Protecting brains is what counts, not statistics

New bicycle helmets
Image by prayingmother via Flickr

A Wall Street Journal article headlined The Bike Helmet Wars cited some interesting statistics but overlooked the most important point of the discussion.

It isn’t about numbers.

Say you’re a parent and you and your children don’t bother with helmets as you ride the trail. One of the kids slips on some wet leaves and crashes, hitting her head on the concrete.

Her brain could be injured pretty easily, maybe permanently and devastatingly.

Do statistics matter now?

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3 Responses to “Protecting brains is what counts, not statistics”

  1. 1 crazycommutingcyclist October 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I know the last time I got hit by a car I was glad I had my helmet on. Why? Because of the when I took off my helmet after the accident I noticed two deep scratches on the side. That could have really been painful.

  2. 2 Richard Keatinge October 12, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Scare stories are – scary. What about a child that slips on his bunk bed while wearing his helmet and hangs himself?

    This is where the numbers actually tell us something useful. Number known to have hanged themselves – small. Number shown to have been saved by helmets – nil, mass helmet use has never been shown to reduce head injury rates. Personally I gave up my helmet years ago and never tried to make my children wear helmets. Cycling is a very safe activity anyway. I do try to make sure that we all ride cautiously on working bikes with good brakes.

  3. 3 bjsmith October 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Thanks for the feedback.

    To wear a helmet or not, or to put them on your children’s heads, certainly is a personal choice even though laws in some places try to force the issue. (I’m not in favor of a requirement.)

    I personally know of at least two incidents in which friends’ brains were saved from serious injury or worse when their helmeted heads hit the pavement. I don’t know if those would be counted among the “nil” that you cite or not.

    I did not know children had been hanged in such incidents. Unfortunately, we can’t protect them from everything.

    My choice has been to get them to wear helmets while bicycling.

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