A question for the parents of older kids out there: When it came time for your child to get their permit and start driving, did you sit your child down and say, “Here’s what you need to know about safe driving: there are airbags in this car. Here are the keys. Off you go!” Of course not! There are so many principles and good habits to learn as part of safe and legal driving, not to mention good engineering in the public realm that goes towards keeping us safe. The point of these laws and best practice behaviors is avoiding crashes in the first place; getting into situations where those airbags (the last line of defense), would be deployed.

FB Topic4 1 Yet too often, that’s what we do with bicycling: “Let’s talk about safe cycling: Here’s a helmet. Off you go!” There are many safe cycling principles to master that drastically reduce the chance of getting into a crash. As John Forester states in his tome on safe cycling, “the most important first safety measure is riding so that you are less likely to get into accident situations. Watchfulness and skill in escaping them is the second. But when all else fails, you need to reduce the injury.” Just like airbags, helmets don’t prevent crashes. But they do offer a final layer of protection when every other layer of safety goes wrong. (We’ll explore the layers of safety in a future article).
Facebook Topic5 Post 5Facebook Topic5 Post 1 For this reason in New York State, helmets are required for cyclists under the age 14 (who are more crash-prone) and are highly advised for everyone else. As John Forester points out, “the brain never heals where it is injured.” Helmets can reduce serious head injuries by 85% in a crash. And keep in mind cars aren’t the only thing that can hurt you. Your bike can have a mechanical issue or your tire can get stuck in a sewer grate, throwing you over your handlebars and causing your head to go straight to the pavement. Many of us know people who have had crashes like these - no other vehicle involved - and their helmet saved their life.
Facebook Topic5 Post 3 If you think helmets are dorky, know that this is no longer the case. There’s a helmet renaissance happening at the moment with a multitude of great designs and styles. Just as someone’s bicycle can be a reflection or extension of someone’s personality and style, a helmet can be too. Pick a helmet that is you and you’ll be more likely to wear it. For starter ideas, check out Nutcase, Closca, Kask and Thousand.
Facebook Topic5 Post 2 Once you’ve got your helmet, it must be fit properly. The key to a great helmet fit is 2 - V - 1. The 2 is for two finger widths between your eyebrows and the base of the helmet when it is level on your head. You don’t want your helmet tilted up so your forehead is exposed. The V is for those straps that come together to form a V or Y on the sides. Make sure they come together just under your earlobes. The 1 is for the one finger you should be able to fit under your chin when that chin strap is clasped. If you have room for more than one finger, the chin strap needs to be tightened. In the event of a crash, the helmet provides “pretty good brain protection” only when it is fitted properly.
Facebook Topic5 Post 6 Some other points to remember: Once a helmet has taken that impact, it’s time to get a new helmet. Make sure any helmet you buy has a CPSC sticker, ensuring it meets national standards. For a good resource on buying cheap helmets in bulk, see here.