I write in response to the interview with Ravi Grivois-Shah, M.D., Oak Park Board of Health member, in Wednesday Journal, July 3 [Youth bike helmet ordinance still on track, News].
In my experience as biker, mother, grandmother, and public health nurse, I think wearing bike helmets locally for youngsters does not survive the serious study of health research, in the context of children riding in their local neighborhoods. I quote a New York Times article (9/30/12) by Elizabeth Rosenthal: "Pushing helmets really kills cycling because it promotes a sense of danger that isn't justified. Statistically (European Bicyclists Federation), cyclists have as much risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled." The critical piece of thinking is always to place the issue in context.
The WJ article states that the bike helmet ordinance is still on track. I surely trust the wisdom of our village elders to not vote in favor of this ordinance. The unintended consequence of this trend creates children and adults who depend on what they wear for safety rather than their behavior choices.
Teaching children about riding safely, or driving safely, depends on lifelong habits of street awareness, courtesy, and practiced skills of proper vehicle use. Please do not succumb to the quick fix of bike helmets, instead of the necessary time for sensitive teaching of children.
Mary Rose Lambke, M.S., R.N.
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