Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bike helmets attract cars

Motorists drive closer to bikers who wear helmets. That's the finding of a "plucky psychologist at the University of Bath" who hooked up sensors to his bike and found that cars and trucks came closer when he was wearing his helmet than when he wasn't.

This isn't a new story. It's from a May Scientific American article. Streetsblog had a bit on it back then. But, it popped up again in a local e-mail thread, so I'm chiming in.

It is a troubling story. But, I don't think it's a reason not to wear a helmet. It's not my understanding that cars overtaking bikers are a particular safety problem (though Ian Walker, the plucky psychologist, did get clipped twice). I'm going to keep wearing my lid because I'm worried about the more likelier incidents where wearing a helmet will help.

There is a lesson here: to get motorists to give you a wide berth and to protect yourself from head injury, camouflage your helmet with a long-haired wig.

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