BicycleSource Newsletter

Many parents have misconceptions about how bicycle accidents happen. Most accidents do not involve a car at all, but rather are caused by a child falling from their bike, riding into an inanimate object such as a curb or tree, or losing control of their bike.

Note that the below involve a child riding against the flow of traffic -- riders struck from behind while riding with the flow of traffic make up a trivial fraction of all accidents, and as such it is safer, especially for older children, to ride with cars on the road, rather than skimming the parked cars along the side and risking colliding with an opening car door, an emerging vehicle, or being run off the road by a car which tries to share the lane with the rider.

Most children under the age of nine have difficulty understanding the rules of the road. As such, it isn't surprising to learn how most collisions involving cars occur.

See our article on Safe Cycling Tips for youngsters.

Bad News

It doesn't take much to shatter the human skull. Even if an impact leaves the skull intact, the brain can be injured when it impacts the inside of the skull. Damaged brain tissue doesn't heal, although functional tissues are sometimes "reassigned" to partly compensate for gaps, it can mean permanent impairment requiring long-term care.

Head injuries from bicycle mishaps generally occur because of the distance you head travels to hit the pavement -- not the speed of your bicycle. The average height of a person sitting on a bicycle is 5.3 feet. At that distance, your head hits the ground at a speed of 12.6 miles per hour. That speed is the threshold of irreversible injury to the brain. Children can be seriously injured by simply falling off of a bicycle while trying to mount it.

A head injury can result in anything from death to a learning disability which may not show up until years after the mishap. Head injuries can result in any of the following symptoms: impaired judgment, confusion, poor concentration, chronic headaches, speech impairment, memory loss, poor balance, poor co-ordination, or sleep disorders.

Good News

The use of an approved bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injuries by 85% and brain injury by 88%.

Much more information about bicycle helmets is available in our Section on Helmets, including articles on kids helmets, when to replace a helmet, a Guide to Bicycle Helmets, and much more.
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