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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dan Moser Column: Wear your bike helmet — it works

Florida Weekly, Jan. 30, 2013   
Dan's column this week focuses on the importance of wearing a helmet while biking, following the tragic death of a cyclist in this year's Tour de Cape; along with upcoming biking and running events and an advocacy update.
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CapeCoral.com also ran an excellent feature story on Jan. 29th about bike helmets:  "Recent tragedy puts spotlight on use of bicycle helmets," and quotes BikeWalkLee representatives. Hope you'll read that as well.

It pains me to write about this in my column, but a recent tragedy will hopefully serve as an all-too-real reminder for anyone who rides a bike that using a helmet is as vital as buckling up while driving. James Heneghan of Cape Coral died during this year’s Tour de Cape after his head crashed into the pavement.

According to reports, he had removed his helmet just minutes before the accident. The crash, which involved two bicycles would likely have caused injuries — perhaps even serious ones — but probably not have resulted in a fatality, had a helmet been worn.

Experienced cyclists understand the value of this basic safety device and most wear them, especially when riding in a group situation. Of course, participation in Tour de Cape requires their use, as do less formal organized rides that are coordinated by bike clubs and others. And although Florida law doesn’t mandate adults wear them, for-fee event and club ride organizers do require them to protect participants and their own interests.

Just as seatbelts are proven to work in auto crashes, properly fitted and secured helmets protect users from serious head injury and death 85 percent of the time a cyclist is involved in a crash. Considering that even the lowest cost helmet has the same rate of success as pricey ones, that’s one effective device, to say the least. Those of us who are involved in safety and injury prevention don’t look forward to exploiting such “teachable moments” but would like to think a fatality of this nature will serve the purpose of getting an important message across when nothing else does. My sympathy and that of the whole bicycling and injury prevention community goes out to the victim’s family and friends for their loss.

Upcoming events
 
We’re in the thick of organized run, walk and bicycling season, and the weather’s been very cooperative so far. As noted in my last column, trail running events abound, with the Groundhog Day 7-Mile Trail Run coming up first at CREW on Saturday, Feb 2 (www.facebook.com/CaloosaTrailheads).

On the roads, it’s Edison festival time, so that means the Edison Festival of Lights 5K on Saturday, Feb. 16 (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com), the Saturday after the Junior Fun Runs prior to the Children’s Parade (www.edisonfestival.org/events.html) on Sunday, Feb. 10.

Head out to LaBelle for the Swamp Stomp 5K on Saturday, Feb. 23. And be sure to get your training in for the always top-notch Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon on Sunday, March 3.

As for cycling events, the second annual Cycling for Fallen Heroes Rides (www.brotherhoodride.com) takes place on Saturday, Feb. 9, from Estero Trek, Coconut Point. This is a fundraiser and warm-up for this year’s Fallen Heroes Ride to honor law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who died in the line of duty in 2012.

 Not exactly tied into St. Patty’s Day but still an excuse to celebrate after completing your distance, Caloosa Riders’ Royal Palm Ride (www.caloosariders.org) happens on Sunday, March 17, from Buckingham Park (maybe there’ll be green beer after the ride).

 If you’re interested in less formal events, consider joining the Southwest Florida Biking MeetUp Group and suggest your own (www.meetup.com/ Biking-SWFL).

For anyone wishing to become a more confident cyclist (not an arrogant one with an attitude), CyclingSavvy sessions are being offered locally over the next two months (http://cyclingsavvy.org/category/ southeast-region/southwest-florida/). Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling, the classroom session, will take place twice, both Thursday evenings: Feb. 21 and March 7. On-bike sessions will happen on Saturday, March 2. Even if you’re an experienced cyclist, consider at least the classroom session. You might be surprised what you’ll learn (and have to offer others).

Advocacy update
 
Those interested in how our area will look in the future have lots to watch. From the possible suspension of fees that partially fund our transportation infrastructure, next steps for significantly improving our transit system, and revamping of our primary planning documents, lots is happening, some very quickly. As always, details can be found on BikeWalkLee’s blog.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417.
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CapeCoral.com also ran a feature story on Jan. 29th about bike helmets:  "Recent tragedy puts spotlight on use of bicycle helmets," and quotes BikeWalkLee representatives.

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