I am always surprised by the number of people I see cycling without a helmet. When I was a kid, a teenager,and even into my early twenties, I confess I biked all over the place sans-helmet. When did I even become aware that I could/should wear a helmet, I really can’t say. But, once I did, I never took to the road or the trail without one. Wearing a helmet saved my life a couple of years ago, in fact.
And let’s face it, most drivers just don’t see bikes and the humans attached to them. Most drivers never ride a bike so they can’t even relate to the physical reality of it in any way, shape, or form. You’re on your own to make yourself seen, heard, and protected from all manner of obstacles. Beyond the moving vehicle, there are car doors suddenly opened to contend with, potholes and debris to avoid, tire blow-outs, oil spots, and slick streets on a rainy day. Make no mistake, a curb, the pavement, a parking pole is harder than your head. You can be out on a quick errand and think, “Oh, I’m not going very far, I’m cool.”
Or, like my husband will say – “My bike helmet makes my hair flat and my helmet stinks of sweat. I can’t show up for work like that.” To which I respond, “Would you rather have flat hair or a flat head? And I can tell ya what would really stink, is you having an accident without a helmet on!” Well, it finally sank in last week. On his way to work, just a 5 minute ride on one of Berkeley’s better bike-laned corridors, an early morning rain left the road just slippery enough for him to spin out. He went flying over the curb, then over his handlebars and BOOM, he broke the fall with his head, not merely grazing a parking pole. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. “At the signpost up ahead, next stop…the Emergency Room.” Which IS the Twilight Zone, believe me! He was fine, albeit sore and left with a big bump on the head, but it could have been so much worse.
Do you really need that wake-up call? Really, just one last thing, all you “wanna feel the breeze through my hair” bike riders out there: It’s a “no-brainer” to wear a helmet, and one that fits properly, at ALL TIMES. Don’t become a no-brainer because you didn’t wear one!