I’m cycling Nordsjørittet on June 12th this summer. It’s a 90 km offroad/onroad bike race that goes along the coast between Sandnes and Egersund – super scenic. Helmets are mandatory, obviously. Growing up, I was very casual with my helmet use. It’s awful. My parents were really strict about it and would never let me take out my bike without a helmet, but I remember clearly actually hangning my helmet on the handlebars of my bike if I knew that my parents weren’t goint to see me. Idiotic to say the least.
Even at age 23, when I was working in London, I rode my bike to the office every day from Camden Town to Fleet St. No more than 5-6 km, but in heavy London traffic. Double decker drivers are aggressive, and don’t always respect the bike lane. And yet, there I was, without a helmet. I’m an idiot.
I knew I was an idiot. I know full well the dangers of cycling without a helmet – hell, my brother’s middle school teacher was out of commission for 3 months for a head injury (she wiped out on her bike and wasn’t wearing a helmet). A woman at the bank where I work now died after getting hit by a car on her bike. No helmet.
Yet, somehow I kept riding my bike sans helmet, because it made my hair flat, and I thought it was too hot and uncomfortable. Weak.
The turning point?
On my way to work one day, biking down Pentonville Road towards the office, I saw that Penton Rise was blocked by police cars, there was an ambulance – lots of people, the works. A woman was lying on the ground, her bicycle demolished next to her. I couldn’t tell if she was wearing a helmet or not – to be honest I’m not even sure if it would have made a difference. But it made me realise how “la la la, nothing bad’s ever going to happen to me” I was. That could have been me – I found out later she had been cut off by a bus who simply didn’t see her. She’d been hit 15 minutes before I got there.
So from then on I always wear a helmet. And you should, too.