Tuesday, July 19, 2011

About skulls

Well, here I am, tripping on exhaust fumes while waiting to disembark from a ferry. Looking at this picture I realize why that cute German touring couple didn't want me to give them directions even though they were patently lost and I, at that glorious moment, actually knew were we were.

- Ach, get avay, long-haired, mittel-aged recument weirdo!

That's not really what they said. But they communicated it. And chose to push on in the opposite direction of where they said they were heading.

I use a helmet on longer trips mostly because I avoid having to talk about helmets this way. I don't mind the helmet that much, so it's fine. I can even imagine helmets actually do improve safety. But I am unsure why cyclists are expected to wear them, while people in cars aren't. Really, it's not as if cars were super duper safe. I discovered recently, to my undivided joy, that at one point somebody actually made motoring helmets.

Once my daughter can sit in a kid's seat on a bicycle, the world will burn me on a stake if I don't supply her with a helmet. But they won't consider lowering speed limits or banning cars in urban areas for the sake of the children (cue: "won't somebody think of the children"). Kids clearly aren't that important. So I will, in effect, have to tell her, every time we mount a bicycle, that "cycling is dangerous Honey, not like driving in a car".

I could, of course, insist everybody wear helmets when, and if, I ever get behind a steering wheel again, but I imagine that could send some wrong signals to her too.


coventry recycled cycles said...

I often puzzle about helmets, particularly as my daughter and I spend alot of time cycling together.

We do have helmets, but I have to confess to not wearing them all the time- I like you am probably more likely to wear my helmet if going on a long journey or somewhere unfamiliar. I think that after many years of cycling that its far more important that I teach my daughter how to ride safely and in a way that helps her to defend herself against the significant numbers of unthinking car/ van/ lorry drivers.

There's a good discussion of helmets on this blog


Andy in Germany said...

I get a bit of flak for riding asns helmet, and although the general populace hasn't burnt me at the stake (yet) I do get some dirty looks and criticism for not making the boys wear one. When I get persisitent nannying I ask people to come back with evidence to support their position and I'll look at it with them. No-one came back yet.

Oue eldest will soon be forced to wear a helmet if he cycles to school for insurance purposes. I may yet ask the school about the insurance guidelines for people driving their children to school.
I got nagged by people from the local council about helmets until I started suggesting speed limits in residential areas. That stopped discussions pretty quickly.

I also don't wear shades. I was once riding in a group of helmeted, rayban wearing cyclists and I realised we looked like something out of Star Wars, and it made a barrier beween us and people we spoke to. Since then I've tried to keep my eyes more visible.

Northmark said...

Wow, you are confronting the society of fear head on. Respect.

I agree about the shades. I am just too photophobic to get by without them, but I agree that they create an impression of cyclists as aliens. I never use mp3-players or radios, much for the same reason: Enough alienation already.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. I'm with you on Mp3 players as well. I don't understand the point of using resources to stop you hearing birds and wind blowing in the trees.
Mutter, mutter.
Today as I dropped my boys off at kindergarten a dad and son got out of a car and the little boy shouted "You rode without a helmet!"
"Yup" I said.

Jrome said...

I tell my children that "cars are lions" and we treat them as if they could at any moment eat us. Helmets won't keep us from being "eaten" any more than common sense will, but we wear them, for now. When they're older, they can decide for themselves. But I hope they'll always treat cars as dangerous things.

I found this TED conference talk by Mikael Colville-Andersen very intuitive and thought provoking on the subject of wearing a bicycle helmet: http://video.tedxcopenhagen.dk/video/911034/mikael-colville-andersen