Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic on Bicycle Helmets, or Lack Thereof


So many people think helmets are ineffective, and they certainly didn't do much good in Star Wars. They also suggest that wearing helmets reduces the rate of ridership, but we covered that here, that is a discussion about bicycle helmet legislation, not bicycle helmets. If you don't want to wear one, fine. Neither does Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, who says

I just can't do it. I like the rush of wind in my hair ... oh never mind. They can be pretty effective, mind you:

Correctly worn, bike helmets are about 70 percent effective in preventing damage on impact. Mary Pat McKay, director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine, says that with those odds, she doesn't understand why so many people continue to ride without a helmet. "If I had a magic pill to prevent 70 percent of heart attacks among people with heart disease, they'd want me to put it in the water."

This started a fascinating round of letters, primarily from people who wear helmets or deal with the aftermath when people do not wear helmets.

Please don't tell me you're that vain! Wear a helmet. Seriously. Anything is better than nothing.

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist in an outpatient clinic and treat people who sustain head injuries. I've had a good number of patients who were in a semi-serious accident on a bike, without a helmet, and got their clock cleaned, so to speak.

this writer goes on to talk about how their lives were changed. More at the Daily Dish.

Then there was another correspondent who was injured and describes the aftermath.

In 1996 I was injured in a bicycling accident. Because my helmet was not secured correctly, I suffered a skull fracture transverse to the cochlea of my left ear. There is no treatment--not surgery, not a hearing aid--that can restore the hearing in that ear. As a teacher, my work in the classroom has changed radically; for the first two years I thought I might have to change careers.

More in the Daily Dish

I have come to accept that this should be a matter of personal choice rather than legislation, and that we don't want to do anything that would reduce bicycle ridership and the shift from fossil-fuelled transport. I have also come to believe that the problem isn't with the cyclists but with the infrastructure, the attitudes and the enforcement, (which is why you don't need helmets in Holland or Denmark.)

But reading all those letters from doctors and victims is disturbing. I am choosing to wear one.

More on bike helmets:
Do Bicycle Helmet Laws Do More Harm Than Good?
To Helmet or Not To Helmet; This is the Question
A Brain Surgeon on Bicycle Helmets
Dutch Cycling: Remember the Phone, Forget the Helmet

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