Let's Talk About Helmets: Selection and Fitting

It’s summer time, so bicycles are in full force for Santa Monica and Los Angeles alike. Every year, I always remind my friends; if you ride a bike, you should wear a helmet. It’s as simple as that. While adults may not legally be required to wear helmets, it is certainly advisable to wear one while riding a bike, scooter, skateboard, etc. A properly fitted helmet can save your life in the case of an accident caused by personal error or another party’s negligence. Whether it’s a collision with a car or even another cyclist, helmets reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries. So let’s talk about picking a helmet.

The two most important factors when purchasing a helmet are the safety certifications and the fit or “feel” of the helmet. While it is illegal to sell an uncertified helmet in California, buyers should be aware of the various certifications for helmets. In California, helmets made for cyclists must be certified by either the American National Standards institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation. If you have any concerns regarding the safety of the helmet, ask the salesperson with the knowledge to help you. An additional concern for those renting helmets is the condition of the helmet. Cracks in the shell of the helmet may indicate structural damage that could cause the helmet to fail in the case of a collision. Once a helmet is in an accident, the helmet should never be used as protective gear again. Always inspect your gear and ensure it fits correctly before every session. Only rent and purchase helmets from legitimate and authorized dealers.

Wearing your helmet properly is essential to reducing the chance of sustaining a traumatic head injury. To have a solid fit, the rider may need to adjust the helmet. The inner lining may be expanded or reduced to fit better on the riders head. The helmet should rest level on the riders head, approximately one or two finger-widths above the eyebrow. The chinstrap should be fastened with only two fingers able to slide through. The side straps, when adjusted, should form a V under the ear of the rider. All buckles to hold the helmet in proper placement should be used. Finally yet importantly, check to see if the helmet feels right. Any last minute adjustments should be made prior to riding.