Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Consumer-funded, volunteer staff

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Our Response to Some
Negative Views on Helmets

Summary: Our response to arguments against helmet laws and helmets. Disclaimer: we are helmet advocates, this is not a balanced view. Please do not quote this page out of context. Provide the URL and let the reader decide.

Sections Below:

Opposition to helmet laws Opposition to helmets
Government interference Vision and hearing loss
Discourage cycling Hot and uncomfortable
Discourage bikeshare programs Inconvenient
Net loss in health Ineffective
Cycling appears dangerous No protection from rotational energy
Did not work in Australia Cars pass closer
Do not increase helmet use False sense of security
Statistics are flawed Add weight and size to head in crash
The 85% effective number is discredited Expensive
Takes attention away from basic safety Not used in the Netherlands
Car drivers should wear them first Not used in developing countries
Police use them for racial profiling

For studies and references we have a page up linking to many helmet studies. Websites with opposing views are at the bottom.

Negative assertions are in bold italics below, followed by our responses. They fall into two categories: helmet laws and helmets themselves.

Opposition to Helmet Laws

We consider anti-helmet law views as legitimate and rational positions in the spectrum of political viewpoints. We do not consider ourselves "better than" those who oppose the laws, or even better qualified to make public policy, for which every citizen in a democracy is equally qualified.

Criticism of Helmets

Why we are not on the blogs, twitter or facebook.

We are not helmet warriors. We don't clutter blogs and other social media with repetitive rhetoric and sterile rebuttals. We add to this page as new stuff comes to our attention. We have changed this page in response to good comments from those who do not agree, and will read anything you send us, whether or not we reply.

This site is specialized in helmet information. We don't cover smoke detectors, seat belts, airbags, diet, exercise, or other beneficial stuff. But on our home page in the section Who We Are, we put helmets in perspective as a secondary safety measure, and we never lose that perspective. When we see "straw man" assertions in a blog that we are blind helmet promoters, that we are all about helmet compulsion, or outright lies asserting that we accept funding support from the helmet industry, we judge the poster's other statements with those inaccuracies in mind.

No matter what you may read in a blog or other message, we do not and have never accepted funding from the helmet industry or anyone connected with the retailing of helmets. And we don't own stock in helmet companies. Anyone who says that is mistaken or deliberately lying. That should prompt you to question other assertions by the email's author.

We have seen some amazing misrepresentations of fact in helmet wars messages. We have seen many bloggers misquoting studies. Others base misleading or incorrect statements on illogical or misleading interpretations of a study whose authors actually reached different conclusions. We have seen seemingly authoritative statements about helmet standards that were just plain wrong, with specific numbers pulled out of thin air. (We have a standards comparison up if you need to check any of them.) In some cases guesses and opinion are stated as known fact, and on the Internet it may be difficult to judge the sender's competence or clarity of thought. That includes ours, of course, although the context of this website may provide more basis for understanding our biases and where we are coming from. Our conclusion is that the blogs and other media have proven a poor choice for discussion of helmet questions, and readers can find more accurate and better-organized information at websites, including the anti-helmet law sites below. This explains the reluctance of many social media users to get involved in the exchanges. Please note that this paragraph did not single out either side in the arguments as the primary transgressor.

The Other Side