Is It Unsafe to Ride a Bicycle Without a Helmet?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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For most of the recorded history of bicycles, wearing a helmet was something that was limited to professionals participating in competitions. Beginning in the 1980s, a movement to encourage the use of bicycle helmets among all bike riders arose. People began to be more aware of the need to make reasonable provisions for enjoying bicycling safely. Still, there are people, particularly adults, who continue to ride a bicycle without a helmet. The fact is that it is unsafe to engage in this sort of behavior. Here are some facts that help illustrate why no one should ride a bicycle without a helmet.

The most obvious reason that it is unsafe to ride a bicycle without a helmet has to do with protecting the rider from head injuries. Tens of thousands of bike riders are admitted to emergency rooms every year. In most cases, the rider was not wearing a bicycle helmet. The types of injuries range from simple cuts and minor concussions to major damage that induces swelling and pressure on the brain. In a small but growing number, death results from the head injuries sustained due to a lack of a bike helmet. The fact is that choosing to ride a bicycle without a helmet is not unlike operating a motor vehicle without wearing a seat belt. In both cases, there is an increased risk of bodily harm, even permanent injury.


Bike helmets are designed to help absorb the shock that would otherwise be sustained by the skull in the event of an impact. In many instances, accidents involving bike riders also include some sort of motor vehicle. In a crash between the two devices, the rider of the bicycle is much more likely to sustain a serious injury. If the actual collision does not injure the rider, chances are there will be some degree of injury upon contact with the ground. Helmets cushion the skull at the point of impact, minimizing the chances for any type of permanent damage that could result in brain damage or even death.

There is also another good reason to not ride a bike without a helmet. Adults should set an example for children and teens, teaching the value of safety by their actions. Teens should also be engaged in setting the example for younger children. Choosing to not wear protective headgear sends a clear message that it is OK to ride a bicycle without a helmet. This message of example will make much more of an impact that simply verbalizing how dangerous it can be to ride a bicycle without a helmet. Expressing concern for other people by encouraging the wearing of a helmet, coupled with wearing one yourself, will encourage others to do likewise.


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Post 1

Through most of the 20th century, professional cyclists were often very adverse to wearing helmets, and the full-time use of helmets by professional road cyclists did not come into being until they were forced by rule to wear helmets in 2003. European professionals rejected a similar proposed ruling in 1991. Throughout the late 1800s and early to mid 1900s, professional 6-day racers rarely wore any sort of head protection.

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