With the multitude of bike riders present in the city, it is more important than ever to take advantage of safety equipment when riding—something not all riders do. It is likely not hard to spot a significant portion of riders who choose to forego the safety gear available to wear when riding a bicycle. In particular, wearing a bike helmet or other forms of protective head gear is of the utmost importance in avoiding many of the more serious injuries that can result in a bike accident.
One rider recounted an incident which occurred last summer, when he was not wearing a helmet. As he attempted to navigate his bike over a curb, his tire popped off its frame, causing the bike to come down on the concrete and immediately stop. The rider flew directly over the handlebars and ended up breaking his cheekbones and the orbit around one of his eyes. In addition, the impact narrowed his spinal canal which caused him to lose function in his legs and arms for several months. As if that was not bad enough, he also suffered brain damage.
Medical professionals are warning that many injuries resulting from bike crashes could be prevented by wearing a helmet. One doctor estimated that over 80 percent of patients he has seen who have suffered fatal injuries from a bicycle-related trauma were not wearing protective head gear.
Bike Sharing Programs
Some are saying that statistically, bike share program riders are less likely to wear helmets than other riders. On the other hand, it seems that such programs have led to more bike riders being on the road, which has risen awareness of rider safety. There does seem to be a need, however, to link program riders with helmet use. Of the cities with rideshare programs, a recent study found a 14 percent increase in the proportion of head injuries in bike accident patients.
While this increase cannot be directly linked to helmets not being used, bike programs in Chicago have reported that they are looking into ways of making helmets available near their stations. The idea is that if helmets were available with the bike rental, more people would wear them. It is notable that Illinois is one of only two states in the country that does not have a law regarding bicycle helmet use.
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