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.
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.
To read more about this issue see:
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|“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 – A “smart city” with a long cycling tradition
Call for contributions and registration
Interested parties may register for the conference as of now at www.velo-city2013.com. Those registering before the end of October may win a free conference participation ticket.
The Velo-city Conference series