider. LOL

  27. Nick Tucker October 15, 2012 2:12 am 

    Just to put the risk in context:
    “The risk of being killed or seriously injured riding a bicycle was 541 per bnkm. The likelihood of death or serious injury is approximately half that for a motorcycle undertaking the same journey. If you decide to cycle rather than walk the same distance you are slightly less likely to be killed though somewhat more likely to be injured. You are safer in a car and much safer in a bus/coach travelling the same distance…a cyclist who covers 10,000 km/year with average skill and luck could expect one serious injury every 175 years…
    The risks are comparable to those faced by pedestrians yet nobody seriously suggests that pedestrians should wear helmets. What of the cyclist who crosses a shared cycle/pedestrian crossing alongside a pedestrian when both are run down by a motorist who jumps the lights?” observations based on UK government statistics quoted from Martin Porter in http://www.2tg.co.uk/assets/docs/article_documents/cycle_helmets_a_duty_to_wear_-_7_3_12.pdf

  28. Karen Voyer-Caravona October 15, 2012 3:00 pm 

    DrKennyG, I am such a person who says that a bike helmet can, in some weather conditions, such as those in Phoenix where it is quite hot, cause a bad hair day. For me that makes a difference.

    I’m not a fan of helmet laws. If I were biking mountain bike trails or traversing snow covered streets then I’d probably wear one. I flipped my bike on a downhill trail several years ago and am very glad that I was wearing a helmet. I don’t court danger though on my daily commute to school. I stick to side streets, bike lanes, and, since it is allowed in Phoenix, a few sidewalks where I find it absolutely necessary. I’m a cautious cyclist and use a rear view mirror attached to my handlebars as well as keep an eye on what is going on around. Pedaling with ear pods and music is something I consider infinently more dangerous than riding without my helmet yet I see people doing that constantly and nary a word from anyone.

    I wish the energy put into the helmet law debate would be redirected into efforts to improve bicycle infrastructure. One thing I did like about Flagstaff was the really great urban trail system, which combined with bike lanes and side streets, really made for pretty safe riding conditions. Sadly, Flag’s most recent cyclist fatality involved a drunk driver. I don’t know if the young lady (biking on a usually quite street in a neighborhood close to wear I lived and one in which I frequently cut through) was wearing a helmet or not but since the driver was behind the wheel of truck and did a hit and run, I kind of doubt she would have survived. Rather than worry about whether she did or didn’t I’m more concerned about how it is that friends, family or a bartender allowed an obviously drunk person to get behind the wheel of a truck.

  29. Charles Plager October 15, 2012 4:47 pm 

    For what it’s worth, I think helmet laws are very different than seat belt laws.

    I think that bicycle helmet laws to keep some people from riding bicycles who otherwise would. And I think that those people would, statistically speaking, would be better of riding a bicycle with no helmet than sitting on the couch getting fat (and this is the important point). (I think they’d be better off on a bicycle wearing a helmet than not wearing a helmet, but that’s a different thread).

    I don’t think that seat belt laws keep people from driving their cars. And if they did, I don’t think that would be such a horrible thing. And I’d rather have seat belt laws and pay lower insurance premiums than have no seat belt laws and pay more. If we could set up the law so that those who chose to not wear seat belts paid the difference, then I’d let it go).

  30. DoctorKennyG October 15, 2012 7:47 pm 

    Nick Tucker,

    A cyclist wearing a helmet likely isn’t going to experience any significant reduction in their injuries if they were struck by a car at 40 MPH. Similarly, a cyclist who swerves wrong on a mountain trail and goes off a 100 foot cliff isn’t going to benefit from a helmet. There are many situations where a helmet could benefit a cyclist and reduce injuries or prevent death. I’m not really seeing any situations where a helmet could benefit a pedestrian.

  31. Nick Tucker October 15, 2012 9:48 pm 

    “Proponents argue that case-control studies of voluntary wearing show helmets reduce head injuries. Opponents argue, even when legislation substantially increased percent helmet wearing, there was no obvious response in percentages of cyclist
    hospital admissions with head injury—trends for cyclists were virtually identical to those of other road users. Moreover, enforced laws discourage cycling, increasing the costs to society of obesity and lack of exercise and reducing overall safety of cycling through reduced safety in numbers. Countries with low helmet wearing have more cyclists and lower fatality rates per kilometre…
    Cost-benefit analyses are a useful tool to determine if interventions are worthwhile. The two published cost-benefit analyses of helmet law data found that the cost of buying helmets to satisfy legislation probably exceeded any savings in reduced head injuries. Analyses of other road safety measures, e.g. reducing speeding and drink-driving or treating accident blackspots, often show that benefits are significantly greater than costs.”

    “Bicycle helmet legislation: Can we reach a consensus?”, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 39, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 86-93 D.L. Robinson

  32. Nick Tucker October 16, 2012 11:47 pm 

    So in summary, commuting by bicycle is about as dangerous as walking (UK figures). If you enforce helmet wearing, the number of cyclists drops by 38% (Australia). The rate of head injury is not improved by enforcing helmet wearing (New Zealand). In cost benefit terms, spending the money that cyclists are obliged to spend on helmets on road safety measures would be a more effective way of reducing injury to cyclists.

  33. Ghost Rider October 17, 2012 5:16 am 

    @Nick — thank you for these excellent summaries and links to reports. I’m quite glad you chimed in, because a lot of these debates about helmet laws originate from your corner of the globe…giving you (and therefore, the rest of us) a good perspective on the issues at hand.

  34. Mir.I.Am October 18, 2012 12:00 am 

    @DR Kenny G – “Seems more logical to support bike helmet laws but oppose seat belt laws to thin out the ranks of drivers.” Oh man, cracking me up!

  35. Nick Tucker October 18, 2012 2:02 am 

    Yep, NZ is the laboratory for this kind of thing – see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6395656/Helmet-law-halves-cyclist-numbers . The results of current research on the introduction of mandatory helmet wearing are summarised as:
    A 51 per cent drop in the average hours cycled per person from the 1989-90 period when compared to 2006-09
    Risk to cyclists had not changed greatly between 1989-1990 and 2006-09
    Comparing the ratio of cyclist to pedestrian injuries from 1988-91 to 2003-07 showed cyclists’ injuries more than doubled compared with pedestrians
    By 2003-07 cyclists had a 20 per cent higher accident rate compared with pre law.

    The helmet law was introduced to NZ as the result of lobbying by the ‘Helmet Lady’, Rebecca Oaten whose son was put in a persistent vegetative state by a bicycle accident.

  36. Lin B October 19, 2012 10:11 pm 

    Don’t want to wear a helmet, it’s your choice. But please make sure you have excellent medical insurance and long term care insurance. I don’t want to have to pay your medical bills through my taxes into public programs such as social security disability. If you sustain a head injury, I don’t want your choice to allow you to benefit from services and funds intended for those who do not intentionally take risks.

  37. tom November 13, 2012 12:52 pm 

    When I was required by my employment to wear a helmet if I was gonna ride, I stopped riding as much. It was a hassle to me, since I never wore one or never needed one.
    Eventually, I started wearing one because it made more sense than a hat (better ventilation). I havent ridden in a while, but I will probably end up wearing one. But while it was required, it did affect my ridership.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *