Is the Dutch father in the picture above “insane” for not having his sons wear helmets and not wearing one himself, as Hunter College Professor William Milczarski told the New York Post? Is Amsterdam, “really serious about bicycle safety,” to use NYC Comptroller John Liu’s words, if its citizens can ride on city streets without first strapping plastic and styrofoam hats to their heads? The answer to the first question is no. The answer to the second question is a resounding, emphatic, are-you-kidding-me yes.
The Guardian’s Matt Seaton has this to say on Liu’s recent campaign to scare the bejeezus out of everyone about bike share and helmets:
The only sure outcome of a mandatory bike helmet law is to reverse a promising trend of growing bike use. In Western Australia, one of the few places in the world to have made helmets compulsory, bike use fell of a cliff after the law came in. I’ve also never seen an adequate answer from the pro-helmet lobby for why countries with spectacularly high bike use, like Denmark and the Netherlands, also have extremely low casualty rates – despite the fact that not wearing a helmet is the cultural norm.
As Streetsblog and Felix Salmon have noted, Liu’s actual report is “far more positive about bike-share than its author’s press statements would indicate.” But something tells me getting people to read a detailed report wasn’t Liu’s intent.
As I’ve argued before, this kind of stuff is a minor hiccup on the way to New York becoming a real cycling city. If the people who purported to care about bicycle safety in New York actually rode a bike in it every now and then, maybe we’d get there a lot faster.