Why Ride a Bike Without a Helmet

The theme of using the helmet fascinates many, inside and outside the community, to the point that some go so far as to require the introduction of a requirement in the use for those who ride.

But beyond the issue of compulsion, it is interesting to see why many cyclists choose deliberately not to wear a helmet. It is possible that the helmet does not give any contribution in terms of security to those who travel by bike?

To answer this question, we propose here an interesting article which concerns precisely this theme, written by Howie Chong, Canadian environmentalist that shows many interesting facts and worth considering before taking a position for or against the helmet.

The other night I was pedaling toward home, when I met some fellow of Yale University who have asked me “where is your helmet?”.

I made the deliberate choice not to wear a helmet when I move within urban areas because I firmly believe that this will increase the overall security in the long run.

It’s a counterintuitive position, but if we focus on the research, there are strong arguments that wearing a helmet could increase the risk of accidents for all riders around you.

Let me start out by putting one thing straight from elwooddeals.net: If you get a serious accident, wear a helmet could save your life. According to a 1989 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, cyclists with helmet recorded a reduction in the risk of 85% 88% back and head injuries to restore brain damage. This exorbitant is confirmed by several studies and confirms unequivocally a matter above all: we cyclists we are vulnerable. And for that we need a certain level of protection.

Share (or struggle for) the space in the street with an endless stream of metal that weigh a ton vehicles can be scary and as a cyclist you are totally exposed. Cars and trucks do nothing but zigzagarti around and there’s no metal cage there to protect you. For this the helmet gives you a level of protection against this threat. Makes you feel safe.

But a closer look at the statistics shows that the fear of cyclists to bring trauma to the head is absolutely irrational compared to other risks. The head injuries are not dangerous only when we ride, but also when we perform other tasks and there is much evidence that there is nothing special compared to the use of the bicycle when it comes to serious injury to the head.

In 1978 a team of scientists conducted an epidemiological study on head injuries recorded in the San Diego area. A law firm has paid attention to the causes of head injuries to any mode of transport considered.

And here are the results:

More than half of all head injuries involve motor vehicles and have been more people have been hospitalized for walking than those who used the bike. Or considering another statistic, according to a French study of 2006, pedestrians are 1.4 times more likely to report a TBI compared to cyclists who do not use the helmet.

Let us be clear: I’m not saying that those studies show that cycling is safer than going by car or on foot. These studies give us a message about the relative safety of different means of transport. What I am saying is that these statistics raise an intriguing question: If we are so concerned about head injuries, why not wear a helmet at all times? Because we always talk about mandatory use of helmets for cyclists and never for motorists or pedestrians? One Australian study of 1996 shows that a law for mandatory use of helmets for those traveling by car could save 17 times the number of lives for mandatory use for cyclists.

A recent Forbes magazine article reporting that car accidents are the leading cause of fatal brain damage among adolescents:

“Without going to propose that all teen driving and their passengers to wear a helmet, statistics show that the States that have the most stringent laws for obtaining driving licences, are also those which are most effective for reducing brain damage and early deaths among young drivers”.

Here we go? Despite the fact that accidents in the car are the leading cause of fatal injuries to the head among teenagers, the idea that these are actually wearing the helmet in the car is simply ignored. Yet you continue to insist that children should wear a helmet when cycling (and in some countries the law) despite the available data show that it is more likely that a child dies for head injuries sustained in car by bike. The children walk are those who are at higher risk to bring brain trauma, yet parents that make wearing a protective helmet with their children as they walk are regularly ridiculed.

In other words, if the reason you should wear a helmet when we go by bike is to prevent serious head injury in the event of an accident, then why the same logic does not apply to those who go by car or on foot? Because only those who use the bike is considered to be at risk?

But there’s another important given that emerges from the study of the aforementioned 1989: the helmet can reduce the risk of head injury and brain of 85-88%, but only for those who are involved in accidents. If we study carefully the article we can see that both experiments and control groups considered are those who have already been hospitalized. And in fact all literature goes in the same direction: cyclists hospitalized who wore the helmet are less likely to bring back head injuries than those who do not wear.

But the same is not true for every kind of activity? Logically, even motorists who wear the helmet would be less brain damage than those who do not wear, right? And pedestrians with helmet would be less at risk of brain damage than those who do not wear. Though no studies about it because there is a sufficient number of motorists or pedestrians who use the helmet in order to make a comparison. In other words, one of the reasons why we think that cyclists who wear helmets are safer in school than those who do not wear could result from the availability of information, rather than on the actual levels of security.

Perhaps this also explains why there is a similar fear of driving or walking without a helmet.

There is some evidence that wearing a helmet may increase directly the chances of getting injured in General. A 2001 article in the New York Times shows how the rate of head injuries has increased dramatically (51%) during the decade that has spread the use of the helmet. This exactly the same time that there has been a reduction in the use of the bicycle in all the United States. No one knows precisely why have increased the head injuries, but there are some theories about it.

First: wearing a helmet changes the perception of motorists than cyclists. A study by the University of Bath shows that motorists, cyclists, leave less space when surpassing those who wear the helmet than those who do not wear. This not only increases the chance of being hit by a vehicle, but also leaves the rider less room to maneuver to avoid other potential road hazards such as potholes or icy areas.

Second: the very form of helmets may increase the possibility of incurring certain types of injuries when accidents occur. Three different studies have shown that wearing a piece of plastic and foam over the head increases the chance of bumping into objects that otherwise could be avoided or that, conversely, also impact grazed between an object and the helmet can be a blow to the head when wearing the helmet.

Finally, wearing a helmet can give a false sense of security and cause the cyclist to take more risks than without a helmet, instead, would evaluate more carefully.

There are even some statistics showing that helmets may have few or even negative effects on the incidence of head injuries outside the world of cycling. A recent study by the National Ski Areas Association has identified that, despite the use of helmets among skiers and snowboarders is tripled, USA, since 2003, there has been no reduction in the number of deaths caused by accidents in the snow or by damage to the brain. In contrast, a study by 2012 of Western Michigan University School of Medicine has discovered an increase in head injuries between 2004 and 2010 despite the increase in helmet use, while a study by 2013 at the University of Washington showed an increase of 250% of head injuries among youth and adolescents during snow activities in the period between 1996 and 2010 , exactly the period that coincided with the increase in protection for the head.

So if the helmet reduces the chance of head injuries in the event of an accident, at the same time may increase the risk of being a victim of an accident.

There is another interesting way that the helmet will harm cyclists: helmet use discourages the use of bicycles. One Australian study about the law on mandatory helmet pointed out that the obligation has reduced the number of cyclists on the road. The implications of this study? Less cyclists there are on the road, fewer motorists become accustomed to the idea of sharing the road space with those who ride, factor that increases the risk for cyclists and thus dissuade people from using the bike because deemed too dangerous.

So the best way to increase the safety of cyclists is not promoting helmet use, but to promote a culture of cycling. The use of helmets for cycling is uncommon in bike-friendly friend cities like Copenhagen and amsterdam, where cyclists were used to seeing the use of bikes as a safe practice. To promote a culture of ciclabilit, we need to encourage people who normally do not use the bike to try.

If there are any definitive evidence that the helmet for biking can reduce the total number of serious damage to the head, compared to other normal activities, evaluate my position. But if I don’t wear a helmet when I drive or when I walk down the street, then there is no logic to push me to wear one when I go biking, especially if I’m sure of my ability to use the bikes in urban areas.

Meanwhile, evidence that the vehicles leave enough space to those who ride without a helmet, I just because, as I am an urban cyclist, is being hit by a car what I most fear.

I’m not saying that adults should not use a helmet. The main point is that, when compared to other means of transport, the fear of brain trauma for those who go by bike is out of proportion to the risk presented.

If you don’t feel comfortable when riding without a helmet, then you should wear it. In fact, some studies suggest that those for age reasons have less experience in the use of the bike (like children) should wear a helmet (exactly how young behind the wheel). I, for one, would wear the helmet for long bike rides, because I’m not used to sharing the road with cars moving at great speed.

Rather than focus on whether cyclists should wear a helmet or not, it’s probably better to help bicyclists learn to claim their rights while they are immersed in traffic. Understand how to use your bike in the street is much more important that you do not wear a helmet.

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