There’s nothing quite like that first bike ride of spring. With the sun on your cheek and the wind in your hair, anything seems possible.
In our ecological and health-conscious world, the bicycle has become an increasingly popular mode of transportation; in 2013, two billion bicycles were sold in the United States, in fact, and these numbers are only increasing. But it’s not all sunshine and toned thighs for the bicyclist. In fact, it can often be a wild and dangerous ride.
Current bicycle injury statistics are alarming. Despite an increasing awareness among drivers that it’s necessary to “share the road” with those who are riding bikes, and a nationwide push to implement more bike lines to give riders the space they need to travel safely, bicycle accident injuries, and even death, can and do occur on a frighteningly regular basis.
And as far as bicycling injuries go, we’re not talking about your basic bruised wrist or scraped knee. Would it surprise you to find out that brain injury is one of the most common types of injuries? It’s true. Approximately 2/3 of bicyclists who are killed in an accident, and 1/8 of injured bicyclists, suffered from a traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI.
Brain injury occurs as the result of a sudden blow or knock to the head — as can occur when a rider is knocked off his or her bike onto the ground, or when a truck or SUV door opens suddenly and impacts the unsuspecting rider’s head. It can be mild, moderate or severe, and can have lifelong effects on a person’s cognitive functions, memory and overall well-being.
Naturally, those who choose to ride without helmets are more prone to experiencing a brain injury accident. Without a helmet, the bicyclist is the proverbial turtle without its shell; in 2006, it was reported that 95% of bicycle accidents and deaths occurred when the bicyclist was not wearing their helmet. A helmet can protect a biker from long-term effects stemming from brain injury accidents.
You may think that if you’re just tooling around town on your bike, maybe heading down to the store to pick up a few things or just out to enjoy the spring sights and sounds after a long winter of being cooped up indoors, you don’t need a helmet — but the truth is that accidents can happen in the most idyllic of neighborhoods and the most unexpected of situations. To protect your precious noggin from bicycle head injuries and brain injury accident, the safest thing to do is to always wear a helmet.