Saturday, June 5, 2010

Protect Your Noggin’!

During our stay in Minneapolis last week, we noticed there were lots of happy Minnesotans out on their bikes in the blazing sun.  I was reminded that they received the coveted Bicycling Magazine #1 rating for bike-friendly cities in the U.S., just edging out Portland this year. 

I noticed that they have lots of generous bike lanes and paths, and some great farm roads for riding outside of the city. Sounds like they’ve got a pretty good cycling community there as well. Snow and ice may keep most folks from riding during the frigid winter months, but from what I can tell, the minute the thaw’s on, these folks are turnin’ and burnin’ their pedals.  So, yay for Minneapolis.
I only have one criticism of the cycling scene in Minnesota, and it's the same for most places in the country. Where are the helmets?!  I’d say I saw almost as many folks without helmets as with them, riding on roads and in traffic.  Kids, too! And here’s the bad part: as unacceptable as that seems, it’s pretty much the norm across the U.S. Only half of bicyclists wear a helmet some of the time, and only 35% wear them most of the time.
Here are the top excuses people don’t wear helmets:
Don’t have one: 50%
Too hot: 47%
Uncomfortable: 45%
It’s just a short trip: 42% 

So why does it feel different in Oregon? Well apparently, when there’s a helmet law for kids, it makes the adults 18% more likely to wear one, too.  That one change--a helmet law for kids--was a tipping point for Oregon. Why does this matter? Bike accidents crash-land more kids into emergency rooms than any other sport. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85%.  Bottom line, the research is done.  Helmets save lives.
So, Minnesota, you can do the math, or just put a helmet on and go ride a bike.


Jessica said...

AGREED!!!!! We never ride with out them. My dad was in a really bad accident when I was a kid and broke his neck. The doctors said that had he not been wearing a helmet, he wouldn't be with us today. That's reason enough for me to deal with the "helmet hair" and be SAFE!

Kelly Carlisle said...

Wow...I didn't even think about helmet hair!
Glad your dad is still around, Jessica. We'd like to keep you around for a good long time, too! Thanks for commenting! :)