I recently posted this photo on social media of me busting out a wheelie with Zane my trusty trail dog in tow …
Ripping it like a boss! I was just having fun kicking around in jeans and trainers, so I did not expect the first comments to be all along the lines of “OMG! No helmet! Do you want to die? Where’s your helmet?!?!”
I didn’t even think about it before uploading. I spent most of my childhood riding around without a helmet. It wasn’t law. It wasn’t really even a thing. We rode around parks, we rode to the shops, bunnyhopped down stairs and over gaps, we just rode. Then the government went all crazy clampdown and made helmets mandatory, hitting the country with a mass ad campaign at the same time.
“Heroes wear helmets, they never ask why.” It’s a line in that jingle and one I’ve always found odd. Maybe they should ask why? I question everything. I probably should have expected those helmet comments, this is Australia after all. The nanny country where the police WILL fine you for not wearing one (or not having a bell on your bike). I still rode after helmet laws were introduced, but many didn’t.
Now, I would never hit the road (pun intended) on my road bike around traffic and open roads without a helmet. Sports cycling has a high rate of head injuries and I trust my helmet to protect me to a point, but I’m all about risk management and very much in favour of personal freedom of choice.
A trip to the shops along the cycle path? A gentle cycle through the local park? Riding down the beach boardwalk? In those circumstances I don’t believe a helmet is necessary.
Touring Vietnam on the shopper, no helmet required.
Exploring by tandem with April in Hungary, no helmet required.
Do you make your children wear helmets when they climb trees? Do you wear a helmet when you run? I don’t wear a helmet when I run with the dog. Should I? He’s pulled me over before and I could easily hit my head on a massive rock or end up on the road cleaned up by a car. I don’t wear a helmet when I cross the road. Should I? Last year in America, over 120,000 people were taken to ER after being struck by a car and over 6000 pedestrians in the USA were KILLED BY CARS! That sounds risky. Imagine how many serious head injuries would be prevented if all pedestrians wore helmets!
More tandem adventures in Slovenia, no helmet required.
I’ve had the pleasure of cycling in Amsterdam, where riding a bike is a true part of their culture. Thousands of people cycle to work, to the shops, to friends, all on the road, all in big groups, almost all without helmets, all in regular day to day clothing. Nobody blinks an eye. It’s quite incredible to be part of and many modern cities could learn from the way they operate. They know a thing or two about cycling and cycling friendly cities. Nobody berates you for not wearing a helmet.
And just for the record, the helmet-less wheelie photo was taken on my own private property. I’ve got a fair stretch of bitumen and acreage to ride around on so quit your whinging. Ride your bike, have fun, make your own choices. I know the risks. It’s all about sensible risk management. #ProChoice
Double decker home made circus bike, helmet probably required! ;-)