General Question

flo's avatar

What do you tell your loved ones about bicycle helmets?

Asked by flo (12974points) November 29th, 2016

Do you hope they (however old they are)wear it without you having to urge them to wear it whenever they are cycling?

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74 Answers

Seek's avatar

I had my kid smash an old watermelon on the street once.

It was an effective lesson.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I pretty much demand it if you ride with me. Thankfully most are smart enough not to have me request it.

Coloma's avatar

My daughter is grown now but helmets were just becoming really popular when she was around 5–6 years old or so. I had her wear one most of the time when she rode her bike but not every time.
I grew up riding bikes and horses and never had a head injury though we all know it cam happen. I still hate riding helmets but knew a women whose horse stumbled at a trot on an icy trail and she fell and suffered brain damage.

abcbill's avatar

Unless this is a trick question…tell them to darn well wear them. Period. No arguments, no BS, no nothing.

I spent about ten years working for Shimano American in their HR department. I put many hundreds of miles, maybe even over a thousand miles, in those years—on the roads of Southern California, riding to work (at one point, 25 miles one way/50 miles round trip) 4 or 5 days a week, on organized rides and just riding because I loved to ride—and I was the “average” rider there.

Yes, I worea helmet. Yes, I picked up my share of falls and flops. Those we all expect.

While I don’t remember the accident, I was told I was hit head-on by a car, luckily the car was moving “only” about 25 MPH. I know I was unconscious for about 12 minutes. I know my bike was destroyed.

I also walked away from that with a minor concussion and a chipped tooth…because I wore a helmet…and back in day, the helmets were not as sophisticated as they are now.

Like I said…accept not one iota of mouth. Your loved ones wear helmets..or trash their wheels. They will not ride with bent spokes. Better to have them upset than dead.

Yah, harsh. Tough love. I’ve been to closed casket funerals. They ain’t fun and if a loved one becomes road pizza because they were too prissy to wear a helmet…tough.

johnpowell's avatar

Helmets are for cowards and the lazy. I skateboarded for 30 years and ride a bike. You just need to learn how to fall. Here is a tip, fall enough and your muscle memory will always get your arms to cover your head. I wear glasses and have never broken a pair from skating. And back in the day I was falling on my face 20 times a day. Learn how to fall.

What I said above was my approach. And it worked for me. But it was fucking stupid. In my defense I wear glasses and it is really hard to find comfy helmets that are glasses friendly.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

We own helmets (wife and I).
All wheeled kid’s vehicles require grandsons to wear head gear. They are 9, 7 and 5. They know at grandmama’s house, helmets are required.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@johnpowell I’m petty sure a helmet saved my life at least once and I somewhat know how to fall

BellaB's avatar

I hope they remember to wear them and that they have enough to pay the fine if they don’t. The bylaw guys love nabbing unhelmeted bike riders.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I don’t really care one way or the other. It’s your dome, do as you wish with it.

JLeslie's avatar

It doesn’t come up for me much, but I would tell them the same things I tell strangers. Wear a helmet, especially if you are sharing the road with cars.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Although I am not the best example as I never wore a helmet touring the breadth of the US in 1976, or all of Western Europe throughout the eighties, Since then I’ve had young patients who survived cranial injuries that involved severe brain damage and paralysis. They weren’t wearing helmets while cycling and it ruined their lives. I would definitely tell the people I care about to wear a helmet when cycling.. There are still a lot of arguments against this, including claims that helmets are likely to cause cervical injuries, but I think wearing a helmet is much safer than not wearing one..

nutallergy's avatar

I don’t tell them anything.

flutherother's avatar

I’ve been cycling for 50 years and have never worn a helmet. I find them uncomfortable and restrictive. I don’t cycle where there are cars but I would recommend wearing a helmet in traffic.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Back in the stone age, before helmet laws, my son loved to ride his bicycle. He took it everywhere, even when we moved overseas for a 4 year assignment.
During those 4 years NYS passed a bicycle helmet law and when we returned home, I told him he had to wear a helmet or he could not ride. He made the choice. That was the end of his riding days. Sad.
It has been over 20 years. His bike still sits in the barn with flat tires and covered in dust. So sad.

rojo's avatar

I have made it to 61 without ever wearing one. I don’t request or require any of my family to wear one. At the other end of the spectrum, my wife won’t ride without one.

cazzie's avatar

I know a woman through crafting that deals with people with brain damage. She’s good at wiping spittle from the mouths of cyclists who were hit by cars not wearing helmets. We wear helmets. Mine has tweety bird on it.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy Sad your son made that choice? Or, sad NYS passed that law?

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Here is a tip, fall enough and your muscle memory will always get your arms to cover your head.

If you fall off enough to be practiced, perhaps cycling is not for you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie Sad that he decided not to ride any more. :-( He was/is that stubborn.

My opinion of the law is “meh”. I read somewhere that helmets have saved 26 lives. (I don’t remember if that is in NYS or the country and I don’t remember if that is one year or more.) It does not matter. I just remember that it was a very small number. When someone is hit by a car or falls in a ditch there are so many injuries: internal, broken neck etc., the actual number where the helmet makes a difference is extremely small. At low speeds the injuries are cuts and scrapes. At high speeds the injuries are too terrible to mention. The helmet only provides useful protection in that narrow window. .
As a medic I cared for 2 different motorcycle accident victims. In neither case did wearing the helmet.make a difference. (Maybe in one case it made work easier for the mortician.)
That said: I wear a helmet whenever I ride my motorcycle. It is the law, but more important, it makes it easier for me to see and maintain control of the bike.
I figure it should be a personal choice. BUT if I do get a head injury because I was not wearing a helmet I should not be allowed to sue for it.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy Could he have just broken the law? What’s the penalty for not wearing a hamlet while riding a bicycle? I guess you would be the one issued the citation.

Coloma's avatar

^ The penalty for not wearing a hamlet is to be pierced by a poison sword. haha

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well..

cazzie's avatar

He was holding Yorick’s skull, after all. ‘Infinite jest’ may have been his attempts at reenacting antics from ‘Jackass’.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Luckily for the props department, Yorick was wearing a helmet, or Hamlet would have had his hands full.

flo's avatar

Why play russian roullete with one’s life to spite the government? By the way my OP wasn’t about the law, or the chances of not being slightly injured to not being paralyzed to not ending up dead.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Cranky, snobby, dyed in the literal wool, retrogrouch, lone wolf roadie here:

I ride helmetless, have for decades. Probably won’t start.

I also ride Camapagnolo, sorry @abcbill

All helmet advice worth following can be found here:

http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

Darth_Algar's avatar

@flo

It’s not a matter of spiting the government*, it’s a matter of personal comfort. Helmets might save your life in a handful of specific crashes, but for the most part they don’t add much benefit.

(*Although, in fact, the government really does not have any business mandating that a person wear any article of clothing or equipment, regardless of the supposed safety benefits.)

cazzie's avatar

Yes the government does because of overcrowded Emergency Rooms. My sister the nurse has a special name for motorcyclists that don’t wear helmets. She calls them organ donors.

JLeslie's avatar

^^They call motorcycles, donorcycles in ER’s.

LuckyGuy's avatar

My Kawasaki 500 Mach III was called the “Widow Maker”.

@cazzie If you get a chance please ask your sister specifically if any of her cases had a different outcome because of the rider wearing or not wearing a helmet. In my very limited sample it did not. :-(

BellaB's avatar

@LuckyGuy, as a former catastrophic claims manager, I can tell you that helmets can make a difference in outcome. There’s a reason claims handlers’ prefer non-helmeted riders. Death claims are faster and easier to work.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@cazzie

You really think emergency rooms are overcrowded because of cyclists who don’t wear helmets? When a cyclists gets into a serious accident is the helmet going to prevent him from having to go to the emergency room to treat injuries of one kind or another? Is he just going to stand up, brush himself off and say “no thanks, I’m good, I’m wearing a helmet”?

cazzie's avatar

@Darth_Algar they don’t help.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@cazzie

Edited my response.

cazzie's avatar

We have our chimney swept to avoid fires. We have our cars checked and installed with air bags. Why are helmets any different?

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy In my golf cart accident my friend had a head injury and will never taste or smell again. Well, she vaguely tastes some things, but it all tastes like the same taste. I assume a helmet would have helped her not suffer the injury.

Another friend their dad died in a golf cart accident because when thrown he happened to land where he hit his head hard.

A helmet would not have helped a very close friend of a friend of mine who lost her leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 17.

I go on bikes and will still get in a golf cart if I’m driving, or someone I completely trust to drive knowing their passenger needs to go really slowly around the corners.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@cazzie

So how do helmets reduce emergency room overcrowding? Anyone in an accident that’s serious enough for the helmet to be a factor is going to be making a trip to the ER regardless, helmet or not.

cazzie's avatar

Helmets are used on more than just bicycles. They do reduce ER stress. My ex visited the ER due to a hand injury instead of a head injury when he crashed his motorcycle. Several friends who ride horses got up unhurt after falling because of their helmet.

cazzie's avatar

@Darth_Algar You think every accident is the same in regards to time and resources used in the ER? NO. They are not, sir. A hand injury had to wait and was assessed and referred quickly to his GP and then to an appointment for a surgeon. If he hadn’t had a helmet on he would have had a broken jaw and broken teeth etc….. His pretty would have been broken and he would have used up more time and urgent care, perhaps needed stitches or an orthopaedic emergency surgery. There are many cases like this. Every day.

Darth_Algar's avatar

No, I do not think every accident is the same. You’re reading what you want into my post while side-stepping my actual point. And you haven’t demonstrated a good argument justifying government mandating helmets. Your argument about ER overcrowding is spurious. If taken to its logical conclusion it could be used to justify all manner of unnecessary government intrusion and regulation over the private lives of its citizens.

cazzie's avatar

There is a difference between ‘recommended strongly’ to writing tickets out to earn money from anyone who doesn’t obey. Reasons for recommending strongly are that, instead of having the government support accident victims, it’s cheaper to spend money on some posters and PSA’s to reduce numbers of victims of stupidity.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The kind of bicycling matters greatly. Low speed around the hood not nearly as important as a road rider, mountain biker or motorcyclist. A helmet saved my dad from being parted with his face in a motorcycle crash. He was also wearing leathers but the helmet saved the day. I have had several medium speed crashes on mountain bikes and racing pit bikes where my helmet likely saved me from having a mangled face. Not wearing a helmet is FUCKING STUPID in most situations that are not likened to leisurely putting along on your driveway, sidewalk or greenway.

Seek's avatar

My husband personally witnessed the death of a friend of his.

The man stumbled on a cobblesone and hit his head on the street curb.

My kid wears a helmet on his bike or he does not ride his bike. End of.

flo's avatar

Edited for typo mostly.
It’s about messing up the hair in most cases. I see no legitimate reason for not wearing helmets, unless you have a friend who says a goofy (to be kind) thing like “Helmets make you look goofy” and peer pressure is at work. The emergency rooms are filled with people with avoidable isssues. Skiing without helmet and drinking and driving so called accidents it goes on and on. Some people will argue with 1+1 =2. It’s the people who complain against government regulations who are responsible for the existance of the regulations. If they just acted responsibly without a law, there wouldn’t be a law mandating it. Is that what they call ironic or something like that?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@cazzie

Recommend strongly all you want. I have no objection to that. What I object to are legal mandates that are punishable with fines.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@flo

Drinking and driving actively endangers others. Not wearing endangers no one other than the person choosing to not wear the helmet. Perhaps you’re happy with government acting as a nanny over you. Some of us adults, however, value the liberty to make such decisions of our own accord.

jca's avatar

Are there any stats that show rates of TBI pre-helmet law days to rates of TBI at present? Because one could argue (if there are stats from reliable sources) that if helmets prevent TBI, therefore reducing insurance costs, then everyone benefits. Higher medical costs are spread to the entire insurance pool. If the person can’t afford to pay and therefore is treated anyway, costs are spread throughout also.

cazzie's avatar

As a person who is part of the users of a collective health care system, we should all give a shit and wear a helmet and have our kids wear one too. My kid had one bad spill on his bike and another on Rollerblades. I don’t want to think what his skull would have looked like.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@cazzie

But should it be mandated? Does that give the government the right to mandate it? If so, then could not that logic also be used to justify government regulation of many more habits and behaviors. Since we all pay into a collective healthcare system or insurance pool, then shouldn’t we also legally regulate what people eat, wear, how much exercise they get, etc. We should also legally mandate when and what kind of tests and medical procedures people get in order to keep them in what we deem to be optimal health so that we keep costs low.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

^^I’m with you on this. We don’t need the gov’t to be our mommy and daddy.

Seek's avatar

I agree with the mandate for children.

If an adult wants to be an organ donor or a vegetable, more power to them. We can’t legislate against stupidity.

But children deserve to be protected even if their parents are abusive, neglectful, or stupid.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Seek

Sure. I don’t disagree there. Same with car seats, etc. But for adults? I myself always wear my seatbelt, but if you want to try sailing through the windshield that’s your business.

JLeslie's avatar

It definitely costs society when an accident severely injures someone. It’s difficult to draw the line between hampering our freedoms and looking out for the greater interests of society.

Darth_Algar's avatar

It’s not at all difficult to draw that line. When it impedes upon personal liberty then there’s the line.

jca's avatar

@Darth_Algar: But if you get a traumatic brain injury that puts you in need of hospitalization and a lifetime of needing various therapies, and I have to pay more for my insurance because of your brain injury, then I am being impacted.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@jca

And I suppose you do nothing whatsoever that could have long term health consequences?

jca's avatar

@Darth_Algar: That’s the age old question/dilemma. I guess it’s because bicycle helmets are something that is easily enforceable, whereas how would Big Brother monitor people’s eating, drinking, smoking, drugging, etc.?

cazzie's avatar

They tax the vices, don’t they? Where I live, they tax the vices to a crazy degree.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

“They” tax whatever they can get away with. A good part of this vice taxation and the revenue stream it creates serves to keep many of these things around.

cazzie's avatar

in the case of tobacco, it helps pay for their end of life-lingering care.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

In the US only a tiny percentage of those taxes go to anti-smoking efforts. Almost all of it is general revenue. Tobacco is taxed simply because it can be. I’m under no illusion that it’s really anything other than this.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@jca

So the only justification needed is “because they can”?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@cazzie

Taxation isn’t the same mandating the use of something.

And the reason tobacco is so heavily taxed is because it’s an easy target. Most people don’t smoke, and tobacco has been so thoroughly demonized that the states can increasingly raise heavier and heavier taxes on it and few people complain. Tobacco use is most prevalent among the poor, who have few pleasures even available to them, so in effect taxes on tobacco becomes a penalty on the poor (who don’t have much of a voice in our society to begin with). Very little of it goes to anti-smoking campaigns or to healthcare costs, but rather it’s used like a general slush fund by the states.

flo's avatar

@Darth_Algar
1) the OP is not about the law mandating it, and fines.

2) See the last sentence of my last post

flo's avatar

@Darth_Algar
“Not wearing endangers no one other than the person choosing to not wear the helmet.”
Are you sure you want to stay with that statement? Probably not. If you die your children are left fatherless, your spouse…., you continue with that. The list is long right?

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m old enough to recall when my father “had to” start wearing a hard hat in his job as a construction superintendent. He had grown up as a boilermaker mechanic, so he was familiar enough with wearing them “in the trades” (but not full time), so it took some adjusting for him to get used to that, and adapt … and do it full time, especially since he was no longer working with the tools.

I still have one of his old aluminum hard hats from around that time, and it has a pretty significant dent in it. Whatever caused that dent may not have killed him, but it would have addled him pretty badly (and it did give him a headache). But he didn’t bitch about it much after that.

Nowadays, I have had much the same job that he had towards the end of his career, and when I go on an active jobsite it’s: hardhat, safety glasses with side shields, steel-or-composite toed safety shoes with puncture-resistant soles, and a full-body fall protection harness (and tie off everywhere) when we go above the first few feet in elevation. And no unprotected walking of naked steel beams any more, either (as I had done more than once when I first started in the field). And absolutely no “riding the hook” on a crane to avoid having to climb steps when the elevator isn’t working yet.

It takes a while for some people to adapt to changing standards of “acceptable risk” in many ways. I haven’t ridden a bicycle for many years now (and I never wore a helmet “back in the day”, either). But I would probably wear one now. (Just like football players never wore mouth guards, and baseball players never wore batting gloves and shin protectors when they’re up to bat, and umpires never wore face masks, etc.)

On the other hand, I never could convince my dad to wear a seat belt. And while it’s true that he was never in an accident or other incident that required him to have been wearing one – he was one of the best drivers I ever knew – there are a lot of idiots causing accidents who don’t give one the chance to not need that belt. Some laws can be broken with some impunity, but not the laws of physics.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@flo “Are you sure you want to stay with that statement? Probably not. If you die your children are left fatherless, your spouse…., you continue with that. The list is long right?”

Yes, I stand fully behind my statement. Absolutely.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@CWOTUS

Workplace regulations are an entirely different matter from what one does in one’s personal life.

flo's avatar

@Darth_Algar Yes, “I stand fully behind my statement. Absolutely.” There’s no counter there. The only person who gets affected in a negative way is the cyclist , to rephrase one of your posts And I responded how about your children left fatherless….

By the way @Darth_Algar Thank you for inpiring the OP http://www.fluther.com/197116/why-do-we-need-household-fire-extinguishers/

Darth_Algar's avatar

@flo

Calling “rephrasing” if you want, but building a strawman is what it is.

CWOTUS's avatar

Not so much as you might think, @Darth_Algar. That is, we expect that “workplace regulations” in the US and most similarly-industrialized nations will be enforced, because that’s our current experience – and because most of them, particularly those that impinge directly on worker safety – make sense to the people who are supposed to follow them: the workers. And on that account they get followed. Generally.

But that’s not always or necessarily so. If you would ever care to read up on them, the “worker safety regulations” for India read almost word-for-word the same as OSHA, at least in the construction trades. Yet it’s hard to find any jobsite in India where “worker safety” is given anything more than lip service. Workers know that if they complain they’ll be fired. Employers know that all they have to do is say that “we support safety in the workplace” and nearly anything they do or allow after that is fair.

Even aside from “workplace regulations”, even “national law” is flouted when it conflicts too much with what citizens will put up with. I recall not so very long ago when the USA had a “national speed limit” for automobiles of 55 mph. How’d that work out for us?

Law and regulation can’t get too far ahead of what people will accept, or it fails – and along with it, so does respect for the law. For that matter, how far back do we have to go now before we can find a President of the USA who will not admit to having used drugs for which they oversaw prosecution of others who trafficked in those drugs?

cazzie's avatar

@CWOTUS that reminds me of a story my ex came home with after spending time on an oil rig off the coast of India. They had to disconnect a tanker that had been attached and filled up with crude. There were no valves on the pipes and they just kept pumping out until things were retracted properly, pouring loads of crude right into the ocean. My ex’s face must have looked slightly horrified, because a local worker on the rig yelled out it him, ‘No fucking Greenpeace here, man!’

Darth_Algar's avatar

@CWOTUS

Ok. I did not say anything about adherence to or enforcement of workplace regulations. My argument is one of principal, regardless of adherence to/enforcement of in practice.

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