Helmets are designed to protect all people. Helmets are to made to keep people safe when riding a bicycle, skateboarding or roller blading.
During this nice weather, more bicyclists will be on the streets. Cars need to be more wary of the larger number of bicyclists. If a helmet is designed to protect a head when someone falls, then a helmet should protect any person’s head – not just if you’re under the age of 14. The New York State law says you are only required to wear a helmet if you are younger than 14-years-old, but the law does not realize that every person on two wheels should be kept safe.
New York has the 22nd highest work share for number of people who ride to work, as cited from the New York State Bike & Wheel Sport Safety website. State workers who live in Bethlehem have an easy route of biking to downtown for work , if they go down one of the main roads such Delaware or New Scotland avenues. These adults that bike to work are often seen not wearing helmets. When a bicyclist is biking down a busy road such as Delaware Avenue, cars could swerve unexpectedly. During early morning rush hour, cars might not be paying attention to the bicycles on the side of the road. If an accident was to happen, with one wrong move from the car, the bicyclist on his way to work would be seriously injured because he was not wearing a helmet. Working adults who bike to work should be required to wear helmets by law.
Families will start to be outside now that the weather is getting warmer. With school ending for the summer, there is more time for family bike rides. In New York, bicyclists are discouraged from using sidewalks. Sidewalks can be a hazard for bicyclists because pedestrians may take up most of the sidewalk. Even though sidewalks are not meant for bicyclists, very young bicyclists with their parents are allowed on sidewalks. These young bicyclists need to be careful of uneven sidewalks, which could cause them to fall.
If a family is on a street, cars need to be careful of the bicyclists. Sharing the road with cars in a busy neighborhood is another reason why it is important to wear a helmet. Between the timeframe of January 1, 2009 and May 31, 2012 there were 1,135 vehicle crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists, with 330 involving bicyclists. Whether a child is 8, 10, 14 or 15, or with a parent that is 29, 35 or 50, they should each wear helmets. If a parent is with their child, the parent should put on their helmet first and then make sure their child is wearing a helmet. These days, the parent is not wearing a helmet and the parent tells their child to wear a helmet. The parent can set an example for the child by wearing a helmet, demonstrating how safety is a priority for everyone in the family.
School is not yet out for the summer and this means those in middle school might still be riding their bikes to school or riding their bike to a friend’s house. Middle school is the age when kids start to think they are “too cool” to wear a helmet. Yes, helmet hair can really make your hair look messy, but if I could choose between having messy helmet hair or a concussion from a bad fall, I would choose the helmet hair. Helmet hair is not the most attractive look, but it is better than having a massive headache.
Even though it is the law for children under the age of 14 to wear a helmet, not every child between the ages of 11-14 does wear a helmet when biking around the neighborhoods or biking to school. Sometimes a middle school age kid may have to sacrifice his cool looking hair for staying safe, but it is worth it.
With the new bike trail opening up this summer in Bethlehem and Voorheesville and many other frequently visited bike paths in the Capital District, wearing a helmet is especially important. Mountain bikers who are in their teenage years or in their 20s may experiment with new stunts or tricks on bike paths, but often these mountain bikers are not wearing helmets. A helmet can help protect you if you go too fast down a hill, or if you do a flip on a bike and make one small mistake during one of your stunts. As of now, the New York State law is anyone 14 and under are required to wear a helmet when biking, skateboarding, riding a scooter or roller skating. Albany County should require all ages to wear helmets, as it is the law in Rockland and Erie Counties.
Peggy Hogan-Rao is a journalism student at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York and a summer intern at Spotlight News.