No, it's not my helmet.
I haven't wrecked.

It's a picture emailed to me by a friend when I first began to muse over the whole motorcycle thing, and one I've seen in a couple of places online since.

His reason in sending it to me: a visual on Why Full Face Helmets Are A Good Idea. He also espoused fullgear:

  • a leather or mesh jacket (with armor)
  • gloves
  • good boots
  • heavy jeans, though leather chaps would be better

And I do all that. I wear a full face helmet. I wear a fully armored mesh jacket, even though I would be more comfortable without, especially at stoplights where there's no moving air to cool me off. I wear motorcycle-specific gloves, with knuckle and palm padding. I wear leather boots that go up over my ankle, even though they give me a bit of a rash.

For me, it's not a choice. It's wear it or don't ride. Most of the riders I see around here don't wear all the gear; most have helmets on, but they ride in t-shirts and shorts, tennis shoes or--though I can't fathom how--flip flops. The mother in me wants to say I don't understand how they can do that to themselves, but as sweat pools in my hair, I totally get it.

It's fricking hot out there, and they've made a choice. Granted, they may not understand what will happen to their skin if they go off the bike at speeds even as slow as 25 mph, but they've made a conscious choice. Comfort over safety.

The ones who are sans helmet...those are the ones I don't understand. At slow speeds if you get knocked off the bike and hit head first, you're going to have some damage, possibly irreversible damage. Like, ya might get yourself dead and stuff.

Yet...I support the choice. I support the right to be totally, incredibly stupid.

I don't support what that choice might inflict on someone else: picking up your medical tab. Agonizing through your post-accident care. Saddling someone else with the financial burden of long term rehabilitative care, or with long term personal care. No one else should have to bear the brunt of your decision to ride without a helmet.

There are a couple of states that, where they normally require the wearing of helmets, provide for an element of choice. If you can prove you have adequate medical coverage, you can ride lid-free. You get a neat little sticker for your license plate to avoid being pulled over by the cops, and you can ride your little heart out with the wind blowing though your hair.

As far as I can see, it's a fair compromise. You prove you won't be dumping all the burden onto someone else (no way round the emotional aspect, I don't think) and you can set the skid lid aside.

I will always wear a helmet. I'll always wear a full face helmet, if for no other reason that I don't think I'd enjoy bugs and other things bouncing off my face at 45 mph. And there's that whole Keeping Of My Face thing. If I'm ever tempted, all I have to do is look at that picture.

But that's my decision.

The politicians can create all these laws about what riders should do, pontificating over protecting people from themselves, but in the end it doesn't help much. Riders who hate the idea just go out and buy these thin little novelty helmets that don't do anything other than keep cops off them. They might as well be not wearing anything.

Or you wind up with this person.

She is wearing a helmet.


I don't think wearing it like this was exactly a choice, though...


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