To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets

September 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

The New York Times‘ Sunday Review has an interesting article out today: To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets. It has a few interesting observations about cycling in cities, with its main point being that cyclists in other cities around the world often don’t find it necessary to wear a helmet while cycling since cycling isn’t regarded as a dangerous activity. It’s contrasted with America, where we often learn to wear helmets while cycling as children because they may save lives.

I’ve never been injured while cycling before (knock on wood), but I can’t imagine that a helmet would really save my life if I were hit from behind by a speeding car. Nonetheless I still sometimes wear a helmet when riding; other times, I’m making a trip quick to a nearby store and don’t really feel like having it on or having to carry it around – helmets aren’t exactly the easiest accessory to stow away.

The author also makes an interesting point about bicycle-sharing networks:

…many European researchers say the test of a mature bike-sharing program is when women outnumber men. In the Netherlands, 52 percent of riders are women.

I want to avoid making sweeping generalizations, but most of the bicycle riders I’ve seen on streets are male. This Saturday I volunteered for CDOT counting bicycles at an intersection and noticed an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of men riding. From simple observation, the proportion seems a lot more equal on the Lakeshore trail. I’d be more interested in reading up on the science behind the higher numbers of men on cycles.

Whether or not the author of this article is right about his other point of helmet laws or encouragement dissuading people from riding is another thing. Many of the comments on the article seem to be people in favor of helmets. I’m more on the side of the author, but I do wish that it were safer to cycle in America so that we could feel safe on a bicycle without a helmet.

That’s it for now – happy Sunday!