The Rider

June 29, 2010

Put A Lid On It

Filed under: Safety, Training and Riding, Steve's Stuff — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

There was an interesting article in the Dispatch yesterday: “Helmet law yields no citations 1 year later”

In other words, Columbus police have yet to cite anyone under the age of 18 for failing to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Is this a good or bad thing? The law, which raises awareness of the importance of wearing helmets and promotes safe riding, is a great thing. As for the no fines? I’m not sure about this. As the article stated, the police do have more important things to do. And for some, helmets are a financial burden.

But my stance is you should always, always and always wear a helmet.

And yet, I have noticed children of all ages – from youths to teens to adults to seniors, riding without helmets. I’ve seen families out for a ride in which everyone is wearing a helmet, nobody is wearing a helmet, the kids are wearing helmets and the parents are not. I’ve seen adults riding without helmets, some listening to music with earphones. I’ve seen helmetless people talking on their cell phones while riding, and even a few people texting while they pedal. So far, I’ve yet to see anyone putting on makeup or getting dressed on a bike. It’s only a matter of time.

So here’s my dilemma: Should I say something to these helmetless riders? As a journalist/cyclist, I’m curious why people don’t wear helmets – and would love, in a non-confrontational way, to ask. “Excuse me, Mr. Parent – why aren’t you or your children wearing helmets?” I really am curious. But I have a feeling this question wouldn’t go over very well. It would probably be like the old days, when I covered trials and after a guilty verdict, as they were leading the criminal out of the courtroom, all us reporters would gather around and shout: “Why did you do it?” Believe it or not, not a single criminal ever answered. Some even shouted obscenities at us. Imagine that.

So, instead of asking, I try to use my powers of mental telepathy to scold people for not wearing a helmet. “You should be wearing a helmet,” I say silently, over and over, hoping they will “hear” my message. “And take your earphones out so you can hear what’s going on around you.”

Amazingly, this hasn’t worked, so I’ve come up with a new strategy: As I ride by someone not wearing a helmet, I tap on my helmet, drawing attention to the fact that I’m wearing a helmet – and the other person isn’t. Hopefully, they’ll get it, on a conscious or unconscious level.

In the meantime, perhaps the Columbus police – and the police from the surrounding communities – could deputize me and allow me to cite riders riding without helmets.



  1. I draw the line at someone telling me I have to wear a helmet. I haven’t had a bike accident since I was ten years old (I’m now 63)and a helmet wouldn’t have helped my badly injured knee. I don’t “race” on my bike. I ride slowly to enjoy the fresh air and nature. I stop frequently just to take in my surroundings. I eat right, exercise regularly and I can promise you, that given the opportunity, I could find fault with something you do. I am against eating living creatures and I bet you enjoy a steak now and again. I find it appalling the amount of processed foods people eat. Do you refrain from eating junk food? How about alcoholic beverages? I bet you probably have one occasionally. The list can go on. Just remember, when you point a finger at other peoples faults, four fingers are pointing back at you.

    Comment by Suzie — June 29, 2010 @ 10:28 AM

  2. Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2008 reportedly weren’t wearing helmets. Traumatic brain injuries are no laughing matter either. EVERYONE should be wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle. You don’t have to be racing to sustain a head injury.

    Comment by Sue — June 29, 2010 @ 12:34 PM

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