Advertising

Sunday, September 21, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Bumper to Bumper

Use your head: Wear a helmet

Seattle Times staff reporter

Mac Goodeve is a poster child for bicycle helmets.

He still can't remember the accident last month that threw him off his bicycle in Redmond and landed him in Harborview Medical Center for two weeks with a head injury.

But he's convinced the helmet saved his life.

"As soon as I get on my bike, I put on my helmet," said Goodeve, son of actor Grant Goodeve, host of KING-TV's "Northwest Backroads."

Mac Goodeve, 19, a sophomore at the University of Washington, is still recovering, and the memory of that day may never come back. But his cracked and bent helmet is testimony to what could have happened had he not worn it.

The King County Board of Health voted in July to include Seattle in a helmet regulation that was already in effect in the unincorporated county and suburban cities. Not wearing a helmet could bring a $30 fine.

No one has been cited for failing to wear a helmet, said Duane Fish, with the Seattle Police Department, because officers haven't yet been trained about the new law.

Tony Gomez, director of the violence- and injury-prevention program for Public Health — Seattle & King County, acknowledged there is a lot of confusion about the bike-helmet rule. He hopes to have a training and enforcement plan in place in the next six months.

Overall, said Gomez, the helmet-usage rate is estimated at 50 to 60 percent, which he calls disappointing.

Health officials and the Cascade Bicycle Club estimate there are at least 500,000 bicyclists in King County.

Studies by the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center and Group Health Cooperative show helmets could reduce bicycling head injuries by 69 to 85 percent.

"There's no compelling argument against helmet use," said Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview. "We've done studies that suggest if you have a bike crash wearing a helmet, the risk of brain injury is reduced 75 to 80 percent.

"You see kids coming through Harborview because of brain injuries," said Johnston. "They were on their bikes and not wearing a helmet. Something that costs as little as $5 could have easily prevented all the grief and suffering the child has to endure."

Health officials say the new Seattle law could increase helmet use by 20 percent, and studies suggest three of the five children killed in bike accidents from July 1998 through April 2002 likely would have survived if they had been wearing helmets.

Grant Goodeve is a believer. The helmet took the brunt of his son's fall and, if he hadn't been wearing it, "this would be a terrible story."

He said Mac suffered brain hemorrhaging and short-term memory loss and will likely take a quarter off from school to recover.

"He's always been very good about wearing a helmet," said Goodeve. "Just knowing what might have happened if he didn't have a helmet makes me cringe. He could very well have been dead."

Bumper crop

Seattle Transportation has come out with its latest traffic-circle awards, honoring circles and streetside gardens for everything from turning an overgrown circle into a work of art to gardens you can eat from.

The city, Seattle Tilth and Northwest Garden News honored eight gardens. The People's Choice Award, given to the favorite traffic circle picked by an online vote of visitors, went to Hank Bobala for the circle at 17th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 113th Street.

To view all the winners, go to www.seattle.gov/transportation/streetsidevote.htm

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

Have a question?

E-mail it to bumper@seattletimes.com and include your name and city if you agree to publication.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

advertising


Get home delivery today!

Advertising