Safety Tips For Choosing A Helmet

If spring temperatures are tempting you to break out your bike and explore the Twin Cities’ system of trails, make sure a helmet is part of your biking gear. We have some tips to help you choose head protection that will keep you safe as you pedal.

Biking is a healthy and economical way to stay fit. The Twin Cities are considered one of the best urban biking areas in the country, and the U.S. Census Bureau ranks Minneapolis the fourth best city for bike commuting. Whether you bike for pleasure or to get in your exercise while avoiding rush-hour traffic during your daily commute, pedaling is a pleasure in our community.

Although Minnesota does not have a mandatory bicycle helmet law, we strongly recommend that you wear a helmet whenever you hop on your bike, even if you are traveling a short distance. Biking makes your head vulnerable to injury. Broken bones will heal, but damage to your brain can be permanent. In 2012, bike-related crashes killed 900 people and injured more than 532,000 others. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 percent.

Helmets protect you during a fall or crash by absorbing much of the force of the crash. Thick plastic foam inside the hard outer helmet shell cushions your head from impact.

When you shop for a helmet, look for the following things:

  • Certification. Make sure the helmet meets the standards of the consumer Product Safety Commission or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
  • Snug fit. When your helmet is the right size, it won’t slide from side to side or from front to back on your head.
  • Level fit. The helmet should sit squarely on top of your head, covering the top of your forehead. If the helmet is tilting in any direction, it does not fit.
  • Stability. Look for a chinstrap that is undamaged and buckles securely. When the chinstrap is fastened, the helmet should fit firmly, and should not rock on your head.
  • Visibility. Choose your helmet color with safety in mind. You want a color that is easy for motorists to see.
  • If you are buying a helmet for a child, buy one that fits now. Do not buy a helmet with “room to grow.”

Remember that if you do take a spill involving a helmet impact, the helmet should be replaced. It may look okay from the outside, but you don’t want to take a chance that the cushioning foam has been damaged.

Check out our Family Fun Cycling Guide for more great tips and recommended Minnesota trails.

Learn more about Summit’s Cycling Program and personalized cycling evaluations.

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