Recent decades have seen an explosion in the amount of bicycling around the Chicago area among riders of all ages. With it, the rise of Chicago’s reputation as a cycling city has emerged to rival that of many large cities across the country. If all cyclists and drivers act responsibly, riding a bicycle can continue to be a viable means of transit around the city.
But to ensure safety, experts recommend that all those who ride – regardless of their age – use a Consumer Product Safety Commission approved helmet whenever they take to their bikes. It is estimated that the proper use of an approved helmet can reduce 85 percent of all head injuries sustained by American cyclists, including those who are involved in accidents in Illinois.
Yet if you are new to bicycling or if you have never used a helmet before, you may not know what to look for in a proper helmet. However, it is critical that you choose a helmet that meets all safety features and that fits for your purposes.
First, remember that a bicycle helmet is a safety feature and not a fashion accessory. When purchasing one, try to avoid a gut reaction to pick out a helmet simply because it is in your favorite color or it will match one of your favorite jackets. Instead, focus on the manufacturing specifications of the helmets and review the functionality of it, regardless of what it looks like.
Next, pick out a helmet that is an appropriate size for you. Children should be wearing youth helmets that fit their age range while adults should only wear helmets in an adult size. It might be tempting to buy a bigger helmet so a child can “grow into it” but doing so would be a big mistake – a secure fit is crucial for the helmet to function appropriately.
It is a good idea to try on a helmet before you buy it so you can verify whether it will provide you with an appropriate fit. No helmet is ready to be worn immediately out of the box so make sure you take the time to adjust it as necessary so that it is snug on your head. The helmet itself should be level from front to back and it should be no more than two inches above your eyebrows at the front. There should not be extra space between your head and the padding that surrounds the helmet so make sure you have contact between the interior of the helmet and the exterior of your head at all points.
When buckling the helmet, make sure that the buckle that connects the straps below your ears is centered under your chin and not to one side or up by one ear. Also tighten the strap so that it is snug, and if you opened your mouth, the helmet would be pulled down slightly over your head in response. Failing to keep the strap tight will not let the helmet sit snugly on your head and may enable the helmet to come lose in the event of a fall.
Finally, remember that no bicycle helmet is designed to last forever. A general rule of thumb is that helmets should be replaced every five (5) years or more often if the manufacturer recommends it to ensure that the helmet will still function as designed. Like many products, the materials in a bicycle helmet will break down over time and the protection offered by a helmet will suffer in response.
As a cyclist, you can pick out the safest helmet, follow all applicable laws, and yet still be injured if others around you act in a negligent or irresponsible manner. If this happens to you, know that you may have legal rights that entitle you to seek financial compensation for your damages.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. have spent years representing victims of bicycling accidents and if you were hurt as well, we want to represent you. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation to victims who call us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and we keep a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you.
When tragedy occurs, think Abels & Annes, P.C. and let our team help you get back on your feet.
Prior Blog Entry:
Bizarre Car Crash Caused by Woman Scared by Spider, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 22, 2015.