Sticker from International Safety Union for Cyclists. A spoof site
If you don't wear a helmet. At least that is what every US cycling organization would have you believe. The proselytizing for the utilization of the bicycle helmet by these organizations and certain individuals is as fanatical as anything you're likely to hear from any religious fundamentalist.
Let's take a look at the above photo from Alan Snel's blog in Tampa. In the post he is not happy that the hospital of the above billboard chose to not have the riders helmeted.
In the post Alan writes; "Here's a hospital, which theoretically is concerned about people's health, using bicyclists in an ad and they are not wearing helmets."
I on the other hand couldn't disagree more. Lets take a closer look at the image.
While Alan sees only the negative of this image. I see the many positives it voices. I see the exact image we should be using to sell people on bikes. We have two people on real utilitarian bikes complete with racks, fenders, chain guards and lights. We also have two people riding a bike in regular street clothes in an upright casual manner.
I also think that the statement about the hospital not being concerned with peoples heath is a bit of a misstatement. This picture promotes cycling as a fun and casual effort and therefore is promoting the reduction of Stress, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure and Obesity just to name a few of the benefits of riding a bike.
If we are to get more people to ride a bike to work, school or even the store instead of driving their car. We have to remove the barriers and make cycling as convenient as driving. Riding a bike to the store in a slow and casual manor does not, and should not require the gearing up as if one is about take on the tour de france.
Each and every individual needs to weight their own risk to injury. As an avid mountain biker I wouldn't even consider throwing a leg over my bike without a helmet before hitting a trail. I know how high the risks are during that recreational sport. The same should go for road cyclists that ride at higher speeds.
But when I'm getting on Old Blue (my vintage Schwinn Collegiate) to run to the grocery store or out to meet friends for dinner. I have made the decision to leave the helmet at home. And you know what I have noticed from the first time I rode helmet-less several months ago and that continues to this very day? I learned that I get way more respect on the roads from passing motorists. I no longer have cars riding my ass honking their horns. I no longer have cars zooming by within inches by me. I no longer have bubba hanging out the window throwing whatever he has handy in his truck at me when he passes. Now that I have de-helmeted cars and trucks give me respect and courtesy when I am sharing the road with them. And the fact that I am treated better on the road makes me feel safer than any helmet ever will.
Let's leave the preaching to the various religious sects and let each individual decide for themselves whether to strap a helmet on or not.