the TAO of CHANGE

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Posts Tagged ‘bicycle helmets’

Uncle. Wear a Helmet

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I saw a peculiar and somewhat frightening sight while in Minneapolis. Motorcyclists without helmets. On the highway. Going 65mph. At night. Yes, it’s legal in MN, but that wasn’t the part that bothered me. It’s that it just seemed like a ridiculous risk.

Then it got me thinking about last week’s post…And I have to fess up. I give. There’s not much left to debate on the bicycle helmet issue. After a little more research, reading this on TreeHugger.com, and the comments that followed, I’m convinced. If you’re gonna travel on two wheels of any kind, wear a helmet. Even on those perfect days when you’d rather feel the “wind in your hair”. Even when it’s too hot. Or too cold. Or not required by law. It’s logical, it’s not difficult and it could save your life. If truth be told, it did save mine.

In my early twenties, I was just getting into off-road riding. Most of my riding was done on well-designed bicycle paths, which were plentiful in Minneapolis. With this rationalization firmly in place, I was an off/on helmet wearer, since I felt protected from cars. My trail riding was also pretty casual at this point – I rode at low speeds on wide, soft, pine-needle covered trails through the woods of MN, which were relatively flat (more rationalization).

I was setting up for a ride with a friend one day – it was hot and humid, and I didn’t want to wear that helmet. In fact, I rarely wore one in the woods – we had a little bike “gang” and wore bandana “helmets” then and well, you know, it looked cool and all that. My friend got off his bike and told me flat out, “I won’t ride with you unless you wear that helmet.” He seemed so serious that I didn’t argue, and put it on.

About 20 minutes into the ride, I hit something hidden under those needles. Not yet a skilled trail cyclist, I didn’t have a chance. I went over my handlebars and landed on my head. I also heard a loud crack. After rolling onto my back, I was a little afraid to move. I felt no pain, which made me even more nervous. Finally I sat up and realized my helmet had cracked. I had hit a large tree root with it.

My friend saved my head that day, if not my life.

Should helmets be law? I’m not sure about that one. I’d still rather see police handing out hugs rather than tickets. But, we can use our noggens when it comes to some common sense issues and even keep an eye out for others. Spread some helmet love and knock some sense into your friends, before it gets knocked out of them.



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