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Why The Dutch Don’t Wear Bicycle Helmets

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When blogger Lucy Seip fell in love with “a Dutchie” and moved with him from the U.S. to his home country, one of the first things she noticed was that people don’t wear bicycle helmets! As a mom of three, safety is perpetually on her mind, which is why she put on her detective hat and took a look at this phenomenon.

Lucy discovered some of the reasons for having this collective perspective. Let me tell you in a few words what is the reason for that.

The Dutch cyclists don’t wear helmets because, in the Netherlands, kids receive traffic and safety instructions from age 5. The Dutch consider bike helmets ineffective, and they don’t want to create a culture of fear. Also, bicycling is extremely safe in the country due to the excellent infrastructure and great cycling culture.

4 Reasons The Dutch Don’t Wear Bike Helmets

1. The Dutch are extremely aware of their surroundings. Unlike U.S. society where distractions are everywhere and people have become conditioned to them, the Dutch stay focused on what’s going on around them rather than electronic devices and common diversions.

Read more: How Does a Bike Helmet Work?

2. Kids receive traffic and safety instruction from age 5. While kids in other nations are busy playing with dolls and watching their device screens, Dutch kids are mastering the nuances of red v. green traffic lights, the importance of obeying regulations and other critical lessons in traffic safety.

3. The Dutch consider helmets to be ineffective. According to traffic consultant Theo Zeggers, “If you are hit by a car on your bike no helmet will protect you.”

His research has proven that bike helmets that protect again dangerous impacts at high speeds have not yet been invented, and he has the data to prove his point.

4. On average, every Dutch citizen spends 70 minutes weekly riding their bikes to do everything from run errands and commute to work. It’s part of the Dutch lifestyle and consciousness.

They believe that getting all that fresh air helps them live longer!

Photo by P. Bc on Unsplash

Why create a culture of fear if it’s unnecessary?

Blogger Don added his own perspective after learning that the Dutch are helmet-averse. He conducted additional research of his own and reached these conclusions:

  • Dutch traffic planners consciously made the decision not to require helmets because they feared people would perceive bicycling as so dangerous, “they are likely to get the impression that cycling is too dangerous or uncomfortable and stop doing it altogether.”

Related: Nutcase Helmets Review

  • Further, if cyclists become fearful of riding, there’s a supposition that the Dutch will start driving cars, resulting in increases in injuries, pollution, noise, accidents, and congestion.

  • For an uber-healthy nation, turning to sedentary transport and away from biking could provoke more health crises, including heart attacks and conditions regularly offset by people committing to daily exercise.

  • City planners understand Dutch cycling proclivities, so they design streets, roads, trams, and walkways around the nation’s commitment to its bicycle-obsessed society.
Photo by Jace & Afsoon on Unsplash

Do you have long hair? We’ve got you covered. Check our blog post on how to wear long hair under bike helmets.

It’s an attitude and way of life, too

When American Dan Kois discovered the wonders of bike-friendly Netherlands, he was shocked to discover than Dutch cyclists had no fear of cars, so when his daughter asked where her helmet was on the day the family rented bikes in Delft, he tried to explain that the Dutch don’t wear them.

Kois quickly concluded that Dutch society looks upon bicycle transport as sacrosanct and it’s the automobile drivers who are considered “second-class citizens.”

Even the Kois kids noticed the reciprocal agreement between Dutch cyclists and motorists in a nation that’s home to 18 million citizens and 22 million bicycles.

“Even though nobody wears bike helmets in the Netherlands, the fatality rate there is six times smaller than that of the United States,” Kois said in his revealing article for “The New Yorker.” How is that possible?

Kois concluded that the Dutch subsume the needs of individuals to the needs of the community.

Translation? According to Angela van der Kloof, cycling expert and project leader with the Delft mobility consultancy, “From a young age in the Netherlands, we’re trained to take note of others.” Given this generosity of spirit and respect for individual welfare, is it any wonder the Dutch feel no need to wear bike helmets?

Read more:

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.