In a recent survey, we found that more than half of Americans don’t wear a bike helmet, and watching riders on the streets of my city, that seems to be the case. But it’s still surprising to me. I know, they take a bit of getting used to, and you have to find one that fits well and is comfortable. But take it from me: You won’t realize you need one until you really need one, and by then it could be too late.
When I was 21 and a senior in college, I had a long-term boyfriend, David. He rode his bike everywhere. It was his single mode of transport, and he was a very skilled and cautious cyclist. Unfortunately, his caution didn’t really help when he was hit by a driver who ran a stop sign going 35+ miles per hour down a quiet residential street.
Just like on a TV show, the police rang my doorbell to deliver the news that he’d been taken by ambulance to the local hospital. Later, a Life Flight helicopter took him 40 miles away to a trauma center where he had emergency surgery to stop a brain hemorrhage. Eventually, after literally months of recuperation, David regained most of his physical and mental function, but he was left with partially controlled epilepsy.
According to Safe Kids USA, if he’d been wearing a helmet that morning, David would have reduced his risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, and his risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.
OK, it was 20 years ago and there wasn’t as much awareness of bike safety as there is today. But it still leaves one question: If a helmet reduces your risk that much with something that costs so little—our recommended helmet for children costs just $20—why wouldn’t you?
—Trisha Brandon, online editor