Thursday, August 29, 2013


It's my pet peeve when I see people riding bikes without helmets. Especially kids. Seeing enough brain injuries will do that to you.

There are these two girls (age 8 or 9) who are always riding their bikes in the parking lot of our housing complex. At one point, one of them zipped out of nowhere and I almost hit her. Granted, I wasn't going very fast, but she's a little kid with a little skull. It freaked me out.

I rolled down my window and firmly told the girls that they absolutely need to be wearing helmets. That it's really dangerous. They said they understood and went back inside.

Well, guess what? Yesterday I saw them riding around again with no helmets.

I don't know what to do. Obviously, yelling at them is pointless. Do I seek out their mom and tell her? I get the feeling I'm just going to be told that it's none of my business. I'm really not a busybody and I think it's obnoxious to tell people their child is doing something wrong. But this is a safety issue!


  1. It is especially frustrating for me, as a pediatric NP, to go over this during physicals only to be told, by the child "I don't need a helmet, I know how to ride a bike" or "i'm too big for a helmet" or "I only ride on the sidewalk", etc. You get the idea...I talk about head injuries, I compare their head to an egg, etc. I tell them I wear a helmet when I ride my bike (I do!).

    In one ear and out the other...

  2. What are the laws where you live. We have lived on post forever and the rules are if you have wheels you must have a helmet. The MPs will even take their bike and make mom come get it.

  3. OMG I want to scream in agreement with you! I got into a bad bike accident this summer and my helmet was cracked in two places -- I do not want to know what would have happened without it! People who ride sans helmets must have morbid wishes! So ^&*%ing easy to slap one on!!! Ack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. It's a law where I live that children have to wear helmets when biking. Maybe talk to the mom and, if the kids still don't comply, call Social Services?

  5. It would be good to let the parent(s) be aware of the situation. That their child almost hit YOUR car while they were terrorizing your parking lot with their bicycles. I kid!

    I think letting the parent(s) know how fearful you were of being almost responsible for striking their small children with your car while they were being kids on their bikes is a good idea. Don't supply your own judgement or answers. Let them figure it out. Once you start suggesting things I think is where your fear of being obnoxious would come out. Though still perfectly reasonable to suggest helmets!

  6. Not sure if it's a stupid idea - If you know which apartment they live, you can send an anonymous letter to the parents.

  7. or you can ask the staff at rental office to send out a memo to everyone regarding the bike safety.

  8. Unless there are local laws about children wearing bike helmets, there's not much you can do. We live in a world where parents are allowed to make (most) decisions about their child's health and safety. It's hard to believe the children's parents don't know they're riding around sans helmets. It is not your responsibility to protect these children.

  9. I'd say something to the parents, but be prepared to get screeched at. Doing the right thing isn't always easy.

  10. I saw a different set of kids riding without helmets today. Clearly this is a pervasive issue....

  11. Save some pics of what happens when a vunerable, unprotected skull meets with a car/pavement etc. and show them.

  12. Yes, Jan has a good idea! Just like with STD's and unprotected sex or with those tobacco commercials where people have a hole in their neck, kids will get freaked out by the disgusting pictures showing oozing brains, people in wheelchairs that can't move their body from neck down. I think that's your best bet.

    1. Absolutely. why not? pictures are worth a thousand words.

  13. These are probably the same kinds of parents who let their young children drive ATVs without helmets or supervision. Every time I hear about a kid getting killed while riding an ATV, I want to strangle the parents.

    Can't fix stupid.

  14. people asking about laws on this is what is wrong with this country.
    A) Natural Selection
    B) If the kid cracks their head open, we got Obama care and Obama phones (they are Reagan phones but why let the truth get in the way)
    C) Why are you still in an apartment? If you must live stacked in a people arehouse at least buy a condo. Please tell me you have a beach house or Mountain cabin and the apartment is only a place to sleep because of work.
    D) IF you must (and I admit if I was in your shoes I would) talk to the parents point out you don't want their kids as patients
    E)I would point out to the apartment complex managment the exsposure they have allowing kids to bike, skate, use scooters etc without helments on in the first place (this liablity is another thing wrong with this country, if your dumb ass slef gets hurt, why do I have to pay just cause you choose to be a dumb ass in my pie patch?

  15. Parents probably know and will just yell at you about how it's their children and not your decision to make.

    People are just really stupid.

  16. Perhaps one might first lookup accident statistics -- the absolute numbers of brain injuries on bicycles are laughably small.

    But if you absolutely want a law on something, I recommend outlawing those evil cars that run kids over, causing the above injuries in the first place. It's for the children!

    Next, get *more* people to ride, and one good way to do this is by getting rid of helmet laws (and neon-coloured spandex, too, while we are at it). If you make cycling a complicated affair instead of just getting on a bike and pedalling, you do not get more helmet-wearing cyclists; you get more motorists, and a far smaller cyclist population with a minor increase in helmet-wear rates. And more T2DM, heart disease, and so on. Discouraging people from cycling while criticising the ever-climbing obesity rate is somewhat schizophrenic.

    Socially, there is a difference between intentional harm and accidents. You would be expected to intervene in the former, but the latter are none of your business unless the children are yours.

    There you have it: A minority of one. Every other comment in this thread was, I believe, of the "It's for the children!" variety, claiming that nothing is too much trouble to prevent an extremely rare but still possible injury -- except giving up one's car. Now _that_ would be too much trouble by far, wouldn't it?

    Felix, the grumpy cyclist.

    1. These are actual bike stats from New York:

      Almost three-quarters of fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury.
      Nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet.

      And overall:

      Estimated indirect costs for injuries to unhelmeted cyclists are $2.3 billion yearly.
      In bicycle crashes, 2/3 of the dead and 1/8 of the injured suffered brain injuries.
      95% of bicyclists killed in 2006 reportedly were not wearing helmets.

      But, you know, you could come up with stats to prove anything. Even the truth.

    2. ... and there were a total of what, 780 or so? [NHTSA] bike-related deaths in 2006. For *all* of the US. Percentages are great, right?

      Estimated costs says little about what the costs would be for helmeted cyclists.

      95% of all cyclists in 2006 weren't wearing helmets, which makes that "97% of the killed" number fairly meaningless.

      I don't contend that helmets are entirely useless. I do say that (a) we already discourage self-powered transport to an unhealthy degree and (b) we look at the problem from the wrong side.

      Injury severity increases with kinetic energy (roughly). That is why (England, 2009) 80+% of head injuries including band-aids were "fell off the bike" but just about all the severe and catastrophic brain injury was with MVCs (car vs. cyclist).

      Israel repealed its helmet laws in 2010. Officials predicted a flood of high-severity brain injuries. Didn't happen.

      And so on.

      As I said before, if you really want to do something for safety, have all motors in passenger vehicles replaced with pedals.

      One small aside -- I generally hesitate to post links to Wikipedia. But there is a nice piece of text with links to just about all the primary sources I would quote and that you would, too; the article is neutral, more so than I like :-).


    3. So, because there were *only* (?) 780 accidents, kids are cool without helmets. That totally makes sense! I guess we should just prevent accidents then and these kids' noggins will be just fine without protection.

      Fizzy, I'd check your state laws. In PA, if a police officer sees a child riding a bicycle without a helmet, their parents get a $25 ticket and a court date. If they show up with a receipt for a helmet, the ticket goes away. If not, the $25 goes to a fund for bicycle safety awareness/education projects.

  17. Not only bikes, but what about motorcyclists? I have witnessed a number of people riding motor bikes without helmets. A family member of mine almost list her life. Since she had a helmet, she survived. But what about those who don't.

  18. Perhaps they don't have helmets because their parents didn't want to buy them for them? There are free helmet programs out there, depending on the city, but most Peds ERs have some sort of resource towards it.

    We all agree with you (graphic images in mind), but maybe in their parents' estimation/economics, they don't ride far, long or often "enough" to get a helmet. With a free one and some dialogue though, maybe you can change that!

  19. When I'm in a similar situation I feel like I have a personal responsibility to try. Maybe only 1 in 1,000 parents will be open to your comment/suggestion, but what are the potential risks/benefits? Risk: you will annoy your neighbors. Benefit: you will [indirectly] save a child's life. I'd rather be annoying, personally.