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Old 12-10-07, 08:52 AM   #1
littlewaywelt
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no helmets in NY

Please, without getting into the whole helmet debate and their efficacy...

I was up in NYC this weekend and was amazed that in the hundreds of ppl on bikes I saw over the weekend, I only saw three wearing helmets. Whatever side of that fence one sits on, generally it seems that helmet use and acceptance is fairly widespread and that their efficacy (true or not) is well accepted. It struck me odd that in a city where there are so many cars, cabs etc weaving in and out that most bike riders would feel it illogical to wear one.

...and along that line, blinkies were almost as rare as helmets. Certainly nothing like many of the commuter setups around here.

Are NYers just tougher than the rest of us, or is life there so miserable bike riders don't care what happens?
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Old 12-10-07, 10:05 AM   #2
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Helmets don't fit into the hipster look.

/thread

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Old 12-10-07, 10:08 AM   #3
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life must cheep in the big apple....

i was there recently myself and noticed the same thing.
I also just visited China, and THEY actually wear more helmets than New Yorkers! funny.

cheers
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Old 12-10-07, 10:19 AM   #4
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Haha, I think it's a toss up - i just got back from living in Beijing for a month and in that entire time i saw only one helmet and maybe two or three blinkies, pretty on par with what i've seen in NYC...
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Old 12-10-07, 10:27 AM   #5
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Maybe it's the Dutch influence.

It's valid. NYC was once a Dutch colony, so it shouldn't be surprising that a few traditions linger. And it's certainly no reason to persecute the citizenry for their ethnicity. I mean they have a much higher rate of utility cycling. Who are we to judge?
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Old 12-10-07, 10:46 AM   #6
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Haha, I think it's a toss up - i just got back from living in Beijing for a month and in that entire time i saw only one helmet and maybe two or three blinkies, pretty on par with what i've seen in NYC...
interesting, I was in Shanghai & Hohhot and helmets were fairly common.

as a side note, since the days have gotten short my headlights have helped me avoid more accidents with Biker Ninjas than anything else! c'mon, really now!
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Old 12-10-07, 10:53 AM   #7
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Helmets don't fit into the hipster look.

/thread

Yeah, but neither do nasty skull fractures. Somebody might think they've given up their pacifist ideology for some good old fashioned fisticuffs. Of course, they could always claim it was oppression at the hands of the cops during a civil disobediance rally or something. That could work.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:46 PM   #8
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I'd guess it's the pace and the population density - nobody has time to put one on / take one off, and no place to store one.
Or that's what they might tell you.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
I was up in NYC this weekend and was amazed that in the hundreds of ppl on bikes I saw over the weekend, I only saw three wearing helmets. Whatever side of that fence one sits on, generally it seems that helmet use and acceptance is fairly widespread and that their efficacy (true or not) is well accepted.
Your first sentence indicates that your assumption about widespread use and acceptance maybe in error.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:59 PM   #10
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I'd guess it's the pace and the population density - nobody has time to put one on / take one off, and no place to store one.
Or that's what they might tell you.
Also it is possible that the NYC cyclists that the OP observed are are not cut from the same mold as the stereotypical BF club/road cyclist who may also commute.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:19 PM   #11
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I'm thinking not much spanex either.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:29 PM   #12
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I'm thinking not much spanex either.
Nor likely to find many with shoe - pedal systems with mechanical connections when numerous stops are a fact of commuting life.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:54 PM   #13
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I'm sticking with process of natural selection on this one...
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Old 12-10-07, 03:27 PM   #14
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Nor likely to find many with shoe - pedal systems with mechanical connections when numerous stops are a fact of commuting life.
Given that most bicycle messengers use clipless pedal systems in an environment in which "numerous stops" are part of the job, your assumption appears specious.

Last edited by SSP; 12-10-07 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 12-10-07, 03:43 PM   #15
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track stand

Now if I can ever get it down. I must be the only rider on a fixed gear that can not track stand.
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Old 12-10-07, 03:51 PM   #16
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Crashed bicycle while commuting WITH helmet on!

Interesting that this thread was posted today. At about 6:30AM today, I crashed my bike while commuting to work in Northwestern NJ. I was going about 28 MPH down a hill. There was no ice plus I have a set of Nokian Halkap..106 700cx 35's on. Went to adjust my helmet with my right hand and then suddenly the front tire hit something. I've got a bright light on the front. I'm wondering if I hit a squirrel or the likes...Anyway, I smashed my helmet on the right side, road rash and torn clothes. I'm fine except for a bruised ego and some sore ribs. There is NO question that I would have fractured my skull or maybe worse.

I plan to leave my helmet in my living room for my kids to see what kind of force can be delivered and absorbed by the helmet.

There really shouldn't be any debate about helmets' efficacy.

Woo
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Old 12-10-07, 04:09 PM   #17
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Maybe it's the Dutch influence.

It's valid. NYC was once a Dutch colony, so it shouldn't be surprising that a few traditions linger. And it's certainly no reason to persecute the citizenry for their ethnicity. I mean they have a much higher rate of utility cycling. Who are we to judge?
Except....that was before the bicycle was invented!

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Yeah, but neither do nasty skull fractures.
Yes, they do.
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Old 12-10-07, 04:31 PM   #18
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Well, I am a Noo Yawker, I commute and I ALWAYS wear my helmet.
Sadly I must agree that there are way too many people riding without helmets in the city.

Why is that?
Perhaps, a belief that it may mess their hair?
If they cycle slowly the impact when they crash will be softer so they don't need a helemt?
The idea that their head has nothing of value in it?

I really get crazed when I see a child with a helmet and the adult without one.

Rob
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Old 12-10-07, 04:35 PM   #19
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I'm not confident that your observations are an accurate representation of what the truth is.

First, what bikers were you observing? What time of the day was it? Where was it? Who were they?

Club riders will always wear a helmet as most clubs force it, so you have probably hundreds (thousands) on any given weekend active. But you won't see most of them because many of the rides take place outside of the city.

Tourists visit, rent a bike for an hour on the Greenway and skip the helmet because the perceived low-risk of riding on the path and $2 helmet rental/charge.

Delivery guys, often on Mtn bikes, are now required to wear company-funded helmets. I'd say that more than half wear one

Couriers, often on single speeds, are in their own group.

Recreational riders, on the whole, don't wear a helmet. I've seen many have their helmet strapped to their handlebars, in their basket, on their backpack, etc. Maybe they are omnipotent or maybe they don't know any better.

Commuters are a seasonal group. At my company there are probably 40+ people who commute in the warm summer months. All but one that I have seen wear a helmet. Many don't have lights as they only travel during the day time. For the ones that do travel at night (maybe 5), most seem to have clear white blinky up front and a red blinky in the back.
Now that we're into the shorter and colder days, there are just two people who commute regularly, but these two people both wear a helmet and both have HID or better lighting systems. I think only one posts on this forum
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Old 12-10-07, 04:54 PM   #20
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It's vanity. Helmets make us look like dorks.
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Old 12-10-07, 05:20 PM   #21
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Ive visted nyc a few times and saw a very large amount of people in helmets.. Even hit up the Bike film festival one time, which was 99% hipsters and messengers on fixed gears and even a good amount of them had helmets.
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Old 12-10-07, 05:44 PM   #22
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Being a commuter myself in NY I don't thing there is a helmets=dorkie stigma that there might be in other places. I wear one myself, and see lots of others with them, but I see a good number of riders that don't. I don't think you can infer much sociologically from that. So many different types of people ride around this city. I will say I see very few lycra clad riders.
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Old 12-10-07, 05:51 PM   #23
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Perhaps it is just recognizing that there has not yet been created a helmet that helps you significantly when you get plastered by a car. Your head may be marginally better - but it doesn't help if your body is crushed.

If I had to choose, I would go with the light over a helmet personally. But, then again, why give them a clear target?
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Old 12-10-07, 05:54 PM   #24
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Closer you get to the city center in New Orleans, the less helmets you will see. Besides the style points, and the expense (folks spend all of their helmet money on beer), I find that people who ride bikes for utilitarian purpose do not wear helmets as much. Just like jumping into a car and going to the corner store. A helmet in the car might very well be a good idea, but unless you are RACING your car, maybe not all that necessary.

I always wear a helmet, but I always ride like a jack*****. It holds my rear-view mirror nicely and keeps the sun off my scalp (mostly). Maybe if I ever rode carefully, I would feel differently. My helmet is a Bell Metropolis. Got a Gore-tex cover and zero style points. I don't care what anyone thinks about it, and I sure don't care what they wear or don't wear.

But it is interesting that people who live on their bikes often do not wear helmets, even in congested cities.
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Old 12-10-07, 06:26 PM   #25
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Closer you get to the city center in New Orleans, the less helmets you will see. Besides the style points, and the expense (folks spend all of their helmet money on beer), I find that people who ride bikes for utilitarian purpose do not wear helmets as much. Just like jumping into a car and going to the corner store. A helmet in the car might very well be a good idea, but unless you are RACING your car, maybe not all that necessary.

I always wear a helmet, but I always ride like a jack*****. It holds my rear-view mirror nicely and keeps the sun off my scalp (mostly). Maybe if I ever rode carefully, I would feel differently. My helmet is a Bell Metropolis. Got a Gore-tex cover and zero style points. I don't care what anyone thinks about it, and I sure don't care what they wear or don't wear.

But it is interesting that people who live on their bikes often do not wear helmets, even in congested cities.
It's a city thing. I'd say a good percentage of the non-professional fixie riders don't wear a helmet and no, -they don't wear spandex either. Doesn't fit the image.

There are also poorer people who ride because it's a cheap form of transportation. I could commute by car if I wanted. I choose not to. There's a world of difference.

Cyclists include such a wide and varied group of people. For some it's recreation. For some it's sport, for others it's transportation, and there's another group where it's about subculture and lifestyle.
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