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Thursday, January 08, 2009
THE BICYCLE HELMET, TO WEAR OR NOT TO WEAR?
As mentioned before, I made one New Years resolution and that is to wear a bicycle helmet every time I ride from now on. I use to wear one when I was commuting and mountain biking religiously. Here's an example of me being very stupid: I stopped wearing a helmet about 5 years ago, when I started riding mostly cruisers, thinking that the low speed wasn't as dangerous and I figured I could avoid any major accident.
Now that was a totally false reason at the time and even now. Let's face it for once, one of the major reason why people, me included, don't wear a helmet is because they look dorky! I really couldn't see myself riding my cruisers with what looked like a sperm on my head. I'm the first one that should know that a helmet will save you from major head injuries since I have crashed myself 3 times on my head while riding. My last crash 12 years ago was so blindingly fast that I'm still flabbergasted to this day on how hard and quickly my forehead ended up smashing the ground after going over the handle bars.
A lot of my friends crashed or got hit by cars last Summer and it got me thinking that I should get a brain bucket while I was still ahead in the game. I do own one of those funky looking space helmets from my moungtain biking days, but there was no way I was going to wear that. I did the same thing that some of my riding buddies have done and got myself a "multi sport" helmet, basically a skateboarding helmet. It's not perfect, but it doesn't look as dorky. The thicker plastic shell offers better penetration protection from sharp objects and I slapped on one of my custom headbagdes on it. It's comfortable and the vents will actually keep my head cooler in the Summer than the usual baseball cap I wear.
Some efforts has been made for making cooler looking helmets for kids to encourage them to wear one. But some things I have seen gets me worried. I saw a helmet covered with material and one with the surface comparable to sandpaper with camo green paint. The last thing you want your helmet to do, in my opinion, is for the thing to grab when you hit the ground with your head. The risk of hurting your neck is a lot greater, you want that shell to slide. Proper size and fit is also important. I've seen people and kids wearing there helmets tilted all the way on the back of their neck, cancelling out any decent front end protection. My son would have been dead or seriously injured on his very first day on 2 wheels if I hadn't made sure he was wearing it properly. He lost control of his bike going down a slope and stopped by braking with his fore head on a cement wall! He was freaked out, but uninjured.
So, if you are a bike helmet manufacturer, and you are reading this, make a cool looking helmet! People will buy them, you'll be making money and you might save some lives in the process. For those of you choosing not to wear a helmet, I respect your choice. But remember that $30 of foam and plastic can stand between you and a life changing event that you might not see coming.
Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.