Common bike helmet mistakes that put riders at risk

Common bike helmet mistakes that put riders at risk »Play Video
You wear a helmet when you ride a bike because you expect it to protect your head if you fall or crash. But safety experts warn as many as half of all bike riders have helmets that may not do the job.

The problem is many helmets, regardless of the brand, could expose your head to serious injury in a fall.

The problem was brought to my attention during bike to work day last Friday when thousands hit the streets, unaware of the potential hazard sitting on their heads.

I took a closer look at the way some bikers wear their helmets and shared our video with commuter specialist Chris Cameron of the Cascade Bicycle Club.

"This gentleman's helmet is a mess," he said, pointing to a man whose helmet straps were so loose the helmet would have easily slid off his head if he fell.

Bicyclists make common mistakes: chin strap that are too loose and side strap adjustments that are too low.

Side straps should be buckled snuggly under your earlobe to form a Y. Your earlobe works as an anchor so the helmet won't slide from side to side. If not properly anchored by your ears, the helmet can slip sideways if you fall and leave your temple exposed.

Cameron figures as many as 60 percent of bike riders make at least one helmet mistake that could increase the chance of a head injury.

Another common mistake is the helmet sitting too far back on the head so there's no forehead protection if you slam into the ground.

After viewing the video we went outside for a one-on-one lesson with the first rider we found.

Marianne Goldin was on her way to work. Her chin strap was too loose and her side straps were adjusted a bit too low.

Cameron showed her the proper adjustment.

"The problem is that should you hit, you can see what happens. It exposes the whole side of your head when it's adjusted like that.", he explained.

Goldin says in the back of her head, she knew it wasn't quite right, but says she's always in a hurry and the chin strap feels too constricting.

She says our surprise inspection was a good reminder not to take that helmet for granted.

More information:

How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet: The short version

Bicycle helmet do's and don'ts

How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet

Cities in Washington State Requiring Bicycle Helmets

Cascade Bicycle Club