By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
Because I needed new knees a few years ago, I switched from running to biking as my main exercise. And since I’ve spent the last 4 years or so out on the bike trails in the Quad Cities, I’ve noticed more and more people out riding.
Bike riding is up all over the country. In fact, a recent study shows that 34% of all Americans age 3 and over rode a bike last year. And the number of people who commute to work by bicycle increased about 60% over the past decade.
One of the major reasons cited for NOT riding (or not riding much) is the fear of getting hit by a car. A survey found that, while most Americans want to bike more, 54 percent said that fear of getting hit by a car or truck holds them back.
Luckily for us in the Quad Cities, cyclists can easily avoid motor vehicles!
We enjoy extensive bike paths that wind through a variety of scenery and keep it interesting. On the Davenport side, there is a 29-30 mile loop connecting the riverfront with the Duck Creek path. Bettendorf adds its ever-growing web of widened multi-use sidewalks.
On the Illinois side, the Mississippi River trail travels 50+ miles from Sunset Marina up to Savannah. The Hennepin Canal trail spans 104.5 miles.
No matter where you bike, though, crashes involving motor vehicles, squirrels and uneven pavement are real hazards.
“I saw that concrete coming at me and knew I was in trouble.”
A few years ago, a buddy of mine took a nasty fall on his bike. He said, “I saw that concrete coming at me and knew I was in trouble. No way could I get my arms out in front of me in time to protect my head.”
He looked pretty beat up … and sheepish. He had never before worn a helmet. Today, you won’t see him biking without one.
Sadly, I see this all the time on my own bike rides. A helmetless guy and his helmeted girlfriend biking together. A helmetless dad pedaling with his protected family.
Guys, wear your helmets. Concrete is unforgiving. It’s a whole lot tougher than your skull.
Helmets can save lives. Or at least give you a better chance in case of an accident, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent. Of the 818 bicycle accident related deaths in 2015 (latest stats), 54% were not wearing a helmet, 17% were and the other 29 percent helmet use was undetermined.
Dads need to wear their helmets, not just to model good behavior (kids do what we do, not what we say), but to stay healthy and strong for their families.
If you think bicycle head injuries are rare, in fact, bicyclists suffer the most head injuries of any sport on an annual basis. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, its most recent stats show 85,000 cyclists were treated in emergency rooms for a head injury. In comparison, football was a distant second with 40,000 injuries.
So, put on your helmet … before you learn the hard way.