As a reader of the Team MPI newsletter I believe that what I am about to share will likely be viewed by you as just common sense. But just in case...
At the outset let me say that I grew up in the 60s and 70s and I don't remember any of my friends and family who ever wore a helmet when cycling. I, and those I grew up with, rode bikes for countless miles and had some spectacular crashes. One particular crash in the court in front of my house led to some serious road rash on my side but no broken bones and, even more important, no Traumatic Brain Injury. What I have learned over the years, through the tragic circumstances of others, is that I, like many others, are survivors of that era not examples to be emulated.
I wear a helmet when I ride - whether it is up to the corner store, for a shake out after adjusting something on my bike, or heading from my car to transition to set up for a race. It doesn't matter. I wear a helmet. I encourage others to wear a helmet. I require it of my family and they, in turn, require it of me.
When I was a student at the University of Houston I had the privilege of knowing a brilliant history professor. She was nationally known as a gifted scholar. One day she led a group of new Honor's College students on a casual bike ride around campus on her cruiser. She was chatting. She hit a curb. She hit her head. She wasn't wearing a helmet. She never remembered her own name. The world lost a scholar. Her husband lost the woman he married. Her children lost their mom.
Last year, following a local sprint, a gifted athlete was riding her bike back to her car without her helmet on. Her transition back pack strap caught in her wheel and she went over the top of the bike into gravel face first. She was badly hurt but no TBI. As she was being administered first aid for her facial and head lacerations by the fire department she kept repeating, “Stupid, stupid.” She was lucky.
This morning on my walk with my wife a young boy rode by on his bike. No hands. No helmet. I hope his parents never get “that” call.
Yes, I know many of us survived our childhood cycling days with only a few bumps and bruises and it is tempting to think that if we were fine a helmet might not be always necessary. But we would be wrong. When I was young seat belts in cars were an option. We know now that they save lives. Helmets do too. The cost of a TBI is too high a price to pay for the slight inconvenience of properly wearing a helmet that fits. But if you are reading this you probably already know that. But just in case...
A decrease in both mild and severe bicycle-related head injuries in helmet wearing ages—trend analyses in Sweden, Health Promotion International, Volume 22, Issue 3, 1 September 2007
Nonuse of bicycle helmets and risk of fatal head injury: a proportional mortality, case–control study, CMAJ. 2012 Nov 20; 184(17): E921–E923.
Fit of bicycle safety helmets and risk of head injuries in children Injury, Rivara FP, Astley SJ, Clarren SK, et al, Prevention 1999;5:194-197.