by Eric Weis
Too often I see people riding without a helmet; 2 varieties of non-users are particularly galling to me. One is those who go without on multi-use paths. Many riders seem to think that because there are no motor vehicles, there is no cause for concern. A few encounters with children just learning how to control their bike, or with squirrels attempting to do the limbo through your spokes, should cure people of that notion. If it hasn’t cured you of yours, please reconsider. Just because you’re stubborn doesn’t mean I want you to get brain damage.
The other is the mom or dad who makes their child wear a helmet, but doesn’t wear one him or herself. I understand that you don’t want your kid to suffer brain damage. Would you want your child to be raised by a mother or father who has a brain injury? I hope your answer is no. Buy a helmet. Wear the helmet. Be a decent role model for your kid. Show them that you love them enough to keep yourself safe. And please see that everyone’s chin straps are buckled. That helmet does you no good if it comes off your head before your head meets the granite curb.
Recent testing conducted by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute shows that there are no statistically significant differences in the safety provided by inexpensive helmets (think Walmart) vs more expensive ones (think bike shop). This is good news. But the study did not address an important factor: will your kid (or you yourself, for that matter) wear that cheap helmet? It does no good if it stays on the shelf because it is ugly, or ill-fitting, or doesn’t ventilate well during warm weather. Companies like Nutcase have helmets with wicked sweet (yes, I’m in New England) designs that appeal to kids. Other companies make cool helmets too. More expensive helmets tend to be lighter, have better control for fitting, and have better ventilation. But you can get a great helmet for $50. Don’t let the $200 helmets scare you away from the store – those are mostly for members of Spandex Nation who want to impress each other. A decent bike shop employee will point you in the right direction.
I guess the moral of the story is: don’t just buy a helmet. Buy a helmet that will be worn. And wear it, for your own sake, and the sake of your loved ones. You don’t want them to have to change your diapers the rest of your life.
Thanks to Dick Durishin of the US Open Cycling Foundation for inspiring this post and reminding me about the cool kids helmets from Nutcase.