There is a fair amount of blather on the internet from folks who admire the European ideas regarding the non-necessity of wearing helmets when riding bicycles. I have always wondered how Scandinavians (the folks who brought us the automobile seat belt) ever became so cavalier about bicycle helmets, but I guess that is a discussion for another time. I happen to know about the seat belt issue because my very first car was a Volvo P-38 with what at that time was a rare feature, a seat belt with lap and chest straps. In fact “back in the day” the Volvo was sold on the basis of its crashworthiness and its wonderful paint longevity.
Of late the denizens of the various cycling venues have been chattering about their right to not have to wear a helmet and even providing links to sites purporting to support their decision. I have no problem with that approach, helmet use should be a matter of personal preference, at least for adults. For children it would make sense to keep them safe long enough for them to make foolish decisions on their own.
When the email below came across my desk I was impressed with its frankness and the sense of “real experience” that it conveyed about its author. Like the EMTs who scoop up motorcycle riders (they are often referred to as “organ donors”) who have succumbed to brain injury following a severe crash this gentleman has seen first hand what a lack of protection to the brain can do.
Be safe out there!
From: DAVID BUCKSON <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [EBC:10834] Wearing Bike Helmets
Date: October 4, 2012 10:59:36 PM CDT
To: Robert Hoel <email@example.com>, EBC Listserv <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: DAVID BUCKSON <email@example.com>
Using the logic of the author and his interviewees, if the club were to drop it’s helmet policy membership would skyrocket? Likely not… non-cyclists riding single speed utility bike in an urban environment are cruising around alone at less than 10 mph, instead of group rides on suburban roads at higher speeds. What’s the average distance traveled? Speed? Traffic movements? Quite different from most club rides.
Does a helmet give me a false sense of security? If it could only cover the other 95% of my body in order to alleviate broken bones, road rash and battered ego, I’m all for it. When I crash I’m still able to think about what I could have done differently.
Different sport, same debate…The ski/ snowboard industry is dealing with mandatory helmet legislation across the country, advocates and detractors have the same arguments: safety, personal choice, obstructing, uncomfortable, etc. As a ski patroller, I deal with patients on a weekly basis who have sustained a severe enough impact to justify spinal immobilization (cervical collar, strapped to a spine board, ambulance ride to ER). 9 out of 10 head trauma patients weren’t wearing helmets.I choose to wear a helmet, it sets a positive example for the skiing public as well as for my own protection (which I’ve used on numerous occasions). My tagline and the bumper sticker on the back of my ski helmet is “Save me some work, wear a helmet”.
From: Robert Hoel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: EBC Listserv <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 7:41 AM
Subject: [EBC:10815] Wearing Bike Helmets
Here is a link to a thought provoking article from the NY Times:
Do bike helmets give us a false sense of security, like FWD vehicles in the snow?
Elmhurst Bicycle Club
From: Eric Peterson Subject: Re: [EBC:10835] Wearing Bike Helmets
Date: October 5, 2012 8:08:43 AM CDT
To: DAVID BUCKSON
Cc: Robert Hoel, EBC Listserv
I think the underlying philosophy beneath the article is good – which is to view bicycles as something we use as a part of our everyday lives, and not primarily as toys for kids or sports equipment for adults.
To that end, this philosophy advocates bikes that can be ridden comfortably, and in regular clothing, without needing to wear lycra and “cycling clothing”, and in this case to also not bother with wearing a helmet.
Personally I think this is a good thing, and except for the helmet part support this philosophy.
I wear a helmet on almost every ride, and will continue to do so,
If you don’t want to that is your choice.
Right now it’s a free country, I think supporters of this philosophy are concerned that laws will be passed requiring helmets.
However given that even motorcyclists don’t have to wear them (in IL) and the lack of enforcing even basic traffic laws on cyclists, I think there is little to fear. To that end, while I choose to wear a helmet, I would not want to be required to wear one by law.