Meet Neurosurgeon Charles Tator.
He’s determined to ease our bicycling plight. He created a foundation called ThinkFirst, whose goal is to promote brain injury prevention.
If we may take a step back for a moment and look at the macro picture and put aside the worrisome statistics of cyclists, how can any of us be optimistic about the human condition if a promotion campaign is needed to sway us from pursuing brain injury? Do we feeble-headed types need cajoling to remain fence sitters and not go pell-mell, head over heels, in a rush to join those others who willingly desire brain bashing-bamming injuries? Surely, some must think that suffering a brain injury - perhaps may not be the way to go.
Apart from the macro picture problems, Doctor Tator and other brain health experts see roadblocks in the particulars. For example, they worry legislated bicycle helmet laws will turn folks off from bicycling. (Of course this doesn’t preclude these people from walking, or attending HIIT classes, to get their health fix in, so who really cares - other than the tree cuddlers - if more or less people cycle or not?) Head protection makes sense, Taylor posits, but the worry is that grownups will refuse the helmet fearing helmet hair. Really. No kidding.
Here’s what ThinkFirst, now part of Parachute – a Canadian, national, organization “dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives” says: “Saving your brain from serious injury is always in style!”
Nevertheless, many grownups feel that the bubble-head appearance, courtesy of these plastic helmets, adds to the nerdish-nebbish quotient. Furthermore, "the image that they are uncomfortable and ugly" is a turn off. Huh? Is uncomfortable an image? Look it - anyone who perseveres with cycling and its offering of rock hard pointed, genital crushing seats, is masochistic; the sappy look is incidental, or should be. This is a classic case of butt-headed thinking...
Focus not on vanity, but force. Know the rules of the road and know the size of sedans and semis. Those who endeavor with cycling should not worry of how they’ll “come off” with the helmeted look: they should worry how they’ll come off with the head-smashed look, given some motorists could barely give a flying f - - - about two wheelers. Motorists may be wrong and imbecilic on the road, but they are the gun, not the knife, in this fight for road stripe space. Helmet hair is the least of one’s worries…
To the libertarian, loather of governments, maverick, dickweed, or freedom-from-any-restriction fighter - the fact that laws order them to wear helmets makes their fists’ clench, blood boil, and eyes bulge. They’ll tell you that when they were kids they did not have to wear a helmet. The smart ass will reply “And look how you turned out, you good-for-nothing waste of space.”
But they do have a point. The vast majority that free wheeled it around town, hair flying with the wind, suffered no debilitating injuries, even riding with no hands or practicing their wheelies for hours on end. Most have wiped out more than a few times, gone head first over those same handlebars, smashed over curbs, or hit elementary school walls, and lived to tell the tale, speaking in nearly complete sentences and everything. Why should they now, as a grown up, have their rights curtailed by some over-caring-hand-wringing-wet-noodle-killjoy bureaucrat helmet peddle-pedal-pusher?
Helmet supporters would counter:
“Fine. Wear nothing. But just remember to wear your wallet – because only you should pay for your medical bills to take your squashed head and make it back into the pumpkin head it was. My health-tax dollars should not support your idiocy. Ok with that, Mister Independence?”
Still waiting for an answer on that one.
If our pro-or-con helmet complainer lives in Canada, they’ll be glad to know that bike helmet laws vary from province to province to territory. As of 2013 only British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia made it mandatory for all cyclists to wear helmets. In places like the Northwest Territories – there are no laws on this. (One supposes, with Grizzly and Polar bears, Lynx, Wolves, and Wolverines about - ready to devour any citizens from inside to out - that there are bigger things to worry about than whether a cycling citizen, kooky enough to pedal in those wild and wooly outdoors, has their dough-head sheathed in plastic protection.)
Similarly, if our carper lives in the USA, they’ll be glad to know there is no federal law, only state laws or local ordinances...
So, to helmet
not to helmet?
With crummy cyclists and mental motorists, and concerned - and unconcerned - governments, it is buyer-bike-helmet beware. Either way, either choice, will bring derision and ridicule from the 75% that oppose your pick. That percentage makes no sense – but makes more sense than the whole helmet-wear hooferaw.