Monday, November 15, 2010

To my beloved students

I know it's not cool. I know it's a hassle. I know that it will mess up your hair (nobody knows this last one better than I do). But really, the data are in. Your odds of suffering brain injury in a serious bike accident are five times higher without a helmet.

Two of my students have been struck by cars while crossing 19th street on bicycles this semester. It does happen. Both suffered injuries bad enough to send them to the emergency room, though thankfully no head injuries. Only one of them was wearing a helmet, however, which to my mind, is one too few.

Get a bike helmet. Wear it. Please.

In fact, if you are a student of mine, I'll even make you a deal: If the reason you're putting it off is because money is a little tight right now, I'll buy it for you. Just say the word.

For a closing graphic reminder, here's a picture of Walu, following a bike accident on campus (his own fault--no cars were involved*; notice that he is still wearing his hospital wrist band from his trip to the ER). His helmet was dented, but thankfully, his considerably brilliant brain was not:

*His iPhone got caught in his spokes. Yes, you read that correctly. And no, he was not texting and riding. 


  1. YES, yes, Yes!!!

    I still have the helmet (as a reminder) my daughter was wearing the day she lost control of her bike on a downhill, hit a curb and crashed. She was 6 or 7 at the time. The helmet has a dent the size of a half dollar - her head does not! She walked away with an abrasion or two on her knee and a profound lesson on why she should wear her helmet.

    No one ever thinks they will be involved in an accident - and yet they happen, on the roads and on the trails.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. And if I might add:
    Parents of young children -- please MODEL good sense and wear a helmet of your own when you ride around the neighborhood with your kids. Kids need to see that adults wear helmets too, all the time. No matter what.

  3. And wear it properly. Balanced on the back of your head is asking for a frontal lobotomy.

  4. I can't get my (former pro cyclist) husband to wear his...he's of the illusion that you're in control on a bike. In my mind, the world is just too wild to predict, especially on massive downhills with blind curves.

  5. Susan, I am so very glad Walu is okay! I am forwarding this post to my son who bikes everywhere and I am not sure he wears a helmut. Although, having done a flip off the front of his bike in a race ought to have taught him something! gail

  6. Excellent advice Susan. I always used to joke that for as long I'm still paying for my brain (aka 'student loans') it's darn well worth protecting! I hope the message gets through. I have a cousin with a traumatic brain injury that he sustained when he was hit on his bike by a car (no helmet). Your life really can change in an instant.

  7. Such a good reminder to all of us. Our daughter just proceeded to ride her bike without her helmet the other day, and I scolded her in front of her friend. Her excuse? She was just riding in front of the house...where our crazy neighbor has been clocked driving 60 mph instead of 25! No helmet, no's just the house rule. So glad to find your blog, and look forward to reading more!

  8. Poor Walu ... I'm glad it wasn't more serious.

  9. Yes, helmets are essential too. How his iPhone got stuck is a good story. :)

  10. glad to hear walu is okay...

    recently, a client/acquaintance of mine was riding her bike from her neighborhood to the university across the road. two cars stopped at the intersection she was crossing but the third car, impatient at the hold up, drove around them and struck her, throwing her thin frame 20' in the air. even though she had a helmet on (thank god) she sustained a concussion, fractured her pelvis and broke her hip. she has a slow recovery ahead of her, but i don't think that she, her husband or 7 year old son will be riding their bikes in the hood anytime soon.

    my hubby was biking home from work one evening only to be flicked off by a truck full of undergraduate males hellbent to showoff the power of their dually exhaust against his meager spokes and wheels. thank goodness he was stopped (w/helmet on) at a pedestrian crossing (adjacent to the high school no less) and was able to just let them get on their merry way.

    these events, and many like them, continue to happen in this here college town... what is it going to take for multi-modal transportation to be fully embraced and respected around here...? until then i'll unfortunately think twice about hopping on the bike but will always put my bonnet on.


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