Every so often, I hear someone justify why they don’t need to wear a helmet. Have you used any of these?
- I don’t ride fast.
- I only ride on the trail.
- I’m safe.
- Helmets provide a false sense of security.
- I don’t ride around cars.
- I don’t like them.
And so on and so forth. When I started riding my bike at age five, I didn’t wear a helmet. We didn’t know about them back then. Then one day — some 15 years after I first got on a bike — I met someone pretty special who asked me why I didn’t wear a helmet. Short of a good answer, I bought my first helmet. In the hopes that this special someone might want to keep riding with me, I went with the cheap insurance. Thankfully over the last 20 years, I’ve never needed a helmet to protect me.
And guess what?
- Though going downhill, I wasn’t riding very fast.
- I was riding safely.
- No cars were around.
- I was on a much-used bicycle route, though not a trail.
Some bad pavement grabbed my front tire, and before I knew it, the bike was going down, and I went over the handlebars. My head hurt almost immediately where the front right side of my helmet took the brunt of the impact. I never lost consciousness, though I did lose my cool, a stream of expletives flying out of my mouth as my body flew through the air, landing in a heap.
Gathering myself up, I heard a worried voice call out, “Are you OK?” The people at the bus stop must have heard my blue streak and turned to see my yardsale. I waved back and squeaked out, “Yes.” At the sidewalk, I removed my helmet and called up that special someone.
“I just crashed my bike.”
“Wow! Are you OK?”
“I think so. I landed on my head, but my helmet took the fall. It was scary! I was riding, then I was flying through the air.”
“Well, you sound lucid. And I have to get to a meeting. Call me when you get to the office.”
[Side note: That's how we do things at our house. We dust you off and send you back into the game. Our motto: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.]
In all the years I’ve been riding, I’ve never had a crash. Yesterday’s mishap has nothing to do with cars and little to do with my skills. It had everything to do with the quality of our infrastructure. Though Seattle is making strides, sadly, there is still reason enough for us all to wear a helmet.