Bicycle Helmets


Never ride a bicycle without wearing a properly fitted helmet. Helmets are proven to be 85-88
percent effective in preventing traumatic brain injury, the primary cause of death and disabling
injuries resulting from cycling crashes. Wear a helmet that meets the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) standard (see inside of helmet for presence of a label).


1. Why wear a helmet?

Every year about 800 people die in the U.S. from bicycle crashes. Most of them die from head injuries. Many more have their brains scrambled and live for a long time or sometimes for the rest of their lives with something that doesn't function right up there. Brain damage can cause learning disabilities, personality changes and rob you of the ability to think clearly. Hospital emergency room studies show that a helmet can prevent that most of the time -- about 85 per cent of the time. So you don't want to ride a bike without one, even on your block, on the sidewalk or on a bike trail. The fall is from the same height wherever you ride, and it's the fall that gets you, not the forward speed.

2. Make sure it fits.

Your helmet needs adjustment to give you all the protection you paid for. Make sure the pads touch all around. Make sure the straps meet in a V just under your ear. Adjust the length of the front and back straps to hold the helmet level on your head, not tilted back. Make sure the chin strap is snug but doesn't dig in. With all of that done your helmet should stay on when you shake your head in any direction or have a friend try to pull the helmet off.

3. Don't wear it on the playground.

A few kids have died from strangulation on monkey bars or other playground equipment when their helmet got caught. Take your helmet off when you get off your bike! Don't wear it on the playground or when you are climbing trees.

4. Other gear.

• Gloves protect the skin on your hands
• Skaters' knee and elbow pads are good protection too.
• Eye protection helps keep bugs and dust out of your eyes.


Helmets are not hats! They must be level on your head and strapped on securely to be protective in a crash. You want the helmet to be level on the head, with the fitting pads inside touching all the way around and the strap comfortably snug.

First, adjust the fit pads or ring
Most helmets come with extra foam fitting pads to customize the fit. You can usually remove the top pad or use a thin one there to lower the helmet on the head, bringing its protection down further on the sides. Use thicker pads on the side if your head is narrow and there is a space, or add thicker pads in the back for rounder heads. Move pads around to touch your head evenly all the way around. If you have a "one size fits all" model with a fitting ring instead, just adjust the fit by tightening the ring if needed.
Then, Adjust the Straps
Put the helmet on, level on your head. Adjust the rear (nape) straps, then the front straps, to locate the Y fitting where the straps come together just under your ear. You may have to slide the straps across the top of the helmet to get them even on both sides. Then adjust the chin strap so it is comfortably snug. Now adjust the rear stabilizer if the helmet has one.

Are you done?
Shake your head around violently. Then put your palm under the front edge and push up and back. Can you move the helmet more than an inch or so from level, exposing your bare forehead? Then you need to tighten the strap in front of your ear. Now reach back and pull up on the back edge. Can you move the helmet more than an inch? If so, tighten the nape strap. When you are done, your helmet should be level, feel solid on your head and be comfortable. It should not bump on your glasses (if it does, tighten the nape strap). If it still does not fit that way, keep working with the straps and pads, or try another helmet.

The above information was obtained from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.  For more information go to