As I Biked To Work and did my annual tour of BTWD Energizer Stations this morning, I briefly doffed my helmet as I approached the MLK Library so it wouldn’t interfere with my camera. The Energizer Station at the San Jose MLK Library was staffed this morning by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
A pair from the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice masquerading as “bike advocates” greeted me with an inquiry about my missing
hijab bike helmet.
“It’s dangerous out here!” they warned me. “Removing your head covering will entice motorists into an uncontrollable rage. They will be overcome by their natural lusts and victimize you.”
“Seriously?” I responded. “You really want to hit newbies and first timers with a guilt trip on Bike To Work Day? You call this bike advocacy?”
“We’re only interested in protecting your virtue!”
Whatever. You do it because you have The Message and must get it out. But if it makes you feel any better about yourselves…
A fantastic post. I have not heard anyone before equate the helmet debate with the hijab debate. That is absolutely brilliant. The analogy really give a good frame of reference.
I don’t care either way about the helmet ‘debate,’ to be honest — if people wear them is not my business, especially because there is absolutely no public health impact anyway.
But the moralistic tone really got my goat. And then when I started to engage these two mutaween about their insistence on helmets, they blamed me for starting the argument. Huh?! They’re the bullies in that playground, and their behavior needs to be sanctioned.
Your post hit it on the head
Is there a Snell-certified hijab?
Were you trying to be punny or was it just an accident (pun intended)?
Seriously, I wear a helmet all the time, in part because if I crashed without one I’d never hear the end of it. But when I ride in places where no one wears one, like Amsterdam or Watercolor, Florida, I don’t wear one either.
Why not? Because the streets and the culture there are set up so helmets are less important. The bike traffic is either separated or the car speed limits are lowered so the overall risks are lowered.
The thing is the standard on bicycoe helmets sold in this country is so low that it’s pretty much useless to wear one. The CPSC standard is to reduce impact energy enough to prevent skull fracture in an impact at 12.5 MPH. Any prevention of TBI or other head injury is purely an accident of design that allows the helmet to meet that ridiculously low standard. Having said that I wear a full-face BMX/All-mountain helmet every time I ride on the road, because the last time I was hit hard enough to get knocked off my bike a portion of my face was torn loose and had to be sewn back on and it itched like Hell while it was healing. Almost enough to distract me from the broken bones and missing skin and muscle in my leg I got from the same wreck…
It would be nice to put an end to this kind of bullying. I don’t see, given the research evidence we currently have, how actively promoting helmets is even ethical. I deeply saddens me to see this kind of persecution–even more to be persecuted. I just read a story about a “Captain Helmet” who is going around Stockholm and even going on the radio to push The Message. Rationality and facts don’t seem to phase these people. I think the bullying will continue and we will eventually see helmet laws for all ages across the country and all the unfortunate consequences that go with them. Once fear is in the system, it just keeps going until it destroys the host.
I just love how YOU were the bad guy. Geez Richard, if only you just *believed* and *obeyed* there wouldn’t be a debate. LOL.
Bullying is exactly what it was. When I called them on it they got onto my case for ‘engaging’ them, even though they started it. Here’s video of what happened: