helmet or no helmet?

I’ve been reading a lot of discussion lately about helmet use in Bike Shares.  Most of them encourage or require helmet use.  And predictably, most people who use bike shares (up to 80%) don’t wear them:

“There’s been a lot of back and forth about this,” Fischer tells Shots. “Wearing a helmet is a good idea because if I’m going to fall off my bike and strike my head, I’d rather have a helmet than not.” But it’s not clear that the lack of a helmet should completely deter somebody from biking. “We want to increase people’s ability to get exercise and do things that are environmentally sound,” Fischer says.

That dilemma is one reason mandatory-helmet laws are so rare. No state requires adults to wear them, and only 21 states require them for younger riders. In Washington, D.C., they’re required for anyone under 16. The argument goes that requiring a helmet doesn’t increase helmet usage so much as decrease bike riding. And studies have shown that the more bikers a city has, the safer biking in that city becomes.

Do you wear a helmet?  What are your reasons?  If not, why?  If a Bike Share program requires helmet use do you think it discourages ridership?

I am an obsessive helmet wearer. Two years ago I had an accident and I landed hard enough on my head and face that I was knocked unconscious.  I woke up surrounded by cyclists and paramedics.  Two years later I still don’t know what happened but it appears I braked hard to avoid something in the trail, and I most likely flipped over my handlebars.  The doctors said my helmet saved me from brain damage or death.

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As you might imagine I always wear a helmet and I encourage others to wear helmets as well.  It doesn’t detract from the sheer fun I have while riding.  But others see helmet requirements and laws as an impediment to the sheer fun of riding a bicycle. What do you think?

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6 Comments on “helmet or no helmet?”

  1. echo says:

    I also always wear my helmet because, quite simply, I like my brain.

    I go back and forth on mandatory helmet laws, though. I think it’s a distraction from improved infrastructure. Anti-cycling folks like to focus on helmet use a lot, but in most cases cyclists would only need a helmet to protect them after a driver hits them (or almost hits them and they brake hard). Or, at least, that’s the scenario that is presented for pro-mandatory law arguments. All while ignoring infrastructure changes that would enhance cyclist safety. And helmets are expensive, so what about those who can’t afford one?

    Yea, my hair gets messed up. Yea, I get sweaty. I don’t care about those things, though. I’m still pedaling myself around and, should something happen, my brain will be better protected.

  2. NWHiker says:

    A few years back during an oranised ride we passed by the immediate aftermath an accident: a cyclist had gone through the windshield of a small truck. We saw his bike, mangled and bent. The broken helmet. The freaking hole in the freaking windshield. The ambulances showed up just as we were biking by.

    And heard later about his injuries, the most major of which were… two broken collar bones. Had he not had that helmet, I’m pretty sure that would not have been the extent of it.

    I never did find out for sure, but it seems the cyclist was actually at fault. I HATE it when that happens. 😛

    Yes on helmets from us. I disagree that the highest need is to protect cyclists from cars, though: I think it’s cars, and other cyclists, and just random falling.

    If you’re just on a bike path, doing no more than a few miles an hour… maybe. But if you’re riding on roads, or with other cyclists, and doing any speed at all, it really isn’t worth skipping the helmet, imo.

  3. […] Helmet or no helmet? (mendocino04.wordpress.com) […]

  4. Phyl says:

    I recently saw a photo of a motorcyclist’s really scraped helmet after the person was thrown from the bike. Granted, it was something that was going faster than a bicycle, but it still illustrated how the head could hit the pavement. One would certainly rather it be the helmet tht takes all that punishment than the cyclist’s head!

  5. […] minor.  I have had more serious crashes in the past, including one where I was knocked unconscious (some discussion is here).  I’ve been reading up on crash techniques lately and I tried visualizing how to put them […]

  6. […] Helmet or no helmet? (mendocino04.wordpress.com) […]


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