Riding a bicycle has become the preferred mode of travel for many in Oakland and around the Bay Area. The health benefits are obvious, and depending on where you work, biking can provide a faster commute than driving a car. But there are also some definite drawbacks and risks associated with riding a bike, including getting struck by a motor vehicle.
Following basic safety precautions is crucial for all travelers, but especially so for pedestrians and bicyclists. Perhaps the most important safety measure bicyclists can take is choosing to wear a helmet each and every time they ride.
From time to time, certain studies try to suggest that wearing safety gear can actually make us less safe because of a concept known as “risk homeostasis.” The theory is that wearing helmets and other protective equipment gives us a false sense of security, making us more likely to take risks that we would otherwise avoid.
While risk homeostasis sounds plausible, it remains controversial. More importantly, there don’t seem to be any studies showing definitively that the benefits of wearing a helmet are ever outweighed by the potential for encouraging riskier behavior. But there is an overwhelming body of research to show that bicycle helmets save lives and reduce the severity of injuries when injuries occur. The same is true for motorcycle helmets.
Risk homeostasis could potentially be a problem for some bicyclists. But the message here is simple: You should always wear a helmet and ride defensively. You don’t need to choose one or the other.
Unfortunately, even the most careful bicyclists can suffer serious injuries caused by motorists. If you have been injured due to the negligence of a driver, please seek the help of an experienced Oakland personal injury attorney.