Photo courtesy of Explore with Achin.
I should preface this post by saying that for my entire adult life as a cyclist, I have been a helmetless rider. After a few days’ research into the subject, though, I’m happy to report that I have been saved. No longer am I an unbeliever! Once Spring comes and I bring my bike back out (I’m a wimpy fair-weather rider… ), I’ll be wearing a helmet.
Though I had previously associated helmets with an infringement on my hair’s freedom to be blown about by the wind and parent-enforced rules of yesteryear, once I took a serious look at the stats and the implication of helmetless cycling, I realized that – to put it bluntly – it’s pretty stupid to not wear a helmet. My failure to wear a helmet was born out of equal parts naïveté, childishness, and laziness.
Given how easy and cheap it is to use a helmet, it’s staggering how much difference such a small investment in time and money makes in lowering the chances of a biker’s serious injury or death.
- Between 1994 and 2010, 12,344 people in the US have died in cycling-related accidents. That’s a number only slightly smaller than the number of freshmen AND sophomores at UIUC this Fall.
- Of those 12,344 deaths, over 90% were people not wearing helmets. Other stats indicate that perhaps 97% of deaths occur to bicyclists not wearing helmets.
- Unless we assume 10% or less of bikers out there wear helmets, – certainly too low a percentage, in Manhattan 60% of cyclists wear a helmet – it’s clear that wearing a helmet can make a massive difference in whether or not you die.
- With regard to injuries, studies have indicated that helmets may reduce your chance of head or brain injury by 63-88%, a pretty significant difference.
Yesterday, I conducted an impromptu poll on Facebook about bike helmet use (Dangling the carrot of a free Neutral Psycho t-shirt). The results were bimodal. We had 41 votes and it was a pretty even split between those who always or almost always wore helmets and those who never or almost never wore helmets. Based on what I’ve seen around campus, these results are probably a little skewed towards those who do wear helmets.
Unlike many other states, there’s no Illinois state law requiring that bikers wear helmets – not even for minors. It’s also notable that Illinois is one of only three states with no regulations whatsoever with respect to motorcycle helmets. Some quick calls to both the Champaign and Urbana Police Departments confirmed my research that there are no municipal regulations with respect to bike helmets either. There, are, though a few locations in
BUT… that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet should be done out of respect to yourself and out of a desire to not die or sustain a serious head injury.
If you’re less worried about the law and more worried about looks, you have no excuse either! Now there’s Hövding, essentially an airbag for your head available for the low, low price of €299. That’s less than a designer coat!!!
Please guys, wear a helmet. Many of you don’t and you really should. You can pick one up at our shop or anywhere really. Make sure it fits snugly and doesn’t move on your head. For more information on how to properly fit your helmet, check out this link.
To risk repeating a cliché, it could save your life and seriously mitigate your level of injury. It may sound hyperbolic, but it’s really not. Remember also that wearing a helmet is only a part of safe riding. Check out our post ‘How to Bike Safely (and Legally in CU)’ to see more about other related topics.