Friday, June 12, 2009

Let Freedom (and your ears) Ring!

Ladies and germs, I am AGAINST MANDATORY HELMET LAWS. I am against them for the same reason I am against a number of other societal compulsions related to personal behavior.

I watch the actual scientific debate about helmets with interest. With equal interest do I view the squalling of the most ardent opponents of the brain bucket.

At the very least, your average helmet will blunt the impact of the average thrown beer bottle hurled by some redneck humorist with a better than average pitching arm.

I've never cycled outside the United States. Some places have been better than others. A lot depends on your goal for cycling. I don't like to do it as a destination activity -- something I go to do in a closed venue and then return home, usually by automobile. Other people will only do it that way. Every different cycling group perceives it in a different way.

Back in the 1990s I even remember a letter to a bicycle magazine, allegedly submitted by a mountain biker, promising to run road cyclists into the ditch if he saw any, because he believed mountain biking was the only form anyone should do. Here was a cyclist who believed roads are for cars, who threatened bodily harm to any Lycra faggot roadies who slowed him down on his hurtling journey to his favorite trail. Since these letters are as hard to verify as an anonymous blog comment, who knows if it was true. It got published.

This was right in line with what Brock Yates was saying at the time. Bikes are great. Keep them out of the way of progress.

Helmet choice depends on an individual rider's perception of the potential dangers of each riding venue. I guarantee that cycling in traffic in the United States significantly increases the chance you will have an openly hostile encounter. Just as military helmets wont stop a bullet or prevent a traumatic brain injury from an IED, so will a cycle helmet be of little use against the weapons leveled by road-raging motorists. But in the multi-variable environment of many streets, it might come in handy.

Motorists need not be hostile to be dangerous. They might simply be ignorant and impatient. You're running with a herd of nearly blind beasts with thick hides. Many of them have no thought for the little scampering things that insist on sharing the stampede trail with them. Others will swerve so far as to endanger their own kind, further increasing the anger of a few of them against the little scampering things. What are these little scampering things?! I want to stomp one!

Experienced cyclists using either official Effective techniques or whatever techniques they have individually developed will have far fewer accidents than cyclists that blunder around carelessly. On the other hand, maybe you just get the chop when your number comes up. Dance naked through live machine gun fire in the morning, slip and shatter your skull in the shower that night. We only think we know what we know.

I think, therefore I am mistaken?

If we all weren't already nuts, this would drive us crazy.


Ham said...

Hear Hear. And don't forget, if you want to do that naked stuff, tomorrow is the day !!!

Not sure whether I'll do it this year, but I have before now - it's fun!

Yokota Fritz said...

I've had my share of on the road run ins with hostile mountain bikers. Most recently was on my way up to the Sea Otter festival. As I rode my bike up the narrow road to the Laguna Seca raceway, some jackass in a big truck pulling a trailer load of downhill rigs swerved over to force me off the road as he shouted at me to get off the road. Jackass.

cafiend said...

Holy crap, YF. I didn't realize it was still going on. Shouldn't surprise me though. I've heard sneering comments about roadies from mountain bikers and BMXers in the past year. I figured it was a small handful of bigots in those factions rather than a widespread belief.

Anonymous said...


Having an understanding of this is why I was willing to lay odds that after a chat we would likely part friends, although we might well find areas of disagreement.

The problem lies in that mandatory helmet laws are the crux of the matter. If the people who do not wish to wear helmets did not feel pressed by forces lobbying for these they would be, by and large, silent on the issue.

And it would allow open and unbiased examination into what (if any) effectiveness helmets have; and how they might be made better. To me this is simply an engineering issue.

Cafiend; My anecdotal observation is that the current TREND in "serious cycling" in America is that off road is a return to Utopia and the only "true" cycling. Never mind the oft quoted fact (by cyclists) that roads were first paved at the strong insistence of cyclists, because unpaved roads, which might be fine for horses, suck for cyclists.

As these people sneer at paved roads, they necessarily sneer at roadies.

The BMXers, for the most part, just sneer at everybody.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anonymous, for an anonymous person you do spout a bunch of crap. Careful or you will end up giving Anonymous people a bad name

Anonymous said...

You are entitled to your opinion, although I will note that I consider your opinions of me to be none of my business, as you are . . .

Rantwick said...

Amen, Cafiend. I am also kind of bummed that there are any riders who feel it worth their while to attack riders of a different type. Why the hell is everybody so uptight?

cafiend said...

Anonymous fight! Anonymous fight! Who's winning?!

Anonymous said...

"Who's winning?!"

Anonymous, of course.

Doohickie said...

So, Doohickie, this cafiend guy, what do you think of him?

The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean, sometimes he'll, uh, well, you'll say hello to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you, and he won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say "Do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? 'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you'..." I mean, I'm no, I can't – I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's, he's a great man.

Just found your blog. Enjoying it greatly so far. Lots more to read.... much to read....