The Northfield I See: Summer Safety

Bike riding is a fun way to get some exercise, enjoy the summer, and get around town. Wearing a helmet makes it safe.

Driving home on Monday afternoon, I gasped so loud my boyfriend almost slammed on the brakes. What? What happened? Did I hit something? What did you see? 

A little boy was riding his bike at top speed, racing with his older brother on a narrow sidewalk pressed against a busy road. Cars whizzed by and he went faster and faster, and the faster he went the more he wobbled. He teetered back and forth, peddling as fast as his little legs would take him.

And then he fell.

Heart racing, stomach sick, I gasped.

“Can we go see if he’s OK?”

He was sitting on a bench with his brother. No blood, head unscathed—I breathed a sigh of relief.

When I was 6, my mom received a phone call from her doctor’s office. Her appointment had been cancelled due to her physician’s death. When I asked what happened to her, she told me what the nurse said: she was riding her bike without her helmet, ran over a rock, lost her balance, fell, hit her head and died.

My high school history teacher lost her brother the same way when he was a teenager.

Just the other day a co-worker told me about a guy he knows, a fitness enthusiast, who fell off his bike and broke his jaw, broke his collarbone and lost several teeth. His helmet’s the only reason he’s still here.

I think about these things every time I see a person riding their bike without a helmet.  

Bike riding is a great summer activity for kids and adults. It’s good exercise, it’s free, it’s environmentally friendly transportation, it’s a chance to enjoy the nice weather—but just like you wear a seat belt in a car, it’s important to wear helmet on a bike.

Your head is too important not to!

New, quality bike helmets are available for $10 at the of , Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm


Northfield Ambulance Garage (call to arrange pickup)

(507) 646-1414

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Soraya Dangor June 04, 2012 at 06:26 PM
From the Minnesota Department of Health: http://www.health.state.mn.us/injury/best/best.cfm?gcBest=bike “National data show that in the event of a crash, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by at least 85% If each rider wore a helmet, an estimated 500 bicycle-related fatalities and 151,000 nonfatal head injuries would be prevented each year. This amounts to one death per day and one injury every four minutes.” From the National Highway Traffic Safety administration http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles *click link on right side of page: Bicycle helmets prevent injuries • Bicycle helmets are 85 to 88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries, making the use of helmets the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. • Despite the fact that nearly 70 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, only about 20 to 25 percent of all bicyclists wear bicycle helmets. • Universal bicycle helmet use by children 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries, and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.
Sean Hayford Oleary June 04, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Soraya: I don't think your comment really addresses my concerns. I said nothing to indicate that I believe helmets to be ineffective (though I would encourage you to look at that "A helmet saved my life!" link of Griff's). My point is that, effective or not, it doesn't help our community health to drill on the dangers of bicycling with this kind of gore. Let's be positive to ALL bicycling, and promote it. Some people prefer to wear a helmet, and feel comfortable riding that way. That's great. But some people simply do not want to wear one -- and even stop riding altogether when they're required to (a 30% reduction in ridership after establishment of a mandatory helmet law is typical). For those people, I'd far rather see them riding unhelmeted than not riding at all.
Richard Burton June 05, 2012 at 07:46 AM
Soraya, Both the sources you use in your reply refer to the 85% figure, widely quoted and completely wrong - not even supported by the researchers who produced it! This figure was produced by the grandaddies of helmet promotion, Thompson, Rivara and Thompson (TRT) who started with the belief that helmets were effective and set out to prove it, not exactly objective, and no other researcher has ever repeated their figures. Their methods were so bad that one commentator has said that it could be used to demonstrate to students how not to do research. Basically, they compared two small groups of children, with completely different characteristics and attributed the difference in injury rates to helmets. The first group were riding around parks with no motor traffic with their parents, and the second were riding around city streets on their own. I'm sure you can see why the lower injury rate to the first group was nothing to do with the fact that they were wearing helmets. The TRT research has been completely disproved on peer review, they don't even support the 85% figure themselves any more, and anyone still quoting it is either ignorant to the point of bliss or deliberately misleading the public. Perhaps you could contact the Minnesota Department of Health and the NHTSA and inform them of their mistake. Take a look at http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1139.html for a rather more balanced view.
A.L.S. June 09, 2012 at 12:50 AM
NICE ARTICLE ON BIKE SAFETY WITH CHILDREN....WHAT A SMART PARENT. Helmet likely saves Faribault child's life By JOSEPH LINDBERG jlindberg@faribault.com | Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 3:36 pm There is a strong likelihood that a 10-ounce orb of strategically placed foam and plastic saved a five-year-old boy’s life Thursday afternoon. Dutifully following his father down Rice Street in Faribault, Michael Morse Jr. lost control of his bike and hit a tree, breaking his cheekbone and his helmet. If he wasn’t wearing his helmet, he’d have broken more than his cheekbone. “There could have been serious brain injury,” said Dr. Melissa Apple, Morse Jr.’s doctor while standing just outside his hospital room. “You look at the helmet, that could have been his skull.” “He must have been going pretty fast,” said Morse Jr.’s father, Michael Morse Sr. Dr. Apple estimated that the District One Hospital emergency room gets several bike accidents a week during the summer. “Sadly, most kids aren’t wearing their helmet,” she said. Remembering to hand his son a helmet still sticks out in Morse Sr.’s brain. Sometimes, life hinges on the smallest decisions. Joseph Lindberg covers the city and county for the Daily News. He may be reached at 333-3135 or at Twitter.com @JosephLindberg
Mike Bull June 09, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I honestly don't understand the anti-helmet postings, Soraya. Thanks for your article.


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