A Civil Discussion About Helmets

July 03, 2019

Should every image of a person riding a bike include a helmet? If you’ve made up your mind already, feel free skipping to the bottom to leave your comment. We will read it and take it into consideration.

The thing is, we haven’t yet, and we are listening to a wide range of voices on this subject because we want to see more people throw a leg over a bike.

So where do we stand? PEARL iZUMi is absolutely pro-helmet. There is plenty that can go wrong while riding; sand, dogs, unexpected flat tires, or bad luck can put you on the ground fast. Going on a group ride, pushing the pace and the limits of your skill on the open road, or trail riding would all be irresponsible without a helmet. And when it comes to commuting, it’s absolutely a good idea.

But here’s a question: does the relative level of risk for a particular ride allow for a little flexibility? And the real question: should the first thing we comment on when we see a post celebrating someone riding be on their choice to wear a helmet?

Interestingly, you’ll often see a segment of the bike community comment on a story or picture of a celebrity riding a bike not with a thumbs up, but a finger-wagging statement about not wearing a helmet. It’s also interesting that bike advocacy groups show a diverse group of people, most with helmets, but some without. Given that their focus is growing the riding community, what do they know that we may not?

While there are arguments on both sides of this issue, we will aim to encourage anyone who is choosing to ride, and help them do it confidently, comfortably, and safely.

We created a short film called “The Start” to launch our “Here we go” campaign this spring. The past two years have been a transformational period for our brand. As a company, we’ve decided that it’s time to promote riding for all the amazing things it can help us accomplish, the real reasons we ride, not just winning races. Part of this is showing more diverse riding experiences, including the city commute scene in “The Start.” We hotly debated all aspects of this scene, including whether or not to use a helmet.

We have received a lot of feedback on “The Start.” Most have been really positive about the beautiful imagery and inclusive messaging. But we’ve also heard comments about the rider not wearing a helmet. If one of those comments is yours, please know that we read and think about all of them.

(A quick note: anytime a new ad is placed on Facebook, the comments typically are reset. We only delete comments that are offensive to a person or group or are inappropriate to the topic – mainly trolls. If you made a comment two weeks ago on a post featuring “The Start” and then saw the video again recently without your comment, most likely it’s a new placement, not an evil scheme.)

Okay, so what are we going to do about it? We will reach out to bike advocacy groups and other influential people within the bike industry and media to get their take on the great helmet debate, and include their responses here as an update. Then, we will follow up on this post with our latest thinking once we’ve weighed all the arguments, and we can talk some more. Hopefully, we can get back to the point of bringing attention to safe spaces to ride and celebrating more people riding together.

Go together.

Voices from the Cycling Community

Let’s Call a Truce in the Helmet Wars, Please

There are valid arguments for both wearing and not wearing a helmet. But shaming people for their choices is useless.
by Joe Lindsey -Outside

Should I Wear A Bike Helmet?

We are helmet advocates, so you know our bias, but here is some food for thought about the current push to disparage bike helmets.
by Helmets.org

The Bike Helmet Paradox

Plastic shells keep our heads from coming open, but they also deter us from riding bicycles. And riding bicycles is good for people and Earth.
by James Hamblin -The Atlantic

Why I stopped wearing a bike helmet

“When I was editor-in-chief of Bicycling, the world’s largest cycling magazine, I knew that any photograph of a rider without a helmet on would precipitate a firestorm of shouty criticism, as if the brand was imperiling bike culture simply by documenting how a fair number of people ride a bike.”
by Peter Flax -Red Bulletin

Enough with the Helmet Shaming Already

We’ve already let go of the idea that cyclists should pretend to be drivers. Maybe it’s time to let go of our fixation on safety gear as well.
by Eben Weiss -The Bike Snob

It’s Okay If You Don’t Wear a Bike Helmet

Helmets can protect against specific head injuries, but their they’re no substitute for safer streets and more mindful drivers.
by Jen See -Bicycling

Bicycle Helmets Not Designed For Impacts From Cars

…With many new cyclists now on the roads. Some will be wearing head protection, but a leading bicycle helmet maker has stressed that bicycle helmets are not designed to mitigate against impacts from motor vehicles.
by Carlton Ried – Forbes

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