“Where’s your helmet?”

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Helmets. You all probably have heard and read how wearing a helmet can reduce the chance of a serious head injury while riding a bicycle. You’re probably aware that some states, including Washington, legally require the use of a helmet while riding on public roads and trails. And yet many riders refuse to wear a helmet while riding. Yep, those arguments have all been covered. Verily, one cannot escape them in magazines and the web. So if I’m not wearing a helmet while riding, why do you feel it necessary to tell me to wear one when you are riding toward me in the oncoming direction?

“Where’s your helmet?” you ask. What kind of passive-aggressive BS is that? I’m an adult, well aware that I’m technically breaking the law. Our combined closing speed is something like 40mph or more on a seven foot wide path, you’ve got a line of riders behind you who have the expectation (based maybe more on etiquette than actual familiarity with you as a rider) that you’re gonna ride a straight line, and you choose that exact moment to open up a discussion (complete with a gesticulating hand) about the whereabouts of my safety equipment? Hold your line, please.

You can’t rationally expect me to have a change of heart from your drive-by sarcastic quips, so you must be preaching to satisfy your own needs. I wonder, are you such the activist to helmetless riders at a stoplight? Probably not. I know no one has ever said squat to me at a dead standstill. Why not? Because people naturally try to avoid uncomfortable social confrontations. You feel safe tossing out comments at speed, but you suddenly are a hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil simian when you are face-to-face. It’s just like a teenager hurling verbal barbs from a moving car who suddenly goes quiet at the next stoplight.

As I said, the arguments have been covered, and I’m not refuting the benefits of helmets one bit. If I’m wearing a helmet or not, I am aware the situation already, I assure you. Save your breath and steer you own bike straight, you sanctimonious schoolmarm. Why don’t you spend your time doing something useful, like explaining how to properly wear a helmet to the ill-informed? Backwards helmets, helmets worn tilted halfway back, or helmets not strapped at all won’t fulfill their safety duty. If you want to make a difference, those riders need your help more than I do, since they think they’re safe.