Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Much Ado About Helmets

It's summer, so you know what that means: time to freak out about helmets!


I like the original photo they used better, which featured a kid wearing a helmet in the highly popular and highly ineffective sunbonnet style:


Though in their defense it's almost impossible to find a picture of a kid wearing a helmet properly.  Why?  Because they're kids!  Kids are small humans who are only just learning how to tie their shoes, use the toilet, and consume food without getting it all over themselves.  The idea then that they should be able to wear helmets properly is patently absurd.

Oh, sure, I know: it's your job as the parent to make sure the helmet fits properly.  Yeah, right.  Anybody who's ever dressed a child knows this is a load of shit.  You're lucky if you can get them out the door with their pants on the right way, let alone with a perfectly-fitted helmet on their heads.  Might as well try getting them to balance a tray loaded with canapés while you're at it.

But it's not enough to get them to wear helmets; you've also got to wear yours to set an example:

And it isn’t just about making your children wear helmets; when parents wear helmets, they are not only protecting themselves, but research has shown that when parents model the safe behavior, it’s more likely that children will be putting those helmets on themselves. Make sure the child is riding a bike the right size, and make sure the helmet fits correctly.

Bullshit.  I set a good example by riding a bicycle in the first place--in flip-flops with my remaining hairs fluttering unfettered in the breeze--and pointing out all the other stupid shit everyone else is doing.  The lessons continue off the bike, and my son and I are currently engaged in picking this moronic commercial apart:


Who is GMC going for here exactly?  "You know, I really love riding this lightweight racing bicycle, but I'd really rather be carrying it around in a bloated, fuel-guzzling, poorly-handling truck."

But hey, at least the kid's wearing a helmet:


What's really vexing about this article though is that it's all about how you and your kids should wear helmets at all times, yet it provides absolutely no compelling evidence for this.  In fact the closest it comes to citing any sort of figures is this extraordinarily convoluted paragraph:


Good luck making any sense out of that.  Then when you click through to the source you find this:

So basically you're more likely to sustain a TBI or wind up in the hospital if you get hit by a car than if you don't regardless of what you've got on your head.

No shit, assholes.

And if you don't think this helmet fixation is toxic just dip into the comments on the article, which include brilliant insights like this:

My kids always ask me why the various cyclists we encounter daily aren't wearing helmets. Does it matter that I wear mine, when so many other people they see don't? How far does parental influence cover? Non-parents need to think about this, too, because they're setting an example as well, just by existing in society and being seen. The adult cyclists who wear helmets tend to be the older ones, either parents or just wiser who know better. It's the young ones who still think they're invincible that blow through red lights and don't wear helmets. We need to target them, somehow.

Yes, that's right, even if you don't have kids you should wear your helmet just so some self-righteous parents don't have to explain to their precious foam-hatted darling why you're not.

Please.  

Here's a parenting tip: When your kids ask you why someone's not wearing a helmet, or smoking, or walking around with an obscene word tattooed on their skin, it's never too early to teach them the importance of minding your own fucking business.

46 comments:

Unknown said...

"But hey, at least the kid's wearing a helmet"
And the guy is wearing a helmet.
And he puts on his seat belt.
Maybe it's a safety commercial?

Anonymous said...

Not only does that author want everyone to helmet up, but don't forget the reflective clothing and to 'ride safely only on side paths. What a crock of shit!

HDEB said...

Helments don't protect against pepper spray -- now we know and knowing is half the battle.

Anonymous said...

Word! I wear mine all the time and now I want to not wear one just so I can be a bad example.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...My kid wears her helment like a Yeoman... the chin strap between her lower lip and chin. She says it's more comfortable, though I suspect it's more of a fashion statement. After all, she only wears it because of the fear-of-police i've instilled in her.

Fourhourerection said...

Well, Ive been doing it all wrong for 58 years. How have I survived? Staying the fuck away from cars has helped lots.

Greetings from Australia said...

What's the word for reverse schadenfreude?

Helmet hysteria; Australia's gift to the world.

Chazu said...

My Wolfing Hour ride this morning involved a new (to me) route.

I found myself in the Spawning Grounds for Pickup Trucks. At 6AM, it was as if floodgates opened and the quiet(ish) road I was on was awash in rolling prosthetic penises.

So I pulled into the nearest suburban neighborhood I could find to re-route my ride. (It is a country road with suburban enclaves attached to it like hipster cysts on a fixie.) As I stood there astride my bike, garage doors started sliding open, and what do you think started backing out of the car caves? More pickup trucks. Four pickup trucks emerged in the couple of minutes it took for me to find a route home on tertiary roads.

On the way home, the driver of an enormous white pickup (F-350?) with extended side mirrors displayed patience and respected my place on the road by choosing to not pass in places where s/he couldn't see around a bend or over a hill. I pulled over at let them pass when I had a safe opportunity. I do appreciate motorists who act like reasonable human beings.

der blaue Reiter said...

The closing line goes in the all-time greatest hits list!

der blaue Reiter said...

PS, as the Toten Hosen say in their timeless anthem Kein Alkohol (ist auch keine Lösung): „ich scheiss auf meine Vorbildfunktion“. Essentially, „fuck my obligation to model good behavior”

Anonymous said...

It's not only bicycles and it's a losing battle. A couple of years ago our pediatrician yelled at our son because he was goofing off on a skateboard in the garage sans helmet, and proceeded to fall and cut his thumb on the garage door spring hinge.

I get beat up by the entire family when pointing out it will be more effective if we put our efforts towards safer streets. I made the mistake of asking why don't we force people to wear helmets when ice skating...

ken e. said...

stopped by the police this morning for this very infraction... said that i wore a helment excessively, just not presently. they let it slide, rare bike route moment.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 7:14pm,

Not mandatory but where we go lots of kids wear helmets when ice skating.

--Tan Tenovo

Nathan Johnson said...

I wondered when you would finally take GMC to task. What a stupid commercial! If he rode his bike more, instead of carrying it in a truck, then maybe he wouldn’t have such awful form. Flopping all over his bike, like a rank amateur . . . Use your core, Man! He’s so bad, he gives up - halfway through the climb and piles into the truck. Trucks are for quitters!!!

(That’s how you rant and rave, Eben.)

Anonymous said...

All wrong have you got this...

Michelin has shown you the answer for a hundred years. The Bibendum suit to be worn by everyone AT ALL TIMES. The home is one of the most dangerous places to be so straight into the suit first thing on waking. a tilt sensor and accelerometer would inflate the suit and you could fall about as much as you want. Cretins in trucks could play cretin truck soccer with pedestrians and the worst that would happen is they would get a bit dizzy.

About half a century I did get a slight tear in my pants when a motorist cut across in front of me, then again I slashed right trough his door with my rattrap pedals. Wind in the hair forever...

Grump said...

Whenever I pass someone without a helment, I shove their bars so they crash. As I ride away, I yell, "Don't you wish you had a helment on"???....I once caught my kid riding without a helment…….I shot him......Only once in the last 36 years have I landed on my head hard enough to bust a helmet. I actually died then. I came back as the sarcastic dead.

Hee Haw the barista said...

STFU DADI

Arizona hillbilly said...

By remaining childless they set the best,most useful example...

McFly said...

My favorite part of helmenting is when an unidentified insect dive bombs into one of the vents and you have to wonder if it's a: A) Wasp B) Hornet C) Bee D) Other kind of Bee

Some guy from upstate said...

I have watched the GMC commercial many times during the touring of the France, and wondered, "Why does this man need a 6000 lb truck to carry around his 17 lb Fred sled? And what is the market they are going after? The intersection of the sets 'pickup driver' and 'roadie' has to be vanishingly small." Then last Saturday I went for a mountain bicycle ride at some local trails that are accessed from one of our local bike paths (yes, I drove there in my car, ok?). Next to me parks a large pickup truck, much like the one in the ad. The driver extracts a fancy road bicycle and proceeds to get ready for a ride, apparently on said local bike path, which, following an old rail bed, is entirely flat and usually populated with joggers, dog walkers and small children weaving back and forth on bicycles. He left the truck idling for at least five minutes while he got ready, it was still idling when I left. So such people do, in fact, exist.

Chris P said...

I see this all the time at local rails to trails trailheads.

N/A said...

I was wondering if we would get to the stupid GMC commercial. The message "first you go from a stupid bike to a REAL bike, then you go from a bike to a REAL vehicle" is typical. On the other hand, it was actually not entirely negative towards bikes. And if you're a glass-half-full kinda' person, you could almost interpret it as a "bike riders are one of us, too".
And on the snarky side of things: at least they didn't try to pretend that everybody that buys a truck immediately drives off to their farm where they fill it with dirt and bricks and old water heaters or whatever.*


*I just bought a new truck a few weeks ago. It's so choice. No water heaters in it, yet. Lumber and trailers, though.

Anonymous said...

It is vertigo-inducing to contrast this prissy culture with the one that eats garbage, shoots dope, and votes authoritarian. Fortunately, they can agree on the desirability of bloated vehicles.

NourskSiklist said...

Ah, picked up by the straggler bus again. I blame the errant pepper spray and angry farmers. Also, I'm very late in congratulating you with 11 years of web logging. U still rite very gud, and the Kommentariat is still classy (with the odd freak-out now and again). Parenting for 17 kiddios has mellowed you somewhat (all good) but I'm still happy to see you break out the chain lock, swinging it on high to smite malevolent idiots and old nannies alike. It took a long while for me to really get the helment thing (too many knocks on the head as a kid, no joke), but I've been travelling lately - seeing new towns and cities in Communist Yoo-rup, observing cyclists and cars in their natural environments. Big urban traffic, lots of drivers and cyclists, buses, trams, the lot. Hardly any helments in evidence (the occasional roadie in full kit notwithstanding) - yet no cyclist corpses and spilled brains in the streets. Some enthusiastic horn-beeping, but no "gtfo my way if you wanna live, asshole". So yeah, it's not a head-protection issue. It's drivers. I don't know what sort of process Murka has to go through before non-drivers' lives start to matter, but your writing is surely important. You have a very sharp pen, keep stabbing it in where it really stings. (I had to identify 8 squares with SUVs to prove my organic intelligence to the nascent AI)

J.D. Ford said...

Having no context to your life beyond your writings, and considering the number of helmet hot takes you've produced over the years on articles that are of seemingly little consequence to your personal liberties regarding bike safety -- save for those occasions when helmet crusaders get loudmouthy about making lids mandatory for all cyclists (and please continue to be a vocal opponent, seriously) -- this ending made me laugh: "it's never too early to teach them the importance of minding your own fucking business."

I agree. But nonetheless, the irony here is intentional, yes?! Because there's no way you just wrote this much about a topic that you can easily ignore, only to conclude by suggesting people mind their own fucking business, right?

Or maybe you're just obliged by content demands to give a shit about a predictable article about bike helmets. That would make sense. But who knows...maybe I'm wrong.

Father Knows Best said...

When the kid asks why a lying asshole is in the White House, better give them some kind of answer, like "The voters know not what they do". No wait, that doesn't work because 3,000,000 more voters voted for the other candidate.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Anon 9:22, I mistakenly thought that comment moderation enable was to protect my delicate sensibilities from overtly racist drivel such as your comment.

What color are tires? Black.

What is the Michelin Man made of? Tires.

What color is the Michelin Man? White.

There you go...

Patrick Lyford said...

After reading much research about helmets, and after decades working with the trauma service at a few hospitals, I am of the opinion that the one thing helmets help prevent is skull fractures, well, skin lacerations, too, but they’re minor. No helmet protects a rider from brain injury due to the way a brain is situated in one’s head...in a fluid filled sac in which the brain floats around on top of the brain stem. Bang your head, your brain bounces around. Bang your head hard, you’re fucked...with or without a helmet on. As most riders know, wearing a helmet will not save your ass. They will help minimize skull fractures. If you crash at greater than 35/40 mph, you will be one sorry mofo whether you’re wearing a helmet or not. Happy trails! www.patricklyford.com

BikeSnobNYC said...

J.D. Ford,

Commenting on an article that was published for mass consumption and that is ostensibly prescriptive in nature in no way falls under the "Mind your own business" mandate.

--Tan Tenovo

BamaPhred said...

I don’t always wear a helment, but when I do, it’s so everyone else will STFU about me not wearing one.
Mind your own fucking bidness, indeed.

Al said...

Hey all you self-righteous parental types out there in your 3000lb freedom machines...do us a favor, quit driving and while you're at it, stop breeding and kill your TV. The fewer the sub-human American trucktards there are on this orbiting madhouse , the better.

DE said...

As for setting an example for the children, give it up. People can can do their own parenting without my help.

True story: I was riding through a neighborhood at like 10 mph when a father and his kid were about to cross. I had a stop sign, so stopped to let them go. The kid (maybe 9?) shouted to me "why aren't you wearing a helmet?!?" My response was, "Because it's my choice." That's a perfect opportunity right there for some parenting should the father want it. Bossy little kid.

I wear my helmet in group rides, while mountain biking, and in the winter when it helps keep my head warm. Never do it toodling around town in 95-degree temps. I just got a MIPS helmet. I might have a bit more confidence in it, so maybe I'll wear it in slightly warmer weather, who knows. My choice though.

Some guy from upstate said...

Wishiwasmerckx - Bibendum is pretty old. I think white tires were pretty common in olden days.

BikeSnobNYC said...

DE,

"Why aren't *you* wearing a helmet?" would also be an acceptable response.

--Tan Tenovo

1904 Cadardi said...

I've got a buddy recovering from a TBI, and other serious injuries, that he would probably not be recovering from had he not been wearing a helment. Or at least based on the amount of helment that was crushed (absorbing energy) and/or missing (instead of skin and skull), if he wasn't dead he would be much much much worse off. So I firmly believe they can be very useful.

But how, you ask, did he end up with life threatening injuries? A trucktard in a pavement princess gigantic canyonero tried to shoot a gap and turned in front of him. So, while a helment may help in the event a motor vehicle hits you, they certainly don't stop the root cause of too many idiots behind the wheel of enormous death machines.

Also, not only does commercial Fred have lousy form, but his bike is much too big from which it can be inferred that since his truck is also much too big his driving form is probably lousy as well.

Whew! I fell better for letting that out. Good talk.

Chazu said...

Population decline is happening now throughout the 'Western world' or 'First World' countries.

Do some Googling and look into Japan's future. They're fucked.

Yes, fewer people on the planet is generally a good thing, but the transition from a growing to a shrinking population is going to be messy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tan Tenovo, When are you going to dress down Range Rover for terrible commercial showing their trucks driving in pedestrian areas? They seem to be actively trying to take over ski slopes and historical sites for the sake of drivers. Maybe I’m being too hard on them, at least they are wearing helmets.

wishiwasmerckx said...

So it's a little unclear exactly what happened, but because there is no room for the team busses at the top, the racers had to ride back down the mountain.

Froome was unrecognizable because he had donned a gray rain jacket to protect him from the inevitable urine shower thrown by disgruntled fans.

A Gendarme thought he was an interloper; they got tangled up somehow, and Froomie ended up on the ground.

Crashing during the race is awful. Being crashed after the race is even more so.

Sammy said...

Not in disagreement, but wondering if the same philosophy holds true for downhill mountain biking?

Billinrockhill said...

My one bad (and first) bike accident: front wheel left the fork as I went down from the curb next to stopped cars to move from DC's Rock Creek Trail bike path to the road. I was a fairly new rider commuting to work 30 years ago. I remember thinking "I will move down to the street here." My next experience after that is an EMT running something hard up the bottom of my foot and asking "do you feel that." I have no idea how long I was out. All indications were that when the wheel came out I went over the bars and landed on my helment, which was cracked in two. Other than the time I was out cold, chipped teeth, a broken nose, broken jaw, spectacular swelling and bruising I was fine. We reconstructed: the quick release must have opened when I pushed the bike through some brush on the bike path (put there by stream flooding over holiday weekend.) I jumped back on and rolled on. Old bike. No lawyer lips on the front fork. Wheel dislodged when I went over the curb. Since then I ridden lots and lots. I have chosen to wear a helment whenever I ride because you never know. I have had plenty of falls mountain biking, etc. since then but have not actually needed a helmet during any of them. Have avoided cars so far. I agree in general with others' choices not to wear helments in various circumstances, but based on experience I like riding with a helmet better than without.

Anonymous said...

Funny how in the picture accompanying the article the adult male person running next to the child on the bike is not wearing a helmet. The adult is running in a crouched position which is not ideal in terms of balance. What if he trips and hits his head on the ground? What if the child on the bike falls over and trips the adult? Surly running in a suboptimal manner next to a child balancing on a bike is just as dangerous as riding the bike itself!

Sincerely,
Concerned Non-Parental Adult

Anonymous said...

I was waiting for you to mention that laugh cringe puke inducing GM truck ad. Next time they can save money and time by just writing F U Bieks on a big sign.

Have a blast dinking around in the woods on the Jones!

pbateman rides 650b and 33's on his land cruiser said...

i get the larger point of the mixed message of pairing a "gas gussler" and a "lean, mean, green biking machine"...

but...

i'd say at least 70% of truck owners are indeed using them for their intended purpose vs maybe the 18% of SUV drivers who buy them for the "suv lifestyle" they promote in the ads.

and most modern trucks are generally getting in the ballpark similar fuel mileage as those SUV's (ford uses aluminum bodies now and have little blown 6 cylinders that are reasonably fuel efficient etc...)

and believe me, i live in an area where the "bro-dozer" jacked up, stupid ass, neon lit, salt life and browning sticker having, truck nut wearing, douche-tastic, backward baseball hat wearing, listening to "new country pop music", GED having, driving too fast with an open bud lite, generally horrible human beings...are in plentiful abundance.

and they are certainly NOT bike friendly to "homos" like me on my little "ten speed"

but i'd say most owners aren't those guys. guess that was my point.

also, if trucks are good enough for squid to drive, then they can't be that bad:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m6Sw26gUQo

BikeSnobNYC said...

pbateman,

Not disputing your local observations but here I'd say maybe 10% of them are carrying anything in or towing anything with their trucks.

--Tan Tenovo

pbateman cant ride MTA in FL cause no rails said...

yes, i should have added that i meant truck as a whole across the country. i do believe the majority are still bought in areas where they make some degree of sense - rural-ish areas or at the burbs where folks have boats to tow and home depot runs to make, not major matropoli like NYC.

if you own an F250 in NYC you are indeed a very silly person.

that would be like me buying a decommissioned MTA train car and trying to get around down here in FL.

oh wait, they don't decommission those things do they? aren't those train cars about to celebrate their 500th birthday?

austraylya roolz (at makin mad roolz) said...

Follow the helmet hysteria if and only if you ultimately want to curtail and criminalize cycling. It leads to utterly insane fines (>$200) for infractions like no helmet and "improper turn", and often are greater than fines for motor vehicles (parking in a bike lane now legal for ride share! yay safety). Result, folks won't ride, and the scale of fines send a very strong message that cycling is insanely dangerous. Which of course is ultimately self-fulfilling as low cycling rates mean zero funding, and zero infra, learner drivers are in multi-ton vehicles tinted black covered in metal bars, and next thing you know, not only is cycling 20x more dangerous in Australia (almost all helmets) than the NL (barely any helmets) but cycling in NL is safer than *driving* in Australia. More bikes = safer society.