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formerly Gobike69
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346 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm curious about when and why people wear helmets. I usually wear a helmet when I ride but sometimes when I am just doing a quick trip in the neighborhood or doing a ride with my kids I don't. Three times in the last week I've gotten grief from about not wearing a helmet. Once from a non-cycling type and twice from other riders. My initial response was to tell them to eff-off but when I talked to them about it I was surprised to hear their responses. One guy thought it was the law, while one of the cyclists felt I was doing a disservice to the "cycling community". As an adult I thought I could make decisions for myself but obviously the Safety Nazis have other ideas. Has anyone else had to deal with this?
 

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just another bleepin SSer
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1,463 Posts
Well, I always wear a helmet. Even for short runs to the store.

When with the kids, I would think you'd want to wear a helmet just so you can make a good impression on them.
 

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Lusus Naturae
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2,874 Posts
I'm not sure this subject matter has any black and white resolution, just like cell phone use in the car. When I went to pick up my car at the dealership after some work, I rode without a helmet ... that was about 10 blocks away.

I am also able to drive and talk on the phone when its safe to do so, and always lower the phone when I need to look in the direciton where the phone would be against my head. That being said, there is a level of safety that is compromised, specially when one hand is in use and therefore a person forgoes a) using the turn signal and b) turning into the lane where the phone is blocking the blind spot. Whoops, got carried away on this subject ... but there is a new law going into effect July 1st, no? :p
 

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~~~~~~~
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helmets- i broke one yesterday in a crash on a fast downhill.

i don't wear one riding to/from the train for work all of the time (when in cycling gear yes, when hair is combed and in work clothes, no). sometimes even to get coffee or a bite to eat i don't wear one if i'm going 3-5 miles. but, i gotta say, i always wear one on the trails.
 

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MidnightBroomstickCowboy
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461 Posts
Common sense comes in to play when you're riding down the street and the @hole driving while on the phone slams on the brakes and swerves to the right to prevent from rear ending other vehicles. Ironically that person purchased a land tank to protect his/her young ones from a heavy crash. Apparently he/she wasn't aware of you in the bike lane. Will you be wearing a helmet or not?

I'm sure this thread could fill endlessly with scenarios of why a helmet will come into use but you already know all them right????
 

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Feeling a little taller
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6,705 Posts
I have learned that even though I always wear a helmet and always insist that others I ride with wear theirs, I'm not going to make a fuss over a total stranger wearing one. I have in the past but it's just not worth it.

Responses typically vary from stupid to rude or a combination of both. Either you're going to wear one or for whatever reason you're not. Most reasons I've heard from people on the trail or road when I have commented make me wish I hadn't said anything at all.

I always wear mine because:
a) it makes a good impression on younger impressionable people for whom it is the law to wear a helmet;
b) it gives me the piece of mind that I will more likely come home safely to my family at the end of a ride no matter how short; and
c) I have crashed enough times in my life that if I wasn't wearing a helmet all of the time, I might not be here today.
 

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Shocks?, Pegs?... Lucky!
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My worst crash last year was about three blocks from my house.
Granted I was plastered trying to ride 3 people on my fixie and hit a pothole... But nonetheless, I stacked and lost a lot of skin off my face and shoulder because of it.
I wear a helmet a lot in town, but my general rule is if I have to cross any major street (more than 2 lanes) I put it on.
I commute to work with a cycling cap on so my hair doesn't get the helmet streaks.
Try it, it works!
 

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I'll say something to folks but in a friendly way and not make a big deal out of it. A good friend of mine went down hard on a casual beach cruiser bike path ride and badly scarred his face. The guy is a serious, fit rider.

It's not just the high speed falls that can hurt you.
 

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Premium Member
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The reason they call them accidents is because they are not something you plan to have happen.


My rule is I wear the helmet whenever I am on the bike. Last year the daughter of a lady here at work fell on the way to the grocery store a few blocks away. She ended up in the hospital for several days and had to have 45 stitches and follow up plastic surgery on her head, which would have nearly mitigated if she had a helmet on. This girl is an experience rider, she rides the AIDS ride every year, who just left the helmet at home one day.
 

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Thread Killer
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771 Posts
helmets?
for me, always. i was hit by a van on my bike when i was in third grade, and things would've been a LOT worse if i didn't have my helmet on. so for me, it's always a given
 

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formerly Gobike69
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346 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Interesting Stuff

It's very informative to hear your responses. I'm surprised to hear how many people feel adamant about wearing a helmet. FYI, I do wear a helmet 99.9% of the time and feel that they are an important safety tool. As for being a role model for my children, I would rather have them learn the responsibility of choice than to march lock step with the safety patrol types. That being said, I do make them wear a helmet whenever they ride. When they ask why I don't have to wear a helmet, I tell them it's the law and when they're adults they can make the choice for themselves.
 

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gobike69 said:
It's very informative to hear your responses. I'm surprised to hear how many people feel adamant about wearing a helmet. FYI, I do wear a helmet 99.9% of the time and feel that they are an important safety tool. As for being a role model for my children, I would rather have them learn the responsibility of choice than to march lock step with the safety patrol types. That being said, I do make them wear a helmet whenever they ride. When they ask why I don't have to wear a helmet, I tell them it's the law and when they're adults they can make the choice for themselves.
Sounds like you're doing a good job teaching your kids. The one thing I'd be careful about, which is very common, is the human tendency to create what are called false dichotomies. In this instance the false dilemma is between choice and conformity. If your kids can recognize these false limitations when they are presented to them they'll be able to do things like choose responsible behavior despite any pressures of conformity. Good luck with it.

PS. A distance friend fell when skateboarding with no helmet and is now a human vegetable. Another friend dove into a murky body of water, which he had done many times before, this time hit something he couldn't see and became a paraplegic. Spend a week in an emergency room of a major public hospital to see the real stuff (ignore the TV shows.) Take your kids there too if you can.
 

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What, no "Because I said so, thats why?" ;-) I always wear a helmet. Its like my seatbelt now, if I don't have it on, something just feels wrong. Whats funny is I was in Chicago the past few days and it blows me away when I travel and see people on motorcycles without helmets. I think the same argument carries over to when California law required a helmet for motorcycle riders. People were outraged. But I assume motorcycle fatalities were reduced drastically. But I'm not sure, so don't quote me.

Of course, there are plenty of accidents where a small piece of styrofoam on your noggin isn't going to make a difference. But its such a small inconvenience, I don't understand why you wouldn't wear one.

A quick google search found this:

Direct costs of cyclists' injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $81 million each year.

Indirect costs of cyclists' injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $2.3 billion each year.

http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm

How reliable those stats are, who knows. But thats a hefty wad of cash that could be spent elsewhere.
 

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My response:

"If you see a total stranger smoking a cigarette, do you lecture him about the dangers of cigarette smoking? No? Then why do you lecture a total stranger about the dangers of not wearing a helmet? Same thing."
 

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Up until about a year ago, I usually only wore a helmet when riding on trails or on a road ride (i.e., spandex ride). This included a 5 mile commute to work, some of which was in heavy traffic. Some days I wore a helmet, but usually I didn't. On a day that I was wearing a helmet, while riding campus I was hit by a car. I went over the hood and smashed my helmet. I was really lucky and got away with a moderate concussion, broken nose and some bumps and bruises. Had I not worn a helmet that day, it would have been much worse. Now, I almost never get on a bike without one, but I won't say a word to anyone about wearing a helmet unless it's on the trails. On trails, I'll open my mouth, but only because I don't want someone else's stupidity killing my ride time.
 

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The Martian
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Every ride. Period. No excuses. And if you expect me to associate with you you'll have one on your head too. Otherwise I'll think you a moron, but I likely won't say anything because it's too personal an issue with me to get in an argument with someone who I feel doesn't either doesn't care or doesn't think. I get far too angry and emotionally involved...

You see, I had to watch someone die due to severe brain trauma that could have been prevented by a helmet; he left a wife and 10yr old son and a huge chunk of medical bills for 7 months of hospitalization despite the best insurance they could afford (self employed). The emotional trauma it left me, "only" a friend, even 5yrs later, is immense and very vivid.

It's a pet peeve and a bit of a sore spot of mine now to say the very very least...
 

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bike buster
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Blah. Styrofoam caps are awesome. I wear my helmet 99% of the time. If I am riding the 3/4mi it takes to get to Lucky, I don't. Anytime I'm riding dirt, I do. I wear it on my commute to work down Central Expressway. Not that it will do much for me the day that I am turned into road kill as Rebecca leans over to get her cell phone. I seriously doubt it will do much for me if I hit a tree at 40mph tearing down Mr. Toad's. I like wearing my full face because, I swear, it makes me go faster. It has magical powers. I actually caught some flak for cruising around without my helmet earlier today from some serious roadie looking type and had a big rant written out about freedom!, America!, etc. but deep down, I know, he was right. So, good job infecting my conscience, serious road guy!
 

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stripes said:
Set a good example: wear your damn helmet.
I wonder if the challenge faced by the original poster isn't really about helmet or not but rather about how to teach kids about authority, conformity, and individuality and how to know the boundaries of each per one's values. These are hard questions to answer.

It would be nice if the answers could be summed up as:

o "Wear your helmet until you're 18 because it's the law"
o "Wear your helmet because otherwise you set a bad example for others"
o "Wear you helmet because it's safer"
o "I don't wear my helmet because, even life itself, is really my choice and not yours!"
o "I don't wear my helmet because I choose not to and don't have to answer to you."

etc. etc. etc.

But I think these are all cop outs from spending some quality time figuring out one's values, and likely what one desires to pass on to their offspring and how to go about teaching them.
 
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