While cycling isn’t without its treachery, statistically speaking, cycling on the streets and roads is pretty darn safe. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that less than 2% of traffic fatalities are cyclists, and the BBC reports that less than 2% of bike accidents result in loss of life. I only report this to you because it demonstrates that cycling is hardly tantamount to taking one’s life into one’s own hands…however, riding without a helmet is. And if you look at the numbers below, it is clear that many cyclists choose not to wear helmets, and that those who don’t wear helmets are about ten times as likely to suffer fatal injuries.
Anna Haupt, one of the developers of the “Invisible” Bike Helmet, stated that in her market research she heard countless urban, city, commuter type riders state that they chose not to wear helmets because a) helmets mess up your hair, or b) they don’t like the look of helmets.
Yep, you read correctly. Never before has the adage “we suffer for fashion” been so morbidly appropriate.
So even though overall numbers say you’re unlikely to get hit by a car, the numbers don’t look so good for you if you do get hit by a car and aren’t wearing a helmet. And let’s not ignore accidents that don’t involve automobiles–tons of head injuries are prevented by helmets in these cases too. And if you’re one of those adults who says, We never wore helmets when I was a kid and nothing happened to us…fair enough nostalgia buff, you made it. But check this out:
The IIHS (consistently the best source of bicycle fatality statistics) profiles a “typical” bicyclist killed on US roads as a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car. So assessing the need for a helmet based on your childhood experience is committing several logical fallacies at once.
To be totally clear, we at Nashbar officially and unequivocally recommend wearing a helmet 100% of the time on a bike.
You’ve protected your noodle, now use it by riding defensively! Wearing a helmet helps protect you if you crash, but it hardly makes you invincible. A helmet is only one of three major safety measures a rider needs to consider. The second is simple – keep your bike in good working order. But that’s a topic for another day. Equally as important as the helmet is knowing how to steer clear of dangerous situations. The Bike League has some great guidelines of how to avoid the most accident-inducing situations on the road…check it out.
Essentially, ride with traffic, and operate under the assumption that everyone on the road can’t see you, doesn’t use signals, has had a few beers, and is going through a text breakup.
And one last pearl…Take the high road. If a driver starts illin’, forget about it. Smile and wave, blow them a kiss, keep it classy out there.
See you ’round the Sprocket!