If you have children who like to ride bikes or ride a bike yourself, please read this post! I am hoping that by sharing my nephew’s story, I’ll bring awareness to the importance of always wearing a helmet when riding a bike, no matter what.
Every summer, my family travels to Cape Cod, where all my in-laws live. Summer 2020 was a bit funky; COVID numbers were declining, but you still had to be careful. Although we were limiting our travel, we decided that a local trip to visit family felt comfortable. My sister and her family decided to join us for a few days as well!
My adventurous brother-in-law sought out two “must-do” activities – the Cape Cod bike trail and a boat tour to see the seals. We scheduled our entire trip around these two activities; it was my sister’s first time back to the Cape since her children were babies, and they wanted to take it all in!
Despite my in-law’s warning that the bike trail “just isn’t what it once was,” we decided to brave the hard-core bikers and enjoy a family stroll towards Eastham.
About 10 minutes into the ride, my husband, who was pulling along my four-year-old in the bike trailer, had an issue with his bike. The entire chain came off! So we pulled over to fix it, and we had our first run-in with an avid biker. A man breezed by, narrowly missing my daughter shouting, “You can’t stop on the trail!” Although a little shook up, we continued.
15 minutes later, we stopped for water at Arnold’s and decided how far we were going to ride. We jumped back on the trail after a quick snack, and not even five minutes into our ride, my nine-year-old nephew had a head-on collision with an 83-year-old male. They hit each other at full speed, both of their bikes were completely mangled, and my nephew’s helmet was broken from the impact of the accident.
We immediately called 911 as my nephew was rolling around in agony and the older gentleman had blood dripping from his head. I was in complete shock, so much so that my legs were shaking, and I was trying to shield my daughters and my un-injured niece and nephew from the grim situation.
We were able to determine by talking to the other group that both my nephew and the elderly gentleman swayed out of their “lane” just enough to hit each other in the center of the narrow trail. While we were traveling at a slow rate of speed, the other individuals were more “serious bikers” and traveling fast!
So my PSA for summer 2021 is, please wear a helmet! Wear a helmet if you are on a leisurely Sunday stroll, competing in a bike race, or on a busy road. If you are riding on the grass, riding to the neighbor’s house quickly, or no one else you are riding with has one on, still wear one. It doesn’t matter, just wear one.
I am so embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t wearing a helmet on this bike ride, and it haunts me at night when I think about the situation. My husband (a native of Cape Cod) grew up riding, running, and walking on the bike trail. He got to talking to one of the EMTs, and they told us that bike trail accidents have increased significantly over the past few years. Accidents just like ours; families trying to enjoy a ride colliding with more seasoned bikers.
I am happy to report that my nephew was ok! A trip to the hospital ruled out any head injuries.
The doctor said the helmet saved his life. And remember how I told you his helmet broke? The doctor said that when a helmet breaks like that, it means it did its job! The impact of the crash caused it to crack, allowing it to soften the blow to his head.
As for the older gentleman, the EMTs seemed to think he would be ok too, thankfully. I think of him often as well. He was so lucky because he was also wearing a helmet. So, let Mason’s story sink in, and I hope it inspires you always to remember the helmet.