The Vox article “Stop forcing people to wear bike helmets” is making the rounds. As a person who uses her bike for transportation, I have had the article pointed out to me a lot in the last week or so.
I wear my helmet almost every day. It’s a handy place for a light–one of my helmets is a light–and it keeps my head warm, which is useful for most of the year.
But like most of my transportation cyclist helmet-wearing friends in Chicago, the number one reason I wear my helmet is:
If I get hit by a driver, if one of those joggers suddenly goes perpendicular to the path without looking first and knocks me down, if someone throws open a car door and flings me into traffic, the very first thing anyone is going to ask if I have a collision on my bike is:
Was she wearing a helmet?
The police, any doctor assessing me, my insurance company, at least half my family and friends, my co-workers.
Everyone is going to say “Was she wearing a helmet?”
This is by far the most dangerous thing I ever do: ride my bike in the city, with cars, on poor infrastructure; ride my bike around distracted or aggressive drivers or drivers who just don’t think to look for cyclists; ride my bike in the city, with cars, and cyclists who don’t behave predictably, who ride the wrong way/on the wrong side of the street, who don’t stop at red lights, who sometimes ride on the sidewalk, who don’t signal. I think it’s probably more dangerous than skiing every winter.
It does not have to be the most dangerous thing I do, but wearing a helmet is not the the thing that will make it safer.