“Ambulance people came to my school today,” my daughter told me.
“Why? Did someone die?” I asked.
“No, they told us to wear helmets when we bike and life vests when we swim.”
I went on a 19-mile bike ride today without a helmet. Haven’t worn a bike helmet in approximately 20 years. In those 20 years I’ve biked over 34,000 miles. I’ve now taught three children to bike and never once have they worn a bike helmet.
Undoubtedly I am a horrible father and a terribly risky individual. But I don’t see things that way. Bike helmets do not make people safer.
My kids learned to ride a bike quickly. It didn’t take them long to realize that falling hurts. If I had protected them with helmets, elbow and knee pads, and padded gloves, falling wouldn’t hurt and learning to bike would take forever. My kids have ridden bikes further earlier than any helmeted kid I’ve ever met.
Several studies have been done on this topic disproving the common logic that helmets make biking safer. The BBC reports on a study that says drivers of cars pass bikers with helmets closer than bare-headed cyclists.
The New York Times had a story about statistics showing that as helmet usage went up, so too did head injuries.
This should not be too shocking. As cars become safer they also become faster. The safer you feel, the more likely you are to take risks. Safety leads to Idiocy.
Check out this video of BMX rider Tom Dugan who is recovering from a severe head injury sustained while wearing a helmet. I’m guessing these guys wouldn’t do these tricks without safety equipment! Lesson from this should be: wearing a bike helmet makes you spend your days doing important stuff like vacuuming and arranging hats.
Helmets, plastic coated styrofoam, really don’t offer much in the way of protection, yet you feel safer when wearing one. This feeling of safety, without much actual added safety, leads to out performing your protection and this leads to injury.
If you feel like cycling with a helmet, go for it, I aint gonna stop ya, but nor should I be forced by law to wear what I see as irrelevant to my style of biking.
I deserve to now get hit by a car and die from a head injury. If I do, I do. I won’t change my mind on the issue because it will be splattered all over a beautiful country road and I will be with my Lord in Heaven. Amen.