Pediatrician, Amistad Community Health Center
Assistant Clinical Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics,
Texas A&M College of Medicine
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” John F. Kennedy
May is Bike Month. It’s a great time to hop on a bike and start pedaling. You might not know where you will go or what you might see! I love to get on my bike and go to our local nature trails with my birding binoculars. I watch the wildlife while wandering from trail to trail. When I get home, I feel as though I’ve had an adventure, and can’t help but smile.
Bicycling gives a sense of freedom, it keeps you moving, and it’s fun. Every child should learn to ride a bike and be safe while riding. When safety is not one of the priorities, serious injuries can occur.
Parents fall short when they do not insist on their child wearing a properly fitted helmet for all bike, skating, scooter, and skateboard activities. Helmets are similar to what seat belts used to be. Too many deaths occurred before society accepted that everyone in a car should wear a seat belt. Every child riding a bike should wear a helmet.
On average 250 children in the United States younger than 14 years die annually in bike crashes; 300,000 seek emergency room care. Head injury is the most common cause of serious disability and death in bicycle crashes. Yet national estimates report only 15-25 percent of child cyclists wear helmets. A properly worn helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
The Texas Medical Association, with support from the Texas Pediatric Society and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, hosts hundreds of helmet giveaways across the state each year.
These events provide properly fitted helmets to thousands of children, and give physicians a chance to counsel families on helmets and bicycle safety. I have had the pleasure of participating in several bike helmet events. It’s always rewarding. While fitting a helmet, I love talking to the kids about the pleasures of riding a bike, and the importance of always wearing a helmet.
In addition to promoting helmet use, communities need to promote safe bicycle routes to school, store, playground, ball field, and friends’ homes.
A helmet can save your life when you’re otherwise absorbed in a beautiful moment, and simply enjoying the pleasures of a ride on a bike!
Dr. Anderson is a Corpus Christi pediatrician and supporter of TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads program.