In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.
But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.
On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles.
Really interesting article about bike riding. I think the key difference is the one of perception but maybe not as the article describes. I think it’s the perception that riding bike is insanely dangerous – in North America.
Anyone who has ridden a bicycle or motorcycle in any North American city “knows” how dangerous it. People in cars simply often don’t look for or see people on two wheels.
But in Europe, bike, scooter and motorcycle riding is completely “normal” – drivers and riders co-exist and look for and maybe even out for each other.