Something I should have posted 12 months ago.
I’ve discovered that most hats have a crucial safety feature helmets lack: inbuilt speed control. If I’m ever approaching an uncivil speed on a shared path my hat will alert me by attempting to leave my head.
After cycling in 12 countries in the last 10 months I find it hard to readjust to the ‘reality’ here in Australia: cycling is dangerous and not wearing a helmet is tantamount to suicide.
As my local knowledge of cycling routes in my adopted Newcastle increases, I’m finding that I rarely have to resort to high traffic areas, preferring low traffic back-roads and shared paths like the one above.
Of course cycling only starts being a ‘risky’ activity around cars because cars are the thing that kills people. I refuse to perpetuate the victim blaming that is mandatory helmet laws for the same reason I refuse to accept that women invite sexual assault by not wearing headscarves. Therefore for the last few months the helmet has never left the cupboard. Especially because I keep to shared paths and low traffic areas where people on foot and cycle can interact amicably and nobody is ever killed or maimed.
Please don’t take the above paragraph as a condemnation of vehicular cycling! Cycling on any road is a pleasurable, viable and safe form of transport or recreation. Riding with cars marginally increases risk because your interacting with something which has a potential to kill. However, most road users understand that when they sit behind the steering wheel of a deadly device that they assume an extra level of onus on them to operate it in a way that doesn’t endanger others. I’ll happily ride on roads its just I have the luxury of being able to choose to ride here:
Here there are no cars and my risk of death or life altering injury is practically nil. Certainly much lower than anybody driving a car. How many people do you know that have been killed while driving? Most Australians know at least one. Curiously in Australia and New Zealand we call it the ‘road toll’ which is a bit misleading considering that an overwhelming majority of these deaths involve cars. Why don’t we call it the car toll?
So I ride without a helmet and when I do I have a smaller risk of death than when I drive a car.
An interesting thing about not wearing a helmet is that you become like a beacon to the ignorant who gleefully tell me of my impending demise.
I’d like to say that of course they need helmets- whether on foot, pedal or car- because they are perpetually head butting life.
But I don’t because I try to avoid the self righteous zealot stereotype of people advocating helmet freedom. I’ve failed though haven’t I?