Within the bike community much has been made of whether or not there should be mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists. Opponents of this sort of law say that it would discourage bike use at a time when bike growth has been steadily rising. While not directly proposing such a law and the necessity of its enactment in the United States, it goes without saying that wearing a helmet while biking can save your life, if not your personality.
Unlike many European cities, Denver doesn’t have an extensive bike trail infrastructure. While this is improving what it means for a daily bike commuter is that they have more interactions with automobiles and, hence, more chances of having an accident involving one. If anything wearing a helmet should encourage bike riding since it does make one less likely to suffer catastrophic injury. But it is easy to see why people don’t wear them. Helmets are not made for their looks or for providing comfort. And for many people, riding a bike while the wind sifts through their hair is the main point of the experience. Yet for someone who is serious about making a bike part of his or her everyday experience a helmet is the first accessory to buy after a bike. If Denver had more “bike only” lanes with concrete barriers extensively built to separate them from motor vehicles and an intricate network of connecting bike trails, riding without a helmet would be much more plausible.
The argument need not go much past this. When a bicyclist is part of automobile traffic they are dealing with situations on a level that has a much higher potential for danger. Wearing a helmet is an easy way to not only provide a protective barrier between a potential tragedy but also as a confidence booster to actually getting on a bike and engaging the pedals.
(Disclaimer: Photo not was taken by or owned by Bikes Together)