Here's a hypothetical: there's a big traffic accident involving cars and bikes and there's only room in the air ambulance for one patient - and there are two with head injuries that are in critical condition. They're about the same age and at the same risk. One cyclist was wearing a helmet, the other was not.
Who would you put in the chopper?
For me, the answer is easy - the rider with the helmet had taken precautions and is a victim. The second rider, while also a victim of an accident, is also a victim of poor judgment. He or she made a choice that might have made the situation worse than it needed to be. Ultimately, we all live or die by the choices we make.
It sounds brutal, but there it is. Helmets save lives. It's been proven over and over again, in study after study. Talk to anyone who's ever been in a crash severe enough to break a bike helmet and they'll tell you that the helmet probably saved their life.
Oh, and the law requires you to wear a helmet, if anybody cares - and no, it's not because Big Helmet worked a shady backroom deal with legislators.
And yet, every spring, I see more and more people biking without helmets on the highway and Valley Trail - and sometimes even on the bike trails - risking everything if an accident should happen. It's not about skill either, because mechanical failures happen, or other people can lose control of their bikes and cars and crash into you. It can get crazy on a bike.
I know someone who hit a bear once and a few people that have hit unleashed dogs.
I know someone who skidded out on a patch of migrating caterpillars on the Valley Trail one night and went flying off the side onto a pile of sharp boulders.
One of my best friends in high school hit a car door that suddenly opened in front of her. She broke teeth but said her helmet probably saved her life.
In high school, I myself hit a squirrel with enough speed that it got caught in my spokes and wedged into my front forks and brakes - stopping me instantly and launching me over the bars onto a patch of dirt and rocks. I had scrapes all over my body after that but my head, encased in a foam helmet that the plastic shell detached from in the crash, was 100 per cent. I remember thinking, as I picked what was left of the squirrel out of my wheel, that it was a good thing I bought that helmet the week before.