Thus far on this little blog of mine I’ve managed to dodge THE HELMET ISSUE. My main source of reluctance is that so many people have said so much about helmet wearing already that I probably have little to contribute to the morass of opinion and misinformation already clogging up the Internet.
However, some days the issue just rears its head (unintended). Today started with another cold, icy morning with slippery pavements and minor roads making the going, on foot, difficult. My wife Su was understandably concerned about my welfare and suggested that I wear my little used bike helmet rather than my now customary tweed cycling cap. This simple, well-meant suggestion sent me into a tailspin of rhetoric, contrary opinions, flawed reasoning and political posturing.
“There’s a greater statistical argument for wearing a helmet while driving or walking”, I spouted (one of those ‘facts’ may be true). I tried my sadly neglected Giro Hex helmet on (it is a nice helmet) and reacted like Huck Finn when Aunt Polly shoehorned him into church clothes. “It’s itchy and uncomfortable, only fits where it touches”, I moaned.
“My head will be too cold in a helmet this morning. I need my cap”, I protested, in an increasingly child-like way. Su cocked her head on one side, took a deep breath and said nothing (she didn’t need to, I was having a conversation all by myself).
“The whole thing is just a cooked-up conspiracy to sell stuff that people don’t need” – this was my wildest proclamation yet. Su’s left eyebrow raised, just slightly.
“Well you’re an adult, I’m sure you’ll make an informed decision,” she said. And with that, I put my uncomfortable, bulbous helmet down, donned my warm, cosy and minimalist tweed cap, gave Su a kiss and pedalled off to the station, promising to text here when I reached the station.
As I rode to work, I ruminated on a whole lot of questions. Did I make the right choice? Do I expose myself to unnecessary risk by not wearing a helmet? Am I irresponsible? Would I have enjoyed my ride less wearing a helmet? If I don’t wear a helmet, am I a bad role model to my children?
Your opinions, readers, would be appreciated.