Eric (Eni) Enescu

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t wearing a helmet. I was unfortunate enough to be involved in multiple accidents where my only saving grace was a helmet. Knowing this, it is sad to see how many people still ride their bikes without helmets, even though everyone has at least heard of a helmet saving someone’s life.

Even though you can not completely eliminate all forms of head injuries, you can at least reduce their severity. Helmets play a major part in reducing injury, but they are only one part of the overall safety precautions to take while cycling. This also includes clothing, armour, shoes and so on.

Wearing protective gear is one of the best things to do to reduce injury from a crash. I know what you might be thinking: “wouldn’t it make me look awkward or dorky?” To that I say: au contraire. Elbow and knee pads are regularly used by pro downhillers, and they look awesome. Proper cycling attire made from dyneema fibres will greatly reduce road rash, while making you look pro. Helmets are now lightweight, comfortable and rather stylish while still being functional. Gloves make you more comfortable while riding and will also protect your palms if you happen to fall off your bike. Also, don’t be lazy. Even if it is hot, wearing flip-flops is just going to end with badly scraped soles, I can attest to that, sadly.

Protecting yourself from having a crash also includes preventing a crash. Get your bike in proper working order! It’s not complicated to do so. Inflate your tires regularly, lubricate your chain now and then, and for anything more complicated, just bring it to any reputable bike shop. They are the best place to fix your bike and to judge whether or not it is safe to ride. You could also get quite good deals on new bikes this time of year.

After that, just get good at riding bikes. Learn how to ride comfortably, how to ride relatively straight, how to stop safely, how to corner but above all, follow the law. They were made for a reason: to protect you. If you ride on the wrong side of the road, of course you will almost get run over by a car. The same goes for lights at night. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t enjoy suddenly having to swerve while driving to avoid a person dressed in black at night, let alone if they are coming towards me at 25KPH.

Cycling is a fantastic sport for many reasons. However, we should realize that it is dangerous and that we should take the necessary precautions to nullify these dangers. Note that all the precautions we can take to protect ourselves only reduces the risks. They do not eliminate them. A helmet will greatly reduce the magnitude of a serious injury, but will not completely eliminate it. Be safe while riding. Remember, you are riding because you enjoy it, so don’t act cocky and ruin it for yourself.

Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol. 48 Issue 02 on September 26, 2018

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