In Memoriam: Unsafe Headgear

I appreciate my helmet. I treat it with respect. I never leave for a ride without it. I replace it after a crash or even after helplessly watching it bound down the stairwell like some kind of deformed styrofoam slinky-dink after allowing it to slip from my grasp. (This activity also typically involves some assertions questioning what it does in its spare time, its origins of birth, and things of that nature.) Community member @chaz also recently suggested that, in accordance with motorcycle tradition, we ceremoniously cut the strap on the helmet and hang it in the VVorkshop in deference to the purpose it served us.

Suffice to say, I’m grateful for the advances technology offers us when it comes to protective headgear, because staying alive is in alignment with my strategy. But progress is the slayer of ritual and tradition, and I can’t help but look back longingly to the days when helmets were rarely worn and if they were, they consisted of thin strips of leather that, assuming it stayed on, would do little more than keep your cranium from coming apart after cracking it to bits on a cobblestone or some such object.

The hairnet was the coolest cranial accouterment ever designed, with the insulated cycling cap that fit over it being a close second. The cycling cap on its own was, of course, also a class piece of kit to be worn forwards, sideways, or backwards – made cooler only by perching a set of cycling-specific shades on top of it. A helmetless head saw hair slicked back by the wind as a byproduct of the V as riders raised their arms in triumph over the finish line. The bare noggin on the high mountain passes was a beacon of Purified Awesome, allowing us to see in all their glory the suffering faces of the riders as they moved sur la plaque over the summit.

Take a moment, fellow Velominati, to honor the Useless Headgear of our past.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Headgear/”]

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175 Replies to “In Memoriam: Unsafe Headgear”

  1. @Minion

    @ChrisO
    It was largely about hairnets till you lobbed your post in. Pull your head in, it sounds like you’ve had this coversation before and THIS IS NOT THE PLACE to make your point.

    You know what you can do with your head Minion… except it will never fit up there with a helmet on.

  2. @ChrisO

    @Minion

    @ChrisO
    It was largely about hairnets till you lobbed your post in. Pull your head in, it sounds like you’ve had this coversation before and THIS IS NOT THE PLACE to make your point.

    You know what you can do with your head Minion… except it will never fit up there with a helmet on.

    Is this the voice of experience speaking? At least it would provide one explanation for the “non believers”.

  3. @Otoman

    Thanks for telling me why I should wear a helmet, you’ve obviously read my post on the subject and worked out that I had some doubts about their effectiveness. Without your diktat it’s unlikely that I would’ve been able to work it out for myself.

    @Otoman

    You wear it b/c you understand that arguments about seeing a study once that drivers are more careful with helmetless riders is complete wishful thinking at best.

    As much as I enjoy this site, I’ve always felt that it’s a bit too loosely moderated and featured too much free discussion and personal opinion. I’m relieved that you’ve come along to tell me what is scientific fact and what is piffle without including long winded explanations.

    I’m going to hazard a guess that you re American, based on my observation that most people on here are and your mention of health insurance plans. Read a few of the articles and it becomes quite clear that cycling happens in other countries too. Look even more closely and you might notice that @ChrisO is not American and lives in another country. As such it’s unlikely that he has any impact on your insurance. In more general terms, what impact do helmet-less riders have on health insurance? Fucking minimal would be my guess.

  4. @Oli

    Sorry but until @frank includes an “Internet Sarcasm” button next to “Bold” and “Italic” there’s always going to be risk that people will go away with a warm fuzzy feeling thinking that I’ve just agreed with them.

  5. @Oli
    Indeed, but let’s not go there.

    Slightly off topic, I was amused to hear that if you send a hug from a Blackberry to an iPhone, they receive not little smiley person with outstretched arms but something that has become known as a Blackberry Vagina (you might not want to Google that though). I tested this on Mrs Chris, who is in China today, and have not heard back since.

  6. @RedRanger

    @EightzeroYou use Gravatar. I would have never figured that out if I didn’t ask.

    Thanks for the advice! Quick and easy to use.

  7. @Marcus

    Wow! That’s amazing!

    I’ve always been a helmet-wearer, and had them protect my noggin in crashes on bicycles and motorcycles. I’m a firm believer, and your photos help cement that belief.

  8. @rhys

    Yup, those are the pair of vents I was talking about. I also have a quite large head so it feels like the frame is stretching somewhat…luckily I don’t spend that much time with them not on my face when I have my helmet on.

  9. You can save your scientific mumbo-jumbo “helmets save lives for another debate. Verifiable facts and sound judgment have no place on a forum like this nor, dare I say it, the interweb at large. The only reason one should always wear a helmet (apart from preventing you from officially becoming a f*cktard and an emotional/monetary burden on your family in the event of a catastrophic accident) is that all the pros wear them. That’s all the reason you should ever need for doing something on the bike.

    Now before all you v-holes get all uppity and point out that none of the old timers wore helmets back in the Golden Age, neither did they ride lightweight carbon frames with a thousand-tooth rear cog. And I sure as sh*t aint going to trade my carbon beauty for a clapped out 13kg steel stinker on wheels with a 19 tooth / 43 chainring combo just to emulate the heros of a bygone era.

    Whether helmet usage ought be compulsory for all bicycle riders within the community is irrelevant and not worthy of my consideration. However, I do support making the wearing of a helmet as a Rule by all cyclists.

    And that was my two cents.

  10. @Chris
    well done! You got a nice jab in at the ugly American. Go pat yourself on the back and have a pint with your mates. (insert rolley-eye emoticon here)

    Yes, I’m American and a physician. I’ve just seen waaaaaaay too many people show up in an ER all effed up b/c they were exercising their rights. The problem is that there is a huge number of people in this group who are uninsured. As your stereotypical view of me as a fat, Hummer-driving, McMansion living slob who assumes nothing happens outside the US of A is wildly innacurate, so is your view about health care in the States. For you, I guess, your government loses more money. Whatever. The point is that people’s poor decisions have wide ranging implications far beyond their (your) narrow view of life. The n=1 experience should be treated as such: anecdotal “evidence”.
    I’m glad you haven’t cracked your head on the pavement yet. I’m glad I haven’t cracked mine. I’ll certainly keep strapping on the beer cooler though just to give me that small reduction of chance that I won’t end up dead, or worse, a neurologic invalid.
    I’m not trying to convince you to wear a helmet, Chris. Now careful here, this is an American study. You may want to completely disregard it [sarcasm]:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001855/abstract;jsessionid=5382F19F96AD1FB7973F0FEDFB724D52.d02t03

    Here is a legal version summarizing the studies and how it could apply to legislation:
    http://publichealthlawresearch.org/public-health-topics/injury-prevention-evidence-briefs/bicycle-helmets/evidence-brief/bicycle-helmet

    So while I understand where you are coming from with your opinion, and yes you look sorta cool to some people while you are riding helmetless, why take the chance?

    I guess we’ll agree that we disagree :-)

  11. @otoman

    @Chris
    So while I understand where you are coming from with your opinion, and yes you look sorta cool to some people while you are riding helmetless, why take the chance?
    I guess we’ll agree that we disagree :-)

    I’d quite happily agree to disagree but for the fact that you’ve not actually understood what I’ve said in the subject so there are no grounds for either agreement or disagreement.

    If you’d have read both of my posts on the subject rather than just jumping on the fact that that I’ve made reference to a study that doesn’t match with your view you would understand that I’ve doubts about their effectiveness, suggested that you also need a bit of luck on your side but then go on to say that I wear one.

    As for getting a cheap jab at the ugly American, I’ll apologise if I’ve offended your sensibilities, it was not intended as one but if “You wear it so that I and the rest of the people in your health insurance plan don’t have to bear the premium increase b/c of your redneck, Harley-driving helmetless style insistence on “being free” or some such crap” is to form part of your opinion then you shouldn’t get upset if someone else points out that we aren’t all operating under the same system.

    [I actually thought twice about that bit as I knew that someone would start bleating that I’d called Americans ugly, fat, Hummer-driving, McMansion living slob who assume nothing happens outside the US of A (all your words) rather than taking it for what it is, an observation.]

    I’m sure that your study is fantastic and a compelling reason to wear a helmet but given that it talks about approximately 900 deaths a year (which is the total number of deaths rather han helmetless deaths) as opposed to your CDC’s figure that in 2006, 631,636 people in the US died of heart disease, I’ll maintain my position that the impact that helmetless riders have on the system is minimal.

    To be truthful, I couldn’t give a shit about any of the above, the bit pissed me off was your arrogant, condescending, do-gooder pedalling of your beliefs. If, for example, you have come across the study that suggests that motorists take more care around helmetless cyclists and you have fact to counter that study then great. That is why I mentioned the study, for discussion. Instead, you made no attempt to back anything up but merely stated you shall do this, you shall do that.

    What you hold to be dear and true may carry hold the same weight with others and as a Physician you should know that people do not react well to being told what to do without reason.

    This is not why I come here so I’m going to follow @ChrisO‘s lead and sit this one out. If you want to continue this then your welcoe to take @minion‘s advice and do so privately.

  12. As a brief comment (I’m done arguing my specific point), the referenced study- driver reactions to helmeted vs unhelmeted bikers- was done locally, IIRC. A guy spent a lot of time with video camera helmeted and not, noted the distance that cars gave bikers. YES- its TRUE- drivers gave bikers w naked heads more room on average during this “study.”

    I think that to the person, (and pardon me for speaking for anyone out of turn), we all worry about the driver that doesn’t see us. And that is not a partisan, racialist, socialist, nationalist, fascist, druggist (running out of ists) issue.

    Like most of us, the guy doing the study rode his bike a lot in traffic and had a few brushes with badness but his number never came up. And thats what that study showed.

  13. @D-Man

    neither did they ride lightweight carbon frames with a thousand-tooth rear cog. And I sure as sh*t aint going to trade my carbon beauty for a clapped out 13kg steel stinker on wheels with a 19 tooth / 43 chainring combo just to emulate the heros of a bygone era.

    I could not care less about all the hemlet/non-helmet stuff on this thread but the above line raised my eyebrows (some of the few remaining hairs on this perfect head of mine): Just have to say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    I just recently purchased an older steel Merckx that is heavy as shit compared to my bike #1 but there is a certain sublime beauty in the ride of #2 that the new, light wieght steed will never afford me.

    But, everyone, carry on with your aggression building, just make sure to take it all out on some intervals or hill repeats later today or tomorrow!

  14. @gaswepass
    Helmets do sweet FA to protect people hit by cars and they are only really small protection against minor impacts. Most head injury fatalities would have occurred with or without a helmet, and people who trust that their helmet is somehow going to protect them from a car impact need to think again.

    If you show me your damaged helmet claiming it saved your life when you were hit by a car or crashed, I just think your number wasn’t up and that you were lucky.

  15. Going to chime in one last time. Bottom line: getting hit by a car sucks. Hitting a moving or stationary object while riding your bike sucks as well. Smashing your head against the ground sucks. Whether you do it with our without a helmet doesn’t change the fact. Wear a helmet, or don’t. I always wear one, but I’m secretly envious of those who don’t because they look cooler than those who do.

    Bottom line: don’t get hit by a car. Period.

  16. I’m personally far more worried about breaking my neck or back in a fall and being paralyzed than I am about a bad head injury while cycling. But my daily driving is probably more dangerous than my time spent cycling, so I just choose not to worry about it.

  17. Lighten up everybody. I hate to admit it, but Minion is right. No one will change anyone else’s mind on this topic so let it go. However, to finish the discussion, I have two times one thousand words in favor of helmets.

    1. She wears one.

    2. And so does Gianni

  18. @Marcus

    Is that another one of your dude-dressed-as-a-lady models? Where is @Scaler911 when you need someone to tell them apart?

  19. @mcsqueak
    @Scaler911 can’t tell us if it’s a man or woman. All he can do is tell us if the individual turns him on or not. The process is that we then tell HIM if its a male or female and then we mock him based on the results and his reaction.

  20. @mcsqueak

    @Marcus
    Is that another one of your dude-dressed-as-a-lady models? Where is @Scaler911 when you need someone to tell them apart?

    Mate – its a fucking chihuahua. Not sure of the gender.

  21. @Oli

    @gaswepass
    Helmets do sweet FA to protect people hit by cars and they are only really small protection against minor impacts. Most head injury fatalities would have occurred with or without a helmet, and people who trust that their helmet is somehow going to protect them from a car impact need to think again.
    If you show me your damaged helmet claiming it saved your life when you were hit by a car or crashed, I just think your number wasn’t up and that you were lucky.

    Ok. There is pseudo science and then there’s what we know. Can we be done now? Was done before, just addressed the study as it was a big deal at the time since it was local and dear to the residents of the people’s republic of Portland. Hope that part was helpful.

  22. @mcsqueak

    @Marcus
    Is that another one of your dude-dressed-as-a-lady models? Where is @Scaler911 when you need someone to tell them apart?

    @frank

    @mcsqueak
    @Scaler911 can’t tell us if it’s a man or woman. All he can do is tell us if the individual turns him on or not. The process is that we then tell HIM if its a male or female and then we mock him based on the results and his reaction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF8vZM-O3hc

  23. @scaler911

    @mcsqueak

    @Marcus
    Is that another one of your dude-dressed-as-a-lady models? Where is @Scaler911 when you need someone to tell them apart?

    @frank

    @mcsqueak
    @Scaler911 can’t tell us if it’s a man or woman. All he can do is tell us if the individual turns him on or not. The process is that we then tell HIM if its a male or female and then we mock him based on the results and his reaction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF8vZM-O3hc

    Sure, then it doesn’t let me imbed it. Fuck all……….

  24. Right middle finger “I”, left middle finger “E”. I’m going to put on my helmet and have a beer.

  25. @gaswepass
    Stop being such a pious dogma-pusher and maybe I’ll stop, but you don’t decide what’s real or what’s not and you certainly don’t get the last word by telling me so.

  26. On the subject of posting pics of women, here are some worthwhile shots. Note they’re both wearing clothes, and note that they’re way more badass than the other women posted recently.

  27. @Frank Can’t you lock threads ?

    And then put it in a box and throw away the allen key…

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