A young boy went by me on his bicycle last night doing the wheelie of all wheelies. When I got out of the vehicle, he said mister, “Did you see that wheelie?” I told him I did, and then I asked him why he was not wearing a bike helmet. He gave a very original excuse when he said, “Helmets make me nauseated.” As our conversation continued, I invited him to come to our youth ministry. He told me that some Sundays he was unavailable because he was training to be a BMX racer, all the more reason to wear a bike helmet. I shared about the crashes that I saw while watching the bike races in the Olympics, both road races and BMX, but he continued to say that he did not need one.
I have known people that have crashed on bicycles that were and were not wearing helmets. The outcomes were just as you would imagine, better for those that wore helmets and bad for those that did not. I wrecked on a bicycle when I was in the fourth grade. The result was a broken jaw in three places. I was not wearing a helmet and though a helmet would not have done much to protect my chin, the outcome could have been severe had I struck my head on the ground, as hard as I hit my chin. What most people, especially younger people, fail to realize is that if you ride bicycles long enough you will crash; how you are protected will determine how quickly you will recover from that crash.
My wife has an uncle that is an avid rider. He is a cancer survivor, who now loves to ride. Some of the rides that he speaks of have taken him 20, 40 even 60 miles in a single ride. There has not been a time that I have seen him leave on a biking journey that he has not had a helmet on. Riding on the roadway is about as dangerous as it gets, more because motorists are far too impatient with cyclists. As a reminder, cyclists are supposed to ride with traffic, adhering to all traffic laws. If you are walking your bike, then you should walk against traffic.
Parents, you need to teach your children from the very beginning. A child that starts out understanding that they cannot ride a bike without a helmet will “most times” wear a helmet. I see people riding with children on the back, and both are wearing helmets. I have also seen times when no one is wearing a helmet. It will not take but one bicycle accident to change a person’s life forever. Going back to the boy who was doing the wheelie last night, if you are a stunt rider that is all the more reason to wear a helmet. Roads are unforgiving and heads do not do well when they hit them.
I saw many traumatic brain injuries (TBI) as a paramedic, and have also seen many as a pastor. None are pretty, and require months to recover from, whatever recovery means. Seat belts have been in vehicles for a long time, but have only been worn by most after it became law. Seat belts, smoke alarms and yes, bike helmets, save lives. Is it worth the chance that you might survive the next incident without one?