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The helmet thread

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View Poll Results: Helmet wearing habits?
I've never worn a bike helmet
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10.66%
I used to wear a helmet, but have stopped
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5.63%
I've always worn a helmet
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38.80%
I didn't wear a helmet, but now do
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24.43%
I sometimes wear a helmet depending on the conditions
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The helmet thread

Old 12-07-13, 10:01 PM
  #6326  
FBinNY
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Originally Posted by Ozonation View Post
Out of curiosity - and at the risk of starting a flame war here, so let's keep it civil - why exactly are people opposed to a mandatory helmet law for cyclists? ....
Understand that I'm speaking strictly for myself, and don't represent anybody in any way or form.

Let's start with the notion that there's a dichotomy between what's a good idea (without conceding that helmets are) and what's law, or should be.

A proper diet is a good idea, are you proposing that we send food inspectors around to people's homes to check?
Daily exercise is a good idea, should we have mandatory workouts, maybe at the workplace at lunch time
Visiting or calling your parents or grandparents regularly is a good idea (at least my mom thought so) should there be some kind of set schedule? Or should the parents of adults have an agency where they can file complaints?

Need I go on?

Nobody (few) disputes that helmets may mitigate injury in certain types of bicycles accidents, but the risk of bicycle related head injury is actually very low. For example it's dwarfed by the number and rate of head injury caused by simple falls, especially to children and older people.

Following the logic of the mandatory helmet thinking, it would make far more sense to make helmets mandatory for seniors and anybody having more than three drinks at a bar, not to mention those of who live in 2 floor homes.

So simply put, helmets don't make the cut of good ideas that are good enough to be mandatory, and they may not be a good idea in the first place.

BTW- I must be way off base, but I don't think mandatory helmet laws for children make much sense either, and prefer that parents do the parenting rather than Grandma Fed. So even your premises don't hold water.

That's just a short version.

Last edited by FBinNY; 12-07-13 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 12-07-13, 10:28 PM
  #6327  
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Originally Posted by Ozonation View Post
Out of curiosity - and at the risk of starting a flame war here, so let's keep it civil - ...
... a little history might be in order. This is, I believe, the third incarnation of the Helment Thread tm.

The others simply got so large or confused that they would no longer load effectively due to sheer volume of vitriol.
They exist here mostly because of the strong feelings the topic seems to engender, and an idea that an outlet for
such sentiments in one place allows the rest of the Biekforums to continue unhindered by the topic..the threads on
it elsewhere often get rolled into this one.

So given the lesson of history, I think it unrealistic to suppose you can slip something in here without getting some heat....just sayin'.
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Old 12-07-13, 10:37 PM
  #6328  
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Good points. And I won't disagree with the premise that no, we cannot be paranoid or unreasonable. I think this is one of those topics that we will agree to disagree. Actually, I would agree on all those points... but that presumes a perfect world in which each of us act reasonably and in good conscience. Since I cannot readily control the actions of drivers, pedestrians, or other cyclists, I rather have some "insurance". I would actually argue that helmets can prevent severe injury in many situations.

There is also the principle of risk, which includes the aspects of exposure and harm. Simple falls I assume in your example involve walking, going up or down stairs, etc. Statistically, head injuries in these cases would outnumber cycling of course, because we are on bicycles far less than we are involved in just moving around. At the same time, many of those injuries probably involve situations of far less exposure to outright harm. On a bike, I'm right beside large metal objects moving at a minimum 40 km/h most of the time weighing upwards of a 1400 kg sometimes only 1 m away from me, while I myself am moving at a minimum 15 km/h. So, for me, I consider my exposure over a 24 h period a lot less, but during my time on a bike, my exposure to danger is much more significant, and the consequence of any fall is much more severe.

I looked up the CDC stats on traumatic brain injury (TBI), and you're quite right: 35.2% of brain injuries come from falls. 17.3% of TBI come from motor-vehicle incidents. 16.5% of TBI come from "struck by/against events", which include colliding with a moving or stationary object. I'm not sure where cycling collisions or accidents fall under, but while the number is unlikely to be close to 35%, I suspect they are not insignificant either.

Finally, and this is definitely a personal philosophy, maybe we should check up on people who outright ignore common sense. There was an incident in Canada a few years back where a patient who had to undergo a medical procedure did not stop smoking as instructed. Ceasing smoking was critical to the procedure's success. The patient knew he had to, the doctor told him so repeatedly, but he continued to smoke. The doctor finally said no operation. The patient was upset and angry: the doctor said too bad - he wasn't wasting his time, effort, and taxpayer's money for a now futile endeavour. I know, I know... this is an extreme example, but I personally think self choice also demands self responsibility and acceptance of the outcome - be they good or bad.

But you do raise good points for discussion. I know there will be no conclusion to this thread.
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Old 12-07-13, 10:39 PM
  #6329  
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
So given the lesson of history, I think it unrealistic to suppose you can slip something in here without getting some heat....just sayin'.
I know that... I'm not that naive! I was just struck by the number of pro-helmet advocates who at the same time would not support mandatory laws, but I hadn't heard many reasons given, and I was genuinely curious as to why. But I know that this is a never ending, contentious thread...

Last edited by Ozonation; 12-07-13 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 12-07-13, 10:48 PM
  #6330  
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Keep in mind that these asymmetry here.

None of those who chose not to wear helmets is making any effort to interfere with anyone's right to wear a helmet if they prefer.

OTOH, the reverse isn't true. There is a decent size contingent that would advocate making them mandatory, and another who while they wouldn't advocate for mandatory use, wouldn't speak against that because they already wear helmets, and so are unaffected. Then there's all the people who don't ride bicycles at all, and figure why not, it's gotta be good.

That's the problem with "apple pie" laws. They pass because they have narrow based pressure groups promoting them, and a large number of go alongs who aren't affected anyway. Unless we accept the principle of small government as a good in it's own right, narrow based laws will always pass.
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Old 12-07-13, 10:50 PM
  #6331  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Visiting or calling your parents or grandparents regularly is a good idea (at least my mom thought so) should there be some kind of set schedule? Or should the parents of adults have an agency where they can file complaints?
Now I'm not arguing for THIS given that there is no imminent physical danger (well, I suppose every family is different!), but the Chinese have gone and done exactly what you fear!

"It's also a matter of concern for China's new leaders as they grapple with the burden of supporting the growing number of elderly people. A new national law introduced this week requires the offspring of parents older than 60 to visit their parents "frequently" and make sure their financial and spiritual needs are met."

https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/02/world/...a-elderly-law/

Go figure, eh?
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Old 12-07-13, 10:55 PM
  #6332  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Keep in mind that these asymmetry here.

None of those who chose not to wear helmets is making any effort to interfere with anyone's right to wear a helmet if they prefer.

OTOH, the reverse isn't true. There is a decent size contingent that would advocate making them mandatory, and another who while they wouldn't advocate for mandatory use, wouldn't speak against that because they already wear helmets, and so are unaffected. Then there's all the people who don't ride bicycles at all, and figure why not, it's gotta be good.

That's the problem with "apple pie" laws. They pass because they have narrow based pressure groups promoting them, and a large number of go alongs who aren't affected anyway. Unless we accept the principle of small government as a good in it's own right, narrow based laws will always pass.
I largely agree with your argument here. I suspect most forum posters are conscientious people who try to be decent cyclists and ride proactively. At the same time, "apple pie" laws get advocated because of extreme views (which I can't agree with) or else "just enough" people have done dumb things to warrant attention into the matter (which means we have to know use the "for the greater good" argument, which creates problems for those who don't do the dumb things).
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Old 12-08-13, 12:13 AM
  #6333  
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Originally Posted by Ozonation View Post
...
And can somebody explain the argument that helmet laws discourage potential cyclists?
...
Dallas is one of the few cities in the USA that has an all-age helmet law. Our neighbor city, Fort Worth does not. Ft Worth recently kicked off a bike-share program. These programs encourage cycling.
There are other ways helmet laws discourage cycling, but in this situation, Dallas will have a nearly insurmountable task of instituting a successful bike-share project, as long as the helmet law is on the books. Simply put, bike-shares thrive on spontaneity and people don't tend to carry helmets, just in case they decide to pick up a bike.

I'm a full-on helmet nanny. I don't throw a leg over one of my bikes without a helmet. This includes rides around the block while performing regular maintenance, in my driveway. Should everyone be forced to behave in this manner? Absolutely not. (I also install kickstands on all my bikes because I think they are convenient and useful. I certainly don't think everyone should be mandated to have a kickstand.)
I've been on several bicycle committees here in Dallas and have spoken out against the helmet law. There is no bicycle committee in Dallas, right now. However, in recent discussions with others involved in local bicycle advocacy, there is certainly a feeling that the helmet law will be challenged in the near future.
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Old 12-08-13, 12:15 AM
  #6334  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Keep in mind that these asymmetry here.

None of those who chose not to wear helmets is making any effort to interfere with anyone's right to wear a helmet if they prefer.

OTOH, the reverse isn't true.
...
Not true.
The very largest majority of cyclists do not make any effort to interfere with anyone's right to not wear a helmet, if they prefer.

Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
...
Then there's all the people who don't ride bicycles at all, and figure why not, it's gotta be good.
...
This is exactly where helmet laws stem from. Non-cycling city officials.
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Old 12-08-13, 01:36 AM
  #6335  
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Wow. Two hundred fifty-four pages of replies. I read the first few pages, saw some heated disagreement and name-calling, and skipped to the last page. At the point, every point for and against helmets has been said, but I'd like to put it in what might be a different way (well maybe not, since I did skip over the last 252 pages of those replies).

Just for the sake of argument I'll assume that I'm putting myself in danger. That helmets can save lives and prevent head injuries. Without haggling over the details, I'll ask you to agree that your chance of death on a bicycle is less than 100% and more than 0%, plus my basic assumption that a helmet improves your chances.

Now lets look at a couple other unsafe lifestyle choices: Eating poorly and not getting any exercise.

While riding a bicycle without a helmet is not guaranteed to kill you, living on red meat and sugar certainly is. You will unquestionably suffer an early death from living on junk food and sitting around all the time.

The main argument for helmet laws is that helmets will save lives. How many? Hundreds? Thousands? We could save millions of lives -- millions upon millions -- if we were forced to eat healthy and forced to exercise. And yet such laws don't exist; anybody who wanted to ban something like refined sugar or processed meat would either be laughed at or burned alive.

Most of those people who advocate for helmet laws have never ridden a bicycle. Many of them have killer vices of their own (in reality, we all have something). And while they would fight tooth and nail to protect their own freedom to hurt themselves, they have no problem taking away my freedom.

So lets recognize helmet laws for what they really are: An attempt to win votes from the larger population at the expense of a small group.
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Old 12-08-13, 08:18 AM
  #6336  
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ozon

While I am a great believer in wearing helmets, I do not believe in helmet laws. It would be a whole can of worms for law inforcement. Example-----------can you see a cop hand cuffing little 4 year old Susie and running her in for not wearing a helmet while riding her sidewalk bike?

Basically the way I feel is that it is a free country, and if a cyclist doesnt value his head enough to wear a helmet, that is his right. And what the heck, it might just improve the gene pool.

Note----------my last sentence ought to get all the anti helmet weenies up to speed and create at least 50 hate posts directed to me. Heat up those keyboards boyz!!!!! Oh------and to kick the hornets nest further, I might add that it should help fill the organ donor availability too.
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Old 12-08-13, 08:52 AM
  #6337  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
And what the heck, it might just improve the gene pool. Note----------my last sentence ought to get all the anti helmet weenies up to speed and create at least 50 hate posts directed to me. Heat up those keyboards boyz!!!!! Oh------and to kick the hornets nest further, I might add that it should help fill the organ donor availability too.
Oooo.... that's the holiday spirit!
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Old 12-08-13, 09:55 AM
  #6338  
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Originally Posted by Ozonation View Post
And can somebody explain the argument that helmet laws discourage potential cyclists? If an inexpensive, passive, and demonstrable safety device is such a deterrent to riding, well, I would think that cycling isn't for them regardless of what happens or doesn't happen with a helmet.
First is that it's been demonstrated in studies specifically looking for ridership pre- and post-law. When Australia enacted its all-ages MHL there were rider counts conducted at numerous locations the year before the law and for the two years following its enactment that found about a 30% decrease in cycling although cycling had been gradually increasing in the years preceding the MHL.

And I saw such an effect in California when a children-only MHL was passed. There was a marked decrease in the number of bicycles parked in the schoolyards in our neighborhood immediately after the law went into effect and the numbers remained lower ever since then. There is also my observation of children on their way to school who still do bicycle. My own commute to work was partly on a bike path which passed an elementary, middle, and high school and the kids I saw still riding bikes all had helmets with them after passage of the MHL. But less than 10% of those helmets were on their heads - almost all were dangling from the handlebars. The helmet law was enforced at the schoolgrounds and probably in many cases by parents when they left home. But in between the kids apparently disliked the requirement so much that they would rather take the helmet off, loop it on their bars, and then put it back on again when nearing the school. Whether you (or I) think that this is reasonable behavior isn't the issue - the kids still riding demonstrated by their actions that they really didn't like wearing helmets. So I'm not surprised that lots of other kids had quit riding to school altogether rather than comply with the new helmet law.

Sure, it's not the already firmly committed cyclists (whether kids or adults) who would quit riding if an MHL is enacted. But if the potential beginner or tentative rider is dissuaded from riding by an MHL then they are unlikely to ever become a more enthusiastic cyclist later.
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Old 12-08-13, 06:30 PM
  #6339  
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Ozonation - We have several hundred pages of posts explaining why wearing a helmet may or may not be a good idea, so I won't get into any of those details. I will just point out that, at the heart of the matter, it simply isn't anybody else's business whether I wear my helmet or not. That by itself is enough to oppose helmet laws: I am not harmed or affected by another person's decision to wear a helmet or not, so I really have no justification for forcing him to conform to my beliefs one way or the other.
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Old 12-08-13, 06:38 PM
  #6340  
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
Ozonation - We have several hundred pages of posts explaining why wearing a helmet may or may not be a good idea, so I won't get into any of those details. I will just point out that, at the heart of the matter, it simply isn't anybody else's business whether I wear my helmet or not. That by itself is enough to oppose helmet laws: I am not harmed or affected by another person's decision to wear a helmet or not, so I really have no justification for forcing him to conform to my beliefs one way or the other.
+1, I care less about what you war on your head, than I care what's in your head.

Last edited by FBinNY; 12-08-13 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 12-08-13, 06:39 PM
  #6341  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
+1, I care less about what you war on your head, than I car what's in your head.
Bartender, I'll have what he's having.
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Old 12-08-13, 06:55 PM
  #6342  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
+1, I care less about what you war on your head, than I car what's in your head.
I think I just probably had what you are having and I feel good...
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Old 12-08-13, 06:55 PM
  #6343  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Basically the way I feel is that it is a free country, and if a cyclist doesnt value his head enough to wear a helmet, that is his right. And what the heck, it might just improve the gene pool.
Depends on what your goal is. If you consider a love for styrofoam hats a positive trait then more helmet wearers surviving and procreating would be an "improvement".

On the other hand, if you want the gene pool to be full of excellent bike handlers then you'd probably want said pool to consist of fewer subjects who wear helmets.

Adjust your Eugenics programs accordingly
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Old 12-08-13, 07:03 PM
  #6344  
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
I will just point out that, at the heart of the matter, it simply isn't anybody else's business whether I wear my helmet or not. That by itself is enough to oppose helmet laws: I am not harmed or affected by another person's decision to wear a helmet or not, so I really have no justification for forcing him to conform to my beliefs one way or the other.
Fair point. However, I won't get into a debate about individual rights and freedoms versus collective society responsibilities. Let's just say that we'll agree to disagree.
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Old 12-08-13, 07:15 PM
  #6345  
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Depends on what your goal is. If you consider a love for styrofoam hats a positive trait then more helmet wearers surviving and procreating would be an "improvement".

On the other hand, if you want the gene pool to be full of excellent bike handlers That are lucky, then you'd probably want said pool to consist of fewer subjects who wear helmets.

Adjust your Eugenics programs accordingly
There, fixerd up for the real way things work...
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Old 12-08-13, 07:20 PM
  #6346  
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Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
Wow. Two hundred fifty-four pages of replies. I read the first few pages, saw some heated disagreement and name-calling, and skipped to the last page. At the point, every point for and against helmets has been said, but I'd like to put it in what might be a different way (well maybe not, since I did skip over the last 252 pages of those replies).

Just for the sake of argument I'll assume that I'm putting myself in danger. That helmets can save lives and prevent head injuries. Without haggling over the details, I'll ask you to agree that your chance of death on a bicycle is less than 100% and more than 0%, plus my basic assumption that a helmet improves your chances.

Now lets look at a couple other unsafe lifestyle choices: Eating poorly and not getting any exercise.

While riding a bicycle without a helmet is not guaranteed to kill you, living on red meat and sugar certainly is. You will unquestionably suffer an early death from living on junk food and sitting around all the time.

The main argument for helmet laws is that helmets will save lives. How many? Hundreds? Thousands? We could save millions of lives -- millions upon millions -- if we were forced to eat healthy and forced to exercise. And yet such laws don't exist; anybody who wanted to ban something like refined sugar or processed meat would either be laughed at or burned alive.

Most of those people who advocate for helmet laws have never ridden a bicycle. Many of them have killer vices of their own (in reality, we all have something). And while they would fight tooth and nail to protect their own freedom to hurt themselves, they have no problem taking away my freedom.

So lets recognize helmet laws for what they really are: An attempt to win votes from the larger population at the expense of a small group.
...you're saying I should eat my helment ?
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Old 12-08-13, 07:20 PM
  #6347  
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
There, fixerd up for the real way things work...
I assume you're a helmet advocate, but what makes you think that being safe is based on luck?

Yes, there's always an element of luck in everything we do, but bicycle accidents are not distributed randomly. There are some people with high rates and some with low rates, so obviously there must be something besides luck at play. Skill and attitude may be a good place to start.
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Old 12-08-13, 07:21 PM
  #6348  
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Luck is genetic? Dagnabbit! I'll never hit the lottery, then!
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Old 12-08-13, 07:26 PM
  #6349  
350htrr
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I assume you're a helmet advocate, but what makes you think that being safe is based on luck?

Yes, there's always an element of luck in everything we do, but bicycle accidents are not distributed randomly. There are some people with high rates and some with low rates, so obviously there must be something besides luck at play. Skill and attitude may be a good place to start.
YES, Unfortunately you are right and as long as you don't crash it's your skill that counts the most, but most people's lives are still ruled by "luck"...( you know, s*** just happens) You can do EVERYTHING right and still end up on your head in the gutter, where having a helmet on "could" make a difference to the overall outcome to that particular experience... JMO

EDIT; Oh, I used the word "unfortunately" because people think that skill is enough to avoid all things that involve a smack to the head...

Last edited by 350htrr; 12-08-13 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 12-08-13, 07:29 PM
  #6350  
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Excellent bike handlers dont have accidents? Then explain all the accidents you see on the TdeF. The greatest cyclist in the world can have an unexpected accident.
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