What are your club rules concerning helmets?

I’m curious if your club/group/team has a policy concerning helmets when riding. There has been a lot of debate at SnoValley Uni about them and some changes to our policy in the process. Some parents (and/or bystanders) watching parades have complained to our team that some of the kids are not wearing helmets, and that MUST be dangerous. IMHO there are times when helmets are not necessary if the rider is sufficiently skilled, unless you are a rider this is not always apparent.

To address this we have adopted the following policy:

  • Riders will always wear helmets if Level 4 or below
  • After passing Level 5 helmets are not mandatory in the gym, unless playing a game, riding a giraffe or practicing trials, etc
  • Riding outside, including parades, requires a helmet regardless of skill level

What is your clubs policy, if any?

No helmets needed an nobody wears them in the gym. Only at competitions we wear helmets because of the IUF rules. And in all the years (8 as trainer, 17 in total) no one ever fell on his/her head. But we only do freestyle.

I’m not an officer, but I’ll speak for the Twin Cities Unicycle Club. No helmets required in parades (not even giraffe riders, who must be at least level 4). No helmets required during gym time. No helmets required for hockey night (I think). Generally folks wear them for muni rides, but I doubt anyone would be turned away if they didn’t. We wore them at NAUCC for events that required them. Some kids wear helmets in the beginner classes, but that’s up to their parents to decide/enforce.

Fascinating. :sunglasses:
Has anyone ever hurt their head while freestyle unicycling or in a parade?

BTW: I’ve bonked my head several times on metal poles and such while doing trials/street riding, but never in the gym. I’m trying to figure out if non-rider’s fears of head injuries are justified or they are stuck thinking of bicycles.

Yeah, when a bicyclist shrieked “Where’s your helmet?” once, I suddenly realized that he probably didn’t understand how slow a 20" unicycle is. A unicycle club that has a lot of administrative oversight from non-riders might be governed by a similar lack of understanding.

Anyway, the unicycle club where I ride definitely does not require helmets, and the middle school where I coached briefly didn’t require them either. Obviously, for certain styles of advanced or high-speed riding, you should wear a helmet, but if you’re that good, you probably have what it takes to make your own safety decisions.

My club has only one member so I can change the rules anytime I want.

Just once I had an unexpected loss of control in a situation that could have turned really bad as I literally “headed” toward a concrete fence with a steel pipe rail.

I didn’t hit but I did think how glad I was that I was wearing a helmet.

However I do ride by 20 inch in open places without any protective gear at all.

The group my kids ride with require full gear (pads and helmets) all the time, unless they are juggling at the same time they are riding. But it is a public school club so probably overkill. Although I have seen a couple helmeted kids hit their heads pretty hard.

I think wrist guards are more important - at least at the beginner level. On three occasions and the past couple years we have had cracked wrist guards from falls. But two of those were from giraffes.

Helmets are a really good thing at least at the beginner level. Perhaps you make it a level requirement. You reach level two and you don’t have to wear a helmet (or wrist guards in the gym) anymore. At that point they have learned to get their feet under them.

Or is it a symptom of our era where everything has to be safe?
I grew up in the 70’s and we had no seat belts in the cars, no baby seat, never used a helmet when biking. Now my little niece is pushing her bike (she doesn’t know how to ride yet) and yes, she’s wearing a helmet and knee pads…

Back to the subject, I sometimes ride with at a club where they mainly do indoor freestyle. No one has a helmet there. I suppose it’s like any gym, do people wear helmets at the gym?

When I started getting my uni off-road (riding in the woods), I had no helmet but I had shin/knee protections (for the spikey pedals) and wrist protections (when one falls, reflex is to put the hands in front). Once I fell and landed pretty close to a tree, that got me thinking. The following session, I came across two park rangers on horses as I was battling between roots and mud. One said: “Be careful in those woods sir, take care of yourself” - being near Paris, that was in French btw. I never managed to understand if he meant “there are psychos out there, especially those guys living in tents around the corner”, or if it was simply “you don’t look too stable on that thing, don’t hurt yourself”. The following day, I bought a skateboard helmet and I always wear it when off-road now.

I have always been in the must wear helmet mindset without questioning it, I grew up cycling so it always felt natural. Now after 8 years of unicycling I’m asking myself why do I wear a helmet all the time? A unicycle is much more stable than it looks, once you know how to ride… it’s actually surprisingly stable.

For regular riding situations I don’t think a helmet is necessary. Add hazards, then the situation may change. Off road, 36 riding, or if I am pushing my skills, I’ll helmet up.

I believe anymore that helmets (like seat belts) should be a personal choice. I do wear my helmet any time it’s warm enough to not wear a beanie. But I feel like if you want to take that risk it’s your choice to do so.

My view on helmet use is odd - I’ve never bothered with one, I tend to ride within my limits. If I fall off, I’ll probably only be riding 5mph anyway, so I’ll either land on my feet/hands or go rolling off the side of a cliff - and in both situations, a helmet’s not gonna help much.

That being said - I don’t really understand people’s absolute hatred of them. I mean yeah, they look a bit daft, but if everyone wears one, you’ll look dafter being the odd one out :roll_eyes: And it’s not like they’re going to make you magically hurt yourself even more if you fall. They can only help, right? (And yes, I’ve seen the studies that show that they can cause worse neck injuries, and there’s something to be said for the idea that dressing from head to toe in safety gear will make you take more risks and thus hurt yourself more…)

If I were a club owner, I would probably make helmet use mandatory, specially if there’s giraffes involved. I mean, if you’re performing in some sort of way (whether you’re an acrobatic act or a parade or something) sure, take the lid off and wear your costume, but in the practice room? LID! I’d imagine the insurance companies would agree too…

I rode my giraffe in a night parade and at the end they told me I could no longer ride in the street. I veered off to the sidewalk when I should have dismounted and the top of my head grazed a bar sticking out from a telephone pole. It caused a UPD but I landed on my feet fine. If I was a little taller it might have been a more serious injury. In this very specific case a helmet would have caused worse injury because it would have made me hit the pole harder and possibly land worse.

By that logic so would being taller :stuck_out_tongue:

There is always going to be freak accidents, in those situations nothing helps.

Imaging if the thing sticking out of the telephone pole was sharp… You might still be up there :slight_smile:

Helmets all the time.

We meet at The Wheel Mill an indoor bike (and uni) park on Fridays. They’re mandatory there. House rules.

Saturdays we meet at the YMCA. They’re mandatory there. Y rules.

When we go to races, they’re mandatory.

I see far too many kids with diagnosed concussions on a regular basis anymore to not make them mandatory. At least at the regional level, concussions with school age children have become very serious business in the last 3 years or so.

Humans seem to be ill-equipped for dealing with events with very low probability but life-changing consequences. Lotteries work the same but in reverse. And we can be pretty weird about hats too! Put them together…

Not wearing a helmet when everyone else is makes a statement beyond your estimate of your own risk and reward, whether you mean to or not. And it’s messier when there are kids, public property, insurance, etc. involved, when a school or park gains nothing but potential liability exposure by our being there. Even riding alone, at least it sends a message of being cautious and responsible. (Supposing that’s what you want, and I know not everyone does.)

Someone I knew was fatally injured just walking on the sidewalk at a friend’s house. He tripped and hit his head in a very unfortunate way. I don’t wear a helmet when I’m walking around the block despite that. But I’ve had the the back of my helmet hit my concrete driveway hard enough to be glad I was wearing it (attempted rear dismount gone bad!) and to want to keep doing so.

Per pierrox’s point, we know things that weren’t well known in the 1970s. E.g., cigarettes are pretty bad and seat belts are really good. And minor head injuries are a bigger deal than most would guess.

[Still working on that “short pithy reply” business.] [And I think this turned into a “helmets, good or bad?” post, which isn’t the subject of the thread and I didn’t intend it to be. Y’all do what you want.]


When we teach kids how to ride we don’t require helmets as they work in pairs or 3s to start with and don’t go down hard.
I don’t use one on my 20" unless learning a new skill, but anything else I do. I’m nursing a shattered little finger (had surgery today) from an UPD on a flat concrete path where my helmet also hit the ground. I’m glad I had it on! I never thought I would come off there but got distracted & did.

Don’t forget the “reporting opportunity bias”. Stories of survival are inevitably told by those who survived.

Those who died when their head hit the dashboard or the road didn’t live to tell their stories of how dangerous it was back then.

Like LargeEddie I think it does make a statement. But perhaps in a different sort of way.

If you required helmets until up to a certain level it would inspire some to get there faster. It would also, if they are kids, keep some of the pressure off the parents. Parents fold way too easy. “Jimmy isn’t wearing a helmet, why do I have to?” followed by an immense amount of whining. :slight_smile:

When I was in college I drove a taxi. I always wore a seat belt. I always got a lot of flack about that from passengers and other drivers. But I also had experience working on an ambulance so I saw the benefits. I was very happy when a law was passed requiring seat belts. So making it a rule does have benefits for some. Of course, how the much rule is enforced it up to you. Sometimes just having a rule is enough.

My kids group starts with assists in pairs which makes it safer, as Pbslsot points out, but eventually they have to start riding alone. One missed pedal and, as we know, you can go down quick. Funny thing is, I hit my head just yesterday after my first post. I was riding a 24 inch on ice, so I guess it is bit different. I had a helmet on, but I do go without a helmet in favor for a wool hat when it gets really cold.

I don’t make my kids wear helmets any more for normal riding, but I always require wrist guards. I will go without a helmet sometimes, but never without wrist guards. I need my wrists to be able to post to the forum. :slight_smile:

In my school Unicycle club (based in Edinburgh, Scotland), the one main rule we have is that you must wear a helmet to ride. We ride in a gym whose floor is fine, but the walls are concrete.
Learning to freemount, idle and riding the 36" all cause people to UPD near this concrete.
Riding over small jumps, along beams and over our see-saw also cause UPD.
We have only had one wrist injury from someone on their very first day trying to ride - all other students seem to ‘bounce back’ just fine.
I guess the issue here is that wrists can fix, but skulls are less fixable.
Concussion injuries would not do the club’s reputation any good!

When I ride outside and off-road, I’m full leg, elbow and head protected. Knees and elbows are complicated joints that need care, as you only get one pair of each. Helmets protect me from low-hanging branches more than anything else.
Cyclists in the UK generally wear helmets, so if unicyclists want to be taken seriously, we ought to follow suit.

I have fallen backwards once on concrete without a helmet and the whiplash plus bump was enough incentive to not put myself in that position ever again.
So, if this has not happened to you, you may not yet have a reason to wear a helmet, or other protection.

Thanks for all the replies on this subject. Many of you have a LOT of experience and are well known in the unicycling community. It’s great to hear your thoughts.

I used to roller skate nearly every day, even to my college classes (up/down stairs). For me wrist protection was critical then and still is now as I tend to fall on my hands most of the time. Having said that I remember at least once where I fell on my skates and “heard” the back of my head hit the ground. I had a headache until my chiropractor adjusted my neck.

Sounds like the rules for helmets are a club by club decision. I’m a little surprised by this but since there is no direction given from USA or their insurance carrier I guess the diversity of opinion will stand.