In the scope of “the great helmet debate,” yesterday I posted a TED talk video of Prof. Gorgens arguing for the use of bike helmets, especially for children. Today I’ll share a video a friend shared with me in response, another TED talk video where Mikael Colville-Andersen makes the case for why “We shouldn’t wear bike helmets,” on the grounds that wearing a helmet actually increases your risk of getting into accidents, and instills fear of cycling among the general public, which hinders the proliferation of urban-bicycling.
Which poses an interesting question of practicality; what would be the effect on safety with regards to bicycling and for drivers in a city like Boston or New York if nobody wore helmets-would drivers see this as a reason to be more cautious around cyclists? Would would-be cyclists see this as a reason to start cycling? Think of the power the increase in oil prices had in 2008 on the increase in cycling. Mikael certainly makes a compelling case for why decreasing helmet use might increase cycling safety.
Me? I wear my bicycle helmet everywhere. Biking on the streets of Boston is very different from biking on the streets of a city like Copenhagen, as are the attitudes of drivers. However, there are cases where I will take off my helmet to feel the breeze in my hair, like when I’m cruising down an empty protected bike path at low cruising speeds. I was never afraid to bike in Boston, and never will be, but as long as Boston is the way it is, I still want to protect that top part of my head in the unlikely event that I go flying over a car door, and I’ll still wear a seatbelt in the backseat of cars in the unlikely event the driver loses control due to an unexpected ice patch.