Friday, July 12, 2013

Life is hard; wear a helmet*

Anybody who says they don't need a seat belt or a bike helmet ("because we didn't have those things when I was young") is foolish, period. Anyone who says laws enforcing these things are just "nanny state" governmental busybody-ness should get over their paranoid fears and protect their goddamn head already. Does it really matter who tells you to do it? Your mother, a coach, the "law"? I've heard some pretty stupid arguments against bike helmets. Have you seen how big a car is, felt how hard the pavement is, and thought about how delicate your fucking skull is?

(Those arguments that start with "I know someone who was in a car crash who would've died had they been wearing their seat belt" make me sad The stories of people dying in car crashes who should've been wearing their seat belt... well, let's just say they don't just make me sad.)

(I read a description of the car seat we bought for J. that said something along the lines of, "This seat has been nicknamed 'the Orphan Maker;'" implying that in a car crash, the kid will survive but the parents won't. If that fact right there doesn't take your breath away, you're insane.)

And yes, I too (and my sister and brothers) grew up during Evel Kneivel's heyday, riding in the back of my dad's pickup on the 405 freeway, riding minibike motorcycles bareheaded (actually, not me: by the time I was old enough, either the minibike was out of commission or my dad didn't want me riding it), not knowing what sunscreen was really for, rolling around on the floor of the front seat of a car as an infant, wandering the streets alone as a kid, giving "puppet shows" for the people behind us from the rear-facing back seat of my mom's station wagon... and we are all lucky, because nothing really bad ever happened to us (though my brother obtained some pretty rad scars from various bike crashes and other injuries; once, in the 11th or 12th grade, I was groped by a man who spoke to me in Spanish on the bike path under Sepulveda Blvd. Oh, and a big fat guy in a white car exposed himself to me while I was walking to school, once, but I was too stupid to understand what I had seen or do anything about it except laugh). And a guy I dated a few times in my 20s took me to his room one night, and when he was in the bathroom, I snooped in his bedside table and saw that he had a gun. I never saw that guy again.

I don't care if there is or ISN'T a law about safety; because we know, thanks to science and neurologists and people who study this for a living, that helmets save lives. We know that seat belts protect people in accidents. We know these things because not everybody has been as lucky as I have, or you.

Yes. You might die in a car accident even if you're wearing your seat belt. Yes, you might be paralyzed or suffer brain damage if you're in a bike accident while wearing a helmet: these tiny straps and pieces of foam are not the hand of God. None of us is guaranteed a safe ride home, every time. But don't be purposefully stupid, don't put yourself in harm's way if you don't have to. Take every chance you can while you can still think about it.

There, whoever I've pissed off has left the room, and for you, the ones left, I'd like to share this article I just read in the NY Times about pretty/cool/incredibly expensive bike helmets. My own personal helmet is a very utilitarian looking Specialized helmet that I got at Wheel World in Culver City. It looks like a helmet, and is black and grey, with reflective tape that I added for better visibility, not fashion; then again, that right there IS my style. Just because I personally don't feel the need to express my individuality via my stupid bike helmet, doesn't mean I don't think it's a fun idea. If more people will wear one because they now have the option of getting one that's a little kooky, then, hey, go for it. You can read the article here.

And don't forget to buckle up for the ride home, dummy.

*There's a seemingly now defunct website by this name that came up on my google search while I was writing this, with that title. I thought it was cute but couldn't access the site. My apologies for stealing your title, whoever you are.

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