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Old 12-30-05, 09:40 AM   #1
cyclintom
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Food for Thought

http://www.mondrian-script.org/cycli...urseOrCure.pdf

If helmets are good for bicycling they are 50 times better for automobile occupants. So why don't you wear a helmet in your car?
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Old 12-30-05, 10:07 AM   #2
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Don't forget the Nomex suit, gloves & roll cage!
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Old 12-30-05, 10:18 AM   #3
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I would hit my head (with helmet on) so much on the inside roof of the car and on the frame getting in and out that I would damage myself while wearing the helmet, in addition to being totally unsafe due to limited head motion and lower visibility.

This would require a complete redesign of the car to be practical, especially for those of us with long trunks.

With proper air bags and cage and "crunch" construction, you can achieve about the same safety factor, IMHO.

The public would never buy it. Think of all the "helmet hair."

[EDIT]

(BTW, I used to wear a helmet when I drove a forest service fire truck. ANd, it did, in fact, save me from serious injury when the truck rolled. In fact, I got an award for wearing it. But that truck had high rooflines and high door entrances and no seat belts - about 1959.)

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Old 12-30-05, 10:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
http://www.mondrian-script.org/cycli...urseOrCure.pdf

If helmets are good for bicycling they are 50 times better for automobile occupants. So why don't you wear a helmet in your car?
Probably because it would go over like a fart in church.

Seriously though, this argument is like listening to two opposing views on gun control. Both sides inevitably show The Incontroversial Facts, citing statistics and trends. It comes down to emotion and no politician who likes his/her job will touch it. Ever hear a Harley pilot talk about helmet laws? Makes 'em go nuts!

I think you and I briefly touched on the subject before, and agree that there is no cure for a car/bike collision. All we can do is try to reduce the chances, i.e., neon, helmets, lights and all the other stuff that makes sense. Un-like the Lancelots I saw yesterday riding well into the road instead of the designated bike lane. They did not spread any warm fuzzies for the cause.

I love the ladies bike in the photo - possibly a Gazelle.
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Old 12-30-05, 10:33 AM   #5
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Figures lie and liars figure. Statistics can be manipulated to "prove" anything you want if you select carefully what statistics you want to display and which you want to omit.

The actuality of helmets is simpler: Assuming you're in a bike accident, is your head more likely to be damaged with or without a helmet?

Yes, if the accident is sufficiently severe, a helmet may not save you (in fact, nothing may). However, I opt to skew the odds in my favor to the extent reasonably possible. I wear my helmet. Your life - your choice...

Last edited by FarHorizon; 01-04-06 at 05:47 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 12-30-05, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
http://www.mondrian-script.org/cycli...urseOrCure.pdf

If helmets are good for bicycling they are 50 times better for automobile occupants. So why don't you wear a helmet in your car?
For the same reason I don't wear a seatbelt or have an airbag when I cycle. I use appropriate safety equipment for the activity being performed. I also don't wear a hard hat to bed but I'm sure someone would find a way to argue that as well, complete with statistics and examples.
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Old 12-30-05, 11:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
Figures lie and liars figure. Statistics can be manipulated to "prove" anything you want if you select carefully what statistics you want to display and which you want to omit.

The actuality of helmets is simpler: Assuming you're in a bike accident, is your head more likely to be damaged with or without a helmet?

Yes, if the accident is sufficiently severe, a helmet may not be sufficient to save you (in fact, nothing may). However, I opt to skew the odds in my favor to the extent reasonably possible. I wear my helmet. Your life - your choice...
Best statement re:helmet wear that I've read! My reasoning exactly.
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Old 12-30-05, 11:14 AM   #8
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How about seat belts for bikes?
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Old 12-30-05, 11:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I would hit my head (with helmet on) so much on the inside roof of the car and on the frame getting in and out that I would damage myself while wearing the helmet, in addition to being totally unsafe due to limited head motion and lower visibility.
Is it just me or aren't those same excuses treated with contempt by those who believe in helmets for bicyclists?
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Old 12-30-05, 11:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcm
Seriously though, this argument is like listening to two opposing views on gun control. Both sides inevitably show The Incontroversial Facts, citing statistics and trends.
Well, the trouble with that is that bicycling doesn't have two sides with equal statistics. In fact the only pro-helmet literature ends up being sponsored by the helmet industry and uses seriously flawed data or analysis.

It's pretty difficult to argue with the lack of change in head injury statistics in the last 15 years since helmets have been pressed as "The Final Solution".
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Old 12-30-05, 11:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
Figures lie and liars figure. Statistics can be manipulated to "prove" anything you want if you select carefully what statistics you want to display and which you want to omit.

The actuality of helmets is simpler: Assuming you're in a bike accident, is your head more likely to be damaged with or without a helmet?

Yes, if the accident is sufficiently severe, a helmet may not be sufficient to save you (in fact, nothing may). However, I opt to skew the odds in my favor to the extent reasonably possible. I wear my helmet. Your life - your choice...
Assuming you're in an accident? You're 50 times more likely to be in an accident in an automobile and a significant portion of the population don't wear seatbelts and another significant portion are injured by air bags.

You have many, MANY times more chance of sustaining a head injury falling from a ladder than from bicycling. Do you wear a helmet on your ladder each and every time?

Child obesity is now present in something like 15% of all children under the age of 19! Childhood obesity is responsible for 50 percent of new cases of pediatric diabetes, sleep apnea, and asthma. And helmet laws have been directly responsible for a tremendous drop in child bicycling.

And the results of helmet promotion is a tremendous reduction in bicycling among the effected population.
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Old 12-30-05, 11:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
Figures lie and liars figure. Statistics can be manipulated to "prove" anything you want if you select carefully what statistics you want to display and which you want to omit.

The actuality of helmets is simpler: Assuming you're in a bike accident, is your head more likely to be damaged with or without a helmet?

Yes, if the accident is sufficiently severe, a helmet may not be sufficient to save you (in fact, nothing may). However, I opt to skew the odds in my favor to the extent reasonably possible. I wear my helmet. Your life - your choice...
What can you say to that?

Assuming you're in a car accident where the chances of head injury are statistically 4 times as great as on a bicycle would you be better off wearing a helmet or not?

Assuming you're in a ladder accident in which you are perhaps 10 times more likely to suffer a head injury than on a bicycle would you be better off wearing a helmet or not?

Those seem like perfectly straight forward questions. Can you answer them?
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Old 12-30-05, 11:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
How about seat belts for bikes?
Silly as that sounds it has ACTUALLY BEEN SUGGESTED!

And yet school buses don't have safety belts.
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Old 12-31-05, 07:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I would hit my head (with helmet on) so much on the inside roof of the car and on the frame getting in and out that I would damage myself while wearing the helmet, in addition to being totally unsafe due to limited head motion and lower visibility.
Response:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
Is it just me or aren't those same excuses treated with contempt by those who believe in helmets for bicyclists?
Response:

Well, I haven't hit my head too many times on the door or roof of my bicycle.

The limited visibility in a car would be caused by my lack of head motion as my helmet squished against the inside roof of my car.

I will agree (I think) with you on the following:

1. The tremendous emphasis in the media and elsewhere on helmet use has changed what used to be seen as a great activity for kids (and others) into one where the perception (by moms, in particular) is that bicycling must be a terribly dangerous activity/sport.

2. If the money that was spent on helmets was spent, instead, on bicycle safety education for kids, we would save far more injuries and lives than helmets do.

But the above two things will never change, so it is really hopeless. We should really ban all helmet wars on forums. I have seen them again and again, and they never solve anything. They just create hard feelings.

One of the statistical anomalies that occurs in these analyses is that many analyses compare automobile vs. bicycle accident, injury and death rates per hour of exposure instead of comparing per miles traveled. When we compare "miles traveled" exposure, bicycling becomes equally or more dangerous than the automobile. I guess, if I consider the bicycle to be "purely recreational," then the hours of exposure rates is important, but if I use the bicycle in place of my car, then the miles traveled exposure accident rates would predominate.

Signing off of this helmet war!

Last edited by DnvrFox; 12-31-05 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 12-31-05, 10:28 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
Well, I haven't hit my head too many times on the door or roof of my bicycle. The limited visibility in a car would be caused by my lack of head motion as my helmet squished against the inside roof of my car.
Wouldn't you want to wear the helmet only inside the car? And why would you hit your head against the roof? I'm 6'4" tall with short legs for my size and I wear a Fedora all the time without hitting it on the roof of the car and my car is a Escort ZX-2.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I will agree (I think) with you on the following:

1. The tremendous emphasis in the media and elsewhere on helmet use has changed what used to be seen as a great activity for kids (and others) into one where the perception (by moms, in particular) is that bicycling must be a terribly dangerous activity/sport.

2. If the money that was spent on helmets was spent, instead, on bicycle safety education for kids, we would save far more injuries and lives than helmets do.

But the above two things will never change, so it is really hopeless. We should really ban all helmet wars on forums. I have seen them again and again, and they never solve anything. They just create hard feelings.

Signing off of this helmet war!
This isn't a helmet war. From the very beginning I've stressed that there are probably good reasons to wear a helmet. Nowhere good enough to pass laws to force on people's heads, but certainly enough that cautious people might want to use them.

This subject is my cheval de bataille for many reasons and all of them are quite opposite from what they're presented as by helmet promoters:

As you point out, bicycling is made out to be a very dangerous recreational activity which reduces the numbers of people who would otherwise participate. The effects of this has been estimated by Dr. Mayer Hillman to cost at least ten times more in reduced physical fitness and hence earlier onset of sedentary diseases than all of the cost of the all of the deaths due to bicycling were helmets actually as effective as they are advertised to be.

And of course they aren't. In FACT, there is no detectable changes in the numbers of deaths or serious injuries on bicycle due to helmets. This isn't to say that it isn't there - simply that the effect is so slight that we should simply disregard it in legitimate discussion.

A parent thinks when told that bicycling is SO dangerous that a child should be forced to wear a bicycle helmet, they simply don't buy their children bicycles.

When helmet laws were passed in California for minors I personally observed the results. I was just returning to cycling and had a route I'd ride after work each day that was 10 miles in length. It passed by three local schools - a grade school, jr. high and highschool. Outside the jr. high and the highschool there were hundreds of bicycles. The paths leading into the school buildings were lined with bike racks and overflowing so that there were bicycles leaned against the buildings and on the lawns.

The helmet law was passed about mid-year and then was to come into effect on January 1. For over a year I had noted this huge number of bicycles and was curious as to what would happen with the helmet law. Well, it couldn't have been more dramatic. Before Christmas vacation there were these hundreds of bicycles and after the new year there were about a half dozen bicycles. Those too soon disappeared. The bike racks were forlornly empty for a year and then were removed.

Now the children are all driven to school. At the high school they've even started building PARKING LOTS for the kids!

So there's no helmet war save for those who are intent in making every person they see wear a helmet so that the helmet zealots don't feel out of place.

One of the statistical anomalies that occurs in these analyses is that many analyses compare automobile vs. bicycle accident, injury and death rates per hour of exposure instead of comparing per miles traveled. When we compare "miles traveled" exposure, bicycling becomes equally or more dangerous than the automobile. I guess, if I consider the bicycle to be "purely recreational," then the hours of exposure rates is important, but if I use the bicycle in place of my car, then the miles traveled exposure accident rates would predominate.

Uhh, can you explain to me why miles traveled should be used instead of exposure hours?

If you wish to reduce the statistic which is accidents per mile traveled you need only increase the speed of traffic and you find that this statistic falls. Does this REALLY make driving faster safer? My point is that this is a falacy designed ONLY to make bicycles look unsafe.
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Old 12-31-05, 11:18 AM   #16
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I am neither a helmet proponent nor critic, in fact I rode back when helmets were leather straps (like Russian tank crews wore) and only used in races.
30 y later - The helmet provides an unquestionable degree of head protection - according to the statistics you present the helmet law has in fact had more negative than positive repercusions. With all statistics aside would you let your kid go out on a ride without one?
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Old 12-31-05, 02:39 PM   #17
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Uhh, can you explain to me why miles traveled should be used instead of exposure hours?
Is it safer to drive my car to work or to ride my bike?
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Old 01-02-06, 02:25 PM   #18
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Quote: "This isn't a helmet war. From the very beginning I've stressed that there are probably good reasons to wear a helmet. Nowhere good enough to pass laws to force on people's heads, but certainly enough that cautious people might want to use them."

I agree completely.
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Old 01-02-06, 06:47 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berts
With all statistics aside would you let your kid go out on a ride without one?
Abosolutely. But my four kids all wore helmets because it was part of the uniform of serious cyclists and not because they felt it to be a safety measure.

Two daughters rose to be 12th and 14th in the nation in their age classes in road racing and one of them got a silver medal at the Jr. Olympics TT.

One thing is plain - they had a great deal better judgement about bicycle safety than some gym teacher in 7th grade.
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Old 01-02-06, 06:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
How about seat belts for bikes?
That's what CLIPLESS PEDALS ARE!!!
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Old 01-02-06, 06:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
...the results of helmet promotion is a tremendous reduction in bicycling among the effected population.
Peace, cyclintom - I'm not trying to get you to wear a helmet (nor to get anyone else to). I choose to wear mine and said why. There are legit reasons to disagree with my position and I respect them. Your life - your choice.
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Old 01-02-06, 07:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
...Assuming you're in a car accident where the chances of head injury are statistically 4 times as great as on a bicycle would you be better off wearing a helmet or not?
Yes, I'm probably safer wearing a helmet in a car too. That's why race car drivers wear them. The head injury statistics you quote, though, include a large number of cases where the driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car head-first through the windshield. Since I ALWAYS use seat belts AND drive a car with a functioning air bag, I eschew a helmet in my car to increase my peripheral vision and my hearing acuity. Reasonable trade-offs, don't you think?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
Assuming you're in a ladder accident in which you are perhaps 10 times more likely to suffer a head injury than on a bicycle would you be better off wearing a helmet or not?
I work in occupational safety where EVERYONE wears a hard hat while on ladders or elsewhere. Besides, I've never seen a statistic of 10x more head injuries in ladder accidents. You make that one up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
Those seem like perfectly straight forward questions. Can you answer them?
Seems like I just did.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:04 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
Yes, I'm probably safer wearing a helmet in a car too. That's why race car drivers wear them. The head injury statistics you quote, though, include a large number of cases where the driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car head-first through the windshield. Since I ALWAYS use seat belts AND drive a car with a functioning air bag, I eschew a helmet in my car to increase my peripheral vision and my hearing acuity. Reasonable trade-offs, don't you think?
Look, according to highway safety statistics, 300,000 traumatic brain injuries occur to car occupants each year and some 10,000 of them are fatal injuries. Some 16,000 others end up permanently disabled to some extent. MOST of these injuries are to occupants of automobiles WHO ARE WEARING SEAT BELTS and IN CARS WITH AIR BAGS. The fact is that side impacts have always been the leading cause of injury and death in cars and NOT head-on collisions. And these are the sorts of accidents most likely to cause head injuries.

Each year there are 428,000 or so traumatic brain injuries including some 22,000 deaths from falls and a large portion of these falls are from ladders. OSHA has stated that "misusing ladders is the rule and not the exception in industrial accidents".

These figures are available from the CDC on the web.

Why assaults comprise some 11% of the 1.5 million traumatic brain in juries in the USA each year.

And bicycles? Even though bicycles are thought to be the most widely practiced sport in the USA with perhaps 1/2 of the population riding a bicycle at least once a year there are only some 500 deaths accountable to brain injuries and perhaps another 1,500 "serious head injuries" and practically all of them resolve to normal or only slight impairment. Only 2% of all fatal accidents involving motor vehicles involve bicycles as well. Compare that to some 16% which involve pedestrians.

And there are other matters to consider - although head injuries are accounted for as the "primary" cause of death in some 60% of the bicycle fatalities virtually all of these cases have multiple fatal injuries. ER Doctors tend to write in the "primary" cause of death in these cases as head injury since that is most obvious. However, since some 90%+ of all bicycle related fatalities involve motor vehicle collisions there are other fatal injuries that simply aren't listed. The results of this is that the tables showing fatal injuries to bicyclists tend to be misleading.

31% of all automobile deaths are caused by head injuries and almost ALL of them would be prevented by a simple helmet essentially identical to a bicycle safety helmet.

http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/causes.html

"CAUSE OF DEATH PERCENT
(1) Hemorrhage 41.6%
(2) Cerebral injury 30.5%
(3) Combined injury 15.2%
(4) Spinal injury 5.5%
(5) Crush asphyxia 4.9%
(6) Chest injury 2.1%"

Since there's approximately 50,000 deaths a year that means that wearing a bicycle helmet in a car would cause the saving of some 15,000 lives a year.

And yet people here are discussing how important a safety helmet is on a bicyclist despite hard evidence that they do essentially no good.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
I work in occupational safety where EVERYONE wears a hard hat while on ladders or elsewhere. Besides, I've never seen a statistic of 10x more head injuries in ladder accidents. You make that one up?
Whoops, screwed up the cause of "fall". Actually you have about twice the lifetime chance of dying on your bicycle as dying in a fall from a ladder. It is in "other unspecified falls" that you have a 10x greater chance of dying. http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm

Of course these odds are a little misleading because they are based on the numbers of people estimated to be involved in the sort of work that leads to these accidents vs the numbers of deaths yearly. In other words they are purely statistical and don't account for experience or carelessness etc. of individuals.

Nevertheless you'll see that they estimate that your lifetime chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident is some 21 times that of dying in a bicycle accident. I suppose one has to wonder why anyone would be so obsessed with "SAFETY" helmets on bicycles and not in cars.

This is precisely the sort of thing I wanted to bring out when I titled this thread. Please THINK about what you're doing and why.

If you feel safe enough to ride about in your automobile without resorting to wearing body armor and crash helmets then you should feel just as safe to ride about on your bicycle just as everyone did up until the mid-70's.

Now, as I stated, there are good reasons to wear a helmet - even the most experienced rider can fall for any number of reasons and knock his head against the ground causing injuries from lacerations, scrapes or even concussions. If you wish to wear body armor to prevent these injuries that's completely sane and logical.

What isn't sane and logical is using the false notion that people are in "danger" without helmets to try to coerce others to wear helmets. And that is what people in the USA have an ugly habit of doing.

While we're at it check out the lifetime odds of dying on your bicycle compared to ANY OTHER NON-TRANSPORTATIONAL INJURIES! It shows that you have 7600% more chance of dying from some other accident!

The underlying truth here is simple - bicycling is not just an extremely efficient and effective means of transportation, recreation and exercise, but that minor injuries aside it is an extremely SAFE form of recreational activity.

And that's the message we should be carrying to people - not "ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET OR YOUR BRAIN WILL BE SMASHED ON YOUR FIRST RIDE".

Last edited by cyclintom; 01-02-06 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:51 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
...What isn't sane and logical is...to try to coerce others to wear helmets...
We are in agreement 100%. Although I choose to wear a helmet when I bicycle, I'm against forcing others to do the same. It is their choice.
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Old 01-02-06, 10:22 PM   #25
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AS long as they have the financial means to pay for a lifetime of care with a seriously disabling head injury , I dont care if they ride naked ! ( Digital Gee excepted...)My helmet saved my life twice this year...first when the golf ball hit me..and again when I smashed it on the fall. Too bad they didnt have something for my collar bone.
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