The Importance of Being …

… no, not The Importance of Being Earnest.  This is about something else, which will become apparent if you read on.

Okay, we’ve all been deluged with news that WE MUST ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET WHILE CYCLING.  Yes, it is tempting to skip wearing a helmet from time to time.  Hey, we’re only going a 1/4 mile, right?  How about those great scenes in movies where someone is slowly riding a bike with the wind blowing in their hair?  Loved the video that the village scribe posted earlier this year, showing a lovely young woman on a bike without a helmet.  Be the one to cast the first stone if you haven’t been tempted to take the chance.

This week I was traveling on the west coast and couldn’t wait to rent a bike and tool around the city I was visiting.  Being on east coast time, I was impatiently waiting for the bike shop to open at 9am last Sunday.  Kept waiting, but there was no indication that the shop was open.   Finally,  at 9:05am, I tried the door and it was open.

I asked the lone employee a few questions regarding renting a bike.  Twenty minutes later, I was out the door with my rental.  Why 20 minutes?  Call me impatient, but that was way too long for a simple bike rental transaction.  I was the only customer in the store.  The employee seemed quite distracted.  Although it was a relatively small store, he was flitting around from bike to bike to select one for me.  After finding a  bike, he appeared to be over zealous in checking it out (all bikes in the shop were under three  years old).  He kept telling me to be careful in the city.  That is generally excellent advice, but this city was pretty quiet on a Sunday morning. 

I asked the bike shop employee if he rode.   He replied ‘I used to.  I was once in a bike accident and I broke my ribs.’   A few times he repeated the bike rental price and I had to remind him more than once that I had a coupon and wanted to pay by credit card.  He was jumping all over the store, trying to locate a bike bag, pump, lock and key.  Something was not quite right.

Finally, it hit me.  I went out on a limb and asked him if he had been wearing a helmet the day he had his bike accident.   He admitted he had not, and ended up in a hospital for a week.  During the first few days of his stay, he had been in intensive care.  You don’t have to be a physician to realize his head injury has affected him to this day.

The true title of this blog is ‘The Importance of Being a Helmet Wearer’.  Dear readers, I truly hope you are aware and consistently practice The Importance of Being a Smart Cyclist.

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6 responses to “The Importance of Being …

  1. GUILTY…! Yes, I admit it. I rarely actually use that $70.00 skid-lid I own.

    As anyone over 40 can tell you, that once one passes that age you don’t bounce, heal or get up nearly as fast as you once did. And sure, I know better, but I still continue to ride without my helmet. I have no excuse. Some guys are just stupid like that, me being one of them…

  2. Thanks for the post, bicyclegirl. Nice to know the Rhode Island constituent is still out there.

    A reader sent me this link in response to your piece. It’s funny, because another local rider and I were just discussing this very thing on a ride a couple of weeks ago.

  3. You know Scott you’re not encouraging my helmet usage by posting that link.

    Perhaps if I were to glue a long haired wig to my helmet and wobble while I ride…

  4. This was brought up at the ride tonight. (the link)

    • I was surprised to learn that you get less room from motorists when wearing a helmet. However, it appears that being female is a plus in terms of cars trying to avoid you. Some women would be furious at the remark that motorists may think women aren’t “as good” at cycling than men, but I don’t care if it helps me from being hit. Thanks for posting the link, village scribe!

  5. The other night while climbing down the ladder on my tanker trailer I missed a step. So, from about six feet I fell while trying to support my weight with my hands by surprise. Well, the ground stopped me where my legs buckled till I was in a sitting position, then onto my back hitting the back of my head on the concrete floor, sending my glasses flying. I laid there for a long few seconds collecting myself to see if I was hurt. My pride was hurt far more than my body luckily, but it got me thinking just how well I would fair in a head strike from a fall on my bike.

    I think I’ll dust off that bike helmet…