Bike helmets seem pretty reasonable

I was surprised there is opposition to requiring all bike riders wear helmets ("Helmet bill gets objections from bike advocates," Feb. 13). In my 2,500-pound car I must wear a seat belt and am surrounded by airbags. It is because people may be involved in accidents (by definition an unplanned event) that these auto safety measures are required.

Paved streets are designed to move autos, trucks and buses. Traffic signals left turn lanes, and barriers help keep traffic safe and facilitate its flow. Crosswalks are to protect people when they cross streets built for cars. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. If bikers want use public streets, governments that build and maintain these thoroughfares have every right to require adherence to basic safety requirements, which include riding in lanes set aside for them and using headgear. Data demonstrating that helmets reduce head injuries are extensive and convincing, and Johns Hopkins University student Nathan Krasnopoler's death does not change those facts.

Of course, drivers should be aware of anyone and anything in public roads. But to say that more bikers should be in the streets so that drivers will learn to think more about them and not to resent them is a dangerous and wrongheaded idea. Moreover, if wearing a helmet would discourage someone from riding a bike, they probably were not that interested.

Sometimes the obvious has to be stated: Riding a bicycle on thoroughfares designed and used by motor vehicles will always be dangerous, and helmets will lessen injuries caused by inevitable accidents. Even though they were published, I still have trouble believing serious adults made the comments these anti-helmet people did in the Sun article.

Jerry Levin, Baltimore

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