Logic 101: Why Matthew Modine Doesn't Wear a Bicycle Helmet
Matthew Modine via guest of a guest
As our Matthew noted earlier, Matthew Modine is the founder of Bicycle For a Day and an enthusiastic cyclist. As I have noted earlier, there is some evidence that mandatory bicycle helmet rules may actually do more harm than good because people hate them so much that they don't ride. So there is a case to be made that it should be a matter of personal choice and education rather than legislation.
But if you are founder of a bike promotion organization, should you not try to set an example? And should you not have better logic than this?
"I get s**t for that a lot of times," he says—not least from the League of American Bicyclists. Modine says they wouldn't link to a short film he had made for his Bicycle for a Day website because he's not helmeted. "Should we wear helmets when we walk down the sidewalk?" Then his logic gets really shaky: "I think that people that wear helmets, cars are a little more aggressive with them."
Actually, this isn't so shaky, there is a study from the UK that says this might be true, summarized in Helmets.org (and subject of a video):
Test cyclists were given 8.5cm (3.3 inches) more clearance by cars if they were not wearing helmets. When the researchers donned female wigs they got more clearance, 14cm (5.5 inches) more than apparent males in helmets. They did not report on what a skirt and helmet combination would do.
So he has some backup on this. But then he goes into strange territory:
He mentions the late Natasha Richardson, who died in March after a skiing accident: "She was a great friend of mine. She barely banged her head and it cost her her life." Yes, and she wasn't wearing a helmet. Doesn't that give him pause? "I think it gave us all pause. Think how many times you've banged your head in your lifetime."
Now I am loath to mention Natasha Richardson in TreeHugger after my last post, but Modine says she "barely banged her head." Right. It is was enough to kill her from an epidural hematoma "due to blunt impact to the head." All the evidence suggests that had she worn a helmet, she would have been fine.
Surely he has it backwards; if there is one lesson to learn from the death of Natasha Richardson, it is that one should wear helmets.