Bicycle helmets – a road safety hazard?

I read an interesting article today, with that exact title. Basically, this British scientist outfitted a bike with an ultrasonic distance sensor, and went and played in traffic. Based on his interpretation of the data from 2,500 passing vehicles, he has determined that not wearing a helmet causes motorists to give you more room, while you’re more likely to be crowded while wearing a helmet.

I say, so what? He got hit twice, both times while wearing a helmet. So would he have been better off not wearing a helmet when he got hit? I don’t think so. He did determine that cars gave the most room, followed by what he called the “average white van”, then trucks, then buses. Each time, the difference amount to a few inches over the 1.33 meters the car allowed. The way I see it, the more skilled the driver, they closer they will get. I could be wrong though. It just seems that someone that drives a delivery van, truck, or bus for 8 hours a day is more aware of where their vehicle ends and a cyclist begins.

I guess I’m not ready to accept the data as anything more than an observation at this point, but something tells me that regardless of what the final outcome is, folks are not going to start leaving their helmets at home, thinking that they’ll get a bigger safety zone from motorists if they do.

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Neil Fein

> folks are not going to start leaving their helmets at home

I certainly hope not. There are a lot of people who will hear this and think “oh, helmets are now unsafe”. And dihydrogen oxide is a pollutant in our food and drinking water.

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