Today’s Editorial May 29: Bicycle helmets a good idea

Thanks to God and a bicycle helmet Education Minister Alden McLaughlin is suffering from a fractured collarbone and some broken ribs.

Thanks to God and bicycle helmet that’s all he and his family are facing.

Without divine intervention and the helmet on his head, Mr. McLaughlin’s family could be planning his funeral instead of his homecoming from hospital.

The Minister sustained broken bones and other injuries Sunday when the bicycle he was riding in a race crashed.

He was clicking along around 25 miles an hour when he swerved toward the road’s shoulder to avoid gravel bumps in the middle of the road.

That’s going pretty fast to take a tumble.

The helmet that possibly saved Mr. McLaughlin’s life has three cracks in it.

We hope he keeps it and uses it as an education tool when telling youngsters about the danger of riding without a helmet.

A quick glance around our country shows that most people don’t adhere to Mr. McLaughlin’s habit of wearing a helmet when bicycling.

But his accident shows just how important wearing protection is.

We found some statistics from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute in the United States to back up what Mr. McLaughlin already knows.

• About 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year. Of those, about 67,000 have head injuries, and 27,000 have injuries serious enough to be hospitalized.

• One in eight of the cyclists with reported injuries has a brain injury.

• A very high percentage of cyclists’ brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet, estimated at anywhere from 45 to 88 per cent.

Still think it’s cool to ride a bicycle without a helmet?

Obviously many of you do.

While we’re concerned about bike riders wearing safety helmets, we’re also concerned about the overall safety of bike riding in the Cayman Islands.

Many cyclists are ignoring the laws that govern bicycle usage here. We see cyclists in the dark wee hours of the morning riding without reflective clothing or lights.

Many times we see cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road and failing to use hand signals when turning.

Following the rules of the road can reduce accidents and make the roads safer for motorists and pedestrians; cyclists who fail to do so can be prosecuted or fined up to CI$500.

We think that fine should be increased and police become more stringent in enforcing the laws for bicycle riders.

Above all, we think everyone who uses a bicycle to compete, get to work, or just for play should have a safety helmet as an integral part of their equipment.

We don’t know 100 per cent if Mr. McLaughlin would have died without the helmet Sunday, but we’re sure glad his injuries – although serious and painful – aren’t life threatening.

God speed, Minister.

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