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NY City ISIS Terror Attack | Bicycle Helmets

Here at Gear Mashers we are really sadden by the recent and deliberate NYC ISIS Terrorist Attack that occurred on a very well known bicycle path in downtown Manhattan New York.  Our prayers go out to the victims, family and friends who will have to endure this heinous act of terror.  Thankfully the suspect in the truck attack was taken into custody and has since been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national.

NY City ISIS Terror Attack | Bicycle Helmets

As I looked over footage of the carnage near the World Trade Center, I saw what appeared to be quite a few bikes that were daily rentals.  I am pretty sure this is the case because 5 out of the 8 people who died were Argentinians Aril Erlij, Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, and Hernan Ferruchi.  All were in New York celebrating their 30th high school reunion from a polytechnic school, which leads me to believe they were all from out of town and probably renting bikes.

In many cities daily bike rentals don’t come equipped with helmets.  I am not sure if the victims had helmets on or not, but again looking over the footage, I didn’t see any biking helmets.  Here in Austin we have several bike rental programs and I will often see people without helmets on.  The helmets that are supplied, usually don’t fit properly because of head shape or helmet size.

When correctly worn bike helmets can save lives and are around 70 percent effective in preventing damage on impact.  Blunt force trauma, when the head is hit by a moving vehicle or by the ground can be the leading cause of death.

In car to bike accidents, deliberate or accidental, the cyclist is usually thrown from their bike with a high percentage of head impact occurring.   Without protection the head will be vulnerable to any impact.  In a New England Journal of Medicine study, cyclists who used helmets had an 85 percent reduction in head injury and an 88 percent reduction in brain injury .  Their conclusion was bicycle helmets help prevent serious injury that would otherwise occur.

You can never anticipate an accident or in this case a terrorist attack, but you can take precautions while cycling.

  • First and foremost wear a helmet and if you plan on visiting a city where you are likely to ride a rental bike, bring a helmet with you.
  • Secondly be aware of your surroundings.  When riding a bike, I am always scanning ahead for potential dangers, side streets, narrow shoulders, busy intersections and so forth.
  • Look for exit points.  When riding in a pack of cyclists I normally like to stay on the outside in case there is a crash or other issue.  Riding on the inside means you have less room to maneuver should a mishap occur.  In areas where are there are curbs on either side, which appears to the case with the Manhattan bike trail, make sure you have the skill set to hop curbs.  If one of the bikers who were killed had a few seconds of warning, they may have been able to avoid being hit by hopping a curb.
  • Work on your bike handling skills.  Many times the difference between a bicycle accident and avoidance of one, comes down to skill on the bike and being confident.
  • Watch out for the unexpected.  Many cyclists panic when the unexpected occurs such as a dog or deer suddenly appearing.
  • Don’t get distracted.  Riding a bike like driving a car requires your full attention and any distraction can be the main culprit leading to an accident.  Zoning out on headphone music, not paying attention to your surroundings, looking too long at something can easily be the ingredients for an accident.
  • Listen for signs of danger.  Unfortunately we live in a world where there are zealots who want nothing more than to ruin our way of life and take away our freedoms.  You can never be certain where they will appear, but you can be certain that when they do, if you panic at that moment, your life could be in great danger.  Truck and car attacks are now seen as a weapon to cause mayhem.  As a cyclists you need to be aware that there are certain people who will use vehicles against you and in the unlikely case of it happening, stay calm in the moment and if you’re able look for exit points to get away, so you will not be the next victim.
  • When traveling on bike paths and trails, remember just because it’s a bike path or trail designed for cyclists and pedestrians, don’t always assume that a car or truck couldn’t drive on it with bad intensions.
  • Invest in Technology – New  technology has come out that can give a warning to cyclist when a vehicle is approaching from behind.  Garmin’s Varia™ Rearview Radar warns riders of approaching vehicles from behind as far as 153 yards (140 meters).  Had this technology been in use, the riders might have had some warning of impending danger.

It’s unclear if wearing a bicycle helmet would have prevented any deaths in this ISIS terrorist attack, but it is clear in general wearing a bicycle helmet can help prevent injury in an accident.  It’s also unclear if any warning signs were present prior to the pedestrians and cyclists being hit by the Truck.  Many accidents are simply unavoidable and no matter how good a cyclist you are or how prepared you are, they still happen.

My hope by writing this article is to make cyclists and pedestrians alike be more aware of their surroundings and take the necessary cautions when venturing outdoors where they most likely will encounter vehicle traffic.  A high percentage of cyclist fatalities occur when the cyclist is hit from behind.

I thought I would  leave you with this video of Lance Armstrong avoiding a bike accident by doing a little off road riding.  Had he not been looking for an exit point and not had the bike handling skills, he probably would have also been involved in the accident that occurred just in front of him.


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About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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