Disclaimer: This piece is in no way trying to infringe upon anyone’s personal freedoms or rights on whether or not you should wear a helmet. In fact, if you feel adamant about never wearing a helmet, I fully support your freedom of choice. More power to you!
With that said…
I don’t like wearing my bicycle helmet. It can look clunky and feel so uncool at times. But…
In 2009, 51,000 bicycle riders were injured in traffic accidents. In a 2008 study, of 700+ noted bicyclist deaths, 91% of them did not have a helmet on.
91% seems to be a big percentage and I don’t like what appears to be a correlation. Though, to be honest, various recent studies buck the idea that helmet use (or non-use) contributes, one way or the other to being safer.
But be it as it may, it seems to me that some of these numbers sat it just might be a bit safer to wear a helmet.
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The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that wearing helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by 85 percent. Those are the kind of stats I like to see because I’m not feeling as such the fool about wearing my helmet. They additionally report that brain injury potential is reduced by 88% when wearing a helmet. They also indicated that 75% of fatalities amongst children riders could have been averted if they had been wearing helmets. (That’s so sad)
Despite the fact that “it can’t happen to you,” there seems to be a chance, since it happens to someone, that it could be you. A tiny chance, but it’s there. I’m sure of the 700 dead folks back in 2008, they were probably thinking “it won’t happen to me.” But for me, I’m fine with most riders who are cruising along enjoying the wind in their hair. Twice in the last few years I’ve charged out the door and cruised for a few yards before I realized I didn’t have a helmet on! And it sure was nice.
I do think it’s crazy to see helmetless riders in traffic lanes between and playing with cars, splitting lanes. That, is exactly when I think you should be wearing a helmet. I’m a crazy rider. I’m always hopping curbs and cutting corners and hitting near surface street speeds at times. I definitely need a helmet.
If you think about it, wearing a bicycle helmet isn’t just about you. You have to ponder the impact that one of those events that “can’t happen to you” will have on your friends and family. Meaning if you do get in an accident, have you thought about what your family would have to deal with if that happened? I’m just saying…
The stats are scary looking if you dwell on them and to be honest, I am not a friend of my bicycle helmet. But if I do get plunked by a car being operated by a dill-weed, and you know many people drive like dill-weeds out there, I get nervous about the idea of not wearing a helmet.
Heck, I came within inches of a Ford F-150 just the other night. Or don’t forget the moron who backs out of their driveway, NOT looking both ways. Or the woman who almost hit me head on, while I was packed up against the curb on my own side of the street. Or most recently, the woman who saw me, but still turned right into me, forcing me into the curb and getting a tire scrub mark on my left shoe.
So yea, I’ve had a few close calls of late and one bad accident that to this day, I just don’t know how I didn’t crack open my head. Though I didn’t hit my head, I still had a concussion from stopping so fast. And, in those days, “It couldn’t happen to me” became a very moot point, because it was happening to me. Huh, go figure!
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In closing… sure, bicycle helmets are annoying. They’re not fashion statements. But like auto insurance, it seems like a waste until you really need it. But that means wearing your helmet on your head, buckled. Not hanging on your handlebars, not dangling unbuckled, etc., etc..
So be careful gang… that’s really all I’m trying to say.