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  • ROBERT ULLMAN

ANSEL HERZ: Does not wear a helmet, says cycling is dangerous because of the system

Yes, it is true. I don't wear a bicycle helmet. Before your face explodes in a flaming ball of rage-spittle at me for being irresponsible: I'm telling you this because my editor asked me to write about how I don't wear a helmet, not because I want to use my platform to tell other people what to do. (I made the mistake of sort of doing that in a post on Slog, The Stranger's blog, back when I was a wee intern. The post's title? "Why I Ride Fearlessly Without a Helmet.")

Not wearing a bike helmet is my personal choice—a choice I believe adults in Seattle should be free to make without the threat of substantial fines from the city government, which insists on carrying on with a mandatory helmet law. For one, the data on helmets is mixed. The Feds have recently repudiated a 1989 study, for example, done in Seattle, which claimed that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent. That's the study on which our mandatory helmet law is based. And wherever there are helmet laws, fewer people use bicycles—even though getting greater numbers of cyclists on the road is the single best way to increase bicyclist safety…

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