Bike Helmets, Let Kids Be Kids

When I was a kid growing up in the in the mid 80’s early 90’s I don’t even think bicycle helmets were invented yet. I know I never wore one and none of my friends wore them and I cannot recall a single instance where I fell off my bike and actually hit my head, so why are parents so uptight about making their kids wear helmets these days? What’s changed so much that kids are more likely to fall off their bikes and smash their heads today than in the 90’s? Roads haven’t gotten any harder, cars are still pretty hard and move faster than bikes, there are probably more sidewalks and bike trails today than there were back then…. so what’s the deal?

I know some cities and towns have restrictions about riding bikes on sidewalks and in some instances I understand this. My town, for instance, doesn’t allow bike riding on the sidewalk, but it’s a more dense city than the town I grew up in, which still allows you to ride your bike on the sidewalk. Towns where there are a lot of people walking from place to place should not have bikes zooming past pedestrians, so they have to ride in the street. This is where the idea of helmets came in (I believe) since getting hit by a car could send you flying off your bike and smash your head. I remember hearing the stories of people falling off their bikes and getting their heads run over by a car and the helmet saved their life… this was what they were pushing on us when I was growing up, but seriously, come on.

The helmets we had when I was growing up were made of hard styrofoam and looked like half an egg on  your head… picture a retarded narcoleptic and this is the type of helmet they were probably wearing. There is no way that a car can run over that thing and not crush your skull like a watermelon, they just made you look like an idiot so nobody wore them, and guess what, not a single person I knew growing up ever got a massive head injury from falling off of their bike. And it’s not like we were just riding around town at a leisurely pace, we were building jumps in the driveway/street, jumping off ledges, and doing all sorts of crazy stuff with no regards for our body. Now I bet some of you are thinking, “Well then it’s your parents’ fault for not forcing you to wear the helmet”, blah blah blah, get a life. I agree that parenting has a lot to do with how your kids grow up, but it’s a bike helmet and… we were kids! Those are the things kids are supposed to do, fall off your bike, scrape up your knee or elbow, get dirty, break an arm or two.

If you didn’t at least break one bone or get stitches as a kid you weren’t doing it right. How else are you going to learn things if you don’t hurt yourself a few times. While all your friends were jumping off the sweet ramp you guys just spent all weekend building, you were just sitting on the sidelines watching while wearing your helmet and kneepads, to scared to try it cause you didn’t want to get hurt. I’m sorry you grew up with overprotective parents who were afraid that every little thing you did was going to hurt you. Or maybe you were just ridiculously uncoordinated as a kid and couldn’t handle it. Whatever the reason is, I don’t think kids today should be forced to wear helmets to ride their bike around the neighborhood. Now if they are going to the skate park and doing 360’s and flips and shit, it might be a good idea, but normal bike riding isn’t a risk to your head. I fell off my bike a million times and never once hit my head, even going over the handlebars you’d have to be a moron to not put your hands out in front of you in which case you’d possibly hurt your hands, wrist or arms, but chances are you’re not going to smash your head into the ground with enough force to do a lot of damage.

Now while this may sound a little one sided because I don’t have kids of my own, but my parents did a fine job raising me and my brothers because they let us be kids. We got to run around outside and play in the yard, ride skateboards and bikes, build ramps, jump on trampolines, pet strange dogs, run through the neighborhood backyards, climb trees, play sports, all of the things kids are supposed to do, including getting hurt. It seems like kids these days are not getting enough time to just be kids. Parents are so worried about their education and living vicariously through them they don’t let the kids do what they want to do. Kids these days have such strict schedules to keep it’s ridiculous, it’s as if the parents are just trying to pass them off onto someone else so they can go about their day. If that’s what you wanted why did you have kids in the first place? The point of being a parent is to introduce all the wonderful things this world has to offer, to another human being. You can be there for them when they fall, but you have to let them fall if you ever want them to learn to get back up.