January 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 17°F


Bicycle helmets

Over spring break I visited Copenhagen, Denmark. The first thing that you notice in Denmark – besides being shorter than everyone around you – is the number of bikes.

Because cars and gas are taxed extremely highly, most people ride bikes everywhere. Bikers have their own lanes, parking spaces and stop lights.

But what you don’t much of are helmets. While there is no concrete helmet law currently, it is a salient issue.

I bike to and from class most days, and on anecdotal evidence I can say that not many campus bikers use helmets.

But it does beg the question, should we sacrifice immediate safety for long term health?

recent article in the New York Times argued that by encouraging helmet wearing we are making cycling more of a hassle than it should be, thereby making it a less attractive form of transportation. And with the clear health issues in the United States, we need all the exercise we can get.

The article goes on to insinuate that the U.S is typically behind the times and overly safety conscious compared to the rest of the world.

Aren’t we missing the point here?

Maybe helmet laws do lower bicycling rates, maybe we are behind the curve.

But why not spend more time and effort promoting cycling itself rather than helmet wearing, which only serves to reinforce the image of biking as safe (read: lame)?

Why not spend more money on biking infrastructure in the U.S and make it more safe to ride in the first place?

Why not give incentives to bikers rather than discourage them with useless debate?

Let’s use what’s under the helmet.