Whadaya Call A Bicyclist Without A Helmet?

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October 6th 2005
Published: October 6th 2005
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So I’m riding to school along my favorite bike path in Norfolk (the one with two hills!) when I encounter a ten year old girl wobbling towards me on a bike and in a helmet that she has yet to grow into. “DING! DING!” I tap my bell a few times to get her attention as we meet beneath the highway overpasss, and I thought nothing more of it until I rounded the corner and met (presumably) her kid sister and father. Sis was wearing a helmet that was color-coordinated to her training wheels, but the gentle breeze off the Elizabeth River tugged at Dad’s receding hairline, unobstructed by any helmet.

“So where’s YOUR helmet?” I called out as I passed Dad, hoping that maybe I would plant the seed for future daughterly nagging. After all, Dad deserves it.

Let’s play with an analogy here, folks: as seatbelts are to automobile occupants, so are helmets to bicyclists. What responsible parent would diligently strap their child into a car seat and seatbelt, and then refuse to actually buckle up themselves? Fact is, we’d describe any parent who refused to buckle up as IRresponsible.

Close your eyes for a moment (just metaphorically speaking though, because I really do want you to continue enjoying my gallows humor)…Close your eye for a moment and imagine the car wreck: Sis and Baby Sis are strapped safely into the back seat, while Dad is ejected from the driver’s seat (“I don’t need a seatbelt!) and takes out the windshield before cracking his head open on the asphalt and bleeding to death in the full sight of his two daughters, who survived the crash because Dad had thoughtfully seatbelted them.

Now transfer that same image analogously to a bicycle. Dad is riding along with Sis and Baby Sis. Sis has finally graduated from training wheels. Baby Sis and her baby helmet are riding in a babyseat on the back of Dad’s bike. Dad isn’t wearing a helmet. (“I don’t need a helmet!”) Some soccer mom all strung out on gas fumes from refueling her Hummer is blathering away on her cell phone as she approaches the same intersection as Dad, Sis and Baby Sis. Soccer mom sees the stop sign, stops, but neglects to look in front of her and see Dad riding across the street with Baby Sis until after she’s hit the gas and BAMM!!!! Dad goes flying off the bike, cracks his helmetless head on the asphalt and feebly twitches while Sis and Baby Sis helplessly look on. The baby helmet on Baby Sis is cracked, but Baby Sis is showing great reflexes as she watches her father bleed to death, crying all the while. When the paramedics finally arrive the most they can do is scoop Dad up into a stretcher and rush him off to the hospital before his liver gets warm because, after all, Dad was a responsible driver and had checked off the organ donor section on his license.

Sis and Baby Sis grow up fatherless and in later years require therapy to overcome their cyclophobia. Dad isn’t there to provide for them and Mom takes to the bottle in an effort to escape from the pressures of single parenthood. Sis ends up in a juvenile correctional facility on multiple charges of petty larceny, and Baby Sis ends up an HIV-positive baby momma. And every Christmas a card arrives for Sis and Baby Sis with the same message as last year, “Thanks for the liver!”

So whadaya call a bicyclist without a helmet?

An organ donor.


6th October 2005

You seem to know so much about single parenthood, you're obviously very experienced in this matter. How about you stick to what you know before you go on about single parents hitting the bottle... and if this is a speech from personal experience, I'm sorry to say not everyone has it so bad, don't assume they do.
6th October 2005

All too familiar.
Believe it or not, you've just described my husband. He bikes a lot with our 3yo. Son is always helmeted, hubby never is. I attribute it to machismo, or perhaps a deep-seated death wish. I'm going to send him the link to this blog entry. Perhaps he'll listen to a fellow former military guy.
6th October 2005

What an extreme take on not wearing a helmet.
6th October 2005

Message received
Alright, already. I guess you've been watching me ride this last month! Who told?

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