|A local ride with helmeted cyclists|
My personal choice is generally not to wear a helmet, unless I'm participating in an organized ride that requires me to wear one. I live in a relatively small town (population under 100,000), with fairly slow moving traffic (most traffic streets are 45 mph or less), multiple miles of greenway/multi-use paths, and several streets with bike lanes. I don't feel unsafe by making the decision to go helmet-less. If, however, I lived in a higher traffic area, with faster moving or more erratic vehicles, perhaps my choice would be different. It's no bicycle utopia, but I am comfortable with my choice, and believe that it is each individuals decision to make for themselves.
Although I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work this gentleman does for local bicycle advocacy and setting an example by riding his bike daily, I have to wonder if the way bicyclists approach non-cyclists or new cyclists could potentially ruin them from ever wanting to ride again? When we approach someone with such vehemence for or against something, I think it can further the idea that cycling is a fringe or outsider "sport," and that only extremists participate in this mode of transportation. While I agreed with his opinions on wearing helmets, I would find it difficult to tell someone they shouldn't wear a helmet, and would instead offer what I see as the pros and cons of helmet use. Then, the new cyclist could make their own decision as to whether or not they want to wear one.
I love to see someone who is so pro-bicycles, but I have to wonder where the line between advocating and scaring someone exists. What do you think? Have you ever been intimidated by the way another cyclist broached a topic, or by someone who's been riding longer than you have? Did it put you off the idea of cycling, or were you able to dismiss the ideas and move on with life and riding your bike? Feel free to take the poll or leave comments.