I don’t understand why it is so controversial.
I understand the conflicting evidence about the benefits of wearing a helmet when cycling. But no matter what the numbers, if there is a benefit, no matter how small, why wouldn’t you wear one?
The manager of one of the local bike shops I frequent is adamant there is no benefit at all. He argues, with all who will listen, that there is no evidence that wearing a helmet is any safer.
Well, I have some evidence for him.
Recently, I experienced a high-speed crash while descending a long hill. After climbing for almost an hour, I was looking forward to a long descent to recover, and rest my legs. At the crest of the hill, I stopped briefly to remove my wind jacket, rolled it up, and stuffed into my middle jersey pocket before the descent. A third of the way down, the wind jacket (allegedly) came out the of the pocket and lodged in the rear wheel, immediately stopping it from turning. At this point, according to my bike computer, I was doing 62.4 kph. The rear wheel fishtailed, I was unable to maintain control, was thrown to the ground, and rolled repeatedly down the open road ahead. I first landed on my right side absorbing the blow with my right hand, shoulder, and back of the head. Apparently, I continued rolling, scraping and cutting my forehead, lip, left hand, and knees along the way. I lost consciousness with the first impact, and thankfully don’t remember a thing until I awoke in the back of an ambulance 15 minutes later, strapped securely to a spine board.
I was fortunate. No bones were broken, and I only experienced relatively “minor” scrapes, bruises, cuts, and a concussion. The attending physician at the trauma centre where I was taken said “Have you seen your helmet? It is badly cracked and flattened at the back. It saved your life. You are very fortunate.”.
There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that helmets save lives. It saved mine. You can argue all you like that there is no credible evidence that helmets make cycling any safer, that cyclists need to pay more attention to safer cycling behaviour, and the habits of motorists must improve. I get it. There are many factors that affect a cyclists safety. However, no matter how little the benefit may be, why wouldn’t you wear one?
I learned the hard way. I experienced a freak accident, took a hard hit to the head, and would not be here to talk about it unless I was wearing a helmet.
There is no good reason not to wear a helmet.