I know. Wearing a helmet while bicycling is a no-brainer in more ways than one. But at least for me, it hasn't always been.
Years ago, I was a renegade. A helmetless one. I grew up before they were invented - or maybe they were on the drawing table. Though I don't ride a motorcycle, I share the desire of the sport's enthusiasts to ride unencumbered, to invite the breeze on the open road to splash uninhibited across my face and toss whatever hair I have left to the skies. A helmet is just hot and confining.
A few friends and family members took me to task on my decision to bare my noggin while riding. “You're smart enough to know better.” And “blah, blah, blah blah.” I didn't want to hear any of it. Stubborn, right?
In my mid-thirties, it did begin to seem selfish not to wear a helmet. After all, any brain injury would have been difficult on loved ones and those who would need to take care of me.
Shortly after donning one, I had an accident. Not a horrendous spill, but I fell at minimal speed and still smacked my head on a paved bike path. My helmet cracked but my head didn't.
Wearing a helmet, though, isn't enough. It must fit and be positioned correctly on the head, with strap fastened at the right tension.
Helmets are designed for one blow only, after which the parts that protect the brain - the plastic shell and the Styrofoam beneath it, are compromised. Manufacturers also claim that the Styrofoam breaks down with age and therefore the helmet should be replaced periodically. The cynic and frugality in me wants to challenge that assertion.
If I was banished to an island with my bicycle and could only bring one safety device, give me a rearview mirror. I would rather prevent an accident than minimize it. But, thankfully, I can choose both.
The bottom line? Friends and family are often right. Use your head so you can use your head.