Let me first tell you, I have never used a bicycle helmet. Everyone who travels will have to deal with other forms of traffic. You can cycle as safe as possible but you have never control over other road users. It is not for nothing many countries have a "helmet law" for bicycles. In some countries helmets are required by law for certain age groups, but in many other countries you are free to use, or not a helmet.
Using a helmet certainly gives you more safety but it also depends on the kind of helmet you are using. If you are going to cycle on main road, busy and big cities or have the plan to cycle in the mountains with climbs and steep descending, a helmet is certainly advised.
In some ways it is true, better a bad helmet then no helmet. It could safe your life although, of course, you hope you never need the protection. A good helmet will protect your cranium and will minimize the injury.
The main cause for many cyclist is the weight and the ventilation. The ventilation is particularly important as the head needs to be able to regulate its temperature. This, in tropical countries, a helmet can be quite a burden while in extreme cold countries you prefer to have an additional piece of headgear.
What are the criteria for a good helmet? A good helmet fits proper. This sounds logic but you might want to pay more attention to a good fitting helmet even if the price is a little higher. A bad fitting helmet can work against your safety in case of emergencies.
And then there is the discussion of using a helmet or not. I have cycled almost 100.000 km and have never had a problem. Does it mean you can go on your bicycle and be 100% sure nothing will ever happen? Of course not.
Here are a few common rules in cycling in other countries.
Make sure you know the traffic rules. Not only the official rules, also the generally accepted rules as in many countries there are unwritten rules everybody accepts. In India, for example, the biggest vehicle on the road will always be given the road even if according to the rules a smaller vehicle has priority.
In other words, pay attention to the unwritten traffic rules and go with the flow. This is generally speaking safer then follow the traffic rules by the letter. That said, it does depend where you cycle.
Us the bicycle lanes, if available. Countries like Holland and others have excellent bicycle lanes.
Using a helmet is certainly advised in potential dangerous situations as mentioned above. When I cycled in Guangzhou and in Kuala Lumpur I wished I had a helmet. Going down a mountain with high speed is another good example.
Speed is another thing to think about. Are you a racer? You are willing to cycle around the globe in a record time? (I met several of this kind of cyclists) Speed increases the possibility of accidents.
However, in most of my almost 130.000 kilometers I felt no need to have a helmet. The discussion goes on and on. The following countries have mandatory helmet laws, in at least one jurisdiction, for either minors only, or for all riders: Australia, Canada, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Sweden, USA, and New Zealand. In the U.S. 37 states have mandatory helmet laws. Interestingly Holland, with the greatest bicycle density, has no law for helmet use.
Cycling is certainly no more dangerous then any other form of traveling, but it certainly depends on your own actions in the traffic circumstances
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