Saturday, September 12, 2020

Tacoma Repeals Bike Helmet Law

 As readers of this blog know all too well, once a bicycle helmet law has been passed, it is next to impossible to have it repealed. Law makers wipe their hands of the concern, blame is now on the bicyclists, so they simply will not discuss it. That is why any repeal of such a law is a reason for celebration. So sound the horns and lift a glass to Tacoma, Washington - well done! Read the story here.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Bicycle Helmets Increase Risk of Injury

Here's an interesting new study that shows a clear increase in injuries as bicycle helmet wearing increases. From the article:

New research suggests that wearing a helmet may put cyclists more at risk of being injured in a road traffic collision.

The findings are set out in a paper entitled Effects of bicycle helmet wearing on accident and injury rates presented at this week’s National Road Safety Conference in Telford(link is external).

Former Cycling UK councillor Colin Clarke and author and journalist Chris Gillham analysed overall changes in accident risk with increased helmet wearing.

They looked at data from Australia and New Zealand, both of which have nationwide mandatory helmet laws, the US and Canada, where compulsion is widespread particularly for children but laws vary in local jurisdictions, and the UK, where there is no legal requirement to wear one.

Summarising their findings, they said: “Bicycle helmet wearing globally has increased over the past 30 years via promotion and in some cases legislation.

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Images with Sport Clothing and Helmets Deter People from Cycling

A study presented at the Velo-city conference in Dublin last month reveals that people from varied backgrounds connect bike helmets and sport clothing to higher danger in cycling. Shown pictures of cyclists with and without helmets, the majority set the helmeted cyclist out as in greater danger than the cyclist riding without a helmet.

This finding is very important to programs aiming to increase bicycling because it shows the negative effect of using images of cyclists decked out in safety gear. If we expect to make cycling a normal means of moving around our communities, we must choose images of cyclists wearing regular clothing, without helmets.

Here is the abstract from the study:

“In Road Safety Authority Ireland print and video artefacts, cyclists are as a rule depicted in high visibility clothing also suitable for sport, and a helmet. Four studies relevant to the Irish context identify fear as a primary barrier to cycling uptake, including the conviction cycling is socially unacceptable. Cycling advocates argue the depiction of cyclists as described reinforces these fears. To investigate whether their concern is valid, I conducted interviews and a card sorting exercise. The results indicate that depicting cyclists as described reinforces the perception that cycling is dangerous and socially unacceptable. Responses were consistent across gender groups, and two age groups (under thirty and over thirty). Depiction of cyclists in clothing currently the norm in road safety multimedia reinforces barriers to cycling uptake. Alternative clothing, which still comply with safety recommendations, should be considered.”

Read the entire study here.

Watch a video of the presentation here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Aggressive Drivers See Cyclists as ‘Less than Human’ Especially with Helmets

This recent article summarizing a new study reveals disturbing attitudes toward cyclists. Many people in the study actually saw cyclists as less than human, which justified their aggressive driving behavior. Sometimes they justified their behavior to the point of doing harming to cyclists.

Comments during the study so often referred to cyclists as insects that the researchers had to create a new evolution chart using insects so that subjects could point to where they believed cyclists fell.

The final paragraph of the article reveals a disturbing link to bicycle helmets:

"The research team did not make specific recommendations about how to improve public attitudes toward cyclists. But they did speculate that Australia’s mandatory helmet law may contribute to the problem by obscuring riders heads and faces. Riding “uniforms,” kits and Spandex, may further contribute to the “othering” of cyclists."

Read the article here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Motoring Helmets Don’t Sell, So Why the Bike Helmet Hysteria?

The data are clear. People in motorized vehicles suffer far more head injuries then bicyclists. Find just a few of the charts available here. Over my many years of pushing back against overzealous bike helmet promotions, I’ve enjoyed suggestions by level-headed people that car occupants should wear helmets before any more bike helmet promotions or laws are allowed. That was always an amusing and soothing concept for me. But I had no idea that motoring helmets were ever actually manufactured.

This recent article in Forbes by Carlton Reid, a very level-headed author and bike advocate, reveals the stunning attempt by an entrepreneurial car parts manufacturer to sell motorists on the safety of wearing their helmet while in a motorized vehicle. Over three years, they sold a paltry 500 helmets. Carlton actually found one of those 500 and bought it on eBay.

Every selling point they made matches the points used by bike helmet pushers. And they had so much more evidence backing their claims. So why has our society worldwide, with rare exceptions like the Netherlands, bought into the bike helmet hysteria so blindly? My thought while reading the article was that the car industry was never silly enough to push motoring helmets. Come on, why would they make their product seem dangerous? Duh. But wait, the bike industry readily pushes bike helmets. Doh!

Carlton’s article is a great read for many other reasons beyond the motoring helmets. Enjoy. But really, someone actually made a motoring helmet? And it did not sell. That is a whole new data point for me. Thanks Carlton.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why Forcing Cyclists to Wear Helmets Will Not Save Lives

Over the years, there have been noteworthy attempts by journalists and media channels to capture the problem with bicycle helmets. Most will fixate on one particular element of the problem such as scaring people away from cycling or police harassment. Others will make a gallant effort to touch on all the concerns, usually in list form. Unfortunately, the one thing that most of these articles, news clips, and videos have in common is a concluding plea for cyclists to always wear a helmet, as if they hadn’t paid attention to what they had just presented.

Today I was pleased to find an exception to this rule. This video from the Guardian does a good job of explaining a few of the main concerns about bicycle helmets. But most importantly, it ends with the very real point that car occupants suffer far more head injuries than cyclists. The final plea is not for cyclists to wear helmets, but for car occupants to clad their heads in Styrofoam instead. Well done!


Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Damage Done by America’s Bike Helmet Fixation

I’ve worked with bicycle advocates all around the world who are pushing back against rampant bike helmet promotions, most of which lead to threats for mandatory helmet laws. This blog touches on many of these cases with articles labelled Fraud & Deception. I take pride in all these efforts and yet I live in the most helmet-obsessed country in the world. That can be tough at times as I see too many horrific bike helmet promotions to even respond to, including the one pictured here from the nearby city of Phoenix. So embarrassing as an Arizonan and so horrific as a bike advocate to imagine the terror of bicycling this image caused in so many kids.

So, I was very pleased to find this recent article confronting America’s fixation on bike helmets, and it’s even an American blog. There’s hope! Here’s how the article starts:

In the United States, official bicycle safety messaging heavily emphasizes helmet use. In a way, it’s worked: American rates of helmet usage are high. But by almost any quantifiable safety metric, the helmet fixation has failed. People bike at low rates in the U.S. compared to international peers, and suffer higher injury and fatality rates per mile of cycling.

It’s not a coincidence that bicycling remains dangerous in our helmet-obsessed safety culture, according to University of Heidelberg professor Gregg Culver. Emphasizing helmets as a singular solution to bike safety — rather than designing streets for safer car speeds or better bike infrastructure — upholds a political structure that favors “unfettered automobility,” Culver argues...