This past weekend, there was a horrific cycling accident in my area. Two experienced road cyclists were hit head on by a car while descending a steep, windy, mountainous road north of Pemberton. Although they kept in their lane, the car swerved into it at one of the sharp corners. The cyclists were immediately killed, along with the passenger in the car. The driver, who was allegedly drunk at the time, was spared, and flown to a nearby hospital.
This accident has shaken the local cycling community. The same day, I completed a 170 km ride on what I would consider a “safe” highway. Although there was traffic in some areas, there was also a sizeable shoulder at the side of the road. I never felt unsafe, despite many fast descents where, whenever possible, I used as much of the right hand lane as I could. I felt safe, but after this weekends accident, I question whether we are ever really safe from reckless, hurried drivers?
The next morning, I awoke questioning what, if anything, I can do to be safer on the road. I can slow down, take fewer risks, wear more colourful clothing, travel quieter roads, and always wear a helmet.
I have two helmets. An light, cool and expensive one I wear on the road bikes. And, an old but comfortable Bell helmet that I wear when commuting. It’s old. Maybe 15 years old. Too old! There is no consensus, but is generally agreed that helmets need to be replaced every 3-5 years. The protective materials begin to break down, and the newer technologies are lighter, stronger, safer and cooler to wear.
Clearly, helmets would not have saved these two cyclists. They likely were likely wearing excellent helmets. But it is one thing we can all do to help protect ourselves.
Last evening on the way home, I stopped and bought a new road helmet, one I can wear with all of the bikes. It is not top of the line but very comfortable, well ventilated, and reasonable light. And, considerably safer than the helmet it replaced.
Do you wear an old helmet? If so, I would suggest you replace it today.