« Reminder: It's Not Light Rail | Main | One Chance Is All You Get »

Bicycle Helmets Don't Work, Part MCMXVII

Just sent the following crackpot letter in response to the featured letter in today's Statesman. (I'd like to link to it, but the Letters page for today somehow left out its actual text).

(This is in response to the letter published today, May 25, by the person who was upset about the picture of the cyclist not wearing a helmet).

Those who are aghast at the sight of cyclists who dare to venture out on the roads without wearing a helmet should be aware that the dramatic safety benefits promised by early case-control studies have failed to be borne out in actual use. As helmet usage has gone up in this country, actual head injury rates have remained on the same trajectory - indicating that the benefits of current bicycle helmets may have been vastly oversold. (New York Times, July 29, 2001; by Julian Barnes). Analyses of those case control studies have uncovered serious statistical errors which render them unsuitable as support for the mandatory helmet position.

In addition, experience in other countries has shown the same lack of benefit from increasing helmet use, as well as a dramatic decrease in cycling whenever mandatory helmet laws have been imposed. In short: a mandatory helmet law's primary effect is to reduce the number of cyclists (shifting them back to riding in cars) without providing a real benefit to those who remain.

Wear a helmet, if you want, to provide you with some protection against minor injuries; but please don't be under the misapprehension that it helps you in a major collision, and please lay off those of us who would rather not waste our time with them.

[ed: don't know how you like to cite earlier articles; and if I remember, I think your own paper may have also carried the referenced story].

Update: Austin group fighting the mandatory helmet law is at http://www.nohelmetlaw.org/

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Bicycle Commuting , Bicycling in Austin , PS: I am not a crackpot


I have got to proofread my long sentences. the whole borne out thing is a real loser. Argh. Who wants to be my crackpot editor?

Jeez, helmets must do some good. I wear one.

Your blog is featured in a new slide show of Austin blogs at http://blogslides.com/austin (click play if you go there). Would appreciate recommendations on other local blogs to showcase there.

Also, looking for rockstar programmers to help with this project.

Thanks for the links, I've been wondering about these things.

Thanks for the links!