Every bicyclist in all 50 states would need to strap on a helmet before hopping on a bike, that is, if the National Board of Transportation fulfills its vision for bicycle safety.
“I think it’s a good idea. I mean, why would you not bike with a helmet on?” said cyclist Todd Vorenkamp.
The idea to make helmets mandatory across the land comes as cyclist fatalities have spiked, even as overall traffic deaths have dropped. In the New York City, 26 cyclists have died this year, a 170 percent increase from 2018.
NTSB officials say a helmet is the single greatest way to reduce serious head injury in a collision, and some cyclists say a mandate is a no brainer.
“I think everybody should push that rule and law so that everybody stays safe,” said Alejandro Hidalgo, a mountain biker.
Even the Mayor says he would consider helmet regulations.
“I think we have to figure out what's a way to get to the day when people use bike helmets regularly and we keep encouraging bike use rather than discouraging it," said de Blasio.
But City Transportation officials and cycling advocates say a helmet law could do more harm than good. While they highly encourage helmet use, making it a law, they say, will decrease ridership. They’ve seen it happen in cities like Seattle and Melbourne.
“It’s a straightforward concept: more people on bikes creates safer conditions on our streets,” said Joe Cutrufo, the Transportation Alternatives Communications Director.
Some riders say the government should focus more on safe street designs- instead of putting inconveniences upon riders.
“I ride along this road on the riverside, so there really isn’t any risk. I wear it in the summer but in the winter, it’s really cold and helmet just isn’t warm enough,” said cyclist Ying Wang.
The NTSB says its priority is to prevent collision. It’s advocating for bike-friendly infrastructure, like protected bike lanes, and vehicle technologies, such collision avoidance systems.
Some riders like Baebek B. says a helmet law may be a necessary piece in the city’s bike culture shift.
“It may bring ridership down- but in the long term people are going to get used to it.”
In fact, he says it might be the push he needs:
“I think at some point I would buy a helmet, if it was mandatory,” said Baebek B.
The NTSB report is the first one on cycling safety since 1972. It is expected to publish in the coming weeks.