Letter: Even on bike trail helmet is a necessity

Even on bike trail helmet is a necessity

To the editor:

I totally agree with Colin Harrington's advice in his great column about the importance of wearing bike helmets (Eagle, op-ed, June 9.)

I bike the Ashuwillticook Trail a lot, and on every single ride, I'm surprised and appalled at how many people are not wearing helmets. Sure, many of us rode bikes without helmets when we were kids, but now when we're older, we hit the ground harder and the asphalt is not forgiving. And to be honest, those of us who are still around today were just lucky as kids.

We lost a friend a few years ago to a single-bike accident on the trail. Nobody knows why he fell — maybe a chipmunk or a rabbit darted out in front of him. Or maybe he was just enjoying the scenery and skidded off the edge. But he hit his head and died a few days later. They said he wore a helmet riding on the street, but he did not use it on the trail.

Maybe you haven't had the opportunity to watch someone in one of Berkshire County's brain-injury homes taking 15 minutes to remove a slice of bread from the package, get a plate from the cupboard, put the bread in the toaster, put peanut butter on it. It's a very sobering experience to watch the result of someone banging their head on the pavement. These folks aren't killed but do spend their rest of their lives miserably incapacitated.

Massachusetts law requires bike riders 16 years or younger to always wear a helmet. So it's appalling to see children on the bike trail without helmets. It's just as bad when their parents are riding without helmets. Not only do these parents present a terrible example to their children, but they are also incredibly irresponsible.

Who's going to support your family if you are killed or brain injured from a simple bike accident? Who's going to bring this child up, help them with their college education, walk them down the aisle at their marriage, enjoy the grandchildren? Many folks are just not thinking clearly.

The bike trail is pretty safe and much safer than the highway. But there are still some hazards in every single ride. These include little kids whose movements are unpredictable, dogs on or off-leash, wildlife scampering across the trail, people who don't hear or see you approaching, etc. Anyone who rides very often has stories about close-calls they've had on our lovely bike trail.

Helmets are very good, inexpensive, easy and a priceless investment in your family's happy future. Please always use them and make your kids use them as well.

It just takes one unlucky spill to change your life forever.

Bill Matthiesen, Lanesborough


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