Should New Bicyclists Over 60 Wear A Helmet?

When I started my bicycle journey a few months ago, I never wore a helmet.  I didn’t even give it a thought.    

I’m a nurse that has cared for many patients with head injuries. Why didn’t I think to wear a helmet?

I guess that it just wasn’t a thing when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s and I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. 

Since I was new to riding, I certainly wasn’t going very fast, and I was riding on pretty quiet roads.  So, I never thought about falling and certainly didn’t think about wearing a helmet.

It didn’t take long for me to start thinking about it after a fall from my bike and a close encounter with a car.

This certainly led me to think more about bike safety and protecting myself better. 

After all I am not a young kid anymore.  I don’t bounce back up like I used to. 

Should new bicyclist over 60 wear a helmet?

I have scoured hundreds of articles.  I read all of the pros and cons and the statistics. 

Personally, I feel that it is very important and much safer to ride with a helmet. Especially as we go into our “golden years”.

As we age our memory, eyesight, hearing and balance all start to deteriorate.  Yeah, I know nobody wants to hear that! 

Activities such as riding a bicycle and keeping active will certainly slow down the aging process, but it isn’t going to stop it. 

Falls begin to be a real concern for us aging folks! 

No, we aren’t going to be able to prevent a hip fracture if we fall off of our bikes. But we can protect our heads.

If we can prevent memory loss from a concussion or traumatic brain injury, why wouldn’t we! 

Since I am new to bicycling, I still wanted to know more about why people felt wearing a helmet was or wasn’t important.     

I felt that there were much more experienced people than me out there, and I really wanted to hear their opinion. 

So, I did my research.  I wanted to find out all of the facts, arguments and opinions on this topic.

What I found is that wearing or not wearing a helmet while bicycling has to be one of the most controversial topics among all bike riders. 

Some arguments were understandable and some left me scratching my head.

For me the pros to wearing a bicycle helmet far outweighed the cons especially as I age.

Helmet Laws for Bicycle Riders

I tried to do a little research on helmet laws.

One thing that I found was that no state to date has adopted a helmet law for anyone over 18.   

However, some municipalities have their own helmet laws, so you really need to check with the city or town that you ride in.

I personally could not find any state or municipality that had a helmet law for anyone over 18.   

So, the over 60 crowd has to make their own choice on whether or not to wear a helmet. 

5 Reasons To Wear A Helmet While Cycling

1. Improves visibility

Some helmets come with a visor and eye protection. The visor can help shield the sun. The eye protection can help with flying objects such as bugs, dirt as well as protect your eyes from the sun rays.

This can keep you safer and as I said before with eyesight deteriorates as we age so we need to protect our eyes.

2. Protect Your Head, Face And Brain From Trauma.

Helmets have been proven to cushion the blow if you hit your head on the concrete or an object on the ground.

There are many studies that have been done that show the benefits of wearing a helmet when you ride.

Statistically helmets do protect you from more serious head injuries. 

As we age, memory can become an issue. We don’t want to cause memory issues just by not wearing a helmet.

3. It Can Be Protection In Bad Weather

Helmets with visors and shield can protect you from getting pelleted with rain. 

4. Can Make You Look Like A Professional Rider

What can I say, you just look better!

I got a helmet that matches my bike pretty good. It also has eye protection, so I don’t have to worry about having a separate item to put on. I don’t mind wearing it at all.

I snap that baby on and take off feeling like I am one of the pros out for a daily spin. Of course, I don’t go near as fast as they do. But that’s coming!

Just have fun with it, get a helmet that matches your personality or in your favorite color. In this situation you want to stand out. If someone notices you, they are less likely to hit you!

5. Can Be Seen Better By Motorist And Other Riders

Helmets have come a long way in safety. My helmet has a light in the back that can be solid or flashing. I do turn it on in the mornings when I ride so that I am more visible.

Some helmets have reflectors also which again just makes you safer and more visible when wearing your helmet.

Wear a helmet for new riders over 60

6 Reasons Not To Wear A Bike Helmet

I always try to play fair, so I wanted to share some of the cons that I found for wearing a helmet.

1. Bicyclist that wear helmets take more risk. 

This one may be for the younger crowd.

As we age, I believe that we probably take less risks.  We are a little more careful when we walk, drive, and ride.  We tend to watch out for things in our path that can trip us up.    

2. You Can Have A Trauma Or Fall Doing Any Activity

Okay yeah this is probably true. 

That being said, most activities do not have you moving as quickly and don’t have as many obstacles that can trip you up such as a pothole, gravel, distracted drivers, etc.

Again, if you can protect yourself why not.

3. Helmets Don’t Protect You From Life-Threatening Injures

There are many studies that disprove this one. 

As a nurse I talked with many trauma team members who will disagree with this.   You have a better chance of surviving a life-threatening head injury with a helmet on.

 4. Helmets Look Uncool And Give You Hat Head

WHAT! I think I look good in my helmet!

How many people really see you during or after a ride? 

I wear a ball cap a lot, so I just carry one with me.  Off goes the helmet on goes the cap. 

I think that you would look worse laying on the ground with a gash in your head.

5. It Is Impossible To Hit Your Head When You Fall Off A Bike

Well, I am just calling bullshit on this one!

I really don’t know where to go with this one. 

I did hit my head on a curb when I fell off my bike so not sure why people would feel that you can’t hit your head when you fall off a bike.

6. Cars Give You Less Room When You Are Wearing A Helmet

Drivers will be drivers; I had a close encounter with a car while not wearing a helmet, so I am really unsure if there is a difference when wearing or not wearing a helmet.  

Bicycle Helmet Safety

  1. Buy a helmet that is approved by the Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC). There should be a sticker inside the helmet.
  2. If you are using a hand-me-down helmet, make sure that it is not cracked or broken. Be sure that it has not been in a crash.
  3. Replace your helmet if it is old. Sometimes there are cracks in the helmet from dropping it that you cannot see.
  4. Make sure that your helmet fits correctly. It should sit level on your head. When the chin strap is buckled the helmet should feel snug but not too tight. You should be able to move it around a little. Leave only enough room for one finger in between the buckle and your chin. When sitting on your head the chin strap should come to a Y at the bottom of your earlobe.

In Conclusion

Bicycling is a great exercise especially as we age. It is easy on the joints; it gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine. It can help with stress; and memory and it can slow down the aging process.

However, we have to be a little more careful than we were when we were younger. You know, when we thought it was cool to put a playing card in the spokes! Remember that?

I digress.

Just make sure to stay as safe as possible while you are out there. Whether you ride alone or in a group, on a quiet road or the main streets. Make sure that you are seen and safe.

Try wearing a helmet, you may be surprised how much safer you feel.

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