Adventures in life and photography out West

I Mean It

I like to write “Have fun, be safe” when I finish my column. I’m serious when I write this. Cyclists, even casual cyclists, wear little more than a covering of cotton or polyester. This is not much to protect a person. The one thing any cyclist can wear to improve his or her chances of surviving an accident is a helmet.
I’ve ranted about this before, and I know even my most liberal friends have the “You can’t make me” attitude. Well, no, I suppose I can’t. Let’s look at this from an economic standpoint, however.

I crashed a few months back, I had a little crash. I broke my collarbone. It cost, in total, just under $500 with the visits to the doctor, follow-up visits and three rounds of x-rays. This is still only what one might be charged for visiting an emergency room.

One of our locals who happens to be a bike commuter got to spend a lot of time in intensive care. One day in an ICU without a ventilator can run as much as $6,000. On a ventilator, this will run in the neighborhood of $10,000. An expensive bike helmet runs $300.

Your chances of surviving a crash, even one involving a car, double just by wearing a helmet.

I’ve heard people say, “Well, it screws up my hair.” Any idea how surgical scars affect your hairline? How about your ability to take care of your hair?

I have a friend who told me, “Well, we don’t go as fast as you do.” Cars don’t care how fast you are going. If a motorist is not paying attention, they can clip you and it won’t matter if you were screaming down the street or tooling along on a bike path. What will make the biggest difference, make your survival, or that of your children, more likely is weather or not you are wearing a helmet.

Dumbest argument ever; I’d rather die than be paralyzed. Your chances of paralysis and death both are a great deal higher without a helmet. Your chances of surviving without either is much better if you just wear a helmet. I’d rather not die or be paralysed.

I’ve been hit by a car. The motorist was paying more attention to the McDonald’s drive through than whether I happened to be in the on-coming traffic lane. I minimized my injuries because I saw the car and assumed he didn’t see me and I wore my helmet. I bounced across the hood of the car and skidded across the sidewalk. I got a few bandages from the emergency room and was a little beat up.

When I came across the accident last week, it was at an intersection along South St. Vrain. It was at a point where an inattentive motorist might clip or cut off a cyclist, either on the street or coming down the trail. I saw the bike on the side of the road. I didn’t yet know who had taken the hit, but it didn’t take much imagination to put together what likely happened.

If you are a motorist, please look for these folks. Yes, you will survive the run in, but you will live with the feeling that you hit someone with your car. Please pay attention.

If you are a cyclist, assume the cars don’t see you. Assume that they are on a cell phone or paying attention to kids in the car, or just in a big hurry. Be defensive. Be extra careful. Wear a helmet.

Not wearing a helmet doesn’t hurt “The Man.” Not wearing a helmet doesn’t make you look cool. Not wearing a helmet is not economically smart, not quicker, not smarter. I will tell you it will make the difference between a 35-cent bandage and $10,000 medical bill.

If you are making a vigorous argument to not wear a helmet, you are just being dumb.

Have fun, be safe. Please wear a helmet. I’m going riding.

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