Monday, October 1, 2012

What's the big deal?

I just read this article (along with a lot of other people; it's in the "most emailed" section) in the NY Times about how some city governments think that if they don't require cyclists to wear helmets, more people will be interested in biking around town. They even quoted some statistics about how when helmets are mandatory, fewer people ride, and obesity and diabetes and other weight-related health problems increase.

(For fun [not], read all the comments from people reeling from the irresponsibility of advocating against helmets: these are mostly accident survivors, or written by the families of those who did not.)

There were other "facts" given about cycling in Europe and places with better biking infrastructure and women on bikes and blah blah blah, but you can read it yourself if you want to. The only fact I care about is, if I'm in a bike accident, and I'm not wearing a helmet, and my brain is all squished out on the sidewalk, is that my fault for being an idiot or is it the government's fault for not requiring me to wear a helmet? Oh, wait, it won't matter by then, will it.

In California, the law requires people under the age of 18 on a bike to wear a helmet. What does it say if you make your kid wear a helmet but you won't yourself? You put your seatbelt on too when you drive the car, don't you?

Right... I understand: you rode your bike for 30 years without incident, and bike helmets look goofy, and you're not trying to be Lance Armstrong, but that's not the point. Are we trying to look cool, or do you want to go to your kids' weddings? Seriously: head injuries are no joke. Mandatory or not - don't be reckless. Protect yourself. It's so simple.

Life is full of risk and I don't believe in being overly cautious or scaring people with cautionary tales, but the thing is, if a simple thing like wearing a helmet will protect your beautiful and silly head, do it. Pump up your tires, put on your helmet, and get out there and have fun. It shouldn't be a big deal.

Finally, if you needed more convincing:

  • About 75% of all bicyclists who die each year die of head injuries
  • 85% of head injuries in bicycle accidents can be prevented by wearing a helmet
These statistics came from The Center for Head  Injury Services.

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