Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Mamas, Wear Your Helmets!
Growing up in the '70s and '80s, I never wore a bicycle helmet. I never saw any one else wear one either. Maybe in the movie "Breaking Away," but never in real life. My husband and I laugh about it and think maybe that's why our generation is smaller than the others.
Enter 2009. Our daughter is now old enough to sit on the back of a bike and get chauffered around. On vacation, we rented two bikes and a kiddie seat. (My lovely cycle adorned with stylish 'basquette' is pictured to the right).
The bike rental guy handed us the paperwork and pointed to two bins full of helmets.
"The ones on the right are for kids, the ones on the left are for adults," he said. "Help yourself."
My husband and I gave each other "Do we have to?" looks. And yes, yes we did. We just couldn't make our daughter wear her helmet, and then us two ride off into the sunset with bare heads. It just didn't seem fair. And what lesson would she learn, seeing both parents ride helmet-free? So we both donned our hard, white caps, fashionable chin strap and all. And boy, did we look cool.
I mean, I always thought of myself as being at least moderately coordinated. I played sports (yes, badminton is a sport). I think I can dance (albiet, circa 1980's "Material Girl.") So I rode around the sandy beaches and paths of Hilton Head, feeling confident that my well protected head would never make contact with ground. I was convinced that my helmet wearing was in vain.
So oblivious was I to any danger, so much did I enjoy the sightseeing, that I failed to anticipate a large bump in the road that sent me flying from my little two-wheeled rental.
That's right. I went head over heels, not for but rather on top of my lovely ride. My daughter kind of freaked out and so did my hubby. But other than a scraped knee and dented pride, I was fine.
Ever since, I've about half of parents I've seen riding bikes with their kids were wearing helmets, half were going bare-headed. No, I can't say that I felt very cool wearing it, and I certainly didn't feel cool falling off my ride. But to walk away unscathed--well now, that felt very cool indeed. And every time we see someone riding a bike, my daughter comments on how Mama didn't get hurt because Mama wore her helmet. Now that's a lesson learned truly by example.
According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, non-helmet riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than ones who wore helmets. And in 2007, sadly 698 cyclists died.
Helmets are cheap. Target offers them for as little as $20. A small price to pay for protecting something as valuable as your noggin.
Many states and municipalities have bike helmet laws requiring them for riders age 16 and under. But not many have laws for Mamas. But trust me, this Mama never will ride without one again.
'Til next time,