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Seriously, use your head and read this.

November 05, 2015

"Those people are crazy!" the bus driver exclaimed. I was en route to a doctor appointment in New York City, and a helmet-less rider on a Citi Bike had just darted in front of us, narrowly avoiding getting hit.

"I rarely see those Citi Bike riders wearing helmets," I said.

"I don't know why," the driver said. "It's dangerous out there."

I regularly wonder whether the un-helmeted people who use Citi Bikes—the New York bike sharing program—have a death wish. More likely, they're probably thinking they "only" have a few blocks to go and they'll be fine. Yet in the course of those few blocks, they'll likely encounter buses, trucks, swerving taxis, and overly aggressive drivers.

A few sobering stats: The number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents increased by 16% between 2010 and 2012, per the most recent Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report on bicyclist fatalities. Experts note that the rise correlates with an increase in bicycling commuters. In addition, 48,000 "pedalcyclists" (including bicyclists, tricyclists, and unicyclists) were injured in motor vehicle traffic accidents in 2013, per the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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Six states—California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Texas—represented 54 percent of all bicyclist fatalities, and the vast majority were urban accidents. In 2012, at least two thirds of bicyclists who died were not wearing helmets.Â

Currently, 29 states have no bicycle helmet laws, per the GHSA (21 have laws for younger bicyclists, generally below 16). But if you're biking—whether in the obstacle-course streets of a city or the relatively calm ones of a suburb—you shouldn't need a law to protect your life. In other words, use your head and maybe it won't get smashed up. If you know that you're going to be jumping on a bike one or more times on a work day, take a helmet. If you're doing an impromptu ride, consider a good old taxi or public transportation.

Some safety motivation: these 5 stylish yet protective helmets. Because when it comes to guarding your noggin, the hat hair is worth it:

Casual commuter

Photo: courtesy of Giant Bicycles

If you're so obsessed with riding your bike to work that you can't remember the last time you bought a metro card, the Liv Civita Helmet ($50; giant-bicycles.com) is for you. The sleek, modernistic design looks super chic, and the inside webbing creates a secure fit for when you're cruising down the bike lane.

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Mood shifter

Photo: courtesy of Yakkay

Matching your helmet to your outfit is a breeze with the Yakkay Helmet ($75; yakkay.com). The rounded, brimless shape is sleek enough on its own, but you can also top it with one of their eight cool hat covers.

Breathe easy

Photo: courtesy of Zappos

When you're biking to meet friends for dinner, or heading to work, the last thing you want is to show up dripping with sweat. Enter the Bern Melrose Helmet ($90; zappos.com). Super lightweight, and covered with slots for ventilation, you'll feel nice and breezy as you go.

Pack and go

Photo: courtesy of Closca

Okay, you made it to your destination and locked up your bike, but you're left carrying around a clunky helmet. Now what? Enter the awesome, collapsable Closca Fuga Helmet ($100; closca.com), which can shrink to over 50% it's full size.

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Loud and proud

Photo: courtesy of Amazon

Stand out in style with the hilariously fun Nutcase Street Sport Helmet ($64; amazon.com), like this fruity one. They're built tough, adjust for a perfect fit, and they even have a magnetic buckle closure that won't clip your skin. It's the best way to protect your melon.

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