Bicycling has skyrocketed in popularity since COVID-19 breached the borders of the United States. The opportunity to be outdoors without worrying about adhering to all the mandated protocols made two-wheel transports “trend” like never before.
As bicycling initially evolved, companies jumped on the bandwagon to manufacture helmets with varying levels of quality and safety. While some helped minimize head injuries in crashes, others were less effective in preventing physical damage.
Much-needed improvements in bicycle helmets
Over time, technology and innovation began playing a role in the manufacturing of helmets. In tests mandated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than half of bicycle helmets — totaling 73 out of 139 – sold on the market and worn by cyclists nationwide have earned five-star ratings, according to the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab. In 2018, only four out of 30 received the top ranking.
While cyclists are encouraged to purchase and wear four to five-star helmets, and any type of headgear is better than going without, they should also consider cost, fit, and comfort. Cyclists should also know that improvements help to prevent head impact accelerations that result in skull fractures or brain injuries. Forces that can lead to concussions currently lack similar requirements, even though these types of injuries are much more common.
In the end, sales of five-star helmets come down to retailers encouraging their customers to get them. Educating storeowners to help their customers choose safety over cost savings is not as much about profits and bottom lines as it is protection and safety.
Sadly, bicycle helmets cannot prevent the actions of a negligent cyclist or motor vehicle operator who is impaired or negligent, resulting in serious, if not fatal, injuries.