Opinion has always, and probably always will be, split when it comes to the effectiveness of wearing a cycle helmet. In the UK they are more common these days and in professional and amateur races / sportives they are typically now mandated. However there are still a hard-core group who don’t think they are worth bothering with. Indeed, foster the right environment for cycling and perhaps they aren’t as necessary; The Netherlands is a good example of this. I learnt from the Tour de France highlights this week that only 1% of the Dutch wear bicycling helmets yet they have the lowest level of cycling related head injuries in the world. That’s an impressive statistic.
Unfortunately the UK does not accommodate the cycling population so well. Even if the road system makes cyclists welcome, other drivers and even pedestrians make it a hazardous form of travel. Whats more, however safe the roads are, accidents happen and a paramedic friend once told me a large majority of cycling-related head accidents happen at low speeds when riders clip the pavement or hit a pot hole. In fact Sam came off his bike on ice in January and would have cracked his head open were it not for his helmet. So for those reasons I am an avid supporter of helmet wearing. In fact I won’t cycle with anyone who doesn’t wear a helmet. Sure it might not help in an accident but it can’t make things worse!
So, getting to the main point of my blog, it upsets me when I see people cycling without helmets. I feel especially saddened when I see kids cycling without helmets. It’s quite a common sight to see a family cycle by all with the wind in their hair rather than their hair stuck down under a hard hat. But everyone is entitled to their own view (since it’s not a legal requirement) and parents can teach their children what they want so I tend to sigh and look away.
But…what makes me really, really angry is parents cycling with their helmeted-up children but NOT wearing helmets themselves. In my mind that is the worse kind of lesson for your children; They are being told they need to wear a helmet to stay safe but they are being shown that it only applies to them because they are children. So when they get older they will stop wearing them because that’s the example they were shown.
I know I don’t even have 6 months of parenting under my belt yet, but that’s certainly not the way I want H to learn. I want to ensure Sam and I lead by example and not just with cycling safety. Even though it will be tough work for us, if we have to cull some bad habits (too much sugar and cake for example!) to give H some good ones then so be it. Wearing helmets will definitely be something we are seen doing…even though it would have happened anyway!