Friday, March 27, 2015

BSNYC Friday No Quiz Just Tedious Editorializing!

My Fellow Cyclists:

There is a creak in our metaphorical bottom bracket, and if we don't address it now it's only a matter of time before we squash our genitals on the Top Tube of Catastrophic Failure.

So what is this creaking?  Well, a California senator has introduced a bill for a mandatory bicycle helment law, and our beloved cycling media--which should be standing united against such nonsense in the interest of cyclists everywhere--is instead entertaining it, and in at least one case actually supporting it.

Now I don't care what your feelings on helment use are.  Maybe you're one of those people who thinks not wearing a bicycle helment is tantamount to suicide.  Maybe you're one of those people who refuses to wear one under any circumstances because they mess up your hair.  Or maybe you're like me and don't care much about your hair because you're losing it anyway, so you wear a helment when you're riding a go-fast bike in a special outfit but you don't bother when you're noodling around town in street clothes.

And don't tell me which one you are, because honestly I don't give a shit.

The point is that I have no problem with helments, but if you support a mandatory bicycle helment law then you are anti-cycling.  There, I said it.  You're a traitor.  A heretic.  Give up your bike and go lease a Hyundai, because you are playing right into the hands of your oppressors.  See, the Automotive Industrial Complex and their various lackeys need helment laws, and the last thing any self-respecting cyclist should do is help them.  Here's why:

They need everything to be your problem.

Really, we're practically there already, which is why you'll routinely read newspaper articles that say things like, "The cyclist's legs were crushed when the unlicensed operator lost control of his steamroller.  The victim was not wearing a helment."  So what if it's an irrelevant detail?  In America today, no helment = menace to society.

America may not be number one anymore when it comes to education, or health care, or overall quality of life, but you're goddamn right we lead the world in victim-blaming.  There's not anyplace else on the planet where people are more gleeful when the strong get one over on the weak.  If you don't understand this now, you certainly will when a driver hits you and you discover the entire system is built around shielding him or her from accountability.  You can thank the auto companies and AAA for that, among others.  (Do yourself a favor and read about the history of "jaywalking," a concept the auto industry more or less invented.  As for AAA, they're fighting against red light cameras not far from me even as I type this, on the basis that stopping for red lights causes rear-end collisions.)

Mandatory bicycle helment laws are just one more way of shifting responsibility away from the driver and onto you.  When I was hit from behind by a motorist who then lied to police about what happened, all her insurance company wanted to know was whether or not I was wearing a helment, even though my balding pate was completely unscathed.

Then, once the Automotive Industrial Complex has shifted all the blame onto you they can take it a step further and make it public policy. "Cycle tracks and so forth make cyclists safer and encourage more people to ride?  So what?  Make 'em wear plastic bumpers on their heads and be done with it."

Congratulations.  You're now a car fender.

If all of this is too complicated, let me explain your future in four (4) simple steps:
Yep, that's how it's all gonna go down.  It may sound crazy now, but 100 years ago nobody would have believed you could get arrested for crossing the street either.

So it would be nice to think that the cycling world would dismiss mandatory helment laws out-of-hand and stand united against them.  Sadly, they're not.  First, I saw this on the "Bicycling" website yesterday:

I realize this is supposed to be an objective point-counterpoint type thing, but why should we even entertain this "debate" in the first place?  What is this compulsion in American society to entertain dumb ideas?  It's like when we pretend creationism is a legitimate worldview so we don't offend the religious kooks.  (I realize "religious kooks" is redundant.)  Hey, I know the helme(n)t deba(n)te makes good clickbait, but some of these ideas are downright toxic:

During the summer of 2014, while riding on a road closed to auto traffic, I survived a collision with another cyclist, only because I was wearing a helmet. Without a helmet, the front of my head would have hit the ground at 28mph, unprotected.

Just several months before my crash, a car that ran a stop sign struck one of my friends while she was riding her bike. She had massive facial trauma, and continues to suffer long-term effects from going through the automobile’s windshield. She “coded” while on the helicopter ride to the hospital. The only reason she is around today: A helmet saved her life.

Okay.  Firstly, I'm glad everybody's alive and all that. were both wearing helments!!!  So why does it follow that we need a law?  By all means, wear a helment when you're cycling for "sport."  Granted, I don't know about the friend who got hit at the stop sign, but I'm going to guess that someone who works for "Bicycling" and is riding on a closed road at 28mph was not on a townie bike picking up radishes from the greenmarket.  Yet because he crashed while engaged in high-speed cycling someone who's cruising around in a sundress should have to wear safety gear as well?  Come on.

Comparing cycling to other recreational pursuits, we see that football players—at all levels—wear helmets to lessen the risk of brain injury. 

Leave it to someone at "Bicycling" to reduce cycling entirely to a recreational pursuit.  The sporting component of cycling is a small one, and USA Cycling makes you wear a helment when you compete anyway.  And holy shit, football?!?  The sport of football is based on people slamming into each other on purpose!  How is riding your bike around town even remotely like football--or any of these other sports?

This is also the case for baseball, hockey, horseback riding, and virtually every other sport that may involve some risk of personal injury.

You gotta be kidding me.  I'm pretty sure baseball players only wear helments when people are throwing 100mph fastballs directly at them.  As for hockey, it's fucking hockey!!!  I do give him bonus points for working equestrianism into the argument though.  Sure, if my bike weighed a thousand pounds and had four steel-shod hooves and a mind of its own I'd make sure to wear a helment too.  But the amount of times my bicycle got scared by one of its own farts and threw me is exactly zero.

Anyway, everybody knows "cycling is the new golf," so why not just compare it to that?  Do golfers wear helments when they're out on the links or zipping between holes in their golf carts?  I don't think so.

And here's where the argument gets really dangerous:

The next logical step would be for insurance companies to deny claims for those involved in a bicycling accident while not wearing a helmet. This could be avoided by mandating helmet use, saving both legal fees and lives.

So wait.  You actually want insurance companies to deny claims for victims because they weren't wearing helments?

Holy fuck that's cold.

Anyway, reading this in "Bicycling" was bad enough, but then someone tweeted this post from the Red Kite Prayer blog at me:

Bike advocate groups might consider what others see when they see us. They see people who run stop signs, weave in and out of traffic, ride in packs, take up a lane, and so on. It’s not a pretty picture. Sure, most of us are wearing helmets as we bend rules and traffic laws, but that’s not what the pissed off drivers see. So when they hear cyclists are opposed to a helmet law, it only furthers their belief that we are selfish, unpredictable and dangerous.

Maybe we let this one go. Let the lawmakers and drivers have this one without resistance. We got our 3-foot law in California, we can put up with a helmet law on the books. Pick you battles as they say. This is one fight we can easily walk away from.

Wow.  "Let this one go?"  Leave it to the Freds to sell the rest of us out.  Sure, they've got nothing at stake, since the helments already go with their outfits.  Essentially what he's saying is that because people get irritated by the local crabon weenie group ride every person who rides a bike for any reason should cop to the Foam Hat of Shame as some sort of penance or polystyrene bargaining chip.  

I swear these goddamn Freds will ruin cycling forever if you let them.

Make of that what you will.

So go ahead, call me irresponsible.  Tell your "My helment saved my life" stories.  Bow to the people who say you're statistically insignificant and don't deserve bike infrastructure, yet somehow vast numbers of brain-injured cyclists are destroying the American economy.  Let them pass a bicycle helment law to appease the non-cyclists who find us annoying.  (Yeah, I mentioned appeasement.  DON'T MAKE ME GO GODWIN!!!)  

Just don't come crying to me in 20 years when you need a license and registration to operate a bicycle, and you're wearing a giant Dayglo bodysuit with illumination circuitry, one of those "smart hats," and a GPS beacon up your ass so you don't get hit by an Apple car.

In fact, you won't be able to come crying to me, because I'll have emigrated to the Netherlands, where they'll have granted me political asylum.

The rest of you can enjoy your dystopian Australian future:

Heroes and football players.

They never ask why.


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dop said...

goodnight all

Anonymous said...


Endo-King said...

Holy Shit - this is the equivalent of the whole John Oliver/Net Neutrality/Sting Neutrality issue.

To repeat what I said a few days ago, when helmet laws are mandated for auto drivers, then I'll consider the same for bicyclists.

Then, I want piss-tests for all legislators.

Actually, I want the piss-tests first, then we'll consider personal responsibility.

Helen said...

What's with the repeated misspelling of "helmet" as "helment"? It's irritating and if it is a reference to the idea that anyone advocating compulsory use of helmets is "mental" it's also offensive. It distracts and detracts from your argument.

People in favour of compulsory use are generally ill-informed, often prejudiced and don't know how to tell the difference between objective and subjective risk. They are not necessarily "mental".

dop said...


Aliens use our squashed brains that come through the vents as a condiment. They call it, "Helment's Mayonaise"

ce said...

Helen, helment

If "helment" still offends your sensibilities I would suggest "retard hat" or "spazzo lid" as possible alternatives.

bad boy of the north said...

think we can reach 250?.

dnk said...

Wow, ce thanks for that. I knew "helment" was a running gag on this blog, but I had forgotten why.

I love that it all started with a police misspelling a common English word four years ago.

But it is probably mystifying to readers like Helen who (perhaps) don't read this blog often why helmet is helment.

ce said...

dnk, to be honest I had to jog my own memory, wasn't too hard to find with some simple bingfu.

As an aside (there's always an aside), "dink", which is how I read your name, is what a corporal at basic training called me. He said that would be the sound my eyeballs would make on contact with the inside of my glasses when he hits me over the back of the head.

JP said...

Wearing a helmet is a "best practice," I think.

I wear one; I'm risk averse and mine is comfortable. But, if I don't have it with me, that's not going to stop me from taking a bike share bike.

The only way it could be mandatory was if - like seat belts - it didn't change usage - but it does. If riding bikes is a good thing, then we shouldn't do things that will lower ridership.

I think that drivers are also more careful around the helmet-less, so my theory is that more helmet-less riders (e.g. bikeshare riders) may improve driver behavior.

leroy said...

BamaPhred -

My dog has been trying to contact Ms. Dunham all weekend.

He's smitten.

Smorg said...

Well, I'll claim that my noggin has been saved twice by the helmet during downhill crashes. But I completely agree with you that those (especially the cyclist ones) who are promoting this mandatory helmet law thingy are a bunch of short-sighted jerks. :o)

Helen said...

Thanks for the response CE. Now I know the level of debate that I can expect round here, I'll look elsewhere

Freddy Murcks said...

Helen (or should I say Helmen?) - this is ostensibly a bike blog, but it's really mostly a humor blog based on Snob's observations of bike culture. Thus, you might need to have a sense of humor in order to understand it.

The blog also has a dedicated following and it has gained its own vocabulary. Referring to helmets and helments (or even occasionaly 'healments') and referring to disc brakes as dick breaks are just a couple of the running gags that you will find here. Don't let ce drive you away.

Anonymous said...

NFL players wear helments so when Owen Wilson is playing touch football with Rachel McAdams he should have been wearing a helment? Movie magic.

Unknown said...

I am glad that my agreement with Bike Snob's helmet policy, puts me in the category of "anybody who isn't a total idiot".

Made my Monday.

Unknown said...

Such good arguments. The good thing about having a mandatory helmet law in Australia: There is an ongoing experiment for the rest of the world to Point at in the argument against Mandatory helmet law

box tips said...

top 11

Anonymous said...

Note. Australian footballers do NOT wear helmets.

ce said...

Way to go Helen, disregard all the other thoughtful comments the other people have posted above because I happened to provide you with the offence you were searching for. By the way, I don't like that language, I feel it's disrespectful and I usually avoid it. But on the other hand I think you are a spastic retard for having a problem with "helment", so I'm torn.

Anonymous said...

Pollution from vehicles kills more ppl than diabetes, so says MIT

Unknown said...

I have no idea how good the site is, but this URL shows helment law in the US and suggests 31 states don't have a Universal Helmet Law for motorcycles. A surprisingly large number have bicycle laws for various ages of minors, I wonder if any are enforced.
Agreed, fight it, not all cycling is the same, a lot of it gets no benefit at all from a plastic hat.

Aaron4065 said...

I live in Quuensland, where that ad comes from. After 20 years of mandatory helmet laws, the car drivers still think we are reckless, rule breaking bastards who should be run off the road at whim. No thinks better of cyclists because we have to wear helmets. Instead it is an excuse for police to pull over and issue $$$$ of fines to normal people in sun dresses picking up their groceries and going about their business, while turning a blind eye to everything else. After 20 years, the only people left riding bikes are those that think it's a good idea to wear one. Everyone else has given up and drives their car everywhere so they're not hassled anymore.

Brooks said...

Retrogrouch Blog stands with BSNYC - Helmet laws are just the start. Fluorescent clothing, flashing lights, license and registration are already in the proposed legislation, and more is under consideration for future laws. Wear a helmet -- but make as much noise as possible to oppose the laws mandating it.

Anonymous said...

T.B.I. are not to be fooled around with. Autodrivers have horrible accidents and should be wearing helments...

Jone Mark said...

nice post thanks for posting i will read this post another time

موقع عاجل - محرك بحث اخباري عربي (اخر الاخبار من جميع المصادر) موقع عاجل - محرك بحث اخباري عربي (اخر الاخبار من جميع المصادر)
عاجل اليمن (اخر الاخبار والاحداث في اليمن) عاجل اليمن (اخر الاخبار والاحداث في اليمن)
عاجل السعودية (خبر عاجل اخر التطورات والاحداث بالسعودية) عاجل السعودية (خبر عاجل اخر التطورات والاحداث بالسعودية)
عاجل مصر (عاجل ام الدنيا كل ما يحدث بمصر اولا بأول) عاجل مصر (عاجل ام الدنيا كل ما يحدث بمصر اولا بأول)
عاجل موبايل (لا تبحث عن الخبر مع عاجل انت في قلب الحدث ) عاجل موبايل (لا تبحث عن الخبر مع عاجل انت في قلب الحدث )

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