Everyone knows that in the event of a cycling accident, a helmet can prevent a traumatic brain injury and potentially save your life. However, a recent column in the New York Times questioned the longstanding belief that all cyclists should wear a bicycle helmet at all times. Elisabeth Rosenthal wrote an interesting piece about bike-sharing systems in other countries such as Australia and France, and how she rode without a helmet for the first time in 25 years.
“In the United States, the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken pretty near as God’s truth,” Rosenthal says. “Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion. But many European health experts have taken a different view…if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes.”
Rosenthal cites Piet de Jong, a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
“Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified—in fact, cycling has many health benefits,” said Piet de Jong. “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladder or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.”
It is great to debate conventions regarding cycling safety, but just because there are health benefits to cycling does not mean cyclists should ride without a helmet. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends “all cyclists wear helmets, no matter where they ride.” Many states have bicycle helmet laws for minors. Please visit our website for more information on bicycle safety.
Bonnici Law Group, APC—San Diego bicycle accident attorney.