When I was a kid my parents always made me wear a bike helmet whenever we went out.
It didn’t matter if we were going to the shops or riding down a mountain. I was told from the start that helmets were important. I was told exactly why you need a bike helmet – in my mother’s words:
“You will wear a helmet because if you fall off and hit your head I do not want to be the one wiping your arse when you’re paralysed.”
Not exactly subtle, but that’s how my family is. Anyway, when I eventually hit my teenage years I’d fallen off my bike enough to know that most of the damage is taken by your arms, knees and hands. So, being infinitely clever, I started not wearing one as I could no longer see why you need a bike helmet. One serious crash later, where I ripped off a lot of my face, and I was straight back wearing bike helmets!
I learned the hard way why you need a bike helmet and I know that thousands of regular cyclists have done the same.
It’s because I learned the hard way that I find myself being extremely fucked off when I see things like this:
These guys are supposed to be representing cyclists on a professional level and yet they both state that neither of them wear one and spouting rubbish about how it’s safer than walking. If you’ve just watched that film without muttering, what complete fucking idiots, then you’re a better person than me. The closing sentence about less people will be cycling but there will be more deaths – what?!
Should you legally have to wear a helmet? HELL NO!
Now don’t get me wrong. I think everyone should be given their own freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet, personally I always do – especially when I go mountain biking or go anywhere near the road. But making it a legal necessity, that’s completely pointless. After all any law passed like this will, most likely, be completely ignored! Just like the law that says we can’t cycle on the pavement. Having said this, if someone wants to come out mountain biking with me I will simply refuse flat out to go with them if they haven’t got a helmet. Call me pessimistic but I don’t really fancy scooping your brains back into your skull or waiting for the air ambulance during my ride out! I’ve seen the kind of damage bike crashes can do and for the sake of what, your appearance, you won’t wear a helmet? Insane.
Accidents aren’t generally down to your riding
Lots of people think, “I can ride a bike confidently, I doubt I’m going to fall off.” And yes, I agree with you, commuting by bike is relatively safe but it’s the cars that make it dangerous, take the incident in the 2011 Tour De France for example:
These guys are professional cyclists, they know how to ride bikes – in fact they have most likely ridden a bike for several hours every day for years and what happens? They come off because they’ve been hit by a car! This isn’t the only case though:
- Simon Richardson MBE was hit by a car, twice!
- Mark Cavendish MBE, hit by a car
- Bradley Wiggins CBE, hit by a car
- This is just British Olympians, need I go on?
The kind of message I want people to hear is “No matter how good you are at riding a bike, you should still wear a helmet – you never know what’s around the corner.” A prime example of this is when Evan van der Spuy of Team Jeep South Africa got taken out by a Red Hartbees at the Time Freight Express MTB race at Albert Falls Dam – a complete freak accidents but they can happen at any time! That’s why you need to wear a bike helmet, not because we can’t control a bike but because the course of life is out of our hands.
This is the type of message I feel like we should be promoting in the UK, not two pompous plebs saying that there is no benefit to wearing a helmet which is absolutely, by far the most fucking ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.