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  1. #1
    Senior Member oldskoolboarder's Avatar
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    My commuting nitemare

    SOAPBOX ON

    I saw my commuting nitemare yesterday that made me flipout. I admit that I tend to be part of the helmet police, but only in my head. I never outwardly scold anyone. Everyone makes their own choices.

    I started the day w/ an argument w/ my own parents on safety. My dad just had glaucoma surgery a few weeks ago and refuses to follow doctor's orders to rest. (And he's a retired doctor to boot.) As a result, he can't drive safely. So we drop off our 2 year old for a grandparent visit at McD's so they can walk her back to their house. My dad drives up, saying it's not OK for him on the freeway but it is OK to drive a few blocks w/ my little girl. I pretty much lose my s*#t. We drive all of them back to their house...

    Later on, I'm driving in my car and see a guy riding, pulling a trailer. He's got no helmet, which seems to be common w/ casual riders in our neighborhood. I look at the trailer and wonder why it looks strange. It's not a trailer, it's a jog stroller. All right, so he adds a flag for safety, but useless. He took off the front wheel and jury rigged it to the rear wheel of his bike. At first, I think, hey, pretty clever. Then I think, what an idiot. If he flips, so does the jogger. In the jogger is a what appears to be a 6 month old child, happy to be out, but WITHOUT a helmet. (In California, 16 and under must have a helmet.) Trailing him is his wife, smiling, w/ no helmet.

    I almost turned the car around but didn't. Hopefully, that child will outlive his/her stupid parents.

    I told my wife this story. She used to do psych assessments for victims in a hospital's head and trauma division. She lost it too.

    SOAPBOX OFF

  2. #2
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I wonder if it's the nice weather. I've seen a couple of examples of this boneheaded behavior lately. On Friday, I saw a guy carrying a very small girl, an infant really, in one arm as he rode down 10th Street past the Capitol going the wrong way! I felt like chasing this guy down but was afraid I might make him drop the child or veer into an oncoming car. Idiot.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  3. #3
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    I saw a guy with his 3 or 4 year old child on his shoulders, no helmets on either...and he ran a stop sign! He did have an excuse for running the stop sign, though - he couldn't stop because he was riding NO HANDED!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dougmt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uberleet
    I saw a guy with his 3 or 4 year old child on his shoulders, no helmets on either...and he ran a stop sign! He did have an excuse for running the stop sign, though - he couldn't stop because he was riding NO HANDED!
    That's nuts....
    I have no further comment
    D

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rixtory's Avatar
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    Out at Mission Beach and saw a lady biking along the boardwalk on a beach cruiser with a 6 month old in one of those front kangaroo pouches, and leaning forward becuase of the weight. I just shook my head and thought "Come back here and get your Sign!!!!"

  6. #6
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, thousands of perfect couples are waiting years to adopt a child.

  7. #7
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Jog stroller: Was it really a jog stroller, or was it one of those bike trailers that converts into a stroller with the front wheel that can tuck out of the way?

    Children inside a trailer really should have a helmet on, but to hyperventilate about what you witnessed and call it a nightmare is kinda weird to me. People who require a totem to feel safe typically jump in the SUV equipped with auto-locking door, tinted glass, and cell phone.

    RFM

  8. #8
    Senior Member oldskoolboarder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    Jog stroller: Was it really a jog stroller, or was it one of those bike trailers that converts into a stroller with the front wheel that can tuck out of the way?

    Children inside a trailer really should have a helmet on, but to hyperventilate about what you witnessed and call it a nightmare is kinda weird to me. People who require a totem to feel safe typically jump in the SUV equipped with auto-locking door, tinted glass, and cell phone.

    RFM
    I have owned several jog strollers and a burley, so I'm familiar w/ both designs. It was definitely a dedicated jog stroller.

  9. #9
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    Today I saw a guy pulling one of those radio flyer trailers with a rope tied from the handle to his seat post biking on the shoulder of a busy street. In the trailer was a lawn mower engine, not as crazy as having a child, however he had no control over the trailer and it could have easily veered into traffic.

  10. #10
    Burnt Orange Blood Longhorn's Avatar
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    Twenty-four years ago, I rode my bike to the library, my two-year-old daughter on my back and me pregnant with what turned out to be twins. Helmet? I'd never heard of one. I only did it a couple of times and rode very slowly for about four blocks there and back but what was I thinking? Crazy!

  11. #11
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    Every time I see or hear of people without helmets I recall what happened a few years back to a coworker of mine. He went out one summer evening for a quick ride around their suburban neighborhood with his 4 year old and 5 year old on their bikes. He made sure they had their helmets but figured, "hey, what can happen to me riding around on the sidewalk with two little kids?" so he didn't wear his. I'm not sure what caused him to fall, but fall he did, and hit his head on the sidewalk. He ended up with a severe enough head injury that they actually had to open up his scull to relieve the pressure, and he was in a unconscious for a few days. He also suffered the permenant loss of a couple of teeth. After that, he became the poster child of bike helmets!

    Even a few weeks ago when I test rode a bike around the store parking lot, I thought of him and used the helmet the offered me. I'm sure many of the other shoppers thought I was crazy, but I'd rather they think that than be dead.

  12. #12
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Here's the message I see: "Bicycling is a dangerous activity requiring special protective equipment. If you don't wear the protective equipment, you are an organ donor and a horrible example to your children. If you don't die, you are a burden on society because the rest of us will pay to keep you breathing in a persistent vegetative state for the next 30 years. But if you wear a helmet, you will live in spite the dangerous riding you may otherwise do."

    Here's the truth: Bicycling is a very safe activity. If you stop riding a bike because you get sick of the judgemental opinions of the uninformed, you will die. Your lack of regular riding will result in you becoming a burden on society because I'll be buying your medication for type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and other obesity related diseases. You may heed the call of the safety experts and don the magic totem, but helmet use is the least effective way to improve your safety while riding. More effective measures are child and adult cycling education programs, but you almost never hear about those from (non-cycling) doctors, police, and other well-intentioned but uninformed authorities.

    Per hour of activity, bicycling is even safer than walking! By far the most dangerous activity you can engage in is driving or riding in a motor vehicle in spite of seabelts, airbags, and crumple zones. Per hour of activity, you have about double the chance of suffering head trauma riding in a car than you do riding a bike. Yet, we almost never see or hear the opinions calling for helmet use while driving or riding in a car.

    RFM

  13. #13
    Senior Member phinney's Avatar
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    Richard is right. If you don't wear a helmet when you drive your car you're hypocritical thinking other people should use one while riding their bicycle.

  14. #14
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Many "cyclists" that I know who don't/won't wear a helmet say they don't need one because they never go fast.
    My response is to tell them that the times I've fallen I was going less than 5 mph.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale Supersix EVO carbon

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  15. #15
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    My only real problem with this thread is not that people feel strongly about helmet use (which I happen to feel very strongly about and would always encourage), but the judgmental nature of it. It's fine to encourage safety, it's another to chastise and judge. Live and let live. When I was a kid, nobody wore seatbelts in cars, we often rode in the back of a pickup truck and my Pop built a homemade bike trailer that eventually sent my sister to the pavement when the axle collapsed. She was skinned up pretty good. But he didn't have money for a dedicated bike trailer (if they even existed back then) and he wanted to take us all on a bike ride. Was that boneheaded? In hindsight, probably, but so are each one of us in our own way. And guess what, it was my father's love of biking that I remember every time I hop on my bike. So next time you feel the urge to scream at someone for something YOU think they are doing wrong, try and imagine all the people wanting to scream at you, too.

    and for god's sake, if someone loses a kid in a tragic accident because the kid wasn't wearing a helmet, don't blame the parents - that's just inhuman.

  16. #16
    Senior Member phinney's Avatar
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    I think it boils down to the safety of cycling. The chances of getting seriously injured are so low that wearing a helmet is just not justifiable. A long, long time ago when I was a kid nobody wore bicycle helmets.

    The only case of a bicycle riding head injury that I can recall was a head on between two kids that occurred on a country road after dark. One was climbing this huge hill and the other was high-balling down and they hit head on, literally. I'm pretty sure both were killed in the skull to skull collision.

    We used to do all kinds of crazy things on our bikes, on and off road. Countless crashes and the resulting abrasions. We'd just get up and try it again. The speeds are low, the bike is light, the risk is negligible.

    People are getting to be such a bunch of Pansies!

  17. #17
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    Per hour of activity, bicycling is even safer than walking! By far the most dangerous activity you can engage in is driving or riding in a motor vehicle in spite of seabelts, airbags, and crumple zones. Per hour of activity, you have about double the chance of suffering head trauma riding in a car than you do riding a bike. Yet, we almost never see or hear the opinions calling for helmet use while driving or riding in a car.

    RFM
    Recreational bicycling, yes, it's probably safer than walking. Recreational driving, yes, it's probably safer than piloting a 900hp 2000lb race car on a track. What you also have to look at is not per hour but also the amount of hours spent vs. the amount of people doing it (i can assure you there are more pedestrians and drivers than cyclists) vs. the type of activity (i can also assure you, i go much faster than tighter in traffic on my commute than grandma or the pregnant lady ever will).

  18. #18
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phinney
    The chances of getting seriously injured are so low that wearing a helmet is just not justifiable.
    For you maybe, like I said, I've had 2 incidents of head/pavement contact that w/o a helmet, would've left me in the hospital for a while. Does that make me extremely lucky to beat these 1 in a million odds of yours?

    I will bring out an example in engineering, we usually design for safety and over design. I agree with you, the odds of failure are low, however, the consequences are much greater. When we know that there is a chance of being wrong in engineering, there's two types, A and B, we usually try to aim for being wrong one way rather than the other.

    The assumption is helmets help in the event of an accident. There is a 1/1000 chance of me being wrong. How would I like to be wrong?

    Type A is: i am wrong, helmets don't help at all, but i wear a helmet. i lost 50 bucks.
    Type B is: i am wrong, helmets dont help at all, and i don't wear a helmet. i gain 50 bucks.

    Now, the assumption is that helmets aren't justified cause the odds are so low. This is how you can be wrong.

    Type A is: you are wrong, helmets help, and you wear a helmet. you lost 50 bucks but you have avoided more serious injury.
    Type B is: you are wrong, helmets help, but you don't wear a helmet. you gain 50 bucks but you have not avoided more serious injury.

    How would you like to be wrong?

    It's fine if you don't wear a helmet but to convince others not to, that's just irresponsible. At least if I'm wrong, the consequencs are small, if you're wrong, someone could sustain serious injury.

  19. #19
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Super_Socks
    So next time you feel the urge to scream at someone for something YOU think they are doing wrong, try and imagine all the people wanting to scream at you, too.
    I don't have a problem with holding it back and just saying, it's my opinion that you should use a helmet. What I do have a problem with are all these idiots trying to convince OTHER people NOT to use a helmet. Absolutely irresponsible.

  20. #20
    Senior Member phinney's Avatar
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    Typical safetycrat response. That same (il)logic can be readily extended to banning bicycles for safety reasons. Even though most people are never seriously injured on a bicycle, some are. Therefore, lets ban cycling (at least from public roads, easy to do). Bicycle helmets only offer very little protection compared to say, a typical full face motorcycle helmet. The argument could be extended to say that all cyclists should wear helmets that offer the same level of protection as a motorcycle helmet. It could also be argued that narrow wheels provide less stability than wider wheels. Anyone riding on narrow wheels is foolhardy and narrow wheels should be banned. Also that drop bars are inherently less safe than upright bars. How about those fixed gears! You get the idea.

    I would wear a helmet more often if I didn't feel it compromised my safety in ways that outweigh the benefit. It's as simple as that.

    I'll make my own decisions regarding my safety, thank you very much. And I'll also fight for everyone else to be able to do the same. Arguments like this turn into bureaucrats making laws which take away freedom. Over the course of my life we've given up way to much freedom.



    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    For you maybe, like I said, I've had 2 incidents of head/pavement contact that w/o a helmet, would've left me in the hospital for a while. Does that make me extremely lucky to beat these 1 in a million odds of yours?

    I will bring out an example in engineering, we usually design for safety and over design. I agree with you, the odds of failure are low, however, the consequences are much greater. When we know that there is a chance of being wrong in engineering, there's two types, A and B, we usually try to aim for being wrong one way rather than the other.

    The assumption is helmets help in the event of an accident. There is a 1/1000 chance of me being wrong. How would I like to be wrong?

    Type A is: i am wrong, helmets don't help at all, but i wear a helmet. i lost 50 bucks.
    Type B is: i am wrong, helmets dont help at all, and i don't wear a helmet. i gain 50 bucks.

    Now, the assumption is that helmets aren't justified cause the odds are so low. This is how you can be wrong.

    Type A is: you are wrong, helmets help, and you wear a helmet. you lost 50 bucks but you have avoided more serious injury.
    Type B is: you are wrong, helmets help, but you don't wear a helmet. you gain 50 bucks but you have not avoided more serious injury.

    How would you like to be wrong?

    It's fine if you don't wear a helmet but to convince others not to, that's just irresponsible. At least if I'm wrong, the consequencs are small, if you're wrong, someone could sustain serious injury.

  21. #21
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phinney
    I'll make my own decisions regarding my safety, thank you very much. And I'll also fight for everyone else to be able to do the same. Arguments like this turn into bureaucrats making laws which take away freedom. Over the course of my life we've given up way to much freedom.
    Go ahead, no one's stopping you. Just don't complain when you see someone going around trying to convince people that the odds are so small that they shouldn't use a condom, should go sell their airbags, shouldn't buy insurance, shouldn't carry a patch kit, and shouldn't use a condom.

    And I quote, typical dumbasscrat response a la you, "The chances of getting seriously injured are so low that wearing a helmet is just not justifiable." I hope you pass this advice on to your kids. Seriously, I congratulate you and fully support you making this decision. Laughable...

  22. #22
    Senior Member phinney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Go ahead, no one's stopping you. Just don't complain when you see someone going around trying to convince people that the odds are so small that they shouldn't use a condom, should go sell their airbags, shouldn't buy insurance, shouldn't carry a patch kit, and shouldn't use a condom.

    And I quote, typical dumbasscrat response a la you, "The chances of getting seriously injured are so low that wearing a helmet is just not justifiable." I hope you pass this advice on to your kids. Seriously, I congratulate you and fully support you making this decision. Laughable...
    Well, I'll refrain from personal attacks. There are reasonable risks and unreasonable risks. Wearing a bike helmet doesn't remove risk. I'd guess the legislated use of bike helmets probably came about when kids doing stunts on bikes became popular. As a consequence of stunting there was an increase in head injuries among children on bikes. This no doubt lead to the original push to require children to wear helmets. That some would extend this to every use of bicycles is unfortunate.

    As for airbags, they're an attempt at a completely passive restraint system. They aren't that great and there's a few dead kids that would have been better off without them. Still huge issues with airbags for children and smaller adults. And, if the seatbelt is properly fastened the airbag isn't necessary. I disconnected mine the day after I bought my car (don't tell the Nazi's).

    Insurance is mandated by the state but I've always purchased the minimum and never had a claim. Personal responsibility is better than insurance any day.

    Patch kit. Nope, spare tube and a cell phone. If I get more than one flat I'm getting a ride home and I've never gotten a ride home.

    Condoms, well, at least one of the most deadly and common std's (HPV) is not prevented by a condom in any way. The false sense of security provided by wearing a condom has no doubt resulted in untold multitudes being infected.

    It's funny, I was talking about safety with my 84 year old father-in-law about how he ever survived without our modern nanny state. No seatbelts, drum brakes, tires that regularly blew out without warning, no life guard at the beech, mail order *******s, etc., etc.. I commented that the carnage must have been awful. He just shrugged and said he hadn't noticed. Oh, no bicycle helmets either.

    I hope to teach my kids to be responsible for their own actions and not have to be dependent on a nanny state to take care of them. I hope they grow up in a world were they are allowed to make their own decisions.

  23. #23
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    Just as probably the only person posting at the moment with a plate in his skull . . .

    I was hit by a drunk driver while riding on a bike path in a park a few years ago (genius was driving a stolen truck with a suspended license). I WAS wearing a helmet and I really doubt I'd be here typing without it. I took a gentle "love tap" from the side which sent me flying. 3 months of therapy later I was back on the bike (well a new bike, the old one was pretty much a work of modern art).

    I honestly don't think helmets save many lives my own experience aside. I think helmets REDUCE the severity of head injuries. Most bike helmets are awfully lightweight and frankly of poor condition for many of the speeds we travel at. People are given poor training as to how to wear them, most aren't exactly comfortable to wear and like I said they're awfully lightly built.

    If you want to be a safetycrat work less on the idea that they be "required" and more on the idea that they're:

    1. Comfortable to wear. Seriously this is the big one. A piece of gear that's a pain won't be worn by many people.

    2. Stylish enough that people would wear them as an accessory.

    3. Inexpensive. The people that really could benifit from a helmet are the casual riders that don't HAVE the falling experience and balance necessary to avoid slamming their head during a spill. Most of these people start riding with relatively inexpensive equipment and often a helmet that is #1 and #2 can be a budget breaker. Drop the price and you increase your adoption.

    I was wearing a helmet that day but to be honest I wasn't regularly wearing them up till then. I wear one now every day, mostly because I really doubt my noggin can take another heavy tap (as it is I suffer from mild anterograde amnesia. . wait what was I talking about again?). I don't think we should force people to wear them but I do think we should point out that a properly fitted and sized helmet could potentially reduce injury and that noggin' bashes can be awfully debilitating.

    Both sides of the arguement have good points and I don't personally favor legislation requiring helmets. Take it as you will.
    Life's too short to not ride in the rain

  24. #24
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    I think it should also be mentioned that helmets may be more appropriate for some types of riding than others.

    Ex.

    Freeriding and downhill riders are more prone to crashing and seriou sinjury than a recreational rider

    Thats why I wear a helmet. With my particular style and mentality of riding, I would say I have cracked my helmet on the ground/sidewalk/handrail/rock/etc. 15+ times. Without a helmet I would probably be, well I don't want to say ********, messed up is a good way of puttin git I guess.

  25. #25
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    We humans were never designed to travel safely at anything faster than a brisk jog, that's just a result of our evolution. If we do what we do, i.e. use machines to propel us at faster speeds than we are designed for then the appropriate protection gear makes good sense. At the sort of speeds we do on bikes we will get away with (i.e. recover from) most if not all damage we can do in a fall except head trauma - even at walking or jogging speeds we can mess up our heads pretty good. So it makes sense to me that helmets would be mandatory by law whereas, say, body armor would not be.

    Here in Australia helmets are mandated by law but even if they weren't I don't think I'd ride without one. Sure, they may not be perfect protection but if you hit your head on the pavement I'll bet wearing a helmet at least improves your chances sufficiently to warrant its use, and that just seems like common sense to me.

    getting wiped out by a car/SUV/truck/bus is a different thing, if you get hit hard enough then no ammount of readily available protection will save you, and I'll bet that you could trace back most fatal mistakes made by motorists (and cyclists, for that matter) to speed - i.e. the fact that we evolved to deal with life at jogging pace at most and simply don't have the reflexes, concentration abilities, or physical makeup to travel at 70, 60 or even 30 mph.

    Just my pro-helmet opinion.

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