Or… Well maybe it would be.
Right now, in Maryland, a proposal in in the legislature that would make riding a bicycle without a helmet illegal. While from the outside, landlubbers might be surprised that there is opposition to a law supporting cycling, coming from some cyclists themselves, but sure enough. Some of the state’s bicycle advocacy groups are opposing the law as evidenced in the editorial section of The Baltimore Sun, published February 17, 2013.
Cycling groups have said that forcing helmets may limit the amounts of cyclists who would ride, thereby bringing less “critical mass” and thus making cycling less safe. On the other hand, a sponsor of the bill–among them, Delegate Maggie McIntosh believes that as a rider, she has witnessed the evidence of an injury that could have been prevented by use of a helmet.
Personally, I have a hard time believing that anyone who rides out on the open road, and can do anything to mitigate injury would not want to avoid such by doing anything especially, something as small as using a helmet in the prospect that it would avoid an injury to one’s head. I’ve had a fall at thirty miles an hour where I felt the helmet bounce off the ground. I got up (relatively) happy that wasn’t my noggin wasn’t getting a bouncing … Relatively… I had a driver to curse out. Seriously. Anyone riding in a hostile environment like Baltimore City or many other big cities should be keenly aware of the dangers, with eyes wide open.
Legislation may not fill all the holes in the adhesion to such values to an issue such as cycling safety. On the other hand, while a “critical mass” of cyclists is certainly an element helpful in changing the culture of drivers’ sense of entitlement to all of the road surfaces–often stoking their subsequent intolerance of cyclists–groups of cyclists can be and are sometimes are hit, and mere numbers is no guarantee of safety. In fact, it’s deceptive to feel safe in a group when the experience of getting run over or falling is very personal, no matter how many people are out there.
Focusing on more consistent enforcement of speeders(which Baltimore doesn’t do), enforcement of the three-foot “halo” around cyclists (a spanking new law that is not greatly promoted or consistently enforced), better road surfaces (hellooo?) and increased co-habitation education ($!) would be a more comprehensive way to create a safer environment for riders. In my view, if you build that they will come.
If I could get a guarantee of those elements for the small price of wearing a helmet, I’d consider it a good deal.