It is clear from personal observation how much bicycle helmet usage has increased in the U.S. in the last 20 years-especially among children. Looking back on my BMX and middle school biking days, I didn't own a helmet and none of my friends did either.
I'll never forget the time my older brother went on a ride with his friend. It was a warm summer day and my family was sitting on the patio. As he retrieved his Trek 1000 from our garage in Sheboygan, my parents reminded him that he had to wear his helmet. He and his friend traveled off down the road. Unbeknownst to us, about a block down the road, he threw his helmet in a bush. Several miles later he hit a pot hole going about 20. I was sitting with my parents on the patio when a police car pulled up front. The officer opened his trunk and took my brother's bike out. He carried the bike up and told us my brother crashed and had some bad road rash but was o.k. When my parents asked, "he had his helmet on right,?" the officer said, "No, I don't remember seeing any helmet."
Why did he throw the helmet in the bush? Probably because he thought it wasn't cool to ride with a helmet. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, only 0.1% of Dutch bikers where helmets. It appears to be the result of tradition and image. For example, during a recent push to get children to use bike helmets, one father of four said his children would rather go to school naked than wear a bike helmet. Others say helmet usage in the Netherlands is limited because of the safe bike paths and bikers are less succeptible to bad drivers. Also noted was bikers concern of helmet appearance and the fact that no one uses them. Some bikers are even ridiculed for wearing helmets including a man mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article who said people yelled at him, "We're not in Germany," when he rode with a helmet.
Despite the unpopularity in the Netherlands, various groups are working to increase helmet usage and are wisely targeting young children who may be more inclined to make a change from the local customs.
Posted by Clayton Griessmeyer, Bicycle Injury Lawyer