Would we be safer without helmets?

There is no doubt Mikael Colville-Andersen is pro-bicycling. A filmmaker and photographer, he is also the head of Copenhagenize Consulting, a firm that advocates for taming urban spaces, and publisher of a popular blog by the same name.

But when asked to present at a TED lecture, he brought some startling opinions. His presentation, which you can watch below, advocates against helmet use, citing a "culture of fear" that the world has created as a deterrent to bicycle riding.

His reasoning: that studies have shown that cyclists are more likely to be injured while riding while wearing a helmet, that advocating and promoting helmet use deters new cyclists and that bicycle helmets are designed for unrealistic impact angles.

But some of his assessments take logic a bit too far. Citing a helmet promotion in Denmark as the sole cause in decline in ridership ignores any and all other factors that could have resulted in a small, 5 percent decline in 2008. He also argues that because the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks – statisticaly at least – helmet use should not be a factor when promoting bicycling.

I guess his real argument is just that: He is not anti-helmet, but anti-helmet promotion.

I dunno. I’m going to keep wearing mine. Will you? 

Update: Our sister magazine, Dirt Rag, has a scary, first-hand account of living with a traumatic brain injury.

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