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Why I always wear a bicycle helmet

by Karin Weisburgh

Summary: One rider's reasoning that leads her to wear a helmet on every ride.

On my way home from doing errands this afternoon, I passed by a 14 year old girl with her bike standing on the shoulder of the road while adjusting her earbuds. In a few moments she caught up to me, and I could see her helmet hanging over the handlebars of her bike. She had lovely long golden hair. I asked her why she wasn't wearing her helmet. "Too hot." "Better hot than not," I responded.

So am I wrong? Should I even care? I recall when I was 14 and riding helmetless and carefree. We didn't have helmets then, and no one gave a hoot. What has changed?

3 things: 1) science/technology, 2) statistics, and 3) educated riders.

The science/techno thing is just to say that helmets exist. They are effective and only a minor inconvenience to wear. Better helmets are constantly being introduced like MIPS technology that helps to prevent concussions, and folding helmets that can be more easily stowed. Statistics prove that riders who are wearing a helmet are 70 percent less likely to experience a serious head injury or be killed in a crash. Every so often, the press publishes an article explaining why riders should wear a helmet, but there are also occasional anti-helmet articles. Nevertheless, one would expect that most rational, educated riders would weigh the evidence and use one.

Yet it has been my experience that nearly half of adult riders do not bother wearing a helmet. Why not?

I wear a helmet out of love. My best friend bought me my first helmet about 35 years ago. And I promised her that I would wear it, which I have, except for one time when I was perhaps forgetful, careless, or in a hurry. Fortunately, I happened to be riding with my 8 year old daughter who noticed immediately. She chastised me to go back and put it on.

When you teach your children something, you must remember to do it yourself because actions speak louder than words. Had I not been wearing a helmet, I would probably be dead. My helmet cracked when I fainted and fell from my bike. It was on a hot day 3 summers ago, and I got dehydrated. I woke up in an ambulance. There was no damage. Lessons learned: drink plenty of water and wear a helmet always.

It could happen to you.