PAINTER: Wear helmets when biking — it could save your life

Nov 16, 2011

I can provide testimony as to how important it is to wear a helmet. On Oct .23, I was involved in a bicycle accident — yes, again.

This time, I went flying through the air and hit my head, as well as my face and knees on the concrete. I ended up with a fractured bone in the lower part of my neck, cuts and abrasions throughout my body, and a concussion.

Fortunately, the concussion wasn’t severe. I have my bicycle helmet to thank for that. I’ll keep that helmet as a keepsake because it has five cracks in the lining from my fall. That helmet saved me from more severe injuries.

My doctor told me I was lucky that I wasn’t more seriously injured. He said that  I should write a story about the virtues of wearing a helmet. I’ve taken him up on his suggestion.

Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are common. It’s quite easy to lose control of a bike when you hit loose gravel or slide on wet pavement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that each year 500,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.

A few years ago, I broke my shoulder blade from a fall on a bike.

But this accident involving hitting my head was much more serious. According to helmets.org, 60 percent of all bicycle accidents involve head injuries. Wearing a bike helmet can go a long way in minimizing head injuries from a bicycle accident. The same website said a well-fitted helmet can reduce head injuries by 74 to 85 percent. Those are astonishing numbers.

Yet, I see quite a few bikers — especially children — riding without helmets. It doesn’t matter how fast you are traveling —you can still suffer a head injury from a bicycle fall.

The stigma that wearing a bicycle helmet “isn’t cool” should be thrown out the window. Bicycle helmets now come in all colors and shapes. Check out the Tour de France bicycle race to get a glimpse of how “cool” helmets look.

I would urge parents to require that their kids wear bike helmets. Adults should wear them as well.

Local bicycle shops can give you some pointers on how bicycle helmets should fit and be worn.

I know that there are many other bikers who can testify about the virtues of wearing a helmet. Please wear a helmet. It could save your life.
 

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