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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cycling Without A Helmet? Mon Dieu!

photo
A woman, using a bicycle from the Parisian bicycle program known as Velib, pedals without a helmet. (AP)NYC is embracing bike paths in many parts of the city. (Robin Young)Cyclists getting on the bike path by the Chelsea pier. (Robin Young)On this part of the New York City bike path, heading down Broadway in Times Square , the path is buffered by a zone containing huge potted plants. (Robin Young)Those green dots on the bike lane near Time Square are where cafe tables go. That pink dot in the top right of the photo is Robin biking down the street!NYC has even put up bicycle crossing lights! (Robin Young)This sign is a warning to pedestrians to look for cyclists before they cross the street. (Robin Young)

During a recent visit to Paris, New York Times environmental reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal rode a bike from the city’s Velib bike sharing program without a helmet!

And she had an inspiration: bike ridership in the U.S. could increase if people didn’t wear helmets.

Rosenthal says that riding without a helmet is common in Europe, and she thinks it’s safer for daily commuters.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that helmet reduces head injury risk by 85 percent. And the group found that 91  percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 weren’t wearing helmets.

But Rosenthal says she’s advocating helmet-less bike riding in urban bike sharing programs, because the chances of suffering a severe head injury while riding 5 miles per hour through city streets is less likely.

Guest:

  • Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times environment reporter

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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