Posted Aug 19, 2012
– How often have you seen this – kids riding their bikes on a roadside or bike path wearing helmets while their parents ride bareheaded?
Every time I see that, it makes me cringe – because I’ve known two people who died from head injuries in bike crashes and several others who suffered brain damage that took months and even years to get over.
If you’re involved in a bicycle crash, there’s high probability of a serious head injury, and that probability skyrockets if you’re involved in a collision with a vehicle.
A Canadian Medical Association study of more than 200 fatal bicycle crashes in the Toronto area determined that only 4 percent of the cyclists killed were wearing helmets. It’s not a coincidence that the other 96 percent were riding without head protection.
I’ve occasionally heard people say that they don’t wear a bike helmet because helmets are uncomfortable and too warm in summer. But because of federal safety standards, $20 will buy a helmet that offers better comfort and protection than ones we paid $100 for 10 years ago, and they’re so well-vented that they feel good even on the hottest days.
And I can assure you, they work.
A few years ago I was riding up a steep hill on the Leelanau Peninsula, and after puffing over the top I started coasting down the steep slope on the far side. I’d barely gone 50 yards when the front wheel went into a pothole and blew the tire. That caused the wheel to twist out of shape and lock.
I went over the handlebars and hit the road hard, and at first my concern was my left knee, which swelled to twice its size in a remarkably short time. It wasn’t until a Good Samaritan was driving me into Traverse City that I noticed the top of my helmet was split down the middle and the protective padding was crushed.
That got my attention.
Before the Michigan legislature made its decision to rescind the motorcycle helmet law, a man called me to complain about having to wear one.
My answer was simple – I know what my brain is worth, so I wear a helmet. You know what your brain is worth, so act accordingly.
And parents, how can you expect your kids to wear helmets and take what you say seriously when they can see that you don’t?