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Hokie Health: The importance of bicycle helmets for alternative modes of transportation

From: Hokie Wellness

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 846 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2019. Among the precautions that can be taken to prevent such a fate is wearing a protective helmet. Helmets are the single most effective piece of safety equipment for riders of any alternative modes of transportation.

Proper helmet fit is key to the benefit of wearing a helmet. Take the following steps when selecting a helmet:

  • Size: Measure your head to find your size. Try on several helmets in your size until one feels right. Put the helmet level on your head and adjust the pads or fit ring until the helmet is snug.
  • Position: The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead — one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow.
  • Side straps: Adjust the slider on both straps to form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. Lock the slider if possible.
  • Buckles:  Center the left buckle under the chin. On most helmets, the straps can be pulled from the back of the helmet to lengthen or shorten the chin straps. This task is easier if you take the helmet off to make these adjustments.
  • Chin strap: Buckle your chin strap. Tighten the strap until it is snug so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap.
  • Final fitting: Does your helmet fit right? Open your mouth wide — big yawn! The helmet should pull down on your head. If not, tighten the chin strap. Does your helmet rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows? If so, unbuckle and shorten the front strap by moving the slider forward. Buckle and retighten the chin strap, and test again. Does your helmet rock forward into your eyes? If so, unbuckle and tighten the back strap by moving the slider back toward the ear. Buckle and retighten the chin strap, and test again.

Helmets should be purchased to wear now, not to grow into. You are more likely to wear your helmet if it is comfortable. Be a “roll” model for safe behavior by wearing your helmet. And, replace if it has been in a crash; damage is not always visible.

Virginia Tech Alternative Transportation and Hokie Wellness, along with Bolt, distributors of the new e-bikes in the region, are partnering to provide free bicycle helmets to employees on Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at the bike share hub between Burruss and Patton Halls. Stop by to learn more about the e-bikes and take a helmet with you. Supplies are limited and first come, first serve.

For more information or for questions, contact Hokie Wellness at

Hokie Wellness serves Virginia Tech to foster a healthier community by providing prevention services, education, outreach, and resources to employees and students. If you have questions, need assistance, or want to join the Hokie Wellness Google group to stay up to date with monthly updates, contact the team at

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