January 10, 2023 2 min read

As cycling safe practices go, this one should literally be a No-brainer.  At the very least, anyone who has been in any kind of cycling accident can tell you, the extra cost, weight or inconvenience of wearing a cycling helmet is a small price to pay for the protection it gives us. 

Most or many of us who ride regularly have one or more spills that we might not have jumped up and rode away from had it not been for a helmet.  I know I have had multiple little spills that seemed fairly innocuous at time save for a little road rash. But close inspection after the fact revealed scuffs, scratches and even a crack in the helmet's EPS foam.  Had I not been wear said helmet, it would have been my head that hit the pavement. So, yes, I am 100% convinced that my bike helmets have saved me from suffering far worse injuries.  

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the US, one-third of all non-fatal cycling injuries are head injuries.  A Canadian source puts the number of serious head injuries presenting at emergency departments at 20% to 40%.  

Multiple studies have shown the reduction in risk of injury and severity of injuries when wearing a helmet yet they are not currently required to be worn.  In Edmonton, only cyclists younger than 18 is required to wear an approved cycling helmet. There is no legal requirement for other cyclists to wear a helmet although it is encouraged.  Cycling clubs and groups typically require that all participants in group events, whether formal or casual, wear helmets. As well, helmets are required to be worn in any sanctioned event like road cycling and triathlon races and Fondo events.  

There is currently no formal recommendation on potential expiry dates on cycling helmets but we do know for certain that they degrade over time in a few ways:

  • The EPS foam loses structural integrity and becomes more brittle over time as some of its chemical components 'gas off' or evaporate, leaving the physical structure more porous.  
  • The adhesive bond between the shell and the EPS foam loses its grip over time.  To the extent that the bond between the shell and the foam contribute to the protective value of the helmet, as the glue loses its adhesive qualities overtime, the helmet loses its protective qualities.

There is a protocol in other sports or activities where helmets are used to have expiry dates for helmets. Generally, the expiry dates are somewhere between three and five years of manufacturing.  This wouldn't be a bad rule of thumb to follow for a cycling helmet.  One thing we suggest to our customers is that if you really can't remember when you purchased your bike helmet, it is very likely older than three to five years.  I know for certain that it is time for me to replace my own helmet. What about you?  

 

Wear a helmet!  It's just that simple.  

 

Photo by Gustavo Fring: https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-on-bike-4971077/ (This kid gets it. Isn't he just the cutest??)

 

Elise Gaudet
Elise Gaudet


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