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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wearing a helmet a day keeps the coroner away

    Campus bicyclists have no common sense.

    Riding on sidewalks, not using turn signals, and not stopping at stop signs are common blunders that endanger others. But it’s the lack of helmets that’s most appalling.

    Arizona does not have a law on bicycle helmets. It doesn’t matter if you’re 6, 13 or 21, if you don’t want to wear one, then you don’t have to. Modern day Darwinism at its finest.

    A brief survey of college cyclists showed the top reason they didn’t wear a helmet was because they thought campus streets are safe enough without one. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a car or a dangerous street to get injured.

    At the beginning of last school year, a bicyclist struck a pedestrian. “My perspective on the bicycle was that a pedestrian stepped out in front of me, her head was down and looking at her phone by the time she was in front of me, but I didn’t have time to come to a complete stop,” said Patrick Pfeifer, who was thrown from his bike and received four stitches.

    Last October, a graduate student was waiting at Sixth Street and Highland Avenue on his bike for a green light to cross when, in a freak accident, a car smashed into a street light pole, which fell on him. Peter Raisanen received four crushed vertebrae, several broken ribs, and couldn’t continue classes for the semester. But his helmet protected his head, and his life.

    Entering campus doesn’t mean stepping into a bubble of protection where no serious accidents happen. If anything, students are less aware of their surroundings because they are in familiar territory.

    Not wearing a helmet is like having unprotected sex with a different partner everyday. Sure you could, it’s not against a law, but why would you? It’s a gamble, and statistics show that eventually something unexpected will happen.

    Safety wise, helmets are to bicycles what seatbelts are to cars.

    Tucson Police Department Sgt. Matt Ronstadt recommends that all cyclists wear helmets even if there isn’t a law requiring them to do so. “Even a fall at low speeds can result in striking your head on an object which can result in injury or death,” Ronstadt said. “It’s inexpensive insurance.”

    You don’t get to pick the day you get into an accident. How many students have to get stitches, break bones, or sustain head trauma before it snaps the rest of the population out of fairytale land? Many bicyclists are distracted by the same things that cause car accidents: texting, calling, riding with headphones. They bolt around campus, swerving around pedestrians, and speeding around corners as if they are oblivious to the laws of physics.

    Spoiler: In the battle between the lone bicyclist and the two-ton metal car, the car wins.

    You can’t plan for a car to sideswipe you. You can’t plan for the streetlight to fall on you. You can’t plan for a pedestrian to cut you off and send you head over handlebars. But you can spend $15 on a silly-looking piece of plastic that could save you medical costs and possibly your life. You can be prepared.

    — Michelle A. Monroe is a journalism senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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