Have you ever gotten on a bike and realized you left your helmet behind? Then come the rationalizations; “I’m not really traveling that far, I don’t need it.”, or perhaps the goal is simply to avoid the dreaded “helmet hair.” Maybe you don’t even own a bike helmet.
“It’s like wearing a seatbelt,” said Carmen Lofgren, a ward clerk at Kaiser Permanente’s Irvine Medical Center and an advocate of bicycle helmet safety, comparing the safety benefits of bicycle helmets to the most important safety development in automobiles.
Carmen Lofgren probably understands more than anyone else how a bicycle helmet can mean the difference between life and death. In September 2014, her son Gary was on his way to play football with some friends, just a few blocks from home. While cycling, was thrown from his bike and landed in the middle of the road after he hit debris on the roadway. He was not wearing a helmet.
“It used to be that people balked at wearing their seatbelts when they went riding in a car. Now it’s practically second nature. We need to think of bicycle helmets as the new seatbelt for safety.” added Carmen Lofgren
While the rest of his body was largely unscathed by the accident, Gary later died from injuries he sustained to his head. He was just 25 years old. See his full story in the OC register.
Helmets can’t always save lives, but they can reduce the risk of a serious head injury. And although the important for kids to wear helmets, adults are often not held to the same standard. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have helmet-use laws that apply to young bicyclists, but not to older riders.
Lofgren is working with Kaiser Permanente and others to erase the unnecessary stigma around bicycle helmets by sharing Gary’s story and encouraging everyone to wear a helmet and be safe during physical activity.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to the health and safety of their members and are proud to support efforts such as the Vision Zero Network and organizations such as the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, working to ensure that our communities are safe for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages.