For the third issue in a row our cover features a helmetless rider, with plenty of other photos within of cyclists both with and without head protection. Helmets are a touchy issue; seemingly every time a photo appears of someone without one atop their head someone else condemns riding without one for any reason, many times equating the choice with a deathwish.
Everyone who has been riding for any amount of time has a tale of a helmet saving their life, or the life of a friend. Unfortunately, many of us also have stories of friends that have suffered debilitating head injuries, helmet or not. I know I have a story or two in each camp.
Even though I wear a helmet for 99% of my time on a bicycle, I certainly don’t equate not wearing one to a deathwish or outright stupidity. Everyone has their own choices to make in life, and their own judgments of risk.
Take for instance walking down the stairs or taking a shower—in terms of the numbers of folks meeting an untimely end, these are some of the top accidental killers in the country. That said, no one would advocate a helmet at the top of the stairs or hung around the showerhead, and certainly no one would consider someone without a helmet on in the shower as having a deathwish, even if the risk of head injury is very real.
It’s not the lack of helmets on heads that is killing cyclists—it’s the cars that are hitting them. While I agree that given the current state of our transportation infrastructure in the United States that helmets are a good idea as a preventative measure to help keep minor accidents minor, the fact that so many cyclists feel unsafe without one shows that helmets are a symptom of the problem, not the ultimate solution.
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