There are a few things Aggies can count on every fall: A lot of new students, a lot of bicycles, and not very many bike helmets.
Student Health and Counseling Services, the campus unit that provides medical services to students and operates the on-campus urgent care clinic, wants to change that.
“The majority of accidents urgent care sees are bike crashes,” said Shantille Connolly ’11, wellness health educator.
She said fewer than 8 percent of undergraduates in the 2015 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment said they wear helmets “most of the time or always,” with many calling helmets too expensive or inconvenient.
The department is hoping its “Helmet Hair Don’t Care” campaign launching this week will change that.
“Protecting your brain is more important than what your hair is going to look like when taking your helmet off,” Connolly said.
The campaign will promote two affordable helmet choices: a $13 helmet sold at the Bike Barn, and a free helmet students can receive if they sign a pledge promising to wear it. Posters around campus will promote the slogan, featuring students, faculty and staff who wear bike helmets explaining why they do so. UC Davis police will hand out $5 Coffee House gift cards to students they see wearing helmets, and students can wear their helmets to the Bike Barn on Oct. 13 to get a voucher for a free burrito.
Connolly said when she wore a helmet around a group of fellow alumni recently, they asked why she was wearing one. She hopes to flip that conversation.
“We want people to question, ‘Why aren’t you wearing a helmet?,’ versus ‘Why are you wearing a helmet?’ ” she said.
While serious bicycle crashes aren’t commonplace, they do happen. The UC Davis Fire Department responded to 70 bicycle-related crashes on campus in 2014, and 74 in 2015.
Connolly said when a student employee in her department witnessed a particularly nasty crash, they decided to start wearing a helmet every day. Campaign organizers are hoping it won’t be so hard to convince others.