Thursday, August 11, 2011

Questions About Helmets

This is an email conversation that I had with my friend Cynde (Happy Birthday Cynde!(Now a day late because I procrastinate to much.)) when Jim Henry's accident happened a couple of months ago. I hesitated posting it at the time because I didn't want to seem insensitive about the circumstances of the crash. As well as pouring salt on any one's wounds. Hopefully you guys don't feel that way if I post it now. I still felt like they are good questions to ask.

Helmets can be a pretty polarizing subject for people. There are some who feel everyone should have to wear them when on a bicycle no matter what. And there are others who feel like it should be their own personal decision.

I'm certainly not going to tell a person weather or not they should wear a helmet. Except for my own under age family members. Which for our older boys it can be quite the challenge convincing them they need to wear one. That whole teenage invincibility thing... 

Helmet's are something that I never put that much thought into when I was their age either. (This is way back in the day. When men were men and still at work...)

 I mean I'm "just riding a bike" what could possibly go wrong!? If I was going to race or do something really rad! Or possibly even gnarly. Then I would wear one. But that was it...

Now that I'm older and have accumulated a vast (Okay medium.) array of knowledge in between my ears I'd be really pissed with myself if I lost all that because I wasn't wearing a helmet that could probably save most of it.

I recently read a statistic that said that 9 out of 10 cycling fatalities involved a person that wasn't wearing a helmet. But, like I mention in the email question helmets are not a 100% guarantee. But really, what in this life is? Ultimately you just never know. All that you can do is minimize your risk and enjoy your life while your here.

So all that being said wear a helmet and here is the email conversation....

I do not know the details of the bike crash and figure you do (editors note; Jim Henry's crash). Does my helmet give me a false sense of security? Always know that there is a risk of going down and getting some major injures but a head injury was something that the helmet is suppose to protect us from.

Our helmets make us safer then if we didn't have anything. But they are designed to protect us from a glancing blow. Not a straight hard impact. So think about sliding along the pavement vs smacking square into a car. It's not to say it won't help in a situation like that. It's just not designed to do so.

As far as Jim's situation. I believe he fell on his non-arm side. And since he didn't have a arm and shoulder to help suck up the impact he just smacked his head square on the road. This is all hearsay of course because I wasn't there. But from the accounts I heard. That's what sounds like happened.

You ride long enough its just a matter of when, not if you will get into an accident. But thank God things like Jim's case are very rare.

So to answer your question. Real safety on a bike is an illusion. But things like a helmet, good bike handling skills and as funny as it sounds knowing how to fall correctly can all improve your chances dramatically.

I hope that helps.

Really, you have time to think about how to fall? Knock on wood, I have managed to stay upright. Would like to believe riding slower and not as close has aided in my track record.

Some times you do have that split second to react. Other times you never see it coming. If you do see it coming, balling up and rolling makes a big difference. Its when you put your arms straight out that you get broken collar bones and things like that.

And not to put the fear in you. But a lot of slow speed crashes where you smack down vs skidding. Are the ones where people can get hurt pretty good. My friend Aaron broke his hip going 14mph. And he was in his late 20s at the time in awesome shape. He hit it just right and the impact of his falling body from three feet (Estimate) was enough.

But like I said before. Most of these things are pretty rare. It's usually just bangs, bruises, and broken equipment. I mean a bunch of people went down in Jim's crash. And all but him walked away. You just never know.

Climbing is much the same way, thousands go up and down safely. Then a rock breaks loose, and someone dies. It's all about calculated risk. I'll try and remember to "ball up". Thanks.

Rubber side down and foam lid up everybody,

Big E

1 comment:

  1. For me, its about the effect that my death or injuries would have on my family that makes this decision a "no brainer". Sorry folks, no respect for those that choose to ride without, only sympathy for the ones they love.