When we first learn to ride bikes as kids, we are equipped with a helmet, knee and elbow pads, fluorescent clothing for visibility on the road and a reminder to look both ways when crossing the street. While it may seem silly to remember the precautions taken as a child, it’s important to remember that bicycle safety doesn’t only apply to kids. According to cyclehelmets.org, bicycling accidents cause approximately 1,300 deaths per year; both adults and children make up that total. There is proof that the use of a helmet could have prevented death in many of those instances. In fact, cyclehelmets.org estimates that helmets could have prevented about 87 percent of those deaths.
We have heard the consequences of a tragic fall or getting hit by a car on the way home; however, college students generally tend to be ignore basic bicycle safety. Helmets aren’t exactly a positive fashion statement and they aren’t conducive to maintaining a certain hairstyle either. But is that really worth risking your life?
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle has been a city law in Spokane since 2004. Although Whitworth is located just inside Spokane County, the law should still be followed as a safety precaution.
Although not heavily enforced around the Spokane area, this law was made to ensure bicycle safety. It is a law that is neglected by many. This board feels that the Whitworth community should abide by the law, even though it technically doesn’t apply to our location. Our city leaders have seen the devastating effects of irresponsible riding and their actions to curb biking accidents should speak loudly to us.
It may not be a huge deal if bike riding only occurs on campus. The chances of getting hit by a car or crashing into a tree between your dorm room and class are slim. But once you are faced with a high-traffic street such as Division, chances of an accident increase. The lack of bike lanes on many of the roads in Spokane also means that bikers need to take personal steps to ensure their own safety. Along with these considerations, riding your bike at night can increase the danger of being in an accident.
Properly-designed helmets work to absorb the force of a fall or crash that would normally cause head injuries. The thick foam that molds to the head of a helmet user surrounds the skull and serves as a wall of protection; this can be crucial due to the fragility of our skulls. With wide availability and inexpensive costs, they are accessible to almost anyone. Still, people choose not to wear them for various reasons. Some are opposed because they believe that a simple bike ride should not necessitate armor, even if it is just across campus. Some believe that helmets cannot truly save them in the event of an accident. At this stage in life, most people just tend to feel invincible. They hear the statistics and they know the facts, but they believe it will never be them. Despite safe bike riding, drivers of cars cannot always be trusted to have bicyclists’ best interest in mind, therefore putting bicyclists at a constant disadvantage. All it takes is one wrong move or one irresponsible driver.
This board urges the Whitworth community to make bicycle safety a priority. For those who rely heavily on biking for transportation, the investment in a helmet is an important one. It may feel inappropriate and one may even get some weird looks, but the results of an accident are much worse. For those who bike at night, reflective clothing or bike lights may also be a good investment.
No matter how childish, ridiculous or sweaty a helmet may be, looking cool on a bike is not worth the consequences that come after an accident. You are never too old to remember that voice that you heard as a child saying, “Wear your helmet and look both ways.”
Whitworthian Editoral Board
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