Thanks to the long-awaited debut of the bike share program, we can now zip around Baton Rouge on blue Gotcha bikes, enjoying the cool weather. But before you unlock your ride, don’t forget one essential thing: a helmet.
“Most people who ride bicycles are inherently aware of the safety issues. The people who drive are not,” says Clayton Weeks, manager at Capitol Cyclery on Essen Lane. “The helmet is not for the cyclists’ awareness. The helmet is for whenever a driver is not aware and causes an issue.”
At Front Yard Bikes, a nonprofit that provides youth with valuable life skills, including bike repair, the focus is on affordable helmets for everyday use.
General manager Dustin Wheeler says riders neglect helmet safety too often. “It’s always something they put off until later,” Wheeler says. “It’s not really a priority until after someone has a close call or an accident.”
With programs like Earn a Bike, where youth can work in the shop in order to earn their own bike, and Friday Rides, where bikers of all ages ride every Friday afternoon to museums and parks, Front Yard Bikes tries to promote bicycling and safe riding habits.
“Safety is the biggest importance in the city because we do have so many people that are car-less or bicycles are their form of transportation,” Wheeler says.
Tom Townsend, owner of The Bicycle Shop next to LSU’s campus, also noticed a lack of helmets among college students, as well as the general population.
“We certainly sell more bikes than helmets, so that [might mean] people are getting new bikes and they’re not getting helmets to go with them,” Townsend says. “I would love to see everybody using helmets, using lights.”
SHOULD YOUR HELMET BE REPLACED?
Not many people are aware that helmets are only good for one accident, Wheeler says. And even if you don’t have an accident, helmets need to be replaced every five years because the foam padding starts to break down.
HELMET PICKS FROM LOCAL SHOPS:
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