HOUSTON, TX – There’s a plethora of conspiracy theories out there, from the assassination of JFK to the death of Princess Diana. But we’re pretty sure you never heard this one before: some bicycle advocates in Europe believe the automobile industry is one of the main promoters of bicycle helmets. Why? Because they say pushing helmets promotes fear of bicycling. Fear of bicycling will lead to more car drivers.
Theory or not, now a well-known British brain surgeon is saying helmets will not protect you if you fall off your bike anyway. On the contrary, he suggests, cyclists who wear helmets are encouraging motorists to drive closer, hence causing more accidents. An argument not many bike aficionados will buy.
“I started cycling actually without a helmet,” said Leonard Brown during a stop at Memorial Park, “but I saw too many accidents after that, so I said well, it’s better if I wear one.”
Dr. Henry Marsh, a neurosurgeon at St. George’s Hospital in London, is convinced that helmets are too flimsy, useless, if you’re riding at a high-speed or are hit by a car.
“I would have to say I disagree strongly,” said Adam Potter, owner of Planetary Cycles. “I think that most bicycle accidents are actually not very high-speed accidents, there are more low-speed things where people fall over.”
“Obviously a helmet protects the external surface of the skull and the scalp,” explained Arthur Day, M.D. at UTHealth / Memorial Hermann. “In addition, it’s a fracture bar, like a bumper, that absorbs some impact.”
So, kudos to the British doctor if this debate helps improve helmet and safety measures. In the mean time, don’t worry about conspiracies: wear your helmet, keep calm and carry on.