Protect your head

Are bike helmets a no-brainer for cyclists?” [AnyBODY, June 4]. In a word, yes. All cyclists should wear helmets whenever they are mounted on a bike, standing still or in motion. That’s the rule at races sanctioned by the U.S. Cycling Federation. Even when stationary, a cyclist can overbalance, fall over and strike his or her head.

Poor bike maintenance, careless or inattentive riding, loose wheels are, as causes of accidents, irrelevant in discussing helmets. However an accident happens, the rider is better off wearing a helmet that fits and that is strapped snugly under the chin.

Yes, a helmet offers minimal protection to the face. Still, a helmet can mitigate a “face plant” impact. Instead of the full face striking the pavement, the brunt of the impact might be taken by the front of the helmet and the chin, somewhat protecting the forehead, nose and cheekbones.

Several years ago, while coasting down Cathedral Avenue to work, I crashed my bike so violently that I suffered a broken pelvis. Whatever kinetic energy was left after that initial impact slammed the side of my head against the asphalt hard enough to reduce my helmet’s shock-absorbing foam liner to rubble. Yet I suffered no head trauma that called for treatment.

Law or no law, buy a helmet; get it fitted; strap it on your head snugly every time you get on the bike. In a crash, you will be more likely to avoid a cracked skull or intracranial bleeding that can lead to coma or even death.

A starfish is not a fish. It’s a sea star, reader says. (iStockphoto/ISTOCKPHOTO)

Lee Hassig, Toano, Va.

Starfish or sea star?

Re: “How starfish keep cool in the heat” [June 4]. A starfish is an echinoderm. I have taken a zoology course and dissected the animal. It does not have fish parts; it is inappropriate to call it a starfish. The appropriate term is sea star.

Natasha Shangold, Rockville