December 2, 2009
Girls on bikes
The thing that struck me (as it has before) is that no-one in Europe wears a helmet. I don’t use my bike for transport as often as I should, and one of the minor irritants behind that is what to do with the helmet when I get where I’m going.
It’s illegal to ride a bike in New Zealand without a helmet. Largely this stems from a campaign by a woman whose son was paralysed after being hit by a car, but in hindsight a campaign aimed at car drivers might have made more sense. I know of a trauma surgeon in Wellington hospital who refuses to wear a helmet. He claims to have seen too many cases where they did more harm that good. Wearing a helmet also makes cycling a much sweatier experience in New Zealand’s humid cities.
Having started young, I feel naked on a bike without a helmet. But I increasingly see the perceived danger as being from cars, rather than the likelihood of a fall. And you need something like a motorbike helmet to properly guard against those kinds of impacts. I don’t really know where this line of though leads, but it’s alive and well and living in my head.