Bicycle Helmet Wars [Living on Earth]

American children are trained to always wear bicycle helmets. The evidence showing their benefit in a crash is clear. But are there unintended consequences to helmet-wearing that may be causing harm? Living on Earth’s Ike Sriskandarajah pedals through the center of helmet wars.


GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth, I'm Bruce Gellerman. In our last show we pedaled National Bike Month and took an international turn in our conversation with Mikael Colville-Andersen. He's considered Denmark's bicycle ambassador. Biking is a way of life there and Colville-Andersen surprised us when he said bike ridership in Copenhagen, the capital, is actually going down. He blames advocates of bike helmets.

Kids, and adults, ride helmet-less in Amsterdam. (Photo: Scott Osberg)
COLVILLE-ANDERSEN: There's very few places in the world where there's a mandatory helmet laws, but the simple promotion of them - suggesting that people wear them - we've seen this in every region of the world where helmets have been promoted, that cycling levels fall. It really sort of is a bullet in the back of the head of any healthy bicycle culture.