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Thread: Helmets

  1. #1
    formerly Gobike69
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    Helmets

    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?
    Speed costs money, how fast can you afford to go?

  2. #2
    just another bleepin SSer
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    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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  3. #3
    Lusus Naturae
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    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

  4. #4
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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.
    Last edited by Dirt_Diggler; 06-19-2008 at 01:56 PM.

  5. #5
    MidnightBroomstickCowboy
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    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????
    "As a true patriotic American, I blindly follow what my elected leaders tell me." - Jack English

  6. #6
    Feeling a little taller
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    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.
    There are no stupid questions but there are A LOT of inquisitive idiots.


    Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay

  7. #7
    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!

  8. #8
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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.

  9. #9
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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.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  10. #10
    Thread Killer
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    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
    I ride a 26'er with tubes and rim brakes.
    Yeah, I'm basically living in the stone age.

  11. #11
    formerly Gobike69
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    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.
    Speed costs money, how fast can you afford to go?

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by gobike69
    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.
    Last edited by rjmcmahon; 06-19-2008 at 04:00 PM.

  13. #13
    FUBAR
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    While conducting an accident investigation, I have yet to have a cyclist tell me "I wish I would have left this damn helmet at home today".
    The older I get the faster I was!

  14. #14
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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.

  15. #15
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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."
    Tequila is a pallid flame that passes through walls and soars over tile roofs to allay despair. A. Mutis

  16. #16
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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.

  17. #17
    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...

  18. #18
    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!
    Last edited by jdubsl2; 06-19-2008 at 11:46 PM.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes
    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.

  20. #20
    too tired to be clever
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    I just figure if there's something to protect, a person will wear a helmet when they are on a bike.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zignzag
    "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."
    They aren't the same things nor will they have the same answers. Also, there isn't the same answer for all that keep silent and another same answer for all that speak out. The answers to any action will come from identifying an emotion.

  22. #22
    formerly Gobike69
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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes
    I'll put it to you simply:
    Now, here's another example: my husband highsided following me down a downhill on Quicksilver, a very easy non-technical fireroad and cracked his helmet. Not to mention there was a very big dent in the side of the helmet where his head would have hit a road. If you want, we still have the helmet. We show it to people who ask questions like this one.

    Needless to say: ANYTIME I'm on the bike, and I mean ANYTIME, I wear a helmet. And if you have kids, you're being stupid by not setting a good example.

    People riding their bikes not wearing their helmets just really makes me sad. I see too many people, especially kids, riding with their helmet hanging off their handlebars.

    Set a good example: wear your damn helmet.
    Stripes, lighten up a bit. No need to be rude.
    Speed costs money, how fast can you afford to go?

  23. #23
    Pedaler of dirt
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    Wow, there seems to be a lot of folks who believe in magic hats. I wear a helmet almost every time I hit the dirt and most of the times I go roadie, but it's to avoid cuts and bruises to the noggin' rather than in same lame belief it's every going to save my life.

    Some reading material..

    http://www.cyclehelmets.org/index.html

  24. #24
    organically fed
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    I always wear a helmet when I'm mountain biking.
    However, if I'm not mountain biking, but merely riding my mountain bike, I typically don't wear it.
    I know this is not smart and a helmet should be worn whenever riding a bike, but...whatev'.
    Also, my only only crash in the recent past has been falling off a curb when I couldn't unclip (I thought I was waaaay beyond that sort of thing). I'm glad I didn't hit my dome.

  25. #25
    Crazy Dutch Bastard
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    A former co-worker of mine died from a traumatic brain injury sustained when he hit his head on a curb after falling from his bike. This happened during a leisurely ride around the neighborhood with his daughter. He wasn't wearing a helmet. His wife said that he told his daughter "Daddy was stupid, he should have been wearing a helmet". He died 3 days later.
    Isn't that weird?

  26. #26
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    Years back, before full suspension bikes, and before the wife, kid, and a minimal amount of wisdom, I used to ride with a guy who's motto was "if you don't crash you aren't riding hard enough". Maybe there's some truth to that but, when the question of "is that your bone?" comes up during a ride, you start to think twice the next time he calls up looking to ride Needless to say, I've had the ol' grey matter saved by a helmet more times than I care to remember.

    After the first time you smack your head on a rock while wearing a helmet, and think about the fact that the helmet is the only reason your still thinking at all, you'll never ride without one again. On the other hand, after the first time you smack you head on a rock without a helmet, you'll also probably never ride without one again.Know what I mean?

  27. #27
    Weird huh?
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    law of averages I guess

    You're going to fall and hit your head:

    At some point, on any type of ride, without warning.

    My personal case in point: Heading out on a training ride in 1990 (road bike) I looked down and thought I should check to make sure my front wheel release was snug. I leaned over and pushed it with my palm, but missed and sucked my hand into my spokes between the fork blade. I was moving at a whopping 2 mph, just leaving. My bike stopped and I went over the bar and took the impact on my helmet, which was a Pro-tec. It shattered.
    I was fine, but prolly woulda been badly injured.

    In those days the USCF required helmets for the lower cats, but not those of us in 2 or higher for all events. I think that changed shortly afterwards, at least in the States.

    cheers

    El Cid is Spanish for The Cid..
    cmdrpiffle 7 points 1 day ago
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