I cannot express the importance of wearing a cycling helmet at all times while cycling. By doing so, you can save yourself from serious injury or even death should you have an accident.
According to a study that was done in the USA in 2002 concerning cyclists and helmets , more than 100,000 cycling head injuries could have been prevented in 1997 if the cyclists had been wearing their helmets. That is an incredible amount of people and it’s a shame that injuries and even death have to occur because cyclists don’t “feel” like putting their helmets on for one reason or another – or worse, don’t wear them properly.
Now a cycling helmet won’t save you from every single accident but it goes a long way to protect your head in the event of one.
Many people make the mistake thinking it’s only traffic that can cause a bike accident. But icy patches, uneven roads, dogs, pheasants, potholes or just losing control of the bike can cause accidents too.
For example, I remember cycling over some frost and the front wheel slipped from under me. My head was the first thing that hit the ground and it smashed my helmet into four pieces. My head though was protected and I came away with only a light headache. The helmet breaking and not my skull was enough of an example to me of the importance of wearing my helmet on every ride.
How to wear your helmet securely:
Not only should you be wearing a helmet on every ride, but you need to wear it securely too. A bad fitting helmet can cause an accident in its own right, so bear in mind the important points below on how to secure a helmet properly:
1. When you purchase your helmet, be sure that it fits your head snug. A professional can help you in selecting one that is right for you. Be sure that it feels comfortable to you because if it is not, chances are you won’t want to wear it.
2. Your helmet should be worn square on your head and the straps fastened under your chin. The straps should be tight enough so that your helmet does not move around on your head. Again, ask a professional for help if you are having trouble understanding how the straps fasten.
3. Check the inside of the helmet for safety standard test stickers, as you want a helmet that has been checked for safety. You’re looking for: Britain (BS 6863 or BS EN 1078), American (ANSI Z90.4 or SNELL) or Australian (AS 2063) National Standards. Ideally a helmet should also have a British Standard Kitemark.
4. Once your helmet is on your head, turn your head side to side and up and down to check it doesn’t move or slip around your head. Bend over into a riding position and check to see if the helmet is not restricting your vision in any way. If you are not sure or run into a problem, adjust straps or look for a different size helmet.
5. There are many colours and styles of helmets to choose from, but remember that cycling on the open roads is NOT a fashion show. For added safety, purchase a brightly coloured helmet and if you can, wear clothing that is colourful as well. You want to be seen out there on the road.
Put cycling safety first by remembering to wear your helmet and wear it securely. By wearing a helmet you help yourself enormously towards preventing a serious head injury, or even death in the event of an accident.
 Injury Prevention Vol 8(1) ‘State Level Estimates of the Incidence and Economic Burden of Head Injuries Stemming from Non-Universal Use of Bicycle Helmets’ (J Schulman et al, 2002)
Rebecca Ramsay is a former professional road cyclist and a former multiple champion triathlete with 20 years of athletic experience in endurance sport.
She is also a published author in national magazines in the UK, and runs her own online cycling blog.
Now retired and based in Scotland, Rebecca enjoys helping you reach your cycling fitness and training goals.