Bike Helmets – A New Conspiracy Theory?

I am a fan of bicycling, specifically road cycling. I really enjoy it and when I decided to pick up road cycling a few years back, I thought about the dangers of transitioning from trails to the street. I never gave it a second thought, but figured that a helmet was no longer optional, but something that was completely required for my personal safety.

I just watched a very compelling  TED Video from bicycling advocate Mikael Colville that suggests otherwise. In fact, he is so anti-bike helmets he says your potential for harm is greater while wearing a bike helmet!  Surprisingly there are a lot of people out there and some very compelling statistics that makes one stop and think, that you might be better off without a bike helmet!

Some of the stats on Bike Helmets:

  • Scientists are split. 50% are pro helmet, 50% are against them.  If helmets were a vaccine or drug, the FDA or local governments wouldn’t approve their use.
  • In a cycling accident (not involving a car), you have a greater risk of brain injury while wearing a helmet.
  • Countries with the greatest helmet use have the greatest number of head injuries!
  • You actually have a 14% greater chance of getting into an accident while wearing a helmet.
  • Bike Helmets are only tested and certified for direct impacts to the crown of the head at 12 mph. (Most road cyclists average 17-25 mph).
  • Bike helmets are not tested for side or rear impacts.
  • Pedestrians are more likely to sustain head injuries from a fall than cyclists, yet they are not required to wear helmets.
  • Helmets do not prevent accidents from happening.
  • Since helmets became popular in 1990’s, head injuries from bike accidents are up 51%!
  • 85% of head injuries are NOT preventable by wearing a helmet.  NYT discusses what the industry would have you think.
  • Distracted and Road-Raged drivers are a huge reason for bike/automotive crashes. (I’ve been yelled at personally by a lunatic driver while observing the rules of the road and staying in the bike-lane).
  • Safety elements aside: Helmets are a big fashion and comfort faux pas  preventing millions of people from riding more bikes and leaving their cars at home.

Why have we as a cycling community come to accept that bike helmets are a necessary safety item when there is so much to be said against them? Wow, this is an interesting topic that deserves a lot more thought and research before the Spring thaw in Wisconsin.

What do you think?

This is something you should know.

@whatUSK on Twitter.

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3 Responses to Bike Helmets – A New Conspiracy Theory?

  1. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I’ve heard this before. I believe most of Europe does not mandate helmets and most people there do not use them. However, I have on occasion been glad to have mine on for deflecting bugs (bees) off my head.

  2. Les B says:

    I’m not convinced by either camp. What is desperately needed here is intense crash-dummies type testing similar to what is done for automobiles. That would be the truly credible source of information on the safety of helmets. And I would hazard to guess that it would lead to some desgin changes in helmets.

    Statistics don’t convince me a lot because they are so “rubbery”. One can always find some statistic to support what they want to believe.

    In the absence of any real credible information on helmet safety for cyclists I will go with my gut feel and wear the helmet whenever I ride.

  3. Tom Willett says:

    Interesting read whenever I find myself flying over the handle bars I’m glad I’m wearing a good helmet. I had a friend who was hit by a car on his bicycle on his way to work, he was not wearing a helmet when struck from behind by a car, he lived for 4 years in a coma and while I’m not sure a helmet would have saved his life, when it comes to Brainstem injuries, the less trauma the more likely a recovery. I used to go visit him in a coma and always tell people to wear a helmet, buy a helmet. I have knocked myself unconscious twice on a bike once without a helmet when I was nine and once after hitting a speed bump on my road bike. I will always choose a helmet and tell others to do so but then I have a different background. Have you seen the woman developing the Invisible Helmet? I think I saw it somewhere online, maybe kickstarter? Thanks For Posting!

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