Wearing a helmet isn’t cool! My helmet makes my head hot! It’s uncomfortable!
These are just some of the reasons you hear from children and adults explaining why they won’t wear helmets when riding their bikes. In fact, less than half of all Americans use the protective headgear when riding and only 48 percent of children ages 5 to 14 practice the safe habit.
Every year, more than 500,000 bicyclists are injured while riding their bikes and 26,000 of those are children and adolescents who receive traumatic brain injuries. Helmets don’t guarantee safety, but they help reduce the risk of serious injury.
The current increase of bike riding due to a desire to stay more active and reduce vehicle use sparked an increase in some unfortunate areas.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed cities using bicycle shares have higher rates of brain injuries. The researchers examined head injury rates in hospitals from two years before the bike shares existed and the first year after their implementation.
Unlike a bike rental, bike shares allow the user to pick up a bike from a station, ride it to their destination and leave it at a designated drop off. Cities use them to make commuting from different public transportation stops more efficient, allow members to have the availability of a bike without the risk of damage or theft and attract tourists to a bike friendly area without the commitment of a rental.
The problem found in cities like Boston and Denver using bike shares involved the lack of helmet availability. Because it isn’t a rental and the users don’t own the bike, protective headgear isn’t available, placing the sharers at higher risk for traumatic brain injuries.
Pittsburgh’s recent growth as a bike-friendly city led Bike Pittsburgh, Walnut Capital and the City of Pittsburgh to form a partnership and work toward a bike share in the Steel City. The plan is to unveil 500 vandal-proof and sturdy bikes connected to 50 solar-powered stations throughout the city, encouraging point-to-point trips around town.
With an overall goal to extend Pittsburgh’s public transit throughout the East, South and North ends of the city, the Pittsburgh Bike Share Partnership hopes to unveil the project before the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference happening this September in Pittsburgh to generate a larger buzz about the project.
Riding a bike is a fun and effective form of transportation, but doing so without a helmet is dangerous and potentially deadly. Many helmet styles and colors exist to suit every person, eliminating the notion of “they aren’t cool” or “they aren’t comfortable.”
Don’t become a statistic. Wear your helmet.
[This post originally appeared on the website for Jason Luckasevic’s firm www.gpwlaw.com]
Pittsburgh Bike Share. (2014). Home/About. [Link]
Graves, J. M. et al. (2014). Public bicycle share programs and head injuries. American Journal of Public Health. [Link]
CDC. (2013). Head injuries and bicycle safety. Tip Sheet. [Link]