Bike helmets are (very very) good for you: study

If you’re questioning whether or not strapping on a bicycle helmet is worth the effort, a new study may help persuade you.

Prior research shows that bicyclists who wear helmets have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury, and researchers at Boston Children's Hospital in the US found that simply having bicycle helmet laws in place showed a 20 percent decrease in deaths and injuries for children younger than 16 who were in collisions.

The findings, to be published in the Journal of Pediatrics, also suggest that having these laws may influence parents to require their children to wear helmets.

"For parents who feel like there is conflicting information related to child health, this evidence supports the fact that helmets save lives and that helmet laws play a role," says lead researcher Dr. Willian P. Meehan in a statement released this week.

To conduct the retrospective study, researchers analyzed data obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) -- a census, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which included information from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Since the FARS database is limited to injuries sustained during a motor vehicle collision that resulted in the death of at least one person within 30 days of the collision, the findings are likely an understatement of how important helmet laws are, the researchers wrote.

If you opt out of helmets due to style and convenience, check out a new French-made foldable bicycle helmet dubbed Overade that with a four-step process cuts the helmet down to a third of its size. Urban cyclists can also check out the YAKKAY helmet, a Danish-made low-profile bike helmet that comes with a removable hat cover that you can swap out for different styles. Or check out the "invisible" helmet invented by Swedish design house Hövding. Unlike traditional skull shells, the helmet is a collar worn around the neck -- and looks like a stylish scarf -- with an airbag folded inside.