Critical Mess

Are We Ready to Get
Rid of Bike Helmets?

Jerry Seinfeld has a famous bit, about the use of helmets by skydivers: that in case of accident, the helmet would be the one to hold on to the diver, not the other way around. He has a point. But only those who’ve already lost their minds may argue against their use by bikers.
Not so, say some bike advocates, who certainly have yet to split their skulls open against a curb. For them, to enforce the use of helmets, as New York and many cities do, may discourage biking and its benefits. It makes a pleasurable activity look more like a chore, they say.
Perhaps, but just to put it in perspective, of the over 600 bike accidents in this country in 2010, 70% of those riders not wearing a helmet died, while 85% of those who wore, survived, according to helmet.org. Still, studies show that overall, bike riding health benefits outweight the risks of not wearing a helmet.
The controversy has long, well-toned legs, and in cities where bike riding, and lanes, have already achieved a critical mass, such as Amsterdam, or Portland in Oregon, a solution have settled all disputes: education. Rider and car driver awareness can be pointed as definite factors for the safety of riding a light two-wheel, slow-moving vehicle in these big centers.
The same factors that have got in the way of New York to join them as a bike-friendly place, as City Hall would have it. Even a sharing program, slated to begin this summer, was postponed, once it became clear that people were not that interested in taking advantage of it, if Continue reading