Probably the safest way to go about starting this blog is to remove myself from the opinions of the rest of the company. ‘The opinions stated hereafter and evermore are solely the opinions of Buddah Brown and in no way reflect the group observations and sentiments held by Iron Horse Clothing and all that…’
There’s something about riding a bike that I find so much fun, so exhilarating. The freedom, the speed, the wind in my hair. Oh, scratch that. I forgot I was wearing a helmet. Before you chime in with the ‘oh, you’re an idiot if you don’t wear a helmet’ comments, let me tell you about the two personalities I operate (there are probably at least 6, but this not the point). Road bike Buddah races road bikes, he trains in the hills, always descends as fast as he can, rides on main roads, takes a few risks here and there, but always, always wears a helmet. Chilled out riding into town on a Friday night Buddah is very, very different. The bike he rides is a wide handlebar girls bike with a sloping frame, 6 speeds and a cute little bell. Chilled out Buddah rides 10 minutes on suburban roads to the train, then gets off the train and rides 10 minutes in the cycle lane to the pub. He never, ever wears a helmet.
There is a massive difference in how people approach riding, and helmet laws (if any) should reflect this. Riders should be given the option. How does it make sense to treat all cyclists the same? How can the Government treat utility cyclists (the smart people cruising to work in Danny’s post) the same as road bike riders out on a bunch ride smash up – they are completely different.
Peter Bartlett, the main man in the Bicycle Transportation Alliance refers us to a range of studies showing that the single greatest safety feature for bicycles is having more of them on the road, and that instead of increasing bicycle safety, helmet laws have caused a dramatic reduction in the number of utility cyclists – the very cyclists that we should be ensuring stay on our roads! Sounds bizarre? My own experiences mirror the circumstances Mr. Bartlett talks about.
Kel Turbo (my old man) was the crazy bastard riding on the Brand Highway from Geraldton to Dongara sans helmet. He’s that dude with the beard and grey hair on the old steel jobby ripping apart 20 somethings because he’s got tens of thousands of kilometres in his legs. He’s also one of the many, many people who took to the sidelines when the helmet laws came in. There’s plenty of arguments you could have with me right now about him not loving the sport enough to continue to ride, etc etc, but do can you remember what bike helmets used to look like? Huge, clunky, stupid looking and heavy. Only after I went out and bought him a $200 Giro helmet (WTF!!!!!!) did he get back on the bike again. Gee, I wish I had jumped into the bike helmet industry all those years ago – I’d be rich!
Another case in point is the casual ride to the pub I make on the gorgeous blue Swan Cycles number I robbed from my dear mother (which is having a new rear derailleur put on it after it got caught in the spokes on the way home last week). I’m chilling with Tom, got my little red flashy light happening and the basket on the front and we’re literally rolling along chatting in the mall area in town. Hello Mr. Plod. We’re pulled over (if that’s what you want to call it) and given the run down by some fat bike cops about the helmet laws and the fines we are about to face. If it weren’t for some top-notch bullshitting, then Tom and I would have had to cough up the pretty hefty fine we were threatened with (about $100 from memory). Do I think twice about riding into town now? Yep. Is it easier for me to think that I may just leave the bike in the garage and jump in the car? Sure is.
Can someone please tell me how this has prevented injury and decreased the health risk of cycling? Melissa Sweet over at ‘Crikey‘ makes a few objective points about the failed reasoning behind the law. You may find her approach more interesting than this anecdotal waffle you’re now digesting. Speaking of anecdotal, have a read of some classic experiences over at Brisbane Cyclist. Funny shit.
Say what you want if you are a weirdo fan of mandatory helmet laws. I don’t really care. The facts are widely documented (Have a read of www.cycle-helmets.com to get an idea of the effects the law has had in Australia.) that the most effective way to make cycling safer, and our cities greener and quieter, is to get more bikes on the road. So shouldn’t we be fostering any ideas to get as many bikes on the road as we can?
Wearing a helmet should be the rider’s choice.
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