I was reading MMM the other day and for the umpteenth time found myself asking “Do all these people seriously believe in a vast Helmet Industrial Complex?” People wear helmets because they are proven to protect against TBI. Let me start to list some people who wear helmets; soldiers, football players, construction workers, children with epilepsy, fighter pilots, olympic boxers, anyone who is relatively likely to be struck to the head. Do they do this because the powerful helmet manufacturers have successfully lobbied for regulatory overreach? I find it unlikely. (It’s actually the secret zombie lobby preserving our brains for themselves)
If the choice is between biking without a helmet and not biking at all, a good argument could be made for no helmet, but if a helmet is available the downside is next to none. It takes 5 seconds to put on / take off and needs to be worn, held, or otherwise accounted for when not riding. That isn’t to mention that all the meta-data as compiled on wikipedia shows a clear benefit to helmet usage. So close to 100% upside 0% downside.
The argument against helmets seems to be a number of questionable statistics rather than causal studies (you know what they say about lies, damn lies, and statistics). The causal theory that seems to hold the most weight to me is the idea that helmets give a false sense of security and therefore make people ride more dangerously may be a generally true statement for the population. And while this probably accounts for some of statistical risk to helmet wearing (partially negating the actual physical benefit), it is completely against the idea of self determination and personal responsibility. Just because something is generally true of the greater population doesn’t make it true for someone doing it correctly. Statistically “Investing” and “Buying Houses” might not look like a good way to retire early, because most people who buy a home and invest don’t retire early, so we should not invest because statistically it isn’t helpful? No. We invest wisely. Again, if the choice were between riding dangerously with a helmet and riding safely without a helmet, maybe again you could say no helmet was the better option. But if someone in charge of their own destiny could ride safely with a helmet and greatly reduce their chances of brain damage I for one cannot see a reason not to. Biking is inherently somewhat dangerous, often involving sharing a road with vehicles 10x your size and moving 3x your speed, has decent opportunity for human error, and is difficult to recover from crashes (hard to ditch), so why not do what little I can to protect myself.
In summary, you’d have a very hard time convincing me that my helmet habit is anything but a reasonable precaution, and if you ever see me out there on the road I guarantee I’ll be helmeted.