As the Boston and New England bicycle season begins, riders of all ages should be reminded to wear a bicycle helmet while cycling. This simple yet effective safety device can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%.
A bicycle helmet should have a snug but comfortable fit on the rider’s head. If a parent is buying a helmet for a child, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that the child accompany the parent so that the helmet can be tested for a good fit. For a helmet to provide protection during impact, it must have a chin strap and buckle that will stay securely fastened. No combination of twisting or pulling should remove the helmet from the head or loosen the buckle on the strap. Children should be instructed to always wear the helmet level on the forehead, not tilted back. The chin strap should be adjusted correctly and firmly buckled.
Bicycle helmets are required by federal law to meet the CPSC standard. When purchasing a helmet, consumers are urged to examine the helmet and accompanying instructions and safety literature carefully. Here are some helpful safety tips:
- Make sure the helmet is safe. Look for a seal of approval from organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or Snell Memorial Foundation.
- Make sure it fits snugly. You shouldn’t be able to move the bicycle helmet more than one inch in any direction, front to back or side to side. The sizing pads included with every bicycle helmet can help make the fit more secure. If you have long hair, consider a helmet with a ponytail port.
- Think about visibility. If the bicycle helmet straps block your vision — even a little bit — choose another helmet. Likewise, make sure motorists and other cyclists can see you. Choose a white or brightly colored helmet. Some helmets even come with light.