Many people in Bellevue, WA and across the state take up biking for its environmental and health benefits. While biking is a beneficial activity, it can be dangerous if cyclists don't protect themselves with a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury and come in many different types. Consider these tips when you’re buying a bicycle helmet to help you find one that’s right for you.
Make Sure It Meets Consumer Product Safety Commission Standards
All helmets need to meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. The CPSC tests helmets in four categories to make sure they meet acceptable levels of performance.
Those categories measure:
- the impact the helmet has on peripheral vision;
- its stability on the head;
- its strength to stay on the head; and
- the attenuation effect it has to head trauma.
Cyclists can check for the CPSC sticker on the helmet to make sure it's certified. The Snell Foundation also offers certification for bicycle helmets. Their tests measure the CPSC's four categories but include the extent of head protection as well.
Consider the Type of Helmet You Need
Bike helmets come in a few different types. Sport helmets are good for all around riding, while road helmets are sleeker, weigh less and have more vents. These are made for people riding fast road bikes. Mountain bike helmets may have a visor, additional protection in the rear and a stronger chin strap.
When you’re shopping around for a helmet, consider the type of biking you’ll be doing and choose a helmet that suits those needs.
Consider Available Features
Riders can also look at the features of the helmet to make a decision when buying a bicycle helmet. Some helmets come with more ventilation than others or weigh less. Helmets can also come with a visor or hair port (for people with pony tails). Whatever the features, though, make sure it meets the safety standards mentioned above.
Always Use the Helmet Properly
No matter the helmet, it's important that a cyclist use it properly. The internal ring should fit snugly around the head without being uncomfortable, and the chin straps should also fit snugly without causing discomfort. This helps the helmet dissipate force in the event of a head injury.
Bicycle Helmets and the Law
Washington does not have a state law requiring cyclists wear a helmet, but King County, which includes Bellevue, does have such a law. In addition to the possible fines, not wearing a helmet can reduce a rider's legal right to compensation after an accident. Violating the helmet ordinance might be evidence of negligence.
If the bicyclist files a claim or lawsuit against an at-fault motorist, for example, then the bicyclist’s decision not to wear a helmet could increase his or her comparative negligence. This might apply if the rider suffered a head injury because the helmet may have prevented or reduced severity of the injury.
Max Meyers Law PLLC is prepared to help riders assert their rights after they've been in an accident. Contact our office at 425-399-7000 if you need legal assistance after a bike accident.