| Family Vacations, Summer 1996|
Take a cantaloupe and drop it from chest level. The fruit lands with a sickening thud, oozing seeds and juice from the gash in its rind. Take another cantaloupe, strap it into a bike helmet, and drop it from the same height. This one lands intact. Now imagine that cantaloupe is your head in a bike crash. This demonstration is a favorite of the Youth Bike League, which conducts bike safety assemblies at schools nationwide to impress upon kids the importance of wearing a helmet.
Every year, 560,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms for bicycling injuries; 1,000 die. Eight out of ten cycling deaths are a result of brain injury. According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, helmets reduce the risk of head injury in a bike crash by 85 percent. At last count, 13 states have enacted mandatory helmet laws for minors: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.
When buying a helmet, look inside for a certification sticker from either the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing Materials, or the Snell Memorial Foundation. To fit your helmet, make sure it sits level on your head--straight over the brow--and that the chin strap is tight, with only a finger's width of space between strap and chin. The helmet shouldn't move when buckled.
For catalogs, contact Giro Sport Design, 408-457-4476; Specialized Bicycle Components, 408-779-6229; Troxel, 800-456-3010; Louis Garneau, 800-448-1984; or Bell Sports, 800-776-5677.
Copyright 1996, Outside magazine