Pro-safety, yes; pro-safety-law, no

by Walter Olson on February 8, 2013

Maryland bicycling advocates can tell the difference, and are opposing a proposal by Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) to mandate helmet use. There’s a lesson somewhere in there, or so I surmise in my new Cato post. Update: more details from an opponent.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Bicycle helmet law, cont’d - Overlawyered
02.13.13 at 11:00 am
Further light on bicyclehelmet laws - Overlawyered
03.06.13 at 9:11 am


1 confirmed_cyclist 02.08.13 at 3:55 pm

One British study showed that cars will move closer to bikes if the rider has a helmet. The study used guys with wigs as they could not recruit enough women for the study. Another useful factoid is the likelihood of an accident when an experienced cyclist is relegated to a bike path. An experienced cyclist is 10 times more likely to have an accident on a path than on the road. What regulatory organizations fail to realize is that where a fast bike path speed may be 12 mph, a skilled rider can easily double that speed. Ignoring helmet use, experienced riders are thus safer on the road.
What I find annoying is when cars assume a bike belongs on a path and will insist that you get off the road. I can hit 40 mph and easily hold low 20’s. As an experienced cyclist I believe that demanding helmet use will discourage riding.
That said, I personally always use a helmet. With the number of miles I put in, falls are more a question of when than if.

2 Josh King 02.08.13 at 4:04 pm

This is a problem here in Seattle, where we are trying to get a bike share system but have to fit it around our mandatory helmet law. I wrote about this issue a while back, and the counter-productive nature of helmet laws:

3 confirmed_cyclist 02.08.13 at 4:47 pm

I seem to have forgotten/ignored the cost issue. Possibly repeating, I do enough miles that my cost per mile for clothing, helmets, shoes, gloves, etc. is low, but in “real dollars” I am wearing about twice the value in clothes of an average rider’s bike. So most riders would find a helmet a significant cost. Too, helmets age out and require upkeep. Most folk are annoyed to have pump up their tires and are loathe to think of extra work to maintain and use a helmet.

4 ras 02.08.13 at 5:41 pm

The real issue is not the efficacy of helmets, per se, it’s whether or not we the people are livestock to be safely managed by our keepers, or free-willed individuals with the right to look after ourselves.

Next up: cycling itself, threat or menace? Today, that question is ironic. Today.

5 Frank 02.11.13 at 10:51 am

“the cost issue” I searched for “adult bicycle helmets” . The first reslt was the Schwinn Merge helmet at $15.47 .

“most riders would find a helmet a significant cost.” $15.47? I’m a motorcyclist. My winter gloves cost $275.

I have no doubt many bicyclists would take the same option many (IMO foolish) motorcyclists do and purchase the bare minimum helmet for negligible cost, making the Schwin model look expensive by comparison

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