By Marla Streb - July 9, 2014
After our youth bike safety workshops we often hand out packets of jellybeans with labels that say, “Protect your Bean.” As the kids slowly walk away, struggling to rip open the tiny package of colorful sugar, you can almost see them ponder.. “but what the heck is a bean?”
During these rodeos, we chant our mantra, “We at Bike Maryland feel the most important part of your body is your brain. Because that’s where your operating system and information is stored, you should protect it by wearing a helmet when you ride.”
Some may disagree that the most important thing the “bicycling rules of the road”. After all, a helmet certainly won’t protect you if you’re riding your bike in the fast lane of the I-83, going the wrong way!
But what the helmet does protect is the knowledge that the kids pick up during these workshops. They learn that like all vehicles on the road, they must ride on the right side in the United States, or at least the right sidewalk when they’re little. They must follow all the same rules that the motorized vehicles follow. They must ride predictably, communicate effectively and make themselves highly visible (ie: wear bright or reflective colors).
This is the knowledge that the helmet protects. We mention that an eggshell simply holds in the goo of the egg. But like your skull, it can’t contain the goo after it falls and cracks on the sidewalk.
So what’s the first thing people buy after they purchase their cell phone? Yes, they spend $29 on a case! They want to protect the information in their phone, and its entire operating system.
For the older kids, one of our Bike Minded coordinators tells a story about a recent fatal bicycle crash. The paramedic on the scene used the victim’s cell phone to call the next of kin. And on that cell phone was a protective case that cost $29 and saved the phone. The rider did not invest $29 to protect his own head.
Many adults choose not to wear a helmet when they ride for various reasons. But because children’s brains are still developing well into their 20’s, they truly need to protect their beans.
Even if it takes some jellybeans to do it.
Bike Minded Program Coordinator