I was cycling my daughter to school this morning – she is only 6 years old – and a man in a van shouted at us, “You should have a fucking helmet on”.
I was wearing a helmet. I was wearing a Hövding which is the safest most effective helmet you can buy.
I understand that the man did not realise I was wearing a helmet but even if I wasn’t wearing a helmet, his accusation is unfounded and unkind, especially given it was within ear-shot of my 6-year-old daughter. Do people who think it’s acceptable to shout accusations about helmets at cyclists do the same to smokers? Or to people who don’t get any exercise? Or to heavy drinkers?
Life is about managing risks. A sedentary lifestyle carries a far greater health risk than not wearing a bicycle helmet. If people care about cyclists, and I’ll assume the man in the van was concerned about my well-being, then what would help us most is if they lobbied the council and government to build somewhere safe for us to cycle, so we don’t have to ride alongside vans, trucks, and buses. Off-road, dedicated, cycling infrastructure will have the biggest impact on our safety.
The safest place to be a cyclist is the Netherlands. Have a look at the following video of kids cycling to school in Assen. How many helmets can you see?