Bicycle Safety Advice

It's always fun riding bicycles. But, don't forget the following essential items: sunscreen, elbow pads, knee pads, and most importantly, the bicycle helmet.

A bike helmet is the most important accessory you and your child can wear to reduce and prevent head injuries. Unfortunately, it is often the most overlooked accessory and often left behind when children and adults go for a ride.

Who should wear bicycle helmets?

All bicycle riders should wear helmets since accidents can happen to anyone at anytime. The most serious bicycle crashes involve young children and occur on quiet neighborhood streets. In fact, 30% of all cycling deaths happen on residential streets and 50% of bicycle crashes involve the rider's head hitting a solid object such as the pavement, a curb or a car. This results in brain injury. Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of brain injury by 88%.

How common is brain injury when riding a bicycle?

Nationwide, about 65,000 bicyclists suffer head injuries each year, and more than 90% of cyclists killed every year were not wearing helmets. The bicycle helmet is the best protection for the head and the brain. Since the brain is only protected by the scalp and bony skull, the helmet acts as a buffer between the object and the head in a crash. During a bicycle accident, the foam inside the helmet breaks or deforms, reducing the energy that would have been directed toward the head and brain. That is why it is so important to wear a helmet while bicycling. And, never use a helmet that has been damaged by a prior bicycle accident.

How to get your child to wear a bicycle helmet?

  • Let your child help pick out a helmet.
  • Help your child learn how to properly wear it.
  • Always insist your child wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Start having your child wear a helmet with his or her first bicycle.
  • Set an example for your child by wearing a helmet when you ride.
  • Praise your child when she wears her helmet.
  • Encourage other parents to buy helmets for their children.

Now that you know the facts, you and your child can have a fun and safe summer. Always wear a helmet for safety!

Article written by Lloyd Mobley, MD, Rocky Mountain Neurosurgical Alliance