Will your bicycle or motorcycle helmet protect you from head injury when you need it most?
True a motorcycle helmet is not the same type of animal as a bicycle helmet - motorcycle helmets are designed to take a much greater impact where bicycle helmets are not made for much impact at all. Bicycle helmets have become controversial to cyclists because the helmet is not much protection for a cyclist at all from a car impact. Many cyclists choose to not wear a helmet because it gives car drivers a false impression of their protection yet with a helmet or not a cyclist is as vulnerable as a pedestrian.
What Can A Bicycle Helmet Do?
Why Cycle UK - A good site and a good piece on the pro’s and cons of bicycle helmets.
[…] Cycle helmets are only designed and tested to withstand an impact equivalent to an average weight rider travelling at a speed of 12 mph falling onto a stationary kerb shaped object from a height of 1 metre. Helmets are not tested nor expected to be able to offer full protection if you come into contact with a vehicle which is moving. […]
Yet, bicycle helmets as manditory for all cyclists regardless of age is a contentious issue, and one which many say does not help cycling safety.
LA Times Editorial
[…] A bill in the Legislature to mandate helmets for all bicyclists is based less on evidence of significant benefit than on the mantra that it’s worthwhile if even a single life is saved. […] If it were, the state would require pedestrians to wear body armor; after all, five times as many pedestrians are killed in street accidents than are bicyclists. […]
BSI Standard 6863:1987 [...] The level of protection offered is less than that given by helmets for motorcycle riders and is intended to give protection in the kind of accident in which the rider falls onto the road without other vehicles being involved [...]
And still many more easy practical problems arise with helmets, for motorcycle riders as well as cyclists.
For one thing, if you are going to wear a helmet, make sure it fits.
Many bicycle and motorcycle riders may not be aware that their helmet needs to be replaced from time to time, and definitely after any impact because the helmet may be compromised in ways that you can not see. How much impact is enough to change your crush liner on your helmet? What if all you see is a little ding but assume your helmet is ok? The simple fact is that your helmet may not be ok. There are some helmet manufacturers that will inspect your helmet to make sure that it is in proper working order. This is helpful since motorcycle helmets especially can be quite expensive.
Replacing your bicycle helmet or motorcycle helmet is important because the construction may deteriorate and it may not be as effective at protecting you. There is an important "crush liner" in your helmet which may not protect you if it deteriorates or takes any impact. That crush liner is designed to help absorb the impact; once it has been deployed, it will not offer your head the same protection. In addition, other materials in your helmet may just break down over time as well causing your helmet to lose effectiveness.
For both bicycle and motorcycle riders, a better signal of when an impact means their helmet should be replaced would be quite helpful, helmets are expensive and it might just be that you dropped your helmet onto concrete but it was quite a crash and now you worry you might be taking chances with your head. Technically, this is what the experts advise should be time to replace your helmet otherwise you could be taking a chance with your helmet when you really need it. Some helmets can be taken to the manufacturer to inspect and make sure they are still in good working order.
Bicycle helmets and motorcycle helmets must be replaced from time to time in order to stay in their best working order and protect you when you hit your head. Most experts say, for both bicycle helmets and for motorcycle helmets, that you should replace your helmet every 2 – 3 years. Motorcycle helmets should have the year they were made stamped on the chin straps (since after 1974). Motorcycle safety promoters also suggest that helmets get better and better and prices actually have fallen, both of which mean you might get a better and more comfortable helmet for less money than your older helmet.
For both bicycle and motorcycle riders, a better indicator of when a particular impact means their helmet should be replaced would be quite helpful. Helmets are expensive and it might just be that you dropped your helmet onto concrete, but it was quite a crash, and now you worry you might be taking chances with your head. Technically, this is what the experts advise should be time to replace your helmet, otherwise you could be taking a chance with your helmet when you really need it. Some helmets can be taken to the manufacturer to inspect and make sure they are still in good working order.
A new prototype invention exists however for bike helmets. It is a crush liner that emits a foul smell, stink, if the crush liner is activated. The smell is how you know that your helmet now needs to be replaced!
Some bicycle riders say this is an awful idea and very impractical for bicycle commuting since if you crash on your way to some engagement, does this smell stay with you on your head? Nevertheless, it is promising and something that motorcycle riders with their even more expensive helmets might be envious of, and await the motorcycle version of this feature.