Biking sans helmet: risky?

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Wearing a helmet while cycling is important to protect against head injuries, which can range from minor concussions to death. Helmets absorb shock and minimize the risk of permanent damage. Adults should set an example for children and teenagers by wearing helmets themselves.

For most of the recorded history of bicycles, wearing a helmet was something that was limited to professionals participating in competitions. Beginning in the 1980s, a movement arose to encourage bicycle helmet use among all cyclists. People have begun to be more aware of the need to take sensible steps to enjoy cycling safely. However, there are people, especially adults, who still ride their bikes without a helmet. The thing is, it’s not safe to engage in this type of behavior. Here are some facts that help illustrate why no one should ride a bike without a helmet.

The most obvious reason it’s not safe to ride without a helmet has to do with protecting the rider from head injuries. Every year tens of thousands of motorcyclists are admitted to the emergency room. In most cases, the cyclist was not wearing a bicycle helmet. The types of injuries range from simple cuts and minor concussions to major injuries that induce swelling and pressure on the brain. In a small but growing number, deaths result from head injuries sustained due to not wearing a bicycle helmet. The fact is, choosing to ride a bicycle without a helmet is no different than operating a motor vehicle without wearing a seat belt. In both cases, there is an increased risk of physical harm, even permanent.

Bike helmets are designed to help absorb the shock that would otherwise be sustained by the skull in the event of an impact. In many cases, accidents involving cyclists also involve some sort of motor vehicle. In an accident between the two devices, the cyclist is much more likely to suffer serious injuries. If the actual collision does not injure the rider, it is likely that there will be some degree of ground contact injury. Helmets cushion the skull at the point of impact, minimizing the chances of any sort of permanent damage that could result in brain damage or even death.

There is also another good reason not to ride without a helmet. Adults should set an example for children and young people, teaching the value of safety with their actions. Teens should also be busy setting an example for younger children. Choosing not to wear protective headgear sends a clear message that it’s OK to ride a bike without a helmet. This sample message will have far more impact than simply verbalizing how dangerous it can be to ride a bike without a helmet. Expressing concern for other people by encouraging them to wear a helmet, along with wearing one yourself, will encourage others to do the same.

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