Why do the Dutch not wear bike helmets?

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
After visiting the Netherlands recently I noticed an interesting phenomenon. It seems the Dutch don't wear bike helmets. I learned that under 1% of cyclists use helmets. I also learned that overall injuries to cyclists are way less than any place in the world, so what gives?

From what I gathered, cyclists and drivers are more experienced and courteous and the roads are engineered to keep all road users. This includes bike infrastructure throughout the country.

 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
They also limit speed
Yes and to be clear you are required to wear a helmet on speed Pedelecs. I think most scenarios of riding in the states should include a helmet, it’s just nice to see what’s possible with the right infrastructure and culture.
 

PatriciaK

Active Member
Just recently returned from visiting Haarlem and Amsterdam. The infrastructure for cyclists is incredible! Cyclists have their own lanes and signals, and cars and pedestrians (except for tourists) stay out of those lanes! Not like in the US, where everyone wanders into everyone else's spaces, frequently wearing ear buds so they can't hear traffic. When it comes to supporting and respecting cyclists, we've got a long way to go to catch up!
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Amsterdam rocks! A cyclist paradise.
Well said PatriciaK. Every street has its own wide cycling lane, separate from pedestrians and autos.
I love how you see even little babies being carried on the bike with their parents.
 

marcparnes

New Member
An advantage one has riding a bike in Holland is the fact that it is literally as flat as a pancake! Nothing much in the way of hills to deal with :) BTW Chris, one of the high points of that video for me was the final outtake of the Dutch kids and your reaction. Priceless!

Marc
 

Rob NJ

New Member
"The chance of being hit by a car in the Netherlands is very little just for the simple reason every car driver in the Netherlands is also a cyclist, they know how to behave."

That just about sums it all up.
That is true! My wife and I lived in Amsterdam for 4 years, and I rode my bike to work every day, only about 3 miles, but much quicker than the tram. Another reason for fewer accidents is that the auto driver is ALWAYS at fault. Also had a company car, and all my Dutch colleagues coached me on never getting into an accident with a bicyclist! Dedicated bike lanes and many trails also Keep the traffic separated.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
In all my spills off the bike in 62 years, I've never hit the top side or back of my head. Five times my chin. I suspect head forward riding is a risk. The Dutch city riders ride upright like me. I mostly hit my knees hands or arms. I've only been wearing a helmet since 1987. I view my chin guard, polyester pants sleeves and gloves to be more useful than the rest of the helmet.
An aquaintance hit her head on a culvert entrance after a spill. Major injury through the bike helmet. Netherlands probably doesn't have a lot of ditches by the bike lane; Nor trees mailboxes or fence posts.
Indiana doesn't require helmets on motorcycles or bicycles except for children. Law was sponsored by the motorcycle dealer association decades ago. You see a lot of motorcycles from Kentucky with a helmet strapped to the back on this side of the river. The jails are overcrowded with serious criminals. the officials won't be jailing the unhelmeted bicyclist who didn't pay his ticket.
As for drivers & car passengers, sometimes they throw drink cups, bottles, cans, wrappers, & iron bars at me. I'm obviously a weakling to be riding a bicycle. The bike has been hit by 2 cars. Neither time did I hit my head.
 
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Solom01

Active Member
Or maybe they don't wear them because they're a hindrance and don't really help that much? There will be a million people with anecdotal stories about how they would have died if they hadn't been wearing one, but if you're in a serious accident helmets aren't going to make much of a difference and even in the Netherlands cyclists fall and have accidents every so often. If helmets are so important why not have everyone wear full face helmets with bright lights on them? Every story you read about a cyclist being hit talks about if they were wearing a helmet instead of talking about why the car driver veered into the bike because they were playing with their phone. Like a lot of things in the states helmets are seen as an easy answer instead of spending the time and money required to have proper infrastructure or at least teaching people how to drive. NYC has cycling laws of all sorts but their yearly pedestrian and cycling deaths keep climbing.
 

Browneye

Active Member
Wife and I have been riding pedals for thirty years - just got ebikes. We had helmets when the kids were younger, setting a good example. I've never crashed a bicycle, and over about a hundred-thousand miles of motorcycling never crashed on the road. Now dirtbikes are a different story - just about broke my neck, back, cracked a racing helmet - had I not been wearing a helmet would not be here to tell my story.

We gave up the helmets when the kids grew up, more hindrance and annoyance than anything. Now getting assist bikes with higher speeds I revisited this again, decided to outfit us both with nice mips buckets - a Bell for her, a GIRO for me. We wear them. Our other ebiking friends still do not.

The problem isn't so much 'serious accident' as it is merely the 4' fall from seat to curb - if you hit your head you're gonna be hurt. How seriously depends on what and how you hit, but surely the risk of brain damage is very real. Same for a child falling out of a shopping cart - it's the mere drop that you're at risk of more than anything else.
 

TForan

Well-Known Member
I wear one to bed because you never know when you might just roll over and fall. Can't be too cautious !
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I've posted in several mean spirited helmet threads regarding mitigating hazards and personal decisions in wearing helmets.
I've managed more than 60 years 99% of the time without a helmet. I haven't dumped a bike since crashing my 531 Campaognola road bike in 1973. That spill tore up my hands, and to this day my primary gear is a pair of LeeParks leather cycle gloves.

I do ALWAYS carry a helmet. Use it if the traffic situation indicates I'm at risk, but go out of my way to avoid those increased risks by rising on sidewalks or pedestrian lanes. I wear a snowboard helmet on winter rides when the roads are icy.

Any safety officer can address risk mitigation. But then there those that always pop up and demand the high ground.