07 May 2017

Yes, You Should Wear A Helmet. Really!

As you probably know (at least, if you read this blog), I wear a helmet when I ride.  Well, most of the time:  Once in a great while, I forget my helmet when I leave my apartment. And, I'll admit, while riding in Paris, Montreal and Prague, the denizens of those fair cities got to see the full, blazing glory of my hair in the wind when I pedaled up and down their boulevards and alleys.  For that matter, I let the sun and wind play with my mane while riding during visits with my parents in Florida.

So, although I encourage people to wear helmets, I don't excoriate people for not wearing them.  If nothing else, I try not to be a hypocrite!

Also, I think about all of the years I rode without a helmet. During my childhood, bike helmets were unheard-of.  When I first became a dedicated cyclist, as a teenager, the only helmets were those "leather hairnets" you sometimes see in old photos.  I figured they would be about as useful in accidents as nail clippers are for cutting diamonds.    

Yes, I survived, bareheaded, through all of those years and all of those miles.  So did lots of other people.  That is the argument some still make against helmet wearing.  Another is that helmets "can't protect you against everything".  To anyone who says that, I say, "You've got a point."  To which Groucho Marx might add, "You should put a hat over it."  Or a helmet?

Anyway, helmets certainly offer protection.  To wit:


  1. I bought my first bike helmet not long after buying my first mountain bike, and it proved to be one of my best-ever purchases. I was out on one of my regular routes and decided to head down a challenging singletrack that I had discovered a couple weeks earlier. As I rounded a curve, my front wheel was swallowed up by a trench that somebody had dug across the trail. I pitched over the bars and landed head first on a pretty large rock. I ended up with a scuffed hard-shell helmet and my glasses were a bit askew. Had I been helmetless, I would have suffered a nasty gash to my forehead at the very least, and possibly a skull fracture.

  2. MT--I'm not about to stop wearing a helmet. And, yes, I have had occasions (two, to be exact) when my helmet, if it didn't save my life, at least saved me from more serious and permanent injury than what I suffered.

  3. If I were to take up mountain biking in rough terrain, I would certainly use a helmet. Or, if I were to take up racing (again), riding at high speeds in close proximaty to other riders, I would also use a helmet. But seeing as how I ride a road bike solo on the tens of kilometers of separated, paved bike lanes and paths circling the city, that are regulated by the traffic laws of this (European) city, I feel that helmets are pretty much redundant, as do 95% of other riders around here. Riding a bicycle is not intrinsically dangerous, but if one starts to do things that are or may be dangerous, then protect yourself. The law here does require underage riders to use helmets.


  4. Justine, A few years back I evaluated helmet use personally. I decided to no longer wear one. I ride slower now, take less risks, and love wearing different homemade cycling caps- that I make:) Unfortunately, I now find that I don't get the respect as a serious cyclist from both vehicle drivers and fellow riders that I encounter along the road. "Wear a helmet!" is an all too common command I routinely hear shouted toward me. Funny, I kind of feel liberated now. Leo makes a good argument for his situation. I am never against helmet use for those who choose to wear one, including those in my family.

  5. Leo and Chris--While I still wear a helmet, I don't excoriate those who don't. The two occasions on which my helmet protected me were fairly extreme. In one, I was knocked down by a door that swung open from the cab of a tractor trailer on a heavily-trafficked street in an industrial area. In the other, I did an inadvertent backflip when I rode up a BMX jumper's mound the wrong way. So, perhaps, because I don't do things like the BMX jump anymore and am more careful in traffic, some might argue that I don't need a helmet. Perhaps.