I’ve wanted to say that for a while, but it seemed so wrong.
Even though I grew up riding a bike almost every day and never wore a helmet throughout my childhood, I am not stupid enough to rely on the “I did it as a child and turned out just fine” argument.
For every one of us who turned out fine, how many children died during the 1970s and 1980s because they weren’t wearing a helmet?
It turns out the number might be surprisingly small.
Elizabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times points out that in most countries, bike helmets are a rarity, and as a result, rates of bike sharing and cycling in general are considerably higher.
“Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits,” says Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. He studied the issue with mathematical modeling, and concludes that the benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.
He adds: “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.
Does this mean that I will allow my son or daughter to ride their bikes without helmets? Probably not, but possibly only because they have a mother who would likely oppose this nonconformist view of safety.
But does it mean that I may stop wearing my helmet when riding my bike?
Yeah, it might. I hate the stupid thing.