In 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made the recommendation for every state to mandate bicycle helmet usage for adults when riding a bike. While this recommendation is smart on paper, it could actually lead to more injuries and make the streets less safe for cyclists.
Benefits of Bike Riding
There are numerous benefits to bicycle riding such as the strain on public transit is greatly lessened and bicycles also have a lighter impact on city infrastructure. Additionally, there are health benefits of bicycling for individuals such as weight loss and it promotes healthy living. However, when they are mandatory helmet laws these benefits quickly disappear.
The Issue with Mandatory Helmet Laws
Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives are two organizations who oppose the mandatory 50 state helmet law. These organizations encourage helmet wearing and bicyclists to take safety precautions while riding, but suggest that laws mandating helmet usage would be more damaging. Helmet laws, in the past, have led to a decrease in cyclists, hurt bike-sharing systems, and can bring higher rates of police interaction with vulnerable populations.
Decrease in Cyclists and Bike Sharing Systems
Cyclists could be deterred from riding their bikes if helmet use is made mandatory. Casual bike riders are likely to stop riding their bikes if helmet mandates are made as they would be required to buy a helmet. On that same note, individuals who do not own a bike, but want to rent a bike through a bike-sharing system would be less inclined to do so as they would have to procure a helmet as well.
Cyclists who wear a helmet are less likely to sustain a serious injury, but the helmet mandate can be dangerous. The best way to combat bike accidents would be to increase the number of riders on the road, the mandate does the opposite. If there are fewer bike riders on the ride drivers grow complacent and do not expect or anticipate bike riders on the road.
Benefits of Having More Bicyclists on the Road
When there are more bike riders on the road, drivers learn to anticipate bike riders. Drivers learn how to better share the road when there is an increase in riders. Additionally, an increase in bicyclists encourages cities to invest and build infrastructure to protect bike riders, such as bike lanes. Legislation requiring bike riders to wear helmets may sound good on paper, but when the legislation is passed it may become clear that mandatory bike helmet laws discourage new riders, or ones who don’t already own a helmet. For bike riders, safety is in numbers, so cities may not be able to see a decrease in the number of accidents if helmet laws are passed in every U.S. state.
Steps To Take If An Accident Occurs
Bike accidents can be serious, especially if the accident was caused by an automobile, and you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Your first steps, after an accident, is to seek medical attention. Many times injuries often go unnoticed for a period of time, or have serious complications down the road, so it’s important to see a doctor right away. The next thing you should do is get proper documentation of the accident and injuries you have sustained, work you missed, and any other damages from the crash. With that information a personal injury attorney may be able to help you get the compensation you are entitled to from your injuries.. An attorney will be able to walk you through your different legal options and help you navigate this stressful situation.