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"Wear Your Damn Helmet"(18 posts)

"Wear Your Damn Helmet"lonefrontranger
Mar 13, 2003 11:59 AM
This is a hot topic over on the Racing board, where the illustrious shirt has been stirring the soup:

From the sage minds at VeloNews:

The girl Neal Rogers talks about is a close personal friend of ours who worked at my gym and rode on our Monday night socials. It will be a long time before she'll ever have a normal life. She lost her short-term memory function; only time will tell if she'll ever get it all back. All because she switched cars that day and forgot her helmet.

Nicole Reinhart and the woman who died in my race 2 springs ago were not saved by the helmets they both wore. Javier Oxtoa's twin brother was killed by a car while wearing a helmet and Javier himself will probably never race again. The Red Stick Racing team tragedy in Louisiana last year killed three guys who were wearing helmets as part of a club race. Fabio Casartelli took a stone retaining wall to the face at 50mph, only a motorcycle helmet might have saved him according to the doctors. Kivilev, well - who knows? There is conflicting evidence on that account, but we'll never know.

Bike racing is a calculated risk. The best we can say is that in every case these folks went nearly instantaneously, and to the best of our knowledge, painlessly while doing something they love to do. It is a tragedy, one of those things that happens because we are in this world. No amount of armchair analysis, litigation, legislation or rhetoric will ever bring them back. Raise a glass to their memory and ride hard in their honor.

That being said, I agree with shirt's emotional rant on the Racing board. I was touched by his diatribe, tho his salty approach may not be to everyone's taste. I happen to know shirt has a lovely young son; so I interpret his message as coming from someone who is himself a father. If you have kids, or loved ones, you have a burden of responsibility. We take risks every time we mount up on our fragile, flyweight, skinny-tired rigs and share turf with 3000-lb metal monsters.

We define our risks by the decisions we make. Last night I miscalculated my route and wound up stranded on Hwy 36 as the sun was setting. I swallowed my pride, and called my SO to drive across town to pick me up, something he was glad to do because it was just too dangerous to ride on busy narrow roads without lights. Yet I see cyclists, including experienced ones, riding in pitch dark with no lights in heavy traffic on almost a daily basis.

The point I'm trying to make, albiet circuitously, is that even though as cyclists we take calculated risks daily, please take two seconds to think before you do something really dangerous or stupid.


Thanks LFR, very well said... I second that. nmrwbadley
Mar 13, 2003 12:33 PM
Mar 13, 2003 12:46 PM
I read the post in racing...and the threads here as well. Ultimately it is all about 2 things; percentages and choices.

Death is every bit as much a part of life as birth is. Unless there appears a discovery by medicine, you are going to die...plain and simple.

The question then becomes when? Well, here is where you get into percentages and choices. Certainly nearly any choice you make in life plays into the percentages of death, from food choice to job choice (as an ex police officer, I think I had more challenges as far as safety was concerned than I do now as a project manager for a commercial business), to where you live, etc. etc.

Certainly mankind by nature enjoys a challenge and a thrill, and so we participate in things like scuba diving, skydiving, bicycle racing, car racing, and other activities where part of the challenge, and thrill, is that simply, while it can be dangerous, it is also rewarding. (Those who would make the unrealistic point of "well you are safe if you don't do anything and hide in your house" may as well stop reading here).

To play the percentages, it is a bit of a wonderment why you wouldn't take advantage of any and every thing that would increase your enjoyment of the activity, but also your safety...such as wearing a helmet when bike riding, using a dive computer instead of diving the US Navy dive tables, wearing a ballistic vest if you are working as a police officer, etc. etc., but again...those are choices one makes, and you live with the percentages of the outcome if something goes wrong.

There are those circumstances where, for lack of a better phrase, "when your number is's up." Getting hit by a car, shot because you were standing in the wrong place when a drive-by happened (seen that one happen more than once), and all the other "gotchas" that happen at random, and for no good reason. Unfair? Certainly so, but preventable? Not really, unless you lock yourself in your house and never leave.

Certainly there will always be circumstances where no matter what you did, or what you wore (or didn't wear) it was simply beyond your control. Those aside, why wouldn't you take advantage of items designed for your protection and health? In the spectrum of things, realize that you actually control very very little in your fact really the ONLY thing you truly control are YOUR actions and YOUR choices. You very well may be the best driver in the world, but what about the person behind you, or ahead of you on the road? Are they as good? Are they sober? On their cell phone and not paying attention? Can you control that? Of course you can't, and as oversimplified as this example is, you are not in total are only in partial control. If the drunk driver slams into you going 60mph, simply, you could not prevent that.

I guess the answer to that is simply - It's your choice...and you will live (or not) with the results.
Amen, my sister. What is the big damn deal about notbill
Mar 13, 2003 12:48 PM
wearing one? This has come up before, with those who fancy themselves libertarian saying that no one has the right to tell them what to do. Of course, society tells people what to do all the time, it's called civilization. The smarter among the libertarian ilk acknowledge this but add, about helmets, that society doesn't have the right to tell anyone on issues that don't affect anyone else.
Doesn't affect anyone else? Ask the newly-single mother and the fatherless child.
Thanks for the post. Sage as always. nmKristin
Mar 13, 2003 1:00 PM
re: "Wear Your Damn Helmet"raboboy
Mar 13, 2003 1:21 PM
I have very mixed feelings about this...
One one hand, I completely agree and support the wearing of helmets. I wouldn't even think of going out without wearing one.
On the other hand I am also against telling people how to live their lives. Cycling, as well as a family lost a member, but it was his choice. Cyclists are adults and capable of making their own choices, good or bad. The reality is that this happens very infrequently given the number of races each year. Many persuits are dangerous and capable of taking a life, you can't protect people from themselves. Cyclists will still die even if they all wear helmets just like mountain climbers die, and hockey players, and pilots, and astronauts and many, many others. Its a dangerous world... We all need to decide when and how we take risks. Nobody can or should dicate that.

That said, I'd like to reiterate that I wear a helmet, and if any of my friends didn't wear one I would harrass the sh@t out of them...
But don't you feel some sense of responsibility. . .czardonic
Mar 13, 2003 1:40 PM
. . .as a person with enough common sense to wear a helmet, to warn those who are too dense to grasp the logic of their folly.

You have every right to tell people to wear a helmet. Others have the right to ignore you. There is no right to blissful ignorance (or blind stupidity).
But don't you feel some sense of responsibility. . .raboboy
Mar 13, 2003 1:49 PM
I do tell people to wear helmets. I got a couple friends interested in mtb and road biking and went with them to get their bikes and told them to get helmets. They did. I've never actually come across someone who refused.

If I rode with a team (well, I do ride WITH a team, i'm just not ON it), I'd stil wear one and would expect everyone else on the team to do so, and tell them to if they didn't. If they ignore me, then I would feel no sense of responsibility.
That's about all you can do. (nm)czardonic
Mar 13, 2003 3:18 PM
Let me ease your burden of guilt...wasabekid
Mar 13, 2003 7:53 PM
by painting the "big" picture (as I see it).

While I appreciate your feeling of not wanting to tell people how to live their lives, you just somehow have to comfort yourself that it's for the greater good.

It's true that under fatalistic (exceeding the failure limits of the helmet and/or body) circumstances, not even the most complex/expensive helmet will do any good. What it provides is an additional safety cushion (literally and figuratively) to prevent what can be a near fatal accident, to just a simple concussion or turn a mild concussion to just an adreline pumping "flipped over the handle bar cracked helmet" event, that you can just walk off. IOW, the difference between a $100 do it your self patch up job, to a $20K full blown emergency visit + hospitalization + rehabilitation cost. This can also be the difference between taking just a simple sick day or loss of job due to extended absence.

What is also often overlooked is the financial and emotional toll to the relatives of the victims. From anxiety to incalculable grief of losing a loved one, from exhausting the family life savings to ending up being in gov't welfare after leaving a wife with 2 kids and no income.

While it's true that these pros maybe financially secured, will not be a burden to society and fatal accidents are rare (in their level), therefore their decision not to wear helmet is justified. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is, whether they like it or not, they are being made as role models and being emulated by their less capable and less fortunate brethrens. Brethrens that are more exposed to the hazards of the sport and in their daily lives. So, whether they like it or not, at the very least they should set an example for the greater good it does, to all those who idolize them.

Do I feel guilty telling people what to do (thru legislation)? No I don't.

Now for those who still insist on not wearing a helmet:

When asserting your right, speak from your heart and be PROUD enough to say that you will NEVER be a BURDEN to your family and love ones and also to ME and MY love ones.

Raboboy: I hope this helps.

I agree,If you won't wear one for yourself......PEDDLEFOOT
Mar 13, 2003 1:23 PM least wear it for your familly .Think of your kids growing up without their Father or Mother.It's more than just for you.
Right on - nmJimP
Mar 13, 2003 1:50 PM
A lot has changedshamelessgearwhore
Mar 13, 2003 3:29 PM
A lot has changed since I grew up in the early 80's. None of us kids EVER wore a helmet and I can't really remember ever seeing anyone wear a helmet at all. All those hits we took on our BMX bikes were pretty lucky to not have landed the wrong way. I am glad that it is practically automatic to wear helmets now. If you see a rider these days w/o one, they really stand out like a sore thumb. It's amazing how trends can sometimes change for the better! Just go to Europe and you will notice that NO ONE wears helmets. For them it is still about being cool or fashionable. They would not do something like that if it got in the way with an image. Maybe the reason we have taken to helmets is that we are always into getting the latest and greatest and looking like you should deserve it. Thats why helmets don't hurt our current image, they compliment it.
LFR, I hope other Boulderites hear your messageColorado Ron
Mar 13, 2003 4:47 PM
I live on the north end of Carter lake. I'm sure you have ridden by my drive many times. Last weekend I drove to Pro Peloton to check out the Independent Fab frames. I went the back way through Hygiene. The warm weather brought out a lot of cyclist, and I could not beleive how many were not wearing helments. I'm sure you see it too. These guys are not newbies either. What's up with that? Is it supposed to be cool? Obviously these guys know the risk. Most noticable was the way there would be a group of three or four riders and none of them would have helments on. I got to think there is some serious peer pressure at working on some of these riders.
Amen, and I've copied this thread to my friend at the Cameralonefrontranger
Mar 13, 2003 4:52 PM
My friend Marty Caivano is the cycling columnist at the Camera. I think this might be a good topic for her next column.

Let me know if you ever want to hook up, because I'm out Carter Lake way a lot. I live in Lafayette.
unfortunately i think you're preaching to the choirColnagoFE
Mar 14, 2003 8:56 AM
those that dont wear 'em think they are too cool and nothing will happen to them and will likely not change their ways until they get injured or worse. 99.9% of the time i wear one. it's mandatory for mountain bike riding (how mayne MTB riders do you see without a helmet?). though i admit that sometimes when i take out the cruiser bike i don't wear a helmet (yeah, yeah...i know i should).
re: "Wear Your Damn Helmet"Ironbutt
Mar 13, 2003 5:01 PM
Again, well said. I went down on a fun ride last December. Slowest darn crash that I've ever had, but the damages were a severe concussion, severe intracranial bleeding, a shattered clavicle, and indeterminite damage to the shoulder soft tissue. Short term memory is rotten, after three months, and I managed to contract pneumonia to further complicate things. The helmet was broken into three pieces, and will be good for me to use while I'm conducting bike roedos to teach kids safe cycling. God only knows if I'd even be able to type this if I hadn't been wearing the helmet. It's a choice for all adult cyclists to make, but the choices seem easier after I've been throgh a few times of failing to stop the bike before I got off.
re: "Wear Your Damn Helmet" Do whatever, but......RoadHazzardBuzz
Mar 13, 2003 5:34 PM
I agree that it is a personal choice, however with that choice comes another decision. (This applies as well to motorcycle helmets, seatbelts, etc.) If you don't want to wear one, fine, but you should have to give up any rights you have for government assistance with medical bills, rehabilitation, etc. The case could be made that it should be a question when you get life insurance similar to the 'Do you skydive or plan to skydive', If you say 'yes, I plan not to wear a helmet', your insurance rates (if you can get it) should go way up. I(we) shouldn't have to pay higher premiums to support those that choose to become organ donors before their time. /rant off