I’m not attempting to start a helmet flame war here (though it will be a miracle if we avoid one), but I wanted to point out a pair of websites that may help you sort through the complexities of the bicycle helmet question and make an informed decision for yourself.
The Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation website provides information on helmets and helmet laws, crash and injury statistics, and extensive links to related studies. They make an effort to debunk what they call “the great number of myths and exaggerations, some of which feature prominently in the promotion of helmets.” The BHRF, though they “strive to be objective”, clearly take an anti-helmet editorial position.
The purpose of cyclehelmets.org is to provide a resource of best-available factual information to assist the understanding of a complex subject, and one where some of the reasoning may conflict with received opinion. In particular we seek to provide access to a wider range of information than is commonly made available by some governments and other bodies that take a strong helmet promotion stance. It is hoped that this will assist informed judgements about the pros and cons of cycle helmets.
Whilst cyclehelmets.org strives to be objective in its selection of information for presentation, there is more helmet-sceptic material on this web site than that supportive of helmets. This is in part a matter of copyright (we provide references to journals but cannot generally give direct access), but largely because there is a far wider range of arguments and sources that cast doubt upon one or more aspects of helmet efficacy. cyclehelmets.org is not helmet-sceptic on principle, but because pro-helmet predictions are so often contradicted by real-world experience.
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute provides information on helmets including crash and injury statistics, helmet standards, and how to choose a helmet. The BHSI is a program of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and is openly pro-helmet.
Welcome! We are the helmet advocacy program of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. We are a small, active, non-profit consumer-funded program providing bicycle helmet information. We try to explain the technology of helmets to consumers, and promote better helmets through improved standards. Our volunteers serve on the ASTM helmet standard committee and are active in commenting on actions of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We provide a Toolkit of materials for helmet programs and a periodic email helmet newsletter, both free. We are all volunteers, funded entirely by consumer donations. We maintain our independence by never accepting funds from the industry. As much as we believe in helmets we still consider them a secondary safety measure and urge that primary measures such as safer roads and education programs for riders and drivers not be neglected.
I have to say, the data seems to make a strong argument against mandating helmet use for adults because such laws appear to discourage cycling in general. That said, I don’t see anything in the data that would keep me from continuing to wear one myself, or encouraging my friends and family to do so as well.
Wherever you stand on this controversial subject, the most important thing is to learn as much as you can to be sure you’re making an informed decision.