Home > Gear, Going off topic > Why I Wear a Helmet

Why I Wear a Helmet

Aside from the fact that a helmet provides a place to mount my mirror, offers some protection from the sun and looks super cool and racy, helmets offer some measure of protection from head injury if the worst should happen.  And friend, I’m here to tell you, that if you ride long enough, it will happen.  My big crash happened early in my cycling career.  I think I was 9 and it was the early 70’s.  An Evil Knievel culture was corrupting the minds and hearts of young boys at the time and my banana seated Schwinn Sting Ray Grey Ghost held the neighborhood record for both distance and height.  Just like my hero’s epic spill at Caesars Palace I too took a tumble which led to hospitalization, concussion, broken arm and jaw and some plastic surgery to repair a badly mangled chin.

Today I seldom jump Coke bottles on plywood ramps, but danger still lurks around every corner.  I feel my skills as a cyclist are solid enough to keep me safe.  But it’s not my skills on the bike that concern me.  It’s the 16 year old who has been driving a week or the distracted driver texting or playing with his radio. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2009 study (pdf) of motor vehicle crashes shows that:

  • 630 bicyclists died on US roads in 2009 (718 in 2008, 1,003 in 1975)
  • Bicyclist deaths represented 2 per cent of all 2009 traffic fatalities.
  • 51,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic in 2009 (Up sharply from 43,000 in 2007)

Of course, these statistics do not show how helmet use impacted these numbers, but it does help illustrate the dangerous environment in which we roadies ride.

Brains are fragile organs.  Not only do they keep us alive but they contain the essence of who we are.  I can lose a limb, kidney or lung and still be Jack, but without my brain, I am gone. In my job I have had the opportunity to work with a few people who have suffered from a Traumatic Brain Injury. In many cases the TBI could have been prevented. 

Four things I do to try to mitigate the danger:

  1. Wear a helmet
  2. Make myself as visible as possible with bright colors, lights and road position
  3. Use a mirror
  4. Leave myself an out (look for a quick escape if things get too close)

Just my opinion, Jack

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Categories: Gear, Going off topic
  1. dexey
    September 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I’m with your thinking but lots ain’t :0) Personally, I don’t care if people wear helmets or not. It’s their head let them take responsibility for it.

  2. velohobo
    September 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    True, most of the cyclist I know wear helmets, but one or two don’t. It’s not against the law for adults here in NC (and I don’t think it should be). I do see quite a few teenagers out there without, and that bothers me.

    Helmet manafactures are coming out with cool helmets teenagers might be drawn to (Nutcase has some pretty wild graphics).

    Thanks for the comment, Jack

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