- May 9, 2010
- Reaction score
This is kind of a pet peeve with me, and the fact that I found this talk today just encouraged me to bring it up.
Idea of the day: Ditch the bike helmet - @TBD On Foot | TBD.comMikael Colville-Andersen is not the biggest fan of the bike helmet. An avid cyclist, filmmaker, and fan of livable, bike-heavy cities, he delivered a talk at TEDxCopenhagen in late 2010 that slammed one of our long-held beliefs about bicycle safety he suggested that cyclists shouldn't worry about wearing helmets.
In the talk, Colville-Andersen describes the culture of fear dominating our modern society and "an almost pornographic obsession with safety equipment." The idea that we're in danger lends itself to a "bubble-wrap society," with many people financially benefiting from the everyday person's paranoia about the risks lurking behind every corner. He identified the promotion of the bike helmet as a marketing moves. The helmet lacks a great track record of safety scientifically, he notes, and the scientific community is split on its efficiency. What he scrutinizes is the testing, the statistics surrounding helmet safety, and the deeper dangers that could affect a cycling culture crippled by fear.
What we need, according to Colville-Andersen, is logic. Looking at Copenhagen, he connects the promotion of bike helmets with strong drops in cycling due to fear. "People are getting scared away from a very intelligent, life-extending, sustainable zero carbon transport form by making it seem much more dangerous than it is," he tells the TEDx audience. He compares the great health benefits of cycling to any of the risks inherent in bike helmet promotion and enthusiastically advocates for society to encourage cycling at the expense of helmets. The criticism has emerged elsewhere in the cycling community, such as in this article tracking the emergence of the helmet in America and how it affected actual cyclist safety.