Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Darwin Awards

I tried to stir up a helmet kerfuffle a few posts ago, but to no avail. How do you know your blog is unpopular? When you can't even get a decent pro-/anti-helmet flame war going in your comments. But, undaunted, I will try yet again.

Usually, I take a pretty laid-back, semi-agnostic approach to what one wears upon one's melon while riding. I wear a helmet when I ride, and I ask that anyone on the back of my tandem do the same. Beyond that, what you do on your bike is like what you do in your bedroom: sweaty, marked by a lot of grunting, and none of my dang business.

My agnosticism collapses into pure zealotry on one point, however. If you ride around with your helmet hanging from your handlebars, I will harangue you relentlessly until I am out of earshot (which won't take long, because I'll be trying to ride away from you at my laughable excuse for top speed). Why? Because while I can see some validity to both the pro-helmet-on-head argument and the leave-helmet-at-home argument, there is absolutely NO rational reason for riding with a helmet hanging on your bars. You're still carrying the weight of the thing (albeit not on you), so it's no lighter. And what happens when (not if) the helmet falls off your bars into your front wheel? You're going down, and you're probably taking out several people around you... and the thing that would protect you in a crash is the thing that sent you over the bars in the first place. Irony, thy name is concussion caused by protective headgear.

So, do yourself and everyone riding with you a favor: Either wear the thing or don't. But don't use your bike as a rolling hat rack.


Scott Loveless said...

I hate, hate, hate wearing helmets. Ask my kids. They'll tell you that I told them that the stupid under-12 helmet law in PA is stupid and as soon as they're 12 they don't have to wear one any more. However, I'm a member of the Harrisburg Bicycle Club, and they have a stupid, pointless, exclusionary "helmets are mandatory on club rides" policy. So I drape my helmet over my handlebars to get to the ride. I make sure I'm never early so people can see me ride up sans magical foam hat. When the ride is over, I drape the Styrofoam bowl back over the bars to ride home.

Scott Loveless said...

Besides, if the helmet is draped appropriately, while it my not protect my head, it will protect my head set. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Just to make Jason feel more loved, let me see what I can do about the lack of a helmet flame war. :)

Between ice on the road and loose gravel, I've had my helmet skip lightly across the road (with my so-called brain contained within it) more than once. Other than being a bit warm, perhaps, and mussing my so-called hair, I don't see a downside to wearing the helmet.

I can certainly see the point of bike clubs requiring the use of standard safety equipment. They would be getting sued severely if anyone was injured w/o wearing one (and will probably still get sued when the helmet is worn). Insurance companies want to recover the costs of caring for their customers, and will sue anyone nearby that might be involved.

Steve in Peoria

Freewheel said...

Based on conversations with local cyclists and reading the internets, it seems to me that there's actually a consensus in that most cyclists are against helmet laws and think it should be a matter of personal choice.

Anonymous said...

This past Saturday I was doing about 40 mph downhill on my road bike. I still can't figure out why, but my front tire blew out. I hit the road on my left side and ended up with two broken ribs and road rash the from my calf to left shoulder. I was wearing a Giro helmet and did hit my head the helmet shattered. It did it's job. I have no head injuries. The road rash will go away and my ribs will heal in 6 to 8 weeks, but if I wasn't wearing a helmet I'd have to guess that I wouldn't be typing this right now.
I've always been told that if you don't want to wear a helmet for yourself, you should wear it for the one's you love. My wife has been nursing me through the broken ribs. It's only been four days and I feel like such a burden on her. I ruined our summer riding plans. Without a helmet I probably would have ruined our lifetime plans.

Bill Wengert

Steve Fuller said...

The other two that I see occur on a number of kids are the "helmet on the head, but not strapped" trick, and the "my parents don't know how to adjust my helmet" style.

The non-buckled option is obviously the kid's fault. However, if you are going to buy a helmet for your kid, make sure it's adjusted properly and not sitting on his head like a yarmulke.

For the record, I wear a helmet most of the time, but if I don't feel like wearing one, I don't. Grocery runs on the cargo bike almost always find me helmetless.

The fact that you didn't get a helmet war started probably says more about the maturity of your readers than the number ;)

Anonymous said...

Helmets are hot. Dangerously hot. This is a potentially fatal problem in compulsory helmet land, where I regularly ride a 2-mile long hill and weigh 250lbs. Yes, my BMI is 37 and my resting heart rate is 50. Ride behind me and see the sweat on the ground.

Seriously, heat-related illness kills people, but I don't want it to kill me.