Helmet/Safety Litmus Test

If helmets are so useless why such a push to get cyclists to wear helmets?

I don’t really know their motivations.

It is true that mandatory helmet usage discourages cycling. This fact alone ought to have any serious advocate running and screaming away from mandatory helmets.

In fact, this is one of the main reasons why I eschew such gear, though there are many other reasons.

The big problem that I have with mandatory helmet laws is that they seem reasonable, but are actually inconsistant.

Here are some things I’d like to ask the pro-helmet law crowd:

1. If the vast majority of deaths by head injury (70%) are suffered by those sitting in an automobile, why are bicycles targeted when the minority of head injury death are cycling related. Oh, and half of serious brain injury is also suffered by motorists or their unlucky passengers.

When I suggest helmets to motorists they laugh. I have the exact same feeling when I am told to wear a helmet on my bicycle.

2. Additionally, there are more head injuries off a bicycle rather than on a bicycle. So statistically more non-cyclists (and cyclists who are not currently riding) suffer head injury. In that case, shouldn’t I put a helmet on after I get off my bicycle? If stats are to be believed, cycling is actually protective from head injury.

3. If cycling safety is really so important that we are going to spend millions of dollars on it, why not spend that money on the things that really hurt cyclists? The vast majority of bicycling deaths are due to collisions with automobiles. If we really cared, we’d do more to stop the motorists who are killing the cyclists.

Instead we give tickets to cyclists for their “protection”. This makes me angry because they are obviously lying about caring about our safety.

If I want to protect someone, I don’t take their money especially for doing something that, as I stated many times, is not even that dangerous to themselves or others.

4. This is to the racer crowd. In motoring, speed kills. I believe that the same is true for cycling. I feel much less safe when riding fast. I can’t see so well, and I am forced to ride further out into the lane to avoid doors and pedestrians, things I usually can handle with aplomb when riding at a slower pace.

In fact, I’d postulate that many cycling accidents could be prevented if the cyclist rode slower and didn’t use the streets as a race track. In fact, like motor racing, I think that racing gear and racing in general should be discouraged from the streets.

I am much in favor of racing in race tracks. But what message does it send to motorists to ban NASCAR races from our streets then conduct bicycle races there?

It’s unfair, and it fuels the anti-cycling attitudes more than any other mode of cycling.

Yet, the cycling community targets the homeless, who have no other way to get around, and older people who salmon out of misplaced “education” from the past that this is the proper way to ride.

So there you have it: four things that will reduce collisions and deaths in our roads much more than mandatory helmet usage.

This goes along with the cost benefit analysis of yesterday.

If you think about it, we are literally pouring good money down the drain in plastic sculptures of dubious value that make us all look like life-hating idiots instead of spending the money on things that will actually make us safe.

Now that this information is public, until these questions are asked and why such a waste is justified, I’ll assume that the reason that people advocate for helmets is that they actually don’t like cyclists.

In our current political climate, there’s no reason why mandatory helmet laws will benefit cyclists.

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3 Responses to “Helmet/Safety Litmus Test”

  1. Fred Says:

    Here’s another story regarding helmets. http://healthytransporthobart.org/2010/09/22/bike-helmet-debate-hits-abc-radio-nationals-background-briefing/

  2. Aaron Garland Says:

    It does rather annoy me that when the subject of safe cycling is brought up the first thing brought up is wearing a helmet. It even more annoys me that when a cyclists is struck by a vehicle at highway speeds weather or no the cyclist is wearing a helmet is often cited, what’s the point?

    I have taken to wearing mine when I intend to ride fast or in hazardous conditions where i might likely go over the handle bars (like mountain biking), but the smartest thing anyone can do is to prevent an accident.

    At work we sell a wide variety of helmets and sometimes people think that if they spend more money they will be safer. I quickly point out that this in not true. The construction and materials of all the bike helmets that I know of are relatively the same, and they protect you when you impact the top of your head, no more. I have not found that the expensive helmets offer any better quality or protection, they often are lighter and have more air vents.

    I recommend the mulit-sport helmets for casual riders, because they offer more side protection and most importantly are more stylish.

    Recently I was checking out Dottie’s pictures of Critical-Lass, and couldn’t help but think that they were a bunch of perfectly good looking women with ugly contraptions on their heads, many with lights and accessories attached. Granted most of these ladies had some of the more fashionable helmets available, I just don’t think that the helmet accentuates the human form. I realize that this is not the point, but believe that looking good is important, and likely affects how you and others behave on the road.

    • Fred Says:

      I’d argue that “looking good” makes you safer than having a piece of plastic on your head.

      I saw this with my own eyes.

      If you have much more passing distance, people yield for you more, and they respect you more, you will be safer.

      It’s thousands of times more safer to NOT get hit at all then to get hit and have a helmet on.

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