I have two short accident stories I would like to share. The purpose of sharing these stories is to encourage other bicycle riders to always wear their helmet!
The first accident happened while I was riding locally on a residential street. A friendly dog came out of its yard to greet me and ran past on the right side going in the opposite direction, then made a U-turn behind me and ran up beside me on the left. About that time, the owner called the dog from a house on the right side of the street. The dog responded by running directly in front of my bike to return home.
My front wheel caught the dog directly in the ribcage. I lost control of my bike, went over the handlebars and hit the pavement. I got up to find that I had numerous abrasions and a slight headache. I knew that I had hit my head on the pavement, so when I returned home later I checked my helmet. I found that it had been cracked.
The second accident happened on an organized bicycle ride with hundreds of other riders. A friend and I were riding along on a major highway and pulled up behind a couple of other riders who were going somewhat slower than we were. We decided to pass, and my friend led the way. As we passed, I looked over at the other rider to exchange pleasantries. I didn't notice that my friend had slowed to do the same. I looked back about the same time my front wheel clipped my friend’s rear wheel. I lost control again and hit the pavement in the opposite lane just over the crest of a hill.
This time when I got up, I was a little groggy. The other riders who stopped to assist noticed the whole side of my helmet was broken and hanging by the strap. I was fortunate in two respects: one, that I was wearing a helmet and that it absorbed most of the impact instead of my head, and two, that a car did not pop over the hill while I was lying in the middle of the highway.
I'm not sure if wearing a helmet during either of these accidents was a lifesaver, but I am sure that I would have suffered more serious head injuries if I had not been wearing it!
Gary Ficklin is an Environmental Scientist II with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment