The NY Times looks at the trade-offs between requiring or encouraging helmet use, and actually getting people to ride bikes. American Bike Advocate Sacrilege, perhaps, but I agree: if we want cycling to be mainstream everyday transportation, the helmets and the spandex are going to fall by the wayside, and that’s fine. Promoting helmet use in the US has become a rational astrology: a norm we conform to no matter whether we believe it to be justified, because the social consequences of deviance are too large.
A concise explanation from Urban Country on why bike helmets really aren’t warranted. First, cycling just isn’t that dangerous, and we do most safe things without a helmet. Second, strongly promoting or legally requiring them discourages cycling in general, and fewer bikes on the road is less safe for cyclists, less healthy for society, more expensive in terms of infrastructure, pollution, etc. Third, bike helmets aren’t really designed to deal with serious accidents — the ones that kill or maim you. And fourth, focusing the blame for what danger does exist for cyclists on the cyclists themselves, distracts from the real bicycle safety issue, which is cars.