Mostly helmet-less in Copenhagen

This is my second post in a weekly series focusing on two-wheeled transportation. (The first was an introduction to a new moped-specific shop in Logan Square called Moped.)

Let me get this out of the way: I’m a daily bike commuter, and I mostly don’t wear a helmet. That doesn’t mean I’m an advocate for helmetless riding—I sported a helmet for years and still own one for the more treacherous rides—it means I make a conscious daily decision to ride to work without one, much to the concern of my cycling friends. I can’t wholly recall from where the impetus to go helmetless stemmed, but it had something to do with chopping off my scraggly, shoulder-length hippie hair and wanting to ride a day unfettered by a helmet—followed by opting to ride that way most of the time from there on out. This would be an excuse if I was trying to make one. It just is what it is.

Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times wonders, though, if helmets actually encourage biking or act as a deterrent for the casual cyclist. In her recent article “To Encourage Cycling, Cities Lose Helmets,” Rosenthal investigates the popularity of Europe’s bike-sharing program, one that doesn’t pressure the use of helmet-wearing and is primarily populated by what she describes as “bareheaded bicycling company.” Rosenthal correctly notes that while Europe and most the rest of the world are relatively hands-off when it comes to helmets, the U.S. so strongly condones helmet wearing that it’s quick to label the unhelmeted biking public as “irresponsible, like people who smoke.”