Thursday, July 30, 2009

economics + fancy helmets = pretentious. But we can at least link to Prez's old posts like they're Seinfeld reruns.

I'll tell you what, this may be chi-chi and it is definitely expensive but it's the kind of thing I've been thinking about lately.

I'll act like an economist here. On the one hand, they are expensive. On the other hand, maybe if more people wore these helmets, rode in regular clothes, and rode at a stately pace, more people would ride bicycles. That is, if the marginal benefit of one more person wearing these helmets is an increase in bicycle-miles ridden valued at 100 dollars, and the real cost of producing one of these helmets is less than 100 dollars, then buying one and wearing it would be a socially optimal choice... I think.

Funny, I just found this old post from Matt Yglesias. I can't believe he and all those commenters beat me to! It's a good comment thread about helmets.

10 comments:

Cap'n Transit said...

Okay, so they have the "Paris" line of covers, and the "Tokyo" and "Cambridge" lines. I'm waiting for the "Hackensack" and "Saigon" lines.

Stuart said...

Then there is this post at Copenhagenize:

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/07/cycle-helmets-and-other-religious.html

Basically, as bike ridership increases, fatalities decrease. A safety-in-numbers concept. Then as helmet use increases, bike ridership decreases.

So what the USA needs is not more helmet usage, but more bicycle ridership for transportation. When we change the perception of bicycles from "sporting good" to transportation plain and simple, ridership will increase. The way to do that is by getting serious about building bicycle infrastructure including separated bike lanes and secure bike parking.

Brendan said...

Man, why are we giving these helmet the time of day? We don't link to bikes that look like anything besides bikes!

Billy Hoyle said...

I think these still look like helmets. I agree with Stuart. Why do we insist on making everything associated with bicycles "sporty"?

Brendan said...

But most helmets aren't sporty.

This one is sporty.

This one isn't.

Besides, if you aren't riding a bicycle in a fast & sporty style, do you still need a helmet?

El Presidente de China said...

@ Brendan: Yeah, you do need a helmet even if you're not sporty-ridin'. 'Cause the way head injuries happen isn't that your head has to be moving wicked fast to hurt you when it hits the pavement. Any time you hit your head against the pavement you risk a serious head injury. Being on a bike just reduces your ability to avoid falling down.

But I will say this: I have a light, sporty-ish helmet and I have a skateboard-type helmet, and on hot days, the light helmet is a lot nicer to wear.

Brendan said...

Let those who ride decide.

Rich said...

When I first moved to Connecticut, I could not believe that a somewhat smart state didn't have a helmet law for motorcycles. I expect that from the midwestern dummies or New Hampshire with its Live-Free-Or-Dieness. It still freaks me out to this day when I see someone going 60 mph on a motorcycle without anything on their noggin.

Then I look at my feelings regarding bike helmets, which is pretty much aligned with Brendan and I realize I'm a big hypocrite.

Brendan said...

I'm riding and deciding, and I wear my helmet. I'm not going to foist my opinion on others, unless they're doing crazy bike stuff. Then you should probably wear a helmet.

El Presidente de China said...

I'm not advocating a legal mandate to wear helmets, necessarily, I'm just saying that it's generally a better idea to wear one than not to wear one. (This is true while walking also.) I think there are good legal and policy reasons why we should require motorcycle helmet use while not requiring bicycle helmet use. So yeah, ride and decide, but my vote is for helmets.