Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bicycle Helmets...you choose

Bicycle helmets have been a very hot topic in Toronto the last few days. On Friday August 13th, a cyclist died after a fall from his bicycle almost a month earlier. He struck his head which ultimately led to his death.

I issued a news release about the death and the same day that it was released via the Toronto Police Website, the Toronto Sun published an article that urges mandatory helmet use according to an Alberta study.

So, looking at raising public awareness over the issue, I Tweeted and Facebooked (is that a word?) both the news release and the article...then the storm came.

The word 'helmet' became a trending topic on Twitter in Toronto and the conversation was heated on both sides of the issue. Some people argue that helmets should be mandatory while others say that the choice is up to the individual.

My opinion is simple...what is safest should stand. Mandatory? Not sure on that, but should you choose to wear one? Absolutely!!

You can't tell me one solid reason for not wearing one...I've heard plenty, but not ones I'd support. But, I can give you one good one. A helmet protects your brain. You know that thing inside your skull, pretty much runs your body...only get one, can't be fixed thing?

But, who am I to say...here are some other opinions.
(Thanks to @bradeinarsen for the link)

But there are lots more...

Best line I have ever heard?
"Let me first say that I didn't start swearing a helmet regularly until AFTER I WOKE UP FROM THE COMA"
See the whole article for that line:

So...whats your opinion? Your views, thoughts, arguments.
Do you have any research that can support helmets, no helmets. Can you make a strong point?
Let me know and have your say here...pls keep it clean!

To see some of the conversations that took place look at the following Twitter Streams


  1. I have research to give. I just have personal experience. A while back, I was mountain biking with some friends and I hit something unexpected and flipped over my handlebar in a spectacular fashion. I landed on my helmet covered head. Ended up suffering a mild concussion and a few bruises. The doctor in the ER that treated me said I was lucky because the helmet took most of the impact from that fall. I personally believe I wouldn't be alive and typing this had it not been for that helmet. They won't make you invincible, but they sure help keep you alive. I'm all for bike helmets.

  2. Which Toronto mountain range?

  3. Not really sure what the location has to do with the conversation. But Don Valley, Rouge, Humber all have great trails. Outside of Toronto there are some really good trails.

  4. There is no rational argument against wearing a helmet. In a fall, they will certainly help protect the head. However, in my opinion, helmet-use should be optional. I love riding every day all year round, but I would love it considerably less if I HAD to wear a helmet. I've tried many and find them uncomfortable and distracting. The type of bike I usually ride has a tall seat back as well (a semi-recumbent) and a helmet causes my head to pitch forward as they extend out from the back of the head and this causes stress on my neck. The idea of my bike is that it is ergonomically correct and causes no stress on any part of the body: a helmet defeats the purpose of the design of my bike. In more than thirty years of year-round urban commuting I've yet to fall or collide with anything and exercise prudence, caution, awareness and ability to help keep me safe. If i engaged in riskier bike-riding like mountain biking, racing or touring, I would certainly wear a helmet, but the type of riding I do and how I ride make a helmet, for me, unnecessary. Just my opinion.

  5. I don't want to wear a helmet for the same reason that an automobile driver doesn't want to wear a helmet - because it's not warranted.

    The probability of a cyclist being admitted to a hospital for a head injury in Canada is roughly the same as for an automobile driver (Motorcycle riders on the other hand are about 10 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital for head injuries than a driver or a cyclist).

    So if an automobile driver is in just as much danger of having a head injury as a cyclist, and if a helmet can add some protection, then tell me Sergeant, why aren't you advocating for drivers to wear helmets? (by choice of course, since helmets aren't mandatory for drivers nor cyclists over 18 in Ontario).

    You told me on Twitter that you don't support driving helmets because cars already come equipped with air bags and seat belts. When they came out with air bags, they didn't say "air bags aren't necessary because cars already come equipped with seat belts". If a helmet can add a layer of protection, and lots of people are dying from head injuries in cars - despite the air bags and seat belts, then give me one good reason why a driver shouldn't wear a helmet.

    I'll answer it for you. Drivers don't want to wear helmets - even if it could prevent a head injury - because wearing a helmet while driving isn't comfortable, and it isn't warranted. But if you are arguing that bicycle helmets are warranted, then you have to advocate for driving helmets too - otherwise the argument is non sequitur.

    The other issue with bike helmets is that they are only designed to protect from low-speed impacts. Helmet manufacturers could certainly add more protection, but then nobody would wear them because they would be too bulky and heavy (like motorcycle helmets).

    Bicycle safety is under the wheels, not on the head. In my opinion, the best way to avoid injury is to ride cautiously, at a moderate speed, follow traffic laws, and use common sense. If I was riding off-road on Toronto's "mountain", I would wear a helmet too. But when I'm riding slowly to work or to the grocery store, you won't see me wearing a helmet.

    Here is where you can find some statistics about head injuries: http://www.citycyclist.org/melbourne.nsf/files/helmets/$file/canada-helmet-assessment.pdf

    1. Wow, James, you are on your way to winning a Darwin award!

  6. It makes sense to wear a helmet while riding a bike, and I'm sure lives would be saved and severe brain injuries also prevented Bicycle Injuries. Helmets are necessary while drive motorcycles or bicycles.

  7. it's for our safety