Go Helmet-less! Or Don’t.
And the debate rages on… This time in The New York Times. The often helmeted author describes her experience in Paris when she rented a ride from one of the best bike rental systems in the world, only to ride away without her usual head protection. What followed was a consideration of the helmet vs. non-helmet debate that brought up some finer points I had not yet thought about. For instance,
“Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.
And then there is the part about wearing a shared helmet…ew.
In the United States, cities are struggling to overcome the significant practical problems of melding helmet use with bike-sharing programs — such as providing sanitized helmet dispensers at bike docking stations, says Susan Shaheen, director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ultimately though, there are so many differences between the culture and design of European cities compared to the United States that it’s hard to extrapolate any dynamics from their operations and apply them to ours. When it comes down to it, I think the helmet debate will be like the abortion debate. Both sides have completely legitimate points and it’s always going to come down to a matter of personal preference, which is why we should probably leave the law out of this one. Just do what you’re most comfortable doing.