The Chainlink

Hello All,

I'm admittedly new to the community, but Julie H. told me this group is amazingly diverse and very (hopefully) willing to offer their honest opinions on issues in the Cycling community.

Here's a little background. I'm a reporter from RedEye, and I'm looking into what seems to be a more controversial issue than most people thing: Actually wearing a helmet. I've heard from some great people on both sides, but in the interest of a balanced perspective, I would love to hear from some folks who choose NOT to wear a helmet. I've seen some people say it's a vanity/comfort issue, and others who question the effectiveness of the practice.

Whatever the case, I would be very interested to hear your opinions on the issue. I can be reached most quickly at mswasko@tribune.com. Also, if you have comments you'd like to post in the thread, I will be watching.

Thank you all very much for your help.

mick

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I'm ready

As the crickets chirp in the background...

Duppie said:

I'm ready

Definitively a hot topic, and one that few will honestly admit to not wearing a helmet (which isn't illegal in Illinois). 

Juan - as I was searching this thread came up - Helmet or No Helmet.  

You have some interesting points in your answer below.  Do cars, cyclists, etc. act differently when you do wear a helmet?  Do you still feel the same way since posting this in 2009?  

Reply by Juan on April 27, 2009 at 5:45pm

The majority of people in the Netherlands do not wear helmets. Most of the obese harley riders here in the states dont. I have always ridden without one, but when I do put on a Helmet its like trouble comes to find me! Cars get a little too close, people cross infront too quickly and I have wrecked other parts of my body with my helmet on. Really, anyways I would rather just pass away on my bike than to live in this hell hole if that is what is coming to me for being so stupid for not wearing my brain bucket.

Dammned if i do dammned if I dont.

I will honestly admit to wearing a helmet approximately 25% of the time.

Julie Hochstadter said:

Definitively a hot topic, and one that few will honestly admit to not wearing a helmet (which isn't illegal in Illinois). 

Juan - as I was searching this thread came up - Helmet or No Helmet.  

You have some interesting points in your answer below.  Do cars, cyclists, etc. act differently when you do wear a helmet?  Do you still feel the same way since posting this in 2009?  

Reply by Juan on April 27, 2009 at 5:45pm

I wear a helmet but I would prefer not to.  I think that is just natural to not want to have some hunk of plastic on your head weighing you down while you're gliding freely down the street.  Helmets are often clunky and feel restricting, make your head hot, cost money, and can look dorky.  I wear one because if I do fall or get hit and land on the ground, at least the helmet has a good chance of preventing a laceration and maybe I'll avoid a trip the hospital or something along those lines.  Not sure of the science in regards to concussions.  

It just makes me feel safer, too, and more willing to bike in a high traffic environment.  It doesn't hurt that I found a helmet that I really like, which has a sweet venting system.  I found it for 45 bucks or so delivered, via sierratradingpost with one of their email list coupons.    http://www.bernunlimited.com/Products/Helmets/G2?helmetType=Bike  

Since there is no law saying a cyclist must wear a helmet each individual can decide whether to wear one or not.  

Today, I did not wear my helmet. I chose not to because I couldn't find it this morning and I was running late for work. It was very nice to ride without one and I do not feel I am in any danger without it. When I don't wear a helmet, I think it makes me even more aware of what is going on around me, it feels nice to have the wind blowing in your face and hair and it is more comfortable and enjoyable to ride. 

But, sadly, I usually do wear a helmet, just because there are too many idiots out there that do not know how to drive or look when they open their car doors.  The helmet will not protect me from any other injury except a head injury, so if I do get hit I will still get broken bones and bruises or maybe even die, but the chances are my skull may stay intact. 

The helmet doesn't protect a cyclist all that much, since your entire body is still exposed, and there are days I ride with one and there are days I don't bother. I usually wear it when I am riding downtown to my job each day and back, but if I'm on a recreation ride or just cruising to the grocery store, I usually won't bother with it.  If I am running late, I have jumped on my bike without it and not caring in the least that I am not wearing one.  

For many years, I did not wear a helmet. I told myself I was safe on the lakefront path but I knew better. It really was more of a vanity and comfort thing for me - plus, I bought a cheap, ugly (think 90s green) and uncomfortable helmet so I didn't want to wear it.

When I visited Iron Cycles to buy a new bike (and a good helmet), Steve told me the rule of thumb for a good helmet (and a helmet that fits well) is that you forget you are wearing it. After making the investment, when I ride, it's just like Steve told me it would be - I completely forget I'm wearing it. Yes, my hair isn't great after a long ride but that's ok.

Julie Hochstadter said:

Definitively a hot topic, and one that few will honestly admit to not wearing a helmet (which isn't illegal in Illinois). 

Juan - as I was searching this thread came up - Helmet or No Helmet.  

You have some interesting points in your answer below.  Do cars, cyclists, etc. act differently when you do wear a helmet?  Do you still feel the same way since posting this in 2009?  

Reply by Juan on April 27, 2009 at 5:45pm

I recently purchased a Giro multisports helmet and it's great- it especially keeps my hair nice and neat. People argue that riders in Holland don't wear helmets and the statistics show how few injuries they have.

Well that's Europe.

Americans tend to think in automotive terms and we cyclists have to remember that this is America. This country can be a very hostile place for us when we go out on the road. Personally I'm not out to put my life and intellect at risk just to prove some kind of point. I just want to get home safely.

Sad to say it is so.

I used to feel bad for those who were not wearing a helmet when I first started seriously riding my bicycle long distances with lycra and all that. As the years went on, Lots more close calls and injurys with my helmet on than without.

So I got used to flying, like a pigeon passing between cars and elevated track columns without the brain bucket. I recieved my wings when I messengered in downtown for a short spell.

Every morning I am thankful to be able to wake up and ride in all that crazy traffic with a few gun toting peds and make it home in one peice. All without full body gear even...

Julie Hochstadter said:

Definitively a hot topic, and one that few will honestly admit to not wearing a helmet (which isn't illegal in Illinois). 

Juan - as I was searching this thread came up - Helmet or No Helmet.  

You have some interesting points in your answer below.  Do cars, cyclists, etc. act differently when you do wear a helmet?  Do you still feel the same way since posting this in 2009?  

Reply by Juan on April 27, 2009 at 5:45pm

That's why I like the Bern.  It's light and feels more like a baseball cap, and indeed looks sorta like one, too.  

Yasmeen said:

When I visited Iron Cycles to buy a new bike (and a good helmet), Steve told me the rule of thumb for a good helmet (and a helmet that fits well) is that you forget you are wearing it. After making the investment, when I ride, it's just like Steve told me it would be - I completely forget I'm wearing it. Yes, my hair isn't great after a long ride but that's ok.

I wasn't accustomed to wearing helmets last summer when I started cycling full time. I admit,  I wore them to join rides from both here and CCM, because I thought it was a requirement.

But this past winter, I started wearing a helmet to help keep my head and ears warm. As the temperature grew warmer, I almost went back to my old habits of not wearing a helmet, until I read a post here about how he fell off his bike and not knowing what had happened. I think the consensus was something had stuck on his wheel and thus caused the accident.

With that conclusion, I started realizing it's not about how well you can ride, or how well you know your bike, or how well you know your roads/paths, or even how well you can evade other vehicles looking to cause you bodily harm, but sh!t do happens and I'd like to keep my noggin protected when it does happen.

Yes, every now and then I still don't wear my helmet for one reason or another, but on my daily commute, I wear my helmet everyday now.

I wear a helmet for safety, and I never questioned the need for this practice until I traveled to Paris last year.  I used their bike-share program which didn't come with a helmet.  However, in riding all around the city, I never once came across a pothole, and they had designated bike lanes/paths all over the place.  I was shocked by how safe I felt on my bike compared to when I ride in Chicago!  A helmet didn't feel as necessary as it does in Chicago where I'm significantly more concerned that I'll have an accident because of a pothole or the overall lack of safe, respected bike routes.  (I certainly appreciate and take advantage of what progress the city of Chicago has made, but we've still got a long way to go.)

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