Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

The Helmet Thing

WashCycle takes it on in a most sensible way.


Bike DC this Saturday, October 17th


More Clowning From the Arlington Sun Gazette


  1. Personally, I am closer to Old Guy’s position. With a caveat: It’s each individuals head – so I don’t preach.

    My Belgian Domestique doesn’t wear a helmet and does some pretty crazy stuff – I wish he was helmeted …. but it’s his head.

    Me? 3 falls where I have banged head hard and been happy to be helmeted.

    But then I am bald and thus helmet head isn’t a concern.

  2. Bike helmets were foisted upon the city governments across America with the same tactics used by General Motors to force the abandonment of electric trolleys, and replace them with oil-fed buses.

    As a past member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) I am wary whenever I see economic interests lobbying for increased use of safety equipment, and using junk science to forward their economic agenda.

    Most bike riders NEVER fall on their heads, or have any form of cranial impact; even those who routinely ride in traffic.

    If the real data were used to mandate safety equipment, then hip pads and forearm pads would be the most statistically supported safety gear.

    One of the smartest things American cities could do is repeal any bike helmet laws, and leave the use of such gear to be solely up to the individual rider.

    We cannot govern ourselves using junk science or anecdotes like, “I heard of someone who hit their head while biking.”

    The facts show that helmets are unnecessary for most cyclists and that is what the laws should reflect.

    We must not doom our children to never have the exhilaration of the wind through their hair, as they ride their first two wheeler around the block for the first time.

  3. There is a big difference between advocating that each person should have a choice whether or not to wear helmets VERSUS advocating that people should not wear helmets and that for most it is unnecessary.

    Helmets save lives at little/no cost. One should do what one wants with their own head but leave others alone.

    A big difference. And I find it offensive to hear people trying to convince OTHERS no to wear helmets.

    Separately, whether there are other, more dangerous activities than helmet-less cycling that should be a bigger priority.

    It’s a false argument.

    Not to say there aren’t. It’s the Freakonmics discussion re: Swimming pools versus hand-guns.

  4. The point is to rely on good data, and not some pitch from a lobbyist, or hysteria, as the basis for making safety laws.

    The number one activity that people are engaged in when most injuries occur is, walking.

    So using the emotional basis like that alluded to by Will, stop people from walking, and make them crawl to work, “…because crawling will save lives…”

    The facts are very clear: Bike helmets make an insignificant contribution to safe cycling. We could achieve much greater gains in bicycling safety by training riders to maintain situational awareness, to maintain their bikes properly and to teach drivers how to share the road with cyclists.

  5. There was nothing emotional re: my argument.

    Training riders to maintain situational awareness, to maintain their bikes properly and to teach drivers how to share the road with cyclists. are all good ideas.

    But you are wrong. When looking at SERIOUS cycling injuries, a significant proportion are due to head trauma. And helmets significantly help reduce the risk of head trauma.

    Again, do what you want with your own head.

  6. You wrote, “When looking at SERIOUS cycling injuries…”

    The point is that the rationale for NOT forcing people to wear helmets must be based on ALL data, not just head injury data, because, when people fall off of their bikes, or are hit while riding, head injuries are among the least frequent injuries.

    Sure, if you look just at head injuries, you could say, Well, look there, those people suffered head trauma, that may have been prevented by a helmet.

    But all of the head trauma suffered while doing other mundane activities, like walking can be mitigated by helmets too, so by your illogical premise, you should be wearing a helmet all of the time.

    Using your misapplication of statistical methods, we surely must have a helmet law for pedestrians, and one for those engaged in sex and even citizens who are taking a dump, because people do indeed suffer head trauma while engaged in such activities (with most head trauma incurred while walking, than any other activity).

    So, go ahead and wear a helmet 24/7 and crawl to and from work on your belly, after all, you want to be “safe” don’t you?

  7. “misapplication of statistical methods,” ??

    More people die walking than Base jumping from Everest. That doesn’t mean walking is more dangerous.

    One (I mean you) needs to remember to incorporate the amount of time doing each activity.

  8. Or,

    More people have died of flu than at Picket’s charge, but I’d rather take my chances with H1N1 than charge a well entrenched Yankee line.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén