Bike Share programs flourish when helmets are not required

Health Benefits increase when more people ride bikes

The article looks at bike share programs and what makes them successful. Contrary to popular belief, weather or terrain are not as important as the attitude that getting on a bike is more important than anything else. Anything else includes riding without a helmet.

One common denominator of successful bike programs around the world — from Paris to Barcelona to Guangzhou — is that almost no one wears a helmet, and there is no pressure to do so.

The article does not deny that wearing a helmet prevents head injuries. The article, like numerous studies have shown is that head injuries are exceedingly rare in cycling.

Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

The balance is the risk of a head injury to the risk of other issues: “means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes.” Not cycling also leads to more pollution in our cities. Mathematical modeling shows the risk of not cycling outweighs the risks of cycling without a helmet 20 to 1.

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. [Emphasize added]

So if you want to reduce the risk of a head injury you should wear a helmet while walking; which is how cycling helmets were designed anyway. Cycling helmets only protect from being dropped on your head, or as a pedestrian from something dropping on your head. Not from falls that occur where you hit your head from the front, back or side. (See Helmets: why cycling, skiing, skateboarding helmets don’t work.)

Although not scientific, this is fairly clear that helmets may inhibit bike riding with bike share programs.

A two-year-old bike-sharing program in Melbourne, Australia — where helmet use in mandatory — has only about 150 rides a day, despite the fact that Melbourne is flat, with broad roads and a temperate climate. On the other hand, helmet-lax Dublin — cold, cobbled and hilly — has more than 5,000 daily rides in its young bike-sharing scheme.

Why should you understand this? Because public perception about helmets is important in promoting and encouraging the program. If you complain to government officials about bike share programs not requiring helmets, you will pay for that complaint with your wallet. Heart attacks and the problems of obesity will cost more than the rare head injury.

Instead of requiring helmets, we need to make cycling safer.

Instead of promoting helmet use, European cycling advocates say, cities should be setting up safer bike lanes to slow traffic or divert it entirely from downtown areas.

This is my favorite quote from the article.

Before you hit the comment button and tell me that you know someone whose life was probably saved by a bike helmet, I know someone, too. I also know someone who believes his life was saved by getting a blood test for prostate specific antigen, detecting prostate cancer.

Before you comment about your friend whose life was saved, which I have no doubt, remember I’ll respond with the above quote.

See To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets

To read more about this issue see:

A father of a deceased skier pushing for a helmet law in New Jersey.

A helmet manufacture understands the issues(Uvex, Mouthguards)

A new idea that makes sense in helmets: the Bern Hard Hat               

Bicycling Magazine, May 2012: Safe for Any Speed

California bill to require helmets on skiers and boarders under age 18 dies lacking governor’s signature.  

Does being safe make us stupid? Studies say yes.

Great article on why helmet laws are stupid           

Great editorial questioning why we need laws to “protect” us from ourselves.

Helmet death ignited by misconception and famous personalities      

Helmets do not increase risk of a neck injury when skiing                    

Helmets: why cycling, skiing, skateboarding helmets don’t work         

I could not make my son wear a helmet so I’m going to make you wear one 

I once thought you had to take an IQ test to run to be a state legislator. You could run only if you flunk the test                                                                           

I once thought you had to take an IQ test to run to be a state legislator. You could run only if you flunk the test.                                                                          

If you provide a bike in CT you don’t have to provide a helmet             

Law requires helmets, injuries down fatalities up?

Mixed emotions, but a lot of I told you so.               

More information over the debate about ski helmets: Ski Helmets ineffective crashes were the wear is going faster than 12 miles per hour                         

National Sporting Goods Association reports that Helmet use at US Ski Areas increased during the 2009-10 ski season                                                     

OSHA Officially recommending helmets for ski area employees         

Other Voice on the Helmet Debate                          

Recent UK poll shows that 10% of cyclists would quite biking if there was a compulsory helmet law.  

Skiing/Boarding Helmets and what is the correct message                   

Study shows that head injuries are on the rise on the slopes even though more people are wearing helmets                                                                         

Survey of UK physicians shows them against mandatory bicycle helmet laws.

The helmet issue is so contentious people will say the stupidest things


What do you think? Leave a comment.

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European Parliament Ignore 100 Million Cyclists

Don’t Let the EU Parliament Ignore 100 Million Cyclists

There are 35 million daily cyclists in Europe. There are more than 100 million Europeans that cycle regularly. Yet the European Institutions are failing to take cycling seriously as a mode of Transport.

Strategic EU documents keep failing to mention cycling and it is at risk of being sidelined by more powerful lobby interests.

It’s time for this to change.

Important budgets are being decided between now and 2014, and we want to stop this negative trend. It’s time for us to remind the European Parliament, a democratically elected body, that cyclists’ have a voice and a place in European policy.

By putting pressure on them, we make sure that cycling deserves recognition as an important mode of transport.

The First Big Battle: Including Cycling in the Strategic European Transport Networks.

We have identified an opportunity for ECF, its members, our allies and cyclists across Europe to remind the Parliament to take cycling seriously. On December 18, the European Transport Committee will vote on crucial legislation.

This particular case is the funding rules for major infrastructure projects in the strategic European networks (called Ten-T). Although this appears to be major road, rail and transport corridors, the exclusion of cycling would mean that cycling provision such as road crossings, major junctions and our own strategic EuroVelo network would be excluded.

Last year, the Parliament’s official opinion was to include Eurovelo in this network. Being included in this network would open up the path for billions of euros of investments in cycling infrastructure across Europe.

Since then the European Commission and the Transport Committee in the European Parliament have been preparing these guidelines, but have excluded cycling and EuroVelo, despite this earlier recommendation.

Once again, they have excluded cycling from transport policy and billions in potential funding.

With your help, we can change this. It’s not too late. Italy’s national cycling association, FIAB, have already managed to convince many of their Italian MEPs.

Action to Take:

Send These MEPs An Email before Tuesday, December 18.

We have prepared a draft statement, available here.

Please translate this where possible or write your own statement. We have identified the most influential MEPs in drafting this legislation. Please contact these MEPs first.

· georgios.koumoutsakos
· ismail.ertug
· gesine.meissner
· Michael Kramer (Germany) (Already Convinced)
· mathieu.grosch
· said.elkhadraoui
· roberts.zile
· jaromir.kohlicek
· magdicristiano.allam (FIAB has prepared an online translation here)
· brian.simpson (CTC has prepared an online petition here)

If an MEP from your country cannot be found above, please contact your country’s MEP from the Parliament’s Transport Committee. They can be found here:

Any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact ECF’s Regional Policy Officer, Ed Lancaster. ([at]

You can read more news about the vote here

Photo Credit: FIAB

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2013 Velo-City Conference Call for Contributions

“The Sound of Cycling”: Velo-city Conference 2013 in Vienna
Call for contributions to be submitted by 22 October 2012Vienna, 11 September 2012: Vienna has decided to make 2013 the year of cycling. One special highlight of this year will be the Velo-city Conference organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the City of Vienna from 11 to 14 June. Following the motto “The Sound of Cycling – Urban Cycling Cultures”, a rich and varied program will focus on cycling in the city. Experts and speakers specialised in the field who wish to communicate their knowledge, know-how and practical experience to the conference participants and aim to establish network contacts may submit contributions until 22 October 2012.Velo-city Conference 2013: Cycling is culture

“Vienna is the city of music and culture. With ‘The Sound of Cycling’, this Viennese speciality is to become part of the Velo-city Conference. Along with the classic themes of music and theatre, for several years Vienna has been establishing its own bicycle cultures that are becoming more and more visible. Thus bicycles are not only used with growing frequency as a healthy and ecologically sound means of transport, but also transforming into an element of cultural life in the Austrian capital”, says Maria Vassilakou, Vice Mayor of the City of Vienna. In the coming year, the main focuses of Velo-city in Vienna will be cycling cultures, cycling-friendly cities and the personal benefits of cycling for the individual. “At every Velo-city Conference, we add a new, important dimension to the cycling policy agenda. In Vienna, the municipal administration and ECF will emphasise the element of culture. Culture is an important complement to the aspects of traffic, environment, health, energy, economy and children, which were key thematic areas of previous conferences”, explains ECF President Manfred Neun. In addition to numerous expert presentations, network meetings and discussions, one week of cycling tours, movie nights, a bicycle picnic, a bicycle fashion show, bicycle races and many other events will make Vienna THE bicycle hotspot for all conference participants as well as for the city’s population at large.

Vienna – A “smart city” with a long cycling tradition
Vienna is an emerging cycling city with a steadily growing number of cyclists and a colourful cycling community. It is planned to increase the share of cycling in urban traffic from currently six to ten percent by 2015. A solid modal split portion of 37 percent for public transport provides an ideal basis for a traffic concept that seamlessly melds different means of transport. Moreover, Vienna is the cultural and economic centre of Austria as well as a key hub of the regional network CENTROPE (Central European Region). It also maintains an intense exchange on the issues of transport and urban development with many Eastern and South-eastern European cities.

Call for contributions and registration
Until 22 October 2012, experts and speakers with a specialised interest and stake in cycling from all over the world are invited to submit their contributions at program.

Interested parties may register for the conference as of now at Those registering before the end of October may win a free conference participation ticket.

The Velo-city Conference series
Velo-city Conferences serve as a global communication and information platform aiming to address decision-makers in order to improve the planning and provision of infrastructure for the everyday use of bicycles in urban environments. Velo-city Conferences typically bring together more than 1,000 delegates such as engineers, planners, architects, social marketers, academic researchers, environmentalists, businessmen/women and industry representatives who join forces with government at all levels in order to build effective transnational partnerships to deliver benefits to cycling worldwide. Velo-city Conferences are initiated and commissioned by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).

Application and registration:
Information on Velo-city 2013 and conference program:

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