Wearing a helmet is one way to prevent certain traumatic brain injuries associated with bicycle accidents. But according to a new Canadian study, it may not be the best way. According to the study, a city's bicycle infrastructure, including the existence of protected lanes and bike-share programs, prevent hospitalizations to a greater degree than does mandatory helmet use. The study also found that women's bicycling habits -- including riding slower and using quieter, more protected back streets -- resulted in women cyclists have fewer injuries than men.
This study doesn't necessarily mean that helmet use is ineffective in preventing injury. When a bicyclist gets in an accident, a helmet is an essential safety measure that can minimize the impact of a collision, thus preventing the worst of-- if not all-- brain injuries. But the study does show that helmet use may pale in comparison to other methods for preventing bicycle-related hospitalizations.