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Ray Keener: Wear it. Get your kids to wear it

Published October 3, 2012

My 19-year-old son Will crashed on his bike yesterday afternoon. Hit his head hard. He was wearing his Lazer helmet. He had a bit of a headache this morning.
He’s a much stronger rider and better bike handler than I’ll ever be. He was jamming through an intersection, trying to beat the light. He made it! Then he coasted. On his fixie. Over the bars.
Until age 12, Will wanted to wear his helmet. We’d see people riding without head protection, and he’d say, “Diapers!” As in, crash, hit your head, end up wearing a diaper.
Then peer pressure set in. He was the only 13-year-old wearing a helmet. He stopped. I fretted. And given all the OTHER teen issues we were dealing with, I decided not to push this one.
A couple years later, the light-bulb over my head went on. I’ll PAY him to wear it! A dollar a day. He agreed, and we went through months of me “reminding” him of the deal we’d made.
And then after a year or so, he went back to WANTING to wear it. Apparently the peer pressure had worn off. In fact, a couple of his friends started wearing theirs.
And he was wearing his, when he most needed it, yesterday. I was wiping away tears of relief this evening when he said to me, “I’m pretty sure I would have been knocked out or worse and laying in the intersection without it.”
So what’s my point here? First, please tell your kids, your spouse, whoever you know: “If you hit your head, tell me right away.” Someone with a rung bell is a terrible judge of their own state.
Second, to all you non-helmet wearers out there making arguments like: “Wearing a helmet makes you over-confident and unsafe.” Or: “Helmets discourage people from taking up cycling because it seems dangerous.”

Shut the f**k up. Wear a helmet or don’t and DON’T try to talk other people out of wearing theirs. Will and I agree, helmets shouldn’t be mandatory for adults. And discouraging helmet use by others is borderline criminal.
Third, if you have kids, beg them, bribe them, ground them, do whatever it takes to get and keep a helmet on their head. I was lucky. Will survived those couple years without one. Don’t trust your luck, trust a helmet!

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