The UK government have proposed compulsory helmet wearing standards for all children under 14 years old. This has generated many column inches in What Mountain Bike Magazine. It is a very emotive subject, with arguments on safety and freedom of choice on both sides. Personally, I think that the wearing of a bicycle helmet should be compulsory for all cyclists of all ages, and this is why:
I took a very bad tumble in the summer. I went over the handlebars after bailing out midway through negotiating a drop off on a near vertical slope. I fell at least 6 foot down onto rocks. The impact broke 2 of my ribs, and a bone in my hand. But the main impact was to my head. So much so, that my helmet broke in two (as it is designed to do). Without the helmet, it would have been my head that was broken and I wouldn’t be writing this blog entry! I’d be dead…
2 years ago I also landed on my head after a fall…previous to that it was about 14 years ago. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, on both occasions the falls wouldn’t have killed me outright, but the resulting injuries may have, as I was on my own in the middle of nowhere.
Not bad, to have had only 3 impacts to my head in thousands of hours of cycling time. But without a helmet, being killed 3 times would be 3 times too many!
A lot of people don’t like bicycle helmets because they think they make them look uncool. But, I’d rather look like a twit, than have my head smashed to pieces on rocks!
After my major tumble this summer, and to take my mind off my busted ribs and hand, I went to search for a new bicycle helmet. And, to be honest, I learnt why so many people are put off buying one – the whole experience of trying out a helmet in a shop is one of life’s more embarrassing episodes. We all feel incredibly self conscious, there is often a boggling array of different designs and prices or, equally as bad, a very small selection that you are ‘allowed’ to try on.
During the self conscious trying on of helmets we often end up trying to find the one that makes us look the coolest, instead of the one that fits properly, has the best retention straps and the widest protection coverage. We’re also so embarrassed that we shirk away from asking advice from the highly skilled staff, other than to say “how does this one look?”
Thankfully, the Fox helmet I chose did look cool on me (to me anyway!), but that’s not why I bought it. I bought it because the design protects my head better than any other in the price range I could afford. When I wear it, I feel safe, and that is much cooler than being dead.