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Bicycle helmets: The last line of defense for cyclists


While many cyclists enjoy the great outdoors cycling throughout California, particularly during a pandemic, sudden accidents can result in severe and potentially fatal injuries. Immediate medical attention is paramount. A cyclist recovers, and a bike is repaired or replaced.

However, the helmet’s condition could become an issue, whether after a collision or wear and tear over time.

When to replace?

Wearing a helmet is not to be taken lightly. Studies reveal that wearing one reduces the chance of serious head trauma by 70 percent. Those involved in collisions should prioritize getting a new helmet before getting back on the bike. Even if the helmet’s outer shell seems to be intact, the interior foam may have been damaged. Compression of the material can compromise safety.

Even simple wear and tear may require replacement headgear. Manufacturers recommend replacing helmets every three to five years.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that bicyclists buy new helmets every five to ten years unless the manufacturers provide different parameters in replacements. In addition to damage, exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can compromise its safety.

The Snell Foundation, known for one of the strictest standards for helmet safety, recommends a new helmet close to every five years.

Universal standards are sorely lacking, with recommendations coming down to bicyclists having to make judgment calls. Many are fond of their old helmets that they have kept in good condition. Whether it was a gift or special significance, continuing to wear it while riding is probably not all that risky.

A bicycle helmet serves as a last line of defense for cyclists. Proper maintenance and timely replacement can mean the difference between minor and life-changing injuries.