Safety Bullies

One argument that comes up over and over again in the cycling world is safety.

I have posted various posts where I alternately mock or condemn safety or where I propose some real solutions which will increase safety.

Like the TSA, there are a couple of plans for safety which have never been shown, in the real world, to increase safety. Like the TSA both of these are “safety theater” giving some people the feeling of safety but not actually making them safe.

We get ad nauseum how riding vehicularly and wearing a helmet are safer.

What we do NOT get are controlled experiments showing how, in the real world, these policies actually make us safer.

In fact, common sense tells me that both of these are stupid. I will change my mind when I get some data.

And NO, I do NOT have to prove that a helmet is UNSAFE. I can tell you that putting a plastic bag over your eyes and mouth make you safer. You won’t do it without proof. Likewise, I need proof before I wear something as silly a flimsy bicycle helmet. In fact, I still won’t, I will choose to be slightly less safe.

Through the years, rode my bicycle with no helmet and NON-Vehicularly (sic) and I have been almost 100% safe. We can only judge things on how they were and they were fine. Thus, there’s no point for me to change.

Yet, there are those out there who insist on wearing a helmet.

Let’s get this clear for the dense:

I DON’T GIVE A FUCK IF YOU WEAR A STUPID HELMET. I AM NOT TELLING YOU HOW TO LIVE YOUR LIFE, DON’T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MINE.

Yes, I am against helmet wearing for commuters. I am FOR wearing helmets for racers, mountain bikers, and other cycling risk takers.

Even though I am opposed to helmets, I do NOT bully others to follow my way. I NEVER tell people to not wear helmets on the street.

However, the facts on helmets are in. Helmets have not been shown to reduce injuries.

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1068.html

Helmets DO hurt the popularity of cycling badly. See the Australian study.

End of story.

HELMETS ARE USELESS FOR SAFETY, BUT THEY HURT CYCLING.

THOSE WHO PUSH FOR MANDATORY HELMET USE ARE HURTING CYCLING POPULARITY.

What I really hoped to talk about today was bullying, a theme I see come up over and over.

Asking someone, one time, to wear a helmet is not bullying.

Pestering someone over and over again to wear a helmet does not make one a full scale bully, but it is using bullying style tactics to achieve a pointless aim. This is a gray area, and I am mainly talking about how I (and others who choose to cycle without helmets) feel.

“According to Pamela Lutgin-Sandvik,[5] the lack of unifying language to name the phenomenon of workplace bullying is a problem because without a unifying term or phrase, individuals have difficulty naming their experiences of abuse, and therefore have trouble pursuing justice against the bully.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_bullying

I DO REALIZE THAT SOME ASSHOLE IS GOING TO CHERRY PICK SENTENCES HERE TO PROVE THAT I AM A BULLY. IF YOU FEEL THAT WAY THEN STOP READING RIGHT NOW. DO NOT COMMENT. PROBLEM SOLVED.

Discounted the person’s thoughts or feelings (“oh, that’s silly”) in meetings (64 percent).

“People who don’t wear helmets are stupid.”

“Harshly and constantly criticized having a different standard for the target (57 percent).”

For example, we have to wear helmets because they are slightly safe for minor falls, but we do NOT have to wear wrist guards which are much more effective for an injury which is more likely. Nor are we urged to wear flack jackets despite the fact that shootings are more common and harmful than minor head injuries that helmets protect us from.

“Overevaluation and manipulating information (for example concentration on negative characteristics and failures, setting up subordinate for failure).”

See the misquoted, flawed, and much abused study on helmets: “Helmets prevent 85% of deaths from head injury for cycling accidents.”

“Preventing access to opportunities”

You must wear a helmet or you can’t get credit for randoneering nor ride Bike the Bay.

“Having your opinions and views ignored”

Despite the fact that there are many reasons to NOT wear a helmet including a study which showed that one is less likely to be hit by a car from behind while NOT wearing a helmet, these are ignored and we are subjected to the continual verbal vomit about how one fell one time and their helmet broke and now they are really safe now.

“Being humiliated or ridiculed in connection with your work”

If you don’t wear a helmet for long enough you’ll see what I mean.

Overall, the problem is that of the helmet advocates being extremely ignorant of the big picture. They go around bothering those of us who have read all the studies and positions for helmets. We have gone over the history of cycling and the why’s and how’s of helmets. After all this, we have come up with an informed decision to NOT wear a helmet which should be a personal decision like how often to floss.

Instead we are harassed by cyclists who fear that we will “look bad” without a helmet.

I am bald, but if I had some nice long hair like most women, I would NEVER wish to bunch up my glory in a sweaty helmet.

And there are still men out there who wonder why their lovely wives do NOT want anything to do with cycling. We look around and wonder where all the female cyclists are.

Stop being a know it all. Stop bothering and harassing us for our personal decisions.

Oh, I don’t have time for this, but often wearing a helmet is a form of domination (as well as bullying). It trades a phony feeling of safety so that motorists feel better about themselves: “He wasn’t wearing a helmet [so he deserved to die].”

Thankfully, for some reason the San Diego media is wising up that obsessing over helmets after someone dies is unnecessary and disgraceful.

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4 Responses to “Safety Bullies”

  1. Steve A Says:

    You forgot gloves. When you fall, you typically scrape your hands while head contacts are rare. Unlike helmets, gloves help protect your hands even if nothing goes wrong. Oh, I forgot, this is a helmet tirade. No real comments either way on THAT particular religious battle other than to agree laws on the subject are anti-cycling laws.

  2. trevor Says:

    It is awesome to know that you have the same vehement hatred toward being told what to wear as some bicyclists have towards being told how and where to ride in the roadway. It’s some kind of common ground.

    By the way, many bicycle riders do actually feel safer when they wear a helmet. No matter how many times I tell them that it’s better to avoid falling, and that helmets are only designed to give some safety in low-speed falls, somebody will always give an anecdote with flawed logic “my helmet was destroyed, and I am alive, therefore the helmet saved my life”.

    I’ve learned to ignore every behavior I don’t agree with unless it directly affects me. So no more picking on people wearing dark clothes at night and having no lights either. Unless they are riding the wrong way towards me, that is.

    • Fred Says:

      Thanks for trying to find common ground.

      I feel that cyclists should stick together. I have met some LCI’s who are actively working towards infrastructure. Perhaps you can join them (I’d say “us”, but I’m not an LCI).

      I do believe that having cycle tracks and being harassed are two separate things. I get harassed most often on roads which are high speed with no shoulder. I call these roads VC roads, but they are also the rural roads that Cross wrote about. Did you read the orignal Cross study, the one that VC is based on? If not, please forget all you know and read it.

      As for dark clothes, I read a study that means that they don’t help.

      Still, I DO wear dark at night. Why should I be solely responsible for the behavior of motorists?

      Why are dark cars legal if bright objects are easier to see and are safer?

      Does the law make things deliberately dangerous?

      The point is that “wear a helmet” or “wear bright clothes”, when it comes from a clueless motorist is an attempt to avoid personal responsibility by passing it on to me. It also is a domination tactic where they leave out the implicit threat: “Wear light clothes or we will kill you.” It’s like clothing laws in the Middle East.

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