Helmet Debate Never Stops
Penny runs the bike shop near my office. She posted a reminder on Facebook that next Tuesday is the anniversary ride for Nathan Krasnopoler, who was struck by a car crossing a bike lane into a driveway. She is quoted by the Baltimore Sun in Cycling advocates fight proposed helmet law, preferring ‘safety in numbers’:
More helmets, more safety? Not so, according to cycling enthusiasts, who are fighting the legislation because they say such a mandate would discourage people from riding. Safety in numbers, they say, is more important than protecting individual skulls.
“There aren’t enough cyclists on the road,” Light Street Cycles’ owner, Penny Troutner, told a House of Delegates committee Tuesday. “We have to hit that point where cars are aware of them, thinking about them and not resenting them. That is what would have saved Nathan Krasnopoler.”
No one wore helmets when I was a kid, so once when my brakes failed I crashed into a Goodwill dumpster. At the last second I turned my head, cracked the cartilage in my ear and lay there stunned. I can still feel the ridge where the cartilage grew back together.
I biked helmetless all through college in Pittsburgh, taking at least one spill on an icy road. I started wearing a hard shell Bell helmet when I started biking to work in Washington DC’s insane traffic. Since then, I’ve always worn a helmet when biking. Last Fall I went ass-over-teakettle after hitting a wheel block, and landed on my head and right shoulder. The shoulder still hurts.
Everyone tends to be a libertarian with respect to their own safety. They think auto speed limits or seat belt laws shouldn’t apply to them. I used to read OpEds in motorcycle magazines advocating that wearing a helmet was more dangerous than wearing a leather cap.
I think I can see both sides of the argument. There are certain people who ride bikes very slowly with very little risk of head injury, but there are also people who ride aggressively. Why shouldn’t we make our own decision to wear or not? I suppose I worry that someone I love will make the wrong decision.