05 July 2011

About Helmets and Irony

The article is about a motorcycle accident, but this scenario is just as likely to happen on a bicycle.

ONONDAGA, N.Y. (AP) — A man riding bareheaded on one of about 550 motorcycles in an anti-helmet law rally lost control of his cycle, went over his handlebars, hit his head on the pavement and died, police said Sunday.

The motorcyclist, 55-year-old Philip A. Contos, likely would have survived the accident if he'd been wearing a helmet, state troopers said. (read more)
Do I believe that helmets will prevent accidents? No. Awareness and education will do more to prevent accidents than a piece of foam and plastic. Do I believe that there is a possibility of avoiding, or lessening serious injury by wearing a helmet? Absolutely!

The irony in the article is very sad, but it shows that anything can happen, and it can happen anytime. Helmet use is not mandatory on bicycles, and I don’t believe that it should be. Like I said before, awareness and education will prevent more accidents than a helmet will. I think that legislation for more rider education will go farther than mandatory helmet laws. Also, I feel that making helmets mandatory for adults will drive some people away from cycling.

That being said, I wear a helmet 99% of the time that I am on my bike. Anything can happen, and why wouldn’t I do what I can to put the odds in my favor?

I do, however, believe and feel very strongly that helmets should be mandatory for children. Around my neighborhood, very few of the children, and almost none of the adults I have seen riding their bikes have a helmet on. It makes me cringe to see kids who have just learned how to ride a bike, and are still wobbly and unsure riding down the sidewalks without helmets, kids riding their bikes off of makeshift jumps, trying to “catch air” without helmets, and racing each other around the block without helmets. About the only time I see kids with helmets is when they’re out on a family ride with mom and dad – and in almost all of those situations, mom and dad aren’t wearing a helmet. What kind of message is that sending to the kids? That is the other reason I wear a helmet, to set an example for my kids. By me wearing a helmet, they know that it is expected of them (in fact, I said 99% of the time I wear a helmet. I have caught hell from my kids on those rare occasions, such as when I am testing out an adjustment on a bike I’m working on without putting on a helmet).

Yes, helmets can be uncomfortable, and they can be hot. But, in the rare circumstance that you find yourself in an accident, they may just help you walk away from it. If you aren’t going to do it for yourself, at least do it for your kids.

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