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Why I gave up my Bike Helmet – and you should too

no-more-bike-helmets

I enjoy biking into work. It is only a mile and a half, but it is all urban biking next to and in between cars. It’s a fun way to get around town, and it feels great. I also never wear a helmet. There are looks that people give me for it, but it is a conscious decision I’ve made.

Last year I stumbled across research that showed wearing a helmet while biking does little to protect you. That individuals who wore helmets ended up in more accidents than those who did not. It’s very interesting, and counter to the cultural story we are told about bike saftey. There are two articles from earlier this year that describe the issue much better then I can. I encourage you to read them here and here¬† (also linked to below).

A few quotes for the lazy:

If there was conclusive proof that bike helmets reduce the total number of serious head injuries compared to other normal activities, then I’d reconsider my stance. But if I’m not the kind of person who wears a helmet when I take a walk or get behind the wheel of a car, then there’s no logic to me wearing one when I’m on a bike, particularly if I’m confident in my urban bike safety ability.

Meanwhile the proof is pretty strong that vehicles give me more space when I’m biking without a helmet. In a city biking, that’s the kind of injury I’m most concerned about.

Why it MakesSense to bike without a helmet

And

Other data¬†shows that despite increased voluntary helmet use by adults¬†in the US and Great Britain, the overall number of cyclist fatalities hasn’t been affected.

On the whole, when large numbers of people begin wearing helmets, we really don’t see a benefit in the head injury or fatality rates.

Stop Forcing People to Wear Bike Helmets

Photo Credit: Henry

  • Dan

    You’re free to skip your helmet and I don’t think we should have mandatory helmet laws. Saying that someone is safer without a helmet is irresponsible.

    In the mean time, I’ll be waiting for better helmets from Europe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMAhptqk-4Q

    • If not wearing a helmet causes drivers to give me more space, and be more aware of my presence it does make me safer. If it also brings more casual bikers onto the streets and causes drivers to adjust their driving habits accordingly then it also makes me safer. Finally – if a helmet helps in 20-40% of injuries involving brain damage but increases the likelihood of you being in an accident with a vehicle does make me safer? (i’m not going to get brain damage by tipping over on my own).

      The research in the second article shows that you are just as prone to head injury walking but we don’t encourage people to helmet to walk around. Reality is that if a car hits you a helmet might cause some protection. If someone chooses to wear one that is fine with me. I just want people to understand that it only provides a very simple level of protection against 1 ton objects that can just as easily kill you.