Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney Scot Goldberg Talks about Why He Wears a Helmet While Riding His Bicycle
I had a hard time figuring out how to begin this blog post. I don’t want to come off as “preachy,” lecturing about why you should wear a helmet when you ride your bicycle.
My hope is that by sharing some reasons and facts about why I choose to wear one, someone who reads this may make the decision to start wearing one, too.
There’s also a chance that people reading this may think it is nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to drum up business for our personal injury law firm. But I can assure you that my only goal is to share my personal experiences with traumatic head injuries, and believe me, I’ve seen more than my share.
It may seem a bit incongruous for me to share my thoughts on bicycle helmets. After all, we represent people who have suffered a serious head injury after being in some kind of bicycle accident. But my point is this – I’ve seen so many devastating examples of severe head injuries throughout my entire law career that I can’t sit back and not share my opinions with you. I’ll also ask you to keep in mind that my opinions are based on facts, because as an attorney, that’s what I deal with.
At this point, I could go into all the facts about how wearing a motorcycle or bicycle helmet reduces your risk of head and brain injuries, and about how wearing a helmet is the law, if you’re under 16-years old in Florida. But I’ve written a lot of blogs about those facts – for example, here and here.
I ride a bicycle, and I love it. I ride for fun, for exercise and because I love the feeling it gives me. (I used to ride a Harley, but with the arrival of each birthday and the gentle suggestions from my wife, I decided maybe pedal-power was more suited to me).
When I first got my newest bike, a TREK Madone 5.3 carbon-fiber racing model, I will admit to you, I did NOT wear a helmet. My reasons were the same as everyone else’s – I thought they looked goofy, and I liked feeling the wind without the encumbrance of anything on my head. But then, a couple things happened that changed my way of thinking.
I was out riding one day, just after I purchased my new bike, and I happened to meet up with the lady who had sold it to me. Instead of congratulating me on my new wheels, she asked me, “Why aren’t you wearing a helmet”? I told her my thoughts – that it looks kind of silly. What she said next really made me think. She told me, “Well, your spandex bike shorts already look a little silly, so what’s the big deal?”
Boom. She got me. Now keep in mind, I make my living being pretty good with words, and my ability to have the right comeback for any argument is something I’ve honed over my entire legal career. But at that moment, I really had nothing to say – we both knew she was right.
Shortly after that, another event finally convinced me. I usually enjoy a ride after work with my good buddy and neighbor, Keith. On one trip, Keith lost control of his bike, and took a pretty serious tumble. He hit his head on the ground when he landed – and thankfully, he was wearing a helmet. It was at that moment that I finally got it – and I’ve been wearing a helmet, on every ride, ever since.
When it comes to the topic of wearing a bike helmet, there’s a kind of “elephant in the room” that I feel needs to be addressed. In April of this year, an extremely popular and well-loved Fort Myers weather forecaster, Jim Reif, had a bike accident, falling and hitting his head on a curb. His head injuries were so severe, he died a few days later from the fall. Mr. Reif was, by all accounts, a fantastic man, and a true icon when it came to keeping people informed about staying safe in dangerous hurricane conditions. And as I’ve mentioned before, although I did not know him personally, I felt like I had known him forever, because he was in my living room on a daily basis. What happened to Mr. Reif was a tragedy that seemed to be magnified by the fact that so many people knew him. Everyone at our law firm was truly saddened by his death.
But as a personal injury attorney, I think it needs to be said – Mr. Reif might be alive today had he been wearing a helmet.
Maybe this is the time to start re-thinking your position on wearing a helmet when you ride your bike. Maybe now is when we make more of an effort to find local resources on bicycle safety, learn more about how much a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head or brain injuries, and become more diligent about making sure your kids wear a helmet. (There was a recent Letter to the Editor in the Fort Myers News-Press in which the author makes some great points about bike helmet safety – you can read it here: http://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/readers/local/2014/04/20/sundays-letters-editor-april/7919467/).
May is Bicycle Safety Month. What better time to focus on this topic, and expand our knowledge about the facts regarding bicycle helmet safety? There are so many sources of great information out there on the subject. Two of the most helpful are the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s bicycle safety website here, and the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website, here.
It took me a little time to make the conscious decision to start wearing a helmet, I’ll admit. Now it’s just what I do, and it’s automatic. I decided I can put up with any funny comments I get about how I look, because I’ve seen first-hand what can happen if I don’t.
And I’m not naïve enough to think that by reading this, you’ll be convinced to start wearing one, too.
Or, maybe you will.