Should the whole family need helmets? (photo by Sharon Mollerus/Flickr)

Poll: Should Bike Helmets Be Required?

If you want to risk your head in an accident, should the city let you?

Last week the Dallas City Council seemed to be leaning toward repealing the city ordinance that requires adult bicycle riders to wear helmets. Most on the Council want to keep the rules in place for children, while Lee Kleinman and Philip Kingston would like them repealed entirely. Only Vonciel Jones Hill said she didn’t want to make any changes.

What do you think?


  • Ricky Ferrer

    If you don’t have to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, you shouldn’t be required to have one on a bicycle.

  • Former Texan

    Um, your jquery is showing. (this is what I see when I come to the page:

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  • Mike

    No, they shouldn’t, and they should also get rid of seatbelt laws which are nothing more than an excuse to confiscate money with the annual ‘click it or ticket’ shakedown.

  • David Burrows

    We don’t need laws that protect us from ourselves.

  • Commuter Cyclist

    Bicycle helmet laws are counterproductive. They discourage cycling and so increase heart diseases and strokes, which is far more expensive for the health system than the very small change in risk of cycling injuries.

    Even worse, because reduced cycling means reduced safety in numbers, injuries per cyclist actually increase!

  • Steven Blair

    If people can ride 75 mph on the road on a motorcycle with no helmet, why can’t I ride 5 mph on a bike without one? I am over 50, and don’t need a Nanny.

    • slyb

      I don’t think the concern is the speed you are going, rather the speed of the cars around you and their size compared to your bike’s size.

  • Former texan

    There are studies that show that drivers passing cyclist with helmets pass more closely than they do to cyclists without helmets. In auto and bicycle interactions, the automobile always wins. These are the highest risks to cyclists.

  • slyb

    I lived in NYC for several years. A city that has been built for bikers. Yet, I knew 2 people who were in horrific biking accidents, one ending in death. Everyone, everywhere should wear helmets. But, I personally believe even more so in a city like Dallas where roads are not bike friendly at all.

  • Colin Clarke

    Erke and Elvik stated: “There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent.” page 28.

    Details from New South Wales, Australia reported the number of injuries to children compared to the level of cycling activity, to provide estimates of the ‘equivalent number of injuries for pre law numbers of cyclists’, Table 2 in the report. The equivalent number of injuries for pre-law number of cyclists increased from 1310 (384 head + 926 other injuries) in 1991 to 2083 (488 head + 1595 other injuries) in 1993.

    Robinson DL; Head injuries and bicycle helmet laws; Accid Anal Prev, 28, 4: p 463-475, 1996

    In 2012 the New Zealand Medical Journal published ‘Evaluation of New Zealand’s bicycle law’. The ‘Summary’ includes;

    Cycling usage reduced by 51% (average hours cycled per person, % change from 89–90 to 06-09).
    Cyclist’s injury risk per hour increased by 20–32%.

    The report mentions the findings of Sandra Tin Tin et al;
    ‘Of particular concern are children and adolescents who have experienced the greatest increase in the risk of cycling injuries despite a substantial decline in the amount of cycling over the past two decades’

    Clarke, CF, Evaluation of New Zealand’s bicycle law, NZMJ 10 February 2012, Vol 125 No 1349

    Data for Alberta, Canada reported;
    ‘Surveys in Edmonton in 2000 (pre-law) and 2004 (post-law) suggest that cycling by children and teenagers has been significantly reduced compared with adults (59% children, 41% teenagers) (Hagel et al, 2006). Later surveys across several Albertan cities showed that child cycling had gone down by 56% and teenage cycling by 27% (BHRF, 1250; Karkhaneh, 2011)’.
    ‘Surprising stats suggest bike-accident head injuries have increased since Alberta passed a mandatory helmet law.’
    “For Canada, Clarke provided information suggesting helmet use may have contributed to an increase in the accident rate.” .
    Refer; ‘A case for revising cycle helmet advice in the Highway Code’
    There are a wide range of helmets available with various designs. They are tested to standards that do not include rotational acceleration aspects. One main cause of severe brain injury is rotational accelerations and helmets incur more impacts than a bare head due to their increased size. An element of uncertainty exists about how safe or otherwise any particular helmet may be. Curnow provided a scientific evaluation explaining the importance of rotational acceleration and the background leading to its understanding. Refer Curnow B, BICYCLE HELMETS: A SCIENTIFIC EVALUATION, Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2008,