Wait, where’s my helmet?! I was dumbfounded. I’ve managed it out the door without my helmet before, but never beyond eyesight of my house. Yes, I had a lot on my mind this morning, even more than usual, but I ALWAYS wear my helmet. Today, I’m going to tell you why.
I wear a helmet because I don’t want my “brain to shoot out” of my head into lots of pieces. I could tell you personal stories of people I know and love whose lives have been changed forever because of brain trauma, but instead you can read related stories and stats here here here here here and here, etc.
I wear a helmet because every person on a bicycle is a role model. Nobody tells you this when you start riding a bike, but getting on a bicycle makes other people look at you as a ‘cyclist’. It doesn’t matter why you ride or where. So, related to this, when you do stupid @#$%, a few degrees of separation away…
- another bicyclist has to hear about it, “Cyclists always do X.”
- a kid demands, “Why do I have to wear one?”
- someone subconsciously bails on a helmet because they saw some cool person on a bike not wearing one.
I wear my helmet because I feel like a poser without one. Yes, it’s true. I care about keeping my brain in my head and pretending like I don’t makes me feel like I’m trying too hard. Maybe I can’t look any dorkier than I not-so-secretly am but that’s not my point.
I wear my helmet all the time because every accident/fall I’ve had on a bicycle has been my fault. Okay, so this is just me and I’ve never hurt my head but I’ve skinned knees, ruined a perfectly good pair of heels, twisted my ankle and cried my eyes out while showing off, losing control of my bicycle, losing my balance while stopping (yes, this is the heels story) and hitting a pothole that I swear came out of nowhere. My head has kept me from countless collisions with cars and other dangers but I’d like to protect it even when it lets me down.
I wear my helmet because of the cyclist I met at last year’s Bike to Work Day who said, “I have 2 broken helmets in my garage but never have I had a broken head.” To the point, no?
And of course, there are the statistics (and my not wanting to ‘be one’):
- The wearing of a cycle helmet is estimated to prevent 60% of head injuries
- Head injuries account for 63% of bicycle fatalities in people under 20 years old.
- Traumatic brain injury causes secondary injuries, moments and days following impact.
- TBI can cause a host of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or death.
So why doesn’t the South Florida Bike Coalition have a helmet campaign? We may, eventually. Despite all I have written here, I do believe strongly that the best way to prevent injury is to prevent a crash and so in my role as Director, I am committed to advocating for smarter cycling, better road design, safer and more responsible bicycling practices and more educated road users above most else. That said, I am disheartened by the number of kids I meet in our outreach campaigns who have never worn a helmet (90+%), despite having their own bicycles. Perhaps we will increase our focus on promoting increased helmet use but until then, an SFBC Shout Out to our friends and partners at BikeSafe, the Epilepsy Foundation and others for providing helmets and resources to children.
Parents and kids: Please remember that in the State of Florida, children under 16 are required to wear bicycle helmets while riding.
If you don’t have a helmet, go to your local bike shop and get one! Here are some tips for buying a helmet but please remember to make sure it fits you well (doesn’t jiggle when you shake your head). I personally recommend the styles that adjust in the back for this reason (e.g. Bell’s Smart Fit or anything by Giro). These styles also provide a perfect place for my ponytail.
Last but not least, for you fashionistas on bicycles, there are helmets made just for you: Check out Yakkay, “brainwear for smart people”