It turns out that the single biggest reason for people opting not to wear a bicycle helmet is that they do not look cool or fashionable. Yet, it is all too clear in the minds of Canadians that that single, off-handed decision could net the ultimate price. When it comes down to it, statistics demonstrate it is clearly a case of informed people—children and adults alike—choosing fashion before the fall.
The problem is multi-faceted. For starters, laws and regulations need to be enforceable.
Having laws in place that make wearing a helmet mandatory while partaking in recreational activity, not legislated by any kind of motor vehicle act, is a big part of the challenge. Getting people to actually wear helmets is quite another. As it stands, it seems that people have the impression that helmet safety regulations are mandatory “by choice.”
Another facet of the problem is that when people do choose to don protective head gear it is often done half-heartedly: sometimes the helmet is worn too far back on the head, sometimes the straps are left loose, sometimes the safety clips are not secured. The word from bicycle safety advocate groups is that if it is not worn properly, the helmet won’t do the job it is supposed to do. A poorly secured helmet provides little or no protection in the event of a crash.
More than 97 per cent of Canadians understand that helmets prevent serious head injuries. Of these, a very small percentage—three per cent—say that price is a legitimate reason for not wearing one. Yet many people simply won’t go to the trouble of strapping one on.
After almost three decades of concerted effort and campaigning, the problem of cycling helmet safety still exists. It’s a problem that demonstrates there is a real need to somehow convince Canadians to convert this knowledge into decisive action.
Best practices on the subject suggest that if aesthetics is really an issue, take the extra time to purchase a helmet that addresses the cool factor. Shop for a helmet with the same attitude that might be employed when choosing a new outfit for a once-in-a-lifetime gala event. Ensure the right fit. Ensure it meets aesthetic requirements. Make sure it is worn properly. Live to ride again.