Bike Helmet Laws (And Most Other Laws) Are Unnecessary

Perhaps I’m easily impressed, but I’ve once again been dazzled by the ability of humans to strike a compromise. This time my amazement was caused by a controversy over wearing a bike helmet.

My wife and I just moved up to the pacific northwestern region of the United States. Before moving, I decided that I’d sell my car and ride my bike everywhere. It has worked out swimmingly. There is plenty of accounting work right in the little town that we relocated to. Most jobs are within a five minute bike ride from our condo.

Without even giving it a thought, I’ve been riding sans bike helmet. There hasn’t been any reason to give it much thought. There hasn’t been much danger.

However, upon arrival at one of my jobs, a co-worker informed me that I should be wearing a bike helmet. The conversation went something like this:

Coworker: Hey, are you not wearing a bike helmet?

Me: No, I don’t really need one. I just ride around here in town.

Coworker: It doesn’t matter its still unsafe.

Me: It seems pretty safe to me. I stop at red lights and crosswalks.  I ride defensively. No problem.

Coworker: It doesn’t matter how good a rider you are, there are bad drivers. Are you not wearing a helmet because you don’t want to look silly?

Me: Its not that I don’t want to look silly. The truth is that I try not to spend money on stuff I don’t need. I’m a pretty cheap guy. Thats why I’m an accountant and its also why I sold my car. I don’t want to spend money on a helmet, thats really the issue.

Coworker: Okay, I’m a mother, take my word for it, you need to spend money on this. Its important.

Me: Well we’ll have to agree to disagree. But I’ll make you a deal. If it is really so important to you that I wear a bike helmet, put your money where your mouth is. Buy me a helmet and I’ll where it.

The conversation ended at this point. The onlookers giggled nervously because a challenge had been put forth. I told her to put up or shut up.

Guess what? She put up. The next day I showed up and there was thirty dollars on my desk with a note that said “Go buy a bike helmet.”

Guess what? I did. It cost less than thirty bucks. I’m going to give her the change and a receipt.

We both got what we wanted. She gets the peace of mind of seeing a young man with his melon protected. I didn’t have to spend any money. It was a voluntary exchange and we both won.

More profoundly, we’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that human beings can and do cooperate peacefully and to the benefit of all. There was no need to bring the police force into the equation.

The lesson is that it is much more efficient to use our own resources to combat perceived evils. We can use reason and money to get people to act how we want them to act. This method provides immediate and satisfying results.

Next time you want to vote for some law, like a bike helmet law, think about putting your money where you mouth is, like my coworker. Forget the law, take direct action. She has earned my everlasting respect.

Me and my well protected cranium thank her.


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