Chris Clark is one of the top professional stunt cyclists in the country. I recently watched him perform on consecutive weekends at Safe Kids Day events in Los Angeles and New York. Kids of all ages marveled as he fearlessly jumped over ramps, hopped from obstacle to obstacle on just his back tire and performed stunts that took our breath away.
And there was one more thing, too: He was wearing a helmet the entire time.
"Back in the day, helmets weren't considered cool," Chris told me after one show as dozens of kids waited for his autograph. "But now it's totally different. The helmets are cool. The designs are cool. That whole dynamic is changing where if you're on a bike, you have a helmet on. It's just part of the outfit."
May is National Bike Month and Safe Kids is teaming up with Bell Helmets to teach families all across the country about bike safety.
As parents, we have an important role to play. We might not be super cool stunt bikers, but our kids are watching us just as closely as they watch Chris Clark or any of the other extreme athletes who will be participating (and wearing helmets) in next month's X Games.
Many of us grew up riding without helmets, so we don't wear them today. That sends a powerful message to our kids that it's OK to make exceptions, even though wearing a helmet is the single most effective way to prevent a brain injury.
I recently received an e-mail from a mom in Andover, Minn., who wrote that her son, Shae, hit the ground so hard during a bike accident that he cracked his helmet, broke his nose and had some cuts and bruises.
"But he is alive today," his mom wrote, "because he was wearing a bike helmet."
So as the weather gets nicer this month, we want to encourage all families to hop on their bikes, explore and have fun. And please wear a helmet when you do.
Here are a few more tips to keep you and your kids safe during National Bike Month and beyond:
1. Talk to your kids about wearing a helmet on every ride. More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to biking than any other sport.
2. Be a good role model by wearing a helmet on every ride. Kids are like sponges and they'll do what they see us doing. So set the example for your kids and wear a helmet when you're biking.
3. Make sure the helmet fits properly. We've all seen kids with loose helmets hanging off the back of their head. Unfortunately, that style will offer little protection in a fall. Take two minutes to check out our helmet fit test video to learn how to make sure your child's helmet fits correctly.