I came across this post on TheBikeBlogNYC which link to an editorial piece published in the NY Times that is essentially making the argument that wearing helmets makes biking, which they argue is not a dangerous sport, into one.
That’s the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. I grew up riding my bike around the suburban neighborhoods where my childhood took place (I’ve since escaped suburbia for the hustle of the city). Even then, from an early age, I have always worn a helmet precisely because biking is a dangerous sport, just like skiing where helmets are becoming increasingly popular. I’m also a skier, and let me tell you I wish I had started wearing a helmet earlier in life because I may have saved myself from these four concussions that my brain carries around.
Here is your brain pre and post concussion:
Why It’s Dangerous, Especially in NYC
The writer of the article was trying to make the argument that not wearing a helmet in European countries has made cycling to work seem like a more normal activity. By not wearing a helmet, people are showing that cycling is not a big deal and therefore cars shouldn’t care.
That argument does not fly in New York City, or most cities in the world. As the author of the piece said, commuting to work via bicycle in New York City is a dogfight. This is especially true commuting from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Let me show you the route that I take whenever I commute by bike to work, from 4th Avenue in Brooklyn to Union Square in Manhattan (image from Strava):
As you can see, I go through:
- Cobble Hill
- Downtown Brooklyn
- Over Manhattan Bridge
- NYU Area
- Lower East Side
Now, for most of this I may consider not wearing a helmet, but tell me, would that be smart here, at the intersection onto the Manhattan Bridge?
Seriously? And you’re telling me that I should not wear a helmet because then cars will know that I don’t think cycling is dangerous? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Even this video from a cyclist in San Francisco, who obviously has bike lanes the whole way on her 10 minute commute, shows that having a bike lane doesn’t guarantee anything:
Use your brain. Save your brain. Wear your helmet while riding around your urban area, especially New York City. I honestly don’t care if it’s the law or not. With the mindset of most drivers in America, that they have every right to the road and you have none, I’m not going to risk it. Sure, wearing a helmet does not guarantee that you will survive, but not wearing one does significantly add to the possibility that you will get hurt, at least with a concussion, if you get hit while riding your bike.