That’s one valid takeaway from a very simplistic study one rider in England undertook. Dr. Ian Walker of Bath University used an ultrasonic sensor to track how closely 2,500 overtaking drivers passed him while riding his bike.
He found that, when he wore a helmet, drivers cut things more closely, more than 3 inches closer on average. When, on the other hand, he wore a wig, drivers gave him an extra 6 inches or so.
Walker says the study provides some ammunition for the argument that helmets might actually detract from safety in some situations:
“By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements. “We know helmets are useful in low-speed falls, and so definitely good for children, but whether they offer any real protection to somebody struck by a car is very controversial. “Either way, this study suggests wearing a helmet might make a collision more likely in the first place,” he added.
It’s not clear if the study is extensive enough to draw such sweeping conclusions, or if it would apply here in the United States. But we’re already decided: We’re starting a campaign to push for mandatory wig laws for cyclists.
(Via Del.icio.us Tag: cycling.)