Thursday, June 24, 2010

Black Children, Bicycles, and Helmets

"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold pilots."
- Aviator Expression

According to the CDC, Black children are at the highest risk for suffering a head injury than any other ethnic group in the United States. And every summer, I am reminded of one of the major factors as to why this is the case. It never fails: whenever I see Black children outside on their bicycles, they seldom wear helmets. And when I ask the children why this is the case, they always respond with the same excuse: "I am good enough to ride without a helmet."

My frustration is not with them, but with parents that allow their children to ride outside without a helmet. And if you are a parent that allows your child to ride a bicycle without a helmet, then yes I am talking about you! If a child does not want to wear their helmet, then they should not be allowed to ride a bicycle. Period. Bicycles are not toys. They are transportation vehicles, and all transportation vehicles have safety precautions. Cars have seatbelts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes. Bicycle helmets are an integral part of making bike riding safe. When a rider gets on a bike without a helmet, then that bike rider is making an unnecessary risk.

Why it is so widespread for Black Children to ride without helmets is something that I am sure could be examined, and root causes could be found. But no possible reason is a valid excuse. Bicycle helmets do not cost as much as bicyles. Helmets can cost as little as 12 dollars from K-Mart or Target. If you buy a bicycle, then you should buy a helmet.

A helmet can mean the difference between living a normal life and living in a vegetated state. It can mean the difference between having full intellectual capabilities and having a loss of cognition due to brain injury/shrinkage. But most of all... a bicycle helmet can mean the difference between life and death. Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.

In addition to the revolutionary improvements to the design of Rogallo gliders, helmets played a huge role in making Hang Gliding a safe sport.

Take a look at this video...

This is a Hang Glider Pilot that forgot to do a hang check, which is a procedure that hang glider pilots perform before every flight to make sure that they are properly hooked into the hang glider. The pilot could have lost his life because of this mistake. But fortunately, he only received a concussion. What saved his life? His helmet.

There are thousands of pilots in the USHPA, and only a handful of injuries each year. Be assured that one of the reasons for this is because of the adamant usage of helmets by all pilots on USHPA flying sites. On the other hand, bicycle-related head injuries are far more common, resulting in 3% of head injuries in the United States. Why? Because there are more bike riders that ride around carelessly with no helmets.

So if you are reading this blog and you are the parent of a young cyclist, then buy them a helmet and make sure that they wear it.

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