I am an avowed biker. When I’m not biking, I’m on a bus. When I’m not on a bus, I’m walking. If I’m not either? I’m maybe in a car – but I’m not happy about that.
I always wear a helmet too. Perhaps to give me some leeway to be more risky or perhaps because I’m so fucking scared of my brains falling out, I don the derpy hard hat to protect my brains as I ride. It’s a must for me! It makes me so mad when I see people wear helmets. I’ve had friends who are very anti-helmet who I’ve had to bite my tongue as to not get in their face and give some sobbing plea for them to protect their lives. It’s their decision and I have to respect that. It’s difficult, though. Even I shame myself, turning my bike around if I ever leave the house without a helmet. I will even walk my bike back as to be the utmost Safety Boy™.
But do we need helmets? I am a staunch advocate, obviously, but I recently came across a very interesting bike helmet debate produced by The Guardian. It definitely made me go “HMMMM. HelMMMMMMets.”
A few things, in case you don’t have the time to watch. First, helmets are seemingly a barrier for people to ride. Why? Because, apparently, they don’t want to wear them, probably because they think they look dumb or find them uncomfortable. (To which I say: bosh. Grow up.)
Second, in the grand scheme, getting more people biking would help the population as far as health. Yes, a few people might get their brains scattered in an accident but – by and large – the overall health of the population would increase if more people got to biking. Interesting.
Third, bikers who wear helmets seemingly take more risks because they feel “protected.” This I can attest to since I certainly speed through changed lights, run lights early, and sometimes ride in hectic areas that might be a little too unsafe for me to roll through. Still, I do it – all because I have the safety net of a helmet. Also, in a funny twist, drivers drive closer to bikers with helmets because they perceive that they are “safer,” i.e. their brains are covered.
The moral, really, is that bikers need more attention: we really shouldn’t have to wear a helmet because there should be infrastructures available to protect us. That is what we need: dedicated roads and safe spots for us to ride in peace, away from cars. Is that available in most places? No. Maybe in Montreal, maybe in Copenhagen, maybe in Paris – but in most places? There is no such thing.