letter artEditor:

Thank you to Peter Steinbeg for passing out helmets (“Local lawyer promotes bike helmet use,” July 15). That’s great! It also prompts me to finally write this letter as I’ve been meaning to do for two years since my accident.

Summer is here. Allow me to urge people most strongly to please beware of a false sense of security on our gorgeous bike trail by the beach!

Indeed, there are no cars, but particularly in the section between Santa Monica and Venice, there are many other dangers: Children and adults crossing or walking along without looking; beginner rollerbladers (the scariest); fairly sharp curves; sand; and altogether many people on many modes of transportation. Yet, most people, including children, do not wear a helmet. (Interestingly enough, past Venice on to Redondo Beach, where fewer but more experienced riders are found, a majority of us wear them.)

Back to my accident: I have been bicycling for decades, in the San Francisco Bay area (read hills) and now here, with either my road bike for rides such as Mandeville Canyon, or an oldish hybrid for town travel, but a helmet, always. With all my experience, that super easy and friendly bike trail is where I had my only serious bike accident. I probably wouldn’t be writing this now if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet when I fell. It broke (as it should) instead of my skull. Sorry, but I cannot tell you the details of how it all happened as I suffered a concussion, which erased the memory of the event.

I was riding alone. German visitors stopped to help me, I am told but hardly remember. I don’t think I lost consciousness, and probably made some sense right after my fall, as I first called my husband, which is why nobody called 911. My husband reported that on the way to the hospital after he came to get me I was progressively “losing it” in ever more obvious ways and repeated the same questions or silly comments in a way that would have been entertaining if not so scary. I broke my pelvic ramus and spent the night in the hospital under observation, recuperating from the concussion, and again, feeling grateful to my helmet.

Since then I have asked some bike rental shops whether they provide helmets to renters, and the answer was “if they ask for one,” in which case, thank goodness, they provide it for free.

But shouldn’t they be strongly encouraged to offer one to all renters? Are they afraid to lose customers if they insist too much?

I remember reading an anti-motorcycle article written by a surgeon who ended his tirade with: “If you don’t agree, don’t bother to reply. I’ll see you in the emergency room.” Well, I’m not in the medical profession, but please, please wear a helmet — even on the bike trail. And again, thank you, Peter Steinberg.

 

Françoise Sorgen-Goldschmidt

Santa Monica