Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bike Sharing + Mandatory Helmet Law = Catch 22

Nice Ride Minnesota - Minneapolis - The first in the United States.

Capital Bikeshare - Washington DC

Denver BikeShre - Denver

I'm a huge fan of bike share programs.

I watched this video about Melbourne's failing program and enjoyed trying to hold two conflicting ideals in my head at the same time.

When I rode Nice Ride Minnesota a few weeks ago I didn't wear a helmet. When I'm home, I'm likely to choose not to ride over riding with someone without a helmet.



Sarah said...

I've done a lot of reading on helmet effectiveness and have decided that since they'd only be useful in a fairly narrow range of accidents, and that the risk of accidents is relatively low compared to other risks we take, I go without. You might want to look at the numbers (rather than anecdotes) to see what makes the most sense to you. (If I were racing or even riding particularly fast, rather than commuting in stop-and-go traffic, my choice might change.)

mytzpyk said...

I wear one because of the number of times my head has hit a tree branch while riding off road and the number of times I've found myself thinking - I'm glad I'm wearing a helmet because this sure beats road rash on my noggin.

bikingbrady said...

Unfortunately that "narrow range" can mean a terrible head injury or even death. We've seen enough in our sparsely populated area in the last few years that tell me that I'll keep mine on.

Back to the video. I really would like to see these reports that helmets actually make you "less safe". I've cracked three helmets and can't imagine that this made my situation somehow less safe.

I don't think that mandatory helmet laws would fly here anytime soon, but the Aussie crowd seems to be okay with it.

John in NH said...

no bike share will not really work if helmets are required, bike share is designed for short, quick trips, in many cases it is easier to get in a car, even if helmets were provided at the location, for free if you wanted. The bikes are solid, the position is upright, and speeds are limited.

In regards to some comments...
2 tones of steel vs some foam, you do the math there. Yes, helmets can be useful in some instances, especially for new (read unsteady, unsure, inexperienced) cyclists, or in a very poor road situations (pot holes, lots of door zones, slippery roads), or when you have a cheap bike. They can also sometimes be useful if a collision were to happen with a ped or another cyclist. They are designed and tested for very specific instances, and in certain cases can increase the risk of a rotational neck injury, which can be worse than not having one.

The data is mixed, personal experience is good, but anecdotal evidence does not a scientific study make.
I wear a helmet on the road, for a couple reasons but mainly because I am perceived by others as being more responsible, I am taken more seriously in the work I do, and in some cases, I feel a bit safer with one. I am a skilled cyclist with a properly tuned bike in an environment where there are few road problems or risky areas. If wearing a helmet will get you on a bike, then do it. If not wearing a helmet will get you on a bike, then do that.
What has been statistically and scientifically shown for a fact, is we are all safer the more there are of us, regardless of helmet use. That must be the goal, more cyclists, and typically that means we need to not have mandatory helmet laws, and we need to scale back a bit on the always wear a helmet mantra (we also need better infrastructure but not the point): Always have blinking lights would be a better law to push, and cheaper for users.

Grist just had a bit the other day on this, with a good comment section on helmet use.