Personally, I'm all for wearing a helmet and I almost always wear one when I'm riding a bike. However, I find there are times when a helmet isn't necessary, like puttering around the neighborhood or a taking a leisurely roll on a non-motorized trail. I think going without a helmet is appropriate for Summer Parkways but since I wear one going to the event I keep it on out of habit. As for a mandatory helmet law, I thought I'd take a different look at the problem I perceive we would be trying to solve.
Presumably the most important reason for this law is preventing injuries and saving lives. I went to the Center of Disease Control site and checked out reports on non-fatal unintentional injuries and fatalities caused by unintentional injuries. Note: I looked at five year's of data nationwide for each query.
In the injuries query, cycling is listed as a specific cause is for three age groups nationwide:
* 5-9 years old - 5.3% or 450,141 out of 8,544,751 nonfatal unintentional injuries.
* 10-14 years old - 5.3% or 577,949 out of 10,932,943.
* 15-19 years old - 2.1% or 287,224 out of 13,645,416.
Here's the chart from the query I ran.
And here is a summary for all ages.
Next I looked at fatalities. The leading cause of death for ages 1-44 is unintentional injury. On this report you can drill down into the category to get more details.
Here's the breakdown by age group where cycling was involved. Again, this is nationwide.
* 1-4 years old - .1% or 11 of 8220 deaths.
* 5-9 years old - .5% or 28 of 5303 deaths.
* 10-14 years old - .8% or 54 out of 6848 deaths.
* 15-19 years old - .2% or 68 out of 33,348 deaths.
* 20-24 years old - .1% or 46 out of 45,252 deaths.
* 25-34 years old - .1% or 93 out of 69,501 deaths.
* 35-44 years old - .2% or 168 out of 84,621 deaths.
* 45-54 years old - .3% or 249 out of 91,108 deaths.
* 55-64 years old - .3% or 179 out of 53,313 deaths.
* 65+ - .1% or 204 out of 181,065 deaths.
Here's a summary chart for all ages. I apologize for the poor quality but that's how it was displayed by the report.
According to the Review article, the county commissioners have reserved the right to limit the ordinance to children ages 5 through 15. Given the CDC data, I think that approach fits best. But there's something else about the data that really stands out.
From the data we can see that cycling rates very low in the nonfatal unintentional injuries and as well as in the list of fatalities as a result of unintentional injuries. The number of injuries and fatalities attributed to falling, on the other hand, is HUGE in comparison.
Therefore, to prevent an even greater number of injuries and fatalities, it seems it would make more sense for us to pass an ordinance that requires everyone to wear a helmet all the time.