Should You Wear a Helmet When You Cycle?
Cycling is an entertaining and pleasant activity but since a cyclist is a part of the road movement, he is exposed to certain risks. That creates an urge and will to protect yourself and be prepared for the worst.
Many cyclists don’t go for a ride without a helmet. For many owners of a two-wheeled machine, a helmet became an integral part of their daily outfit no matter where they’re heading: to the workplace or a promenade.
We always wear a helmet when we learn to cycle or to ride a motorcycle. Even skateboarders wear helmets most of the time. But is it necessary to wear a helmet when you cycle?
It depends on many factors, some of which we can control and some of which we can’t. For example, a cyclist can’t control or predict how the nearest car driver will behave in front of him. A cyclist wouldn’t know a pedestrian, who passes him by, goes straight, or will unexpectedly turn to another direction. Such situations can cause a dangerous situation or even provoke an accident.
At the first sight, a helmet is a necessity because a cyclist is forced to move between unpredictable and often, distant-minded participants of the road movement. But a bike helmet isn’t a panacea.
To find out should you wear a bike helmet when you cycle or not, it’s necessary to define from which risks a bike helmet can save you.
Accidental falling could happen with you anywhere: on the crossroad during the dismounting, when you’re riding over the gouge or trying to jump over the curb. Such fallings carry a serious danger only for one part of your body – the head.
The Head is the most vulnerable and frail body part. Most fatal accidents happen because of head traumas. A helmet protects the head and if you accidentally fall off your bicycle, a bike helmet can save your life and let you walk out of this situation unharmed.
Unfortunately, a cyclist is totally unprotected when it comes to road accidents. No helmet can save a cyclist if he will be hit by a running car. A helmet can protect cyclists only on occasions, when the cyclist is the only one to blame or when it comes to small pushes from the side of pedestrians or accelerating road transport.
Only a full body armor with leg, arm, back, and head protection can protect a cyclist but even such armor doesn’t guarantee safety. Motorcyclists are proof of that.
The best way to protect yourself is the avoidance of all road accidents which imply cars and other road transport. The cyclist is unprotected when it comes to running cars and no bike helmet can change that.
Actually, the number of accidents that involve cyclists and pedestrians is much higher than the number of accidents that involve cyclists and road transport. Since cyclists are forced to use sidewalks a lot because of the disadvantages of road infrastructure and traffic problems, pedestrians often serve as the root cause of road accidents.
In this case, a helmet can help a cyclist to avoid head trauma and follow a protective behavior. Helmets give confidence and self-reliance so, once a cyclist in a helmet is involved in an accident, he can act more bravely and try to sacrifice himself to save someone, who is also involved in that accident.
Helmets can solve the problem but also, can create a new one. Why?
But such behavior has another side. Once the cyclist is sure that he is protected and that his head is invulnerable, he could behave more confidently and defiantly. Helmets can solve the problem but also, can create a new one.
According to numerous studies, mass usage of bike helmets doesn’t help to reduce the number of bike-related road accidents but only worsens the situation. The truth is, that car drivers feel more secure and confident when they see a cyclist in a bike helmet. They immediately think that they can freely behave on the road and perform more extreme maneuvers.
Such an attitude creates a dangerous situation and demonstrates the futility of bike helmets. The only thing that helps to reduce the number of road accidents that involve cyclists and road transport is the increased number of cyclists on the roads.
Most car drivers don’t know how to behave in front of the cyclist and what to expect from him. Bike helmets only worsen the situation. The usage of bicycle helmets is obligatory in Australia and New Zealand and in Seattle and it is illegal there to ride a bike without a helmet. But the practice shows that such legislation doesn’t ensure maximum safety and securement for the cyclists.
Mandatory usage of bicycle helmets means nothing for the cyclists’ safety
The example of Amsterdam and Denmark and other Nordic cities and countries which have a developed and well-thought-out bicycle infrastructure shows us that mandatory usage of bicycle helmets means nothing for the cyclists’ safety.
Nordic cities have the lowest death rates among cyclists in the world even though almost no one uses bicycle helmets there. A cyclist who wears a bicycle helmet would only raise questions.
That’s because Nordic cities have the most developed and secure bicycle infrastructure. Their bicycle infrastructure includes car-free city roads where bicycles are dominant, developed and well-designed net of bicycle routes, strict legislation according to which car driver is always a guilty person in the case of an accident that involves cyclists, and mass usage of bicycles as an independent transport.
Also, a significant part of the Nordic population drives both cars and bicycles so car drivers are familiar and accustomed to cyclists on the road. So, they know what to expect from them and how to behave when a cyclist appears on the road.
The experience of Nordic countries tells us that helmets aren’t the guarantee for road safety and that in some situations, they only worsen the situation. Although the existing legislation in particular countries and cities helps to ease the use of bicycles, many accidents happen throughout the world.
Mass switching to bicycles forces governments to take preventive measures to reduce the number of road accidents that involve cyclists. As Scandinavia has shown us, the most effective way to secure the road movement and make it safe and comfortable both for cyclists and motor transport is the general development of bicycle infrastructure and the creation of safe areas for free bicycle movement.
Bicycles are perceived as something chaotic and unaccustomed by the population of the entire country and until it will be changed, the neglecting attitude towards cyclists will remain.
Wear a bike helmet or not?
It is hard to define if you have to wear a bike helmet when you cycle or not. Everything depends on your riding style but at the same time, there’s a lot of factors which you can’t control. Riding a bike without a helmet could be dangerous but it’s just a matter of chance. A safe road movement is possible only with interactive respect and acceptance. Cyclists often have a neglecting attitude towards car drivers and car drivers behave the same way in response.
To secure yourself on the road wearing or not wearing a helmet you need to follow a few simple rules: carefully watch over the passing cars and other vehicles, keep the eye on pedestrians and where they’re going, note where the nearest car can do a turn and see, when other participants of the road movement are going to reeve you and when not.
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