For the Love of God, Stop Wearing Your Bike Helmet the Wrong Way

BY CHRISTINA BONNINGTON
01.18.14
@ 6:30 AM

Source: Wired

Helmet Worn Backwards Photo: © Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Helmet Worn Backwards
Photo: © Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Many of us at WIRED ride bikes as a part of our daily commute, or for sport. So do a lot of other people in the Bay Area. And every few weeks (or sooner), we notice something: Someone is wearing their helmet wrong. Terribly wrong.

The numbers speak for themselves: helmets save lives. So if you’re going to venture forth into the world on two wheels, one of the most important things you need to do is make sure you’re wearing a helmet. But you also need to make sure it fits properly, which means you need to be wearing it the right way.

First, make sure the thing is not backwards. Yes, we regularly see folks on the street wearing their helmets the wrong way. While holding it level, with the straps pointed towards the ground, check which end has a higher rise. This is designed to accommodate your face so you can actually see where you’re going. This is the front of the helmet. Most higher-end helmets these days have features like knobs for adjusting fit, or even lights on the rear that make telling front from back pretty obvious. But for some cheaper helmets, it’s perhaps a little less obvious — if you’re putting them on in the dark with your eyes closed.

Next, the fit. If your helmet is too small or too large, it’s not going to protect you when you inevitably hit a pothole or skid on black ice and your noggin greets the pavement. If you’re buying a new helmet and can’t try it on in person, measure the circumference of your head to determine what size to buy. If you don’t have flexible measuring tape, use string or a cloth, then measure that distance against a ruler or stiff measuring tape. Another thing you’ll want to check: Whether the helmet is approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If it is, there will be a CPSC sticker somewhere inside.

Now that you’ve got your helmet and it’s on the correct way, stand in front of a mirror. The helmet should sit level across your head, covering most of your forehead. It should not be tilted backwards, or at a jaunty angle. Trust me, that doesn’t make it look any cooler, and it’s not going to protect you properly. Once you’ve connected the chin strap, it should be tightened so that it’s situated just underneath your chin, with no more than a finger’s space between the strap and your skin (yeah, not like I did here. Mike and Jim are doing it right).

If your helmet has an adjustment knob on the back, you can twist that (usually to the right) to tighten it slightly, or to the left to loosen. When you shake your head, you don’t want the helmet to twist around.

Next, adjust the side straps so they make a V on either side of your ears with the point of the V just below your earlobes. Try to push the helmet forward on your head, and back. If you can move it more than an inch or so forwards, tighten the straps behind your ears. If it can slide backwards, tighten the straps in front of your ears.

Check that your helmet still fits correctly before each ride — sometimes things get loose, or get readjusted if you ride with a cap or headband underneath your helmet.

And remember, once you’ve crashed in a helmet, it’s trash — or at least a slightly morbid memento. It’s time to buy a new one.


TakeAways

Once again the Cycling Community has a really raunchy set of mixed messages. In this article the idea is that “helmets save lives“, replete with statistics. In a recent ChainLink thread a law firm is characterized as being:

Reply by Reboot Oxnard 2 hours ago
Ambulance chasing parasites.

For among other things pointing out that Divvy and other similar BikeShare rentals do not require or even offer helmets with their bikes. So the question is are helmets really safer? Does it mean that if a bike rental company does not give me one and I hit my noggin are they at fault?

The Danes think helmets are silly. Mikael Colville-Andersen has gone on record as saying that requiring helmets is a matter of “dangerization” of the activity of cycling.

So which is it? Are the Europeans right in saying that Protected Bike Lanes and Legal Prostitution are safer or that wearing helmets is one place where they are wrong?