Non-use of bicycle helmets in Europe…and in BC
BC is not Holland! But we can work to make our roads more bike friendly. In the meantime, wear a helmet and ride safe.
Many people choose to cycle without helmets.
- Helmets do reduce the severity of TBIs.
- TBIs do happen in Europe, even in the Netherlands - which is cycling nirvana.
Perhaps the most salient point for North Americans is that many bicycle fatalities or injuries happen when in close proximity to vehicles (if you go inside the link, click on bicycle statistics).
Not many North American cities have infrastructure that supports bike culture in a way that Holland does; vehicles still dominate our roads. When our roads become dominated by cyclists, then perhaps wearing a helmet won't be such a good idea.
Harm reduction for non-helmet users
Here are some ideas to minimize your risk:
- Ride where there are fewer vehicles.
- Ride slowly and defensively, but be assertive.
- Be very visible.
- Ride at low traffic times.
- Ride in a group, wherever possible.
- Ride using proper etiquette.
Check out this resource for bike etiquette and bike safety in general: Bike Sense BC.
And this alternative to helmets: the Hovding airbag for cyclists. They aren't yet available for sale in Canada but what a neat idea.
Advocating non-use of helmets
Why I'm Done Wearing a Helmet
To Encourage Biking, Forget About Helmets
The Case Against Helmets
Walking the line
Bike Helmet Paradox
Helmets or Health?
Do Helmets Work?
Why Doesn't the Dutch Bike Culture Include Helmets (The whole blog post is mixed, but the embedded Ted Talk is very anti-helmet.)
Helmets and risk compensation
Incidence and costs of bicycle-related traumatic brain injuries in the Netherlands
The Netherlands one of safest EU countries for road use, bike deaths an issue
Bicycle Death Statistics in Amsterdam and the Netherlands
Brain injuries and the Dutch cyclist
The Bice Study
People for Bikes
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centre