Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bicycle helmets are dangerous to the biker's health

One for the people respond to incentives file:
Examining the data, he found that when he wore his helmet, motorists passed by 8.5 centimeters (3.35 inches) closer than when his head was bare. He had increased his risk of an accident by donning safety gear.

Why? You might suspect that cyclists wearing helmets are more prone to take risks. But studies have found otherwise. The real answer, Walker theorizes, is that helmets change the behavior of drivers. Motorists regard a helmet as a signal that the cyclist is experienced and thus can be approached with less caution. “They see the helmet and think, Oh, there’s a serious, skilful person,” Walker says. “And you get hit.”

Or think, oh, there's a biker who won't get as seriously hurt if by chance I hit them.


Anonymous Nancy said...

Motorists who are AWARE of cyclists wearing helmets may decide to pass more closely (or confidently). When a motorist collides with a cyclist, it's usually because the motorist did not see the cyclist until it was too late. This happens for any number of reasons, the negligence being the motorist's, the cyclist's or in some cases both. I urge cyclists to wear a helmet and cycling very defensively. Countless times on my bike commute to/from work I've had close calls with distracted drivers talking on cell phones or pulling into traffic without looking both ways. Also, I can attest from personal experience that dogs do not make distinctions between helmeted and unhelmeted cyclists. At any rate, the fact that I WASN'T wearing one didn't deter the large shepherd who knocked me down a couple of years ago on an otherwise quiet street. The concussion and three staples I received in my scalp as a result convinced me to take up helmet wearing. I can't control every mishap that might occur out there, but I can protect what brains I have left.

By the way, didn't we already go through all this with seat belts?

3:04 AM  

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