Helmet debate: A reality check
In the wake of the death of SF cyclist Nancy Ho last week---she died from head injuries and wasn't wearing a helmet---the Examiner does a piece on the helmet debate---yes or no? As if on cue, a young cyclist in Pacifica who wasn't wearing a helmet dies in an accident.
The Examiner talked to Leah Shahum:
Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition, said her organization promotes helmets through its bike education classes. On the organization’s website, the coalition recommends helmets for “that extra measure of confidence.” While she wears a helmet, Shahum said some members of the bike coalition’s executive team do not.
That's a reference to Andy Thornley, long-time SFBC officer, who doesn't wear a helmet:
I'm not interested in capitulating to public policy failures and conducting myself as if selfish careless violence was inevitable. I'm interested in helping you visualize what civilization looks like, and shaping our city to realize that vision, and I encourage you to join those of us working to establish a civilized society right here in our own neighborhoods.
Visualize world peace while you're at it, pal.
"Shahum...said that streetscape improvements---such as slowing traffic speeds and adding dedicated spaces for biking---are the most effective safety measure for cyclists."
But all the "streetscape improvements" in the world can't protect cyclists from drunk and/or negligent drivers---or from their own recklessness, which caused the two deaths mentioned above. Accidents will happen, especially when you consider that so many cycling accidents are "solo falls" that have nothing to do with other vehicles.
And fatalities? According to a New York City study (Bicycle Fatalities and Serious Injuries in New York City, 1996-2005) "Nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet," and "Most fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury."