Bicycle Helmet Safety (Mayo Clinic)

Bicycle helmet do’s and don’ts
A bicycle helmet only works if you wear it correctly. Here’s the lowdown on bicycle helmets, from choosing a bicycle helmet to avoiding common helmet mistakes.

By Mayo Clinic staff
It’s a beautiful day for a bike ride. You fill your water bottle, lace up your shoes and head out. The thought of a head injury doesn’t even cross your mind. Still, it’s a risk you’re taking if you don’t wear a bicycle helmet.

Why wear a bicycle helmet?

It’s simple. If you fall from your bike, the bicycle helmet takes the force of the blow — instead of your head. Although collisions with cars or other vehicles are likely to be the most serious, even a low-speed fall on a bicycle path can be dangerous. For kids and adults alike, wearing a bicycle helmet is the most effective way to prevent a life-threatening head injury.

Selecting a bicycle helmet

Bicycle helmets are cooler, more comfortable and easier to adjust than ever before. There are plenty of inexpensive choices for bikers of all ages. Just remember the ground rules:

  • Make sure the helmet is safe. Look for a seal of approval from organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or Snell Memorial Foundation.
  • Make sure it fits snugly. You shouldn’t be able to move the bicycle helmet more than one inch in any direction, front to back or side to side. The sizing pads included with every bicycle helmet can help make the fit more secure. If you have long hair, consider a helmet with a ponytail port.
  • Think about visibility. If the bicycle helmet straps block your vision — even a little bit — choose another helmet. Likewise, make sure motorists and other cyclists can see you. Choose a white or brightly colored helmet. Some helmets even come with lights.

Wearing a bicycle helmet

The rules for wearing a bicycle helmet are the same for kids and adults:

  • Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head.
  • Make sure the helmet covers the top of your forehead without tilting forward or backward, and the straps form a V shape under each ear.
  • Fasten the chin strap below your chin — not to the side or along your jaw.
  • If the bicycle helmet rocks from side to side or front to back, use the sizing pads that came with the helmet to get a better fit.

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