Hazards of Helmets


Bath University psychologist Ian Walker finds that drivers give him more room when he rides a bike bareheaded than when he wears a helmet. He gets even more space when he wears a long-haired wig. "In future research," the BBC reports, "Dr Walker hopes to discover whether this was because female riders are seen as less predictable than male riders or because women are not seen riding bicycles as often as men on the UK's roads." I assume that's a nice way of saying that drivers assume women don't know how to ride a bike. A somewhat more charitable explanation is that drivers are more protective of women, who are thought to be less capable than men of withstanding the occasional collision with a car or truck. Walker was hit twice, by a truck and a bus, during his research, both times while wearing a helmet. He did not test drivers' reactions to a bicyclist wearing a white handkerchief with a knot tied in each corner.