Don't Need It 'Til You Need It

20 years ago I thought bike helmets were silly and didn’t wear one. Back then I only commuted by bike occasionally, about a 20 miles round-trip, in traffic, and I never worried about safety issues.

17 years ago my wife convinced me that since my children were getting bike helmets, I should too in order to set a good example. Truth be told, the helmet she had already bought for me WAS kind of cool looking. I have worn that helmet every time I ride since that day.

I’ve heard lots of discussion from all angles about whether or not helmets are a good idea. Monday, I finally found out. It was a beautiful morning. The pavement was a little damp from a very light, short rain the previous night. The ride had gone well, but when I got to the small park close to the office, the loop back towards the creek was a little muddy. Thin, slick mud.

I really should have gone with my gut reaction and just headed into the office — but I decided to take an extra 3 mile loop. When I approached the next bridge I regretted my decision; there before me lay a long patch of the slick muck. I made it past that patch to the dry pavement beneath the bridge. Before reaching the other end of the bridge I rang my bell a few times, just in case someone was approaching from the other side; the other end has a sharp, blind turn and short, steep hill.

I’m not sure how it happened but I hit another patch of mud and down I went. Smack! I felt my head hit the pavement – hard – but, thankfully, the helmet took the whole force of the impact. I could have been passed out on a blind curve, but I am sure the helmet limited the damage to only a scraped left knee and a nasty looking knot on my right thigh where I must have landed on some other part of my bike.

There is another bike commuter in my area who was run off the road by a GMC truck last week. He is in much worse shape – but he and his doctors are convinced he is alive today because he was wearing a helmet.

Why would anyone NOT want to wear one?

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