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Friday, June 1, 2012

Some Reasonable Thoughts on Bike Helmets

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 3:29 PM

I've spent much of my life trying to avoid talking about the bike helmet debate, but now some old person has blogged about it so—ugh—I have to respond.

Here's my entire thinking on bike helmets: You should probably wear one. But you don't have to. Don't let not having a helmet—or fear of a crotchety old man yelling at you for not having a helmet—keep you from riding your bike. There are plenty of good reasons to wear a helmet (brains!), but also some solid rational arguments against them.

Biking with a helmet is definitely safer than biking without a helmet, but I bet driving with a helmet is safer than driving without a helmet, too. So is crossing 82nd Avenue wearing a helmet, riding the bus wearing a helmet, and playing basketball wearing a helmet. It's a question of: Where do you draw the line between being safe and being paranoid?

For me, I'd say I wear a helmet 80 percent of the time when I bike (hey, I'm average!). Usually when I'm not wearing a helmet, it's because I can't manage to get out the door with keys, lights, lock, helmet, and pants but often it's just because I'm only biking a short distance on quiet neighborhood streets and would rather not worry about it. It's no big deal; nothing worth shouting about. The end.

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