What a fucking idiotic article. I feel dumber for having read it, and I want that 45 seconds of my life back.
The tag for this article should read "Bike Snob Trollbait."
I say, "Good for you. You make your choices, I make mine.
I chose to give up my bikes, I drive. This is a survival thing."

BTW, I have a friend who recently fractured their skull from
an encounter with a railroad track. I know because she sent
us Facebook message. Because... she was wearing a helmet.

With ObamaCare perhaps my local community won't be stuck
paying for those like-minded who are unfortunate enough to
find the need for people to feed them, to sponge bathe them,
and clean them up twice daily as they poop in their beds.

You mean like they don't take in to account deaths per miles driven? Because those 32,000 deaths are spread over 2,900 billion vehicle miles traveled. Almost three trillion VMT. Or 1.1 deaths per billion miles traveled. In 1921 the rate was 24 times higher. It plummeted because of mandatory seat belts. Mandatory bumpers. Mandatory vehicle crash testing. Mandatory airbags. And so on.

Notice a pattern? Mandatory safety engineering saves lives. Without it we'd have the same death rate as 1921, and 768,000 people would die in cars every year. We've saved 736,000 people a year with science and engineering and the targeted use of laws to protect people from themselves.

What if cars today were made without all those mandatory safety features? Read: Grim Findings in Latin Crash Tests. Welcome to Latin America, where the nanny state isn't around to make you drive a safe car. Gruesome shit.

So what about those helmets? Well the death rate per VMT for motorcyclists is 30 times higher than cars. The rate for bicyclists is at least 20 times higher.

That is why it's smart to mandate helmets for bicyclists, but it's not so urgent for cars. Cars have their own laundry list of mandatory safety devices. And they work. And more safety requirements are on the way. Nobody thinks 32,000 deaths are acceptable.

It's just that the data say helmets are most necessary for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
105 posts, UI! look at that ad revenue pile up - you know how to work us stupid libs.

BTW, I rode un-helmeted in Amsterdam, smoking big fat joints, all over town. you know why? my bike weighed half a ton, had 3 gears, it's utterly flat there, there are grade-separated bike lanes everywhere there are trolleys, and there's basically NO CARS.

But when I rode in NOLA, you bet your ass I had a helmet on.
@88- Training wheels are the worst way to learn to ride and the suburbs are the worst place to try to live by bike.
Stop riding your bike on the fucking sidewalk.
Do what you want. You're an adult, and solely responsible for the consequences of your actions. I'll keep wearing my helmet when I ride, thanks very much.
27 years ago this week (June 3 to be exact), my beautiful smart healthy mother was killed by a truck driver as she rode to work on Mission Street in San Francisco. On behalf of my 3-year-old self who never saw her mother again, my grandmother who could never sleep through the night without heavy medication afterwards, my father, my brother, and the man whose life was ruined because he has to live with the fact that he took a young mother away from her family I say fuck you. Fuck your cavalier attitude. Fuck your indifference to the feelings of the people who care about you. Fuck your political statement.

Yes, we'd all be better off if there was the necessary awareness and infrastructure to keep cyclists safe but until then fuck you and fuck your desire to be a god damned martyr.
I don't care what Ansel does as long as he does it on my face. Kid is fuckin hot.

Cars are also used as a form of city transportation, and yet people driving them or riding in them still are required by law to wear seat belts. In both cases, the law requires everyone to take precautions to ensure a greater risk of survival if an accident occurs- so stop acting as if it's a ridiculous notion to have to wear a helmet and just wear it.
Jesus. Fire this idiot from their unpaid gig; the concentrated levels of stupid are a danger to all around them. This post may be the dumbest thing I've read on the Internet all month, and I'm not entirely sure the relative youth of June makes a difference. Really just painfully bad.
I hope you don't hit your head on an aPodment.
Must be on Slog Trolling rotation with Charles.
A motorcycle helmet saved my life in 1986. Without it I would be a vegetable or dead today. I was hit by a red light runner going 35-40 mph, I rolled up on his hood, and cracked the windshield with my head and was thrown onto the concrete median of the road.

The next day the valiant helmet had its straps cut off and it was thrown in the garbage. My foot swelled up to a size 25 or so, and I was on crutches for four months and in physical therapy for another three. All while trying to graduate from college (it was my last semester).

SO WEAR A FUCKING HELMET. That could just as easily have been me on a bicycle.

Best part? The guy was driving his girlfriend's Dad's Camaro. :-)
I have defended this intern in the past for his widely and justifiably derided posts. However, after reading this, I now believe "you just can't fix stupid". This intern may have blood on his hands if some naive biker follows his unfuckinbelievable advice.
You are the tooliest fucking tool-ass intern I've ever seen on this newspaper.
Kind of like bareback sex.
Like bareback sex In that guys come up with a ton of fancy rationalizations but ultimately do it because it feels good.
Hey, can you write something about why brakes on a bicycle with fixed gearing and no freewheel (like a track bike) aren't necessary either?
Thanks, @86.
What would be funny would be Ansel's SLOG posts reposting every twenty minutes. Commenters would note "Hey you just posted that already!" And Ansel or a SLOG admin on his behalf could respond "did I? I don't remember. Oh yeah, and also, I ride fearlessly without a helmet."
stupid aside, this is dangerous. what if some empty-headed 22 year old reads this and takes his advice? pun intended.
#85 FTW!!!!

People die from head injuries in car accidents all the time but nobody wears a helmet while driving. Hypocrites.
Ugh...As many people pointed out here there is a lot of other dangers besides cars, although cars in this city is a huge danger. Also we are not Berlin, we have huge hills and rain most of the year, and the two combine cause a shit load of accidents (a friend use to make fun of me for riding my breaks on hills, sure enough a couple weeks later he skidded out in the rain and broke his arm).

I'm going to make a jump here, but I assume you're for socialized health care based on other posts you've made. Well the argument you're making is a great argument against social health care. Basically I know something is dangerous but I'm going to do it anyways. Pull that shit in Seattle if you want, but stay out of Canada as we don't want to pick up your tab, we'd rather pay for health care for people who couldn't prevent their injuries.

Leaves camera on table unattended, no big deal I'll ask society to buy me a new one. Rides bike without helmet, no big deal I'll as society to pay for my medical bills...(Of course it's not like the Stranger's going to cover it, I assume since they don't pay their interns they also don't give them health coverage).
Basically I know something is dangerous but I'm going to do it anyways. Pull that shit in Seattle if you want, but stay out of Canada as we don't want to pick up your tab, we'd rather pay for health care for people who couldn't prevent their injuries.

Gotcha, don't go to Canada if you want to drive, skydive, have unprotected sex, ride a motorcycle, become a fisherman, mountain climb, hang-glide, scuba-dive, back-country ski, play football, etc, etc, and finally, etc..

What a ridiculously silly thing to say.
@125, um what do you think air-bags are trying to do, and they are required by law:…
@127 - driving, mountain climbing, hang-glidng, scuba-driving all can be safe if you follow the proper guide lines. Football isn't a big deal in Canada (highschools are actually debating banning it due to injuries). Back-country skiing is stupid and should be outlawed. You're missing the point behind my statement. If you believe the society should take care of your healthcare (which it should btw), then you should take measures to take of yourself. If you drive without a seat belt then you should be ticketed, same if you ride a bike without a helmet.
The person who wrote #86 is the person The Stranger should hire whenever they do have an opening, and reluctantly decide they can't take on someone full-time who has the sense of responsibility Ansel has demonstrated during his internship.
To be fair, UI once had a $50000 helmet that someone stole because he left it on a table in a busy restaurant.
Ah the young, and their false sense of invincibility. Ansel, your organ donor card is up to date, right?
What kind of incredible, whiny, self-centered little pussy is going to be deterred from riding a bike because of a requirement to helmet law? Says a lot about potential cyclists. "Gee, I have to wear a helmet. Guess I'll drive instead."

Ansel - you're a jackass.
Could not agree more: the data don't show such an overwhelming correlation, and the mandatory requirements do discourage other riders.

Oh, and @6 - I tell you what, you and your head trauma buddy like epidemiological statistics so much, let's have a chat about the relative dangers of Iatrogenic injuries in that oh-so-safe-ICU and injuries from riding helmetless. I'll take my chances on the bike over a medico screwup any day.
So this kid wants to decorate the pavement with his blood & brains. I've some of the other stuff he's written - I say, LET HIM.
Skulls are like egg shells, they crack so, so easily. All it takes is an oil slick, rock, pot hole, bump, myriad mechanical failure, and you are over the handle bars. Sure, I also worry about cars and being assaulted (you REALLY want a helmet on when a man tries to drag you off your bike or gropes you—it's happened four times in 30-some years and I was so happy my head/face was protected every time), but the roads are honestly a much bigger threat to fragile skulls.
@111 Pictures please! I would like to see UI (Ansel) also... It's always fun to share with others!
Diana @86, thank you thank you THANK YOU. Magnificently explained. So much heart. I don't always cry, but when I do it's for being glad people like you sometimes write things like that.
Ugh. Not going to try to read all the above, so sorry if this is repetitive: Did the studies try to exclude people who were wearing their helmets WRONG???

If the front of the helmet isn't about one finger's-width above your eyebrows, it's not gonna work! I see a large minority of people riding with their helmets perched on the back of their heads, so their entire forehead is exposed. It's not a fucking yarmulke! Put it on properly~~~
What @28 said. If you're not pushing thirty, your brain is not yet fully developed (see recent brain imaging research, citation missing due to intense laziness).
I knew you were going to get a stack of shit the minute I saw your post. But hey - ill throw in for ya.
I dont wear a helmet either. For mountain biking, racing etc for sure. But for commuting, getting to and from work (I bike most days), fuck that. Hey sanctimonious posters - guess what? Death lurks EVERYWHERE. You wanna wear a helmet - cool. You dont wanna wear one - also cool. I came up in Vancouver, biking EVERWHERE, EVERYDAY. Now in Munich and its sooooooooo nice to not have to freak out and clutch for my helmet on my handlebars everytime a cop drives by (and btw - bike lanes cut out for no reason here, and the drivers are just as crappy in N. America with the not-paying-attention-texting bullshit). It aint fucking biking utopia here.
@78: If you shouldn't have to wear a helmet, I shouldn't have to help pay for it when you end up in the emergency room. Idiots like you should have to sign forms that opt you out of having society pay for your mistakes.
"@125, um what do you think air-bags are trying to do, and they are required by law:"

Plenty of people are still getting head injuries in cars air bags or not. Also not all cars have airbags. So why don't you wear a helmet in your car?
At this point I'm pretty sure the Stranger hired you just as entertainment for us. Dance, monkey!
Ride at your own risk. If you feel the need to protect your head please do so. If you feel safe that you don't feel the need to wear a helmet you should not be penalized. Most of us don't walk around with a helmet on just because we run the risk of getting hit by a car or walking tripping and landing wrong (granted its not at 10-20 mph) so we shouldn't be forced to wear a helmet. Let natural selection do its thing. I personally have a short route to work everyday (less than a mile RT) with bike lane so I don't wear a helmet. It's my head, my choice. Use your own best judgment.
If we had more men like you, we'd have less men like you.
Waiver of liability or not, we still suffer because the wives and children of these idtions have lower incomes, more behavioral and educational problems, and so on than ones with living, though still stupid, dads.
Jesus, Stranger. Where do you find these Randian imbiciles?
Thank you, @122, @130, and @138. You never know when you share such a deeply personal moment how it is going to be received. Thank you for not letting it be a reception of silence.

I would write for The Stranger, @130. As long as I could do it from Olympia.

I actually edited my comment to make it less maudlin, @138. I took out the sentence describing how I took photographs of the Seattle skyline for every day my brother missed while he was in a coma at Harborview. I also didn’t mention how once you have a traumatic brain injury you can never not have it—you can never step outside of it—not even for a moment.

I understand that people are going to make their own choices in life, but life is incredibly beautifully fragile; and people should know what they are risking, for themselves and for those who love them. Just put on the funny hat.
Ansel, you are usually smarter and a better journalist than this.

You could make most of the same arguments in the same prefigurative vein by replacing "Helmet" with "Pants". Aren't you kow-towing to the authorities and publicly admitting the existence and fear of the risk of rape if someone sees your attractive hairy legs in an unfortunate context?

Until everyone feels safe in the city, you should go pant-less.

And proudly explain your point of view and conclude, with a straight look into the eye of the questioner:
".... I look forward to one day wearing pants."
To those of you saying "wait 'til you have a major accident and become a vegetable"...guess what, we're actually pretty resilient creatures. I've smashed my face into the pavement at a high rate of speed (best guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of 25...I was going down a decently steep hill on a racing bike), sans helmet, and the only thing I have to show for it today is two veneers and a lip scar. Yes, I was knocked unconscious. Yes, I probably suffered a minor concussion. But I did *NOT* suffer any permanent brain injury. I didn't even see a doctor until the next day. The impact was probably less severe than many (even restrained) passengers in motor vehicle collisions sustain. My brother had to spend the night in the hospital due to a head injury after my dad's car was dad had his head surgically repaired and spent a week in the hospital...surrounded by thousands of pounds of steel and strapped to their seats, they were injured worse than I was.

Not that tragedies don't happen. I know someone who died, after being in a PVS for a few weeks, after simply falling backwards and banging her head on the stairs. But my point is that we don't walk around wearing helmets in our homes, or while traveling as pedestrians, or while grocery shopping (those shelves are heavy, and if they fall!), or even while doing one of the most dangerous things any of us will ever do: traveling by personal motor vehicle. Depending on where and how you bike, it's no more dangerous than most day-to-day activities.

Wear a helmet if you want, but it's kind of asinine to insist other adults be criminally charged for choosing not to do so. It's a waste of enforcement resources, and, yes, reduces biking, dampening the #1 thing that improves cyclist safety (numbers). Education, passion, whatever...have at it. I've got no reason to be upset at someone who preaches at me about helmets, but I draw the line at criminalizing not wearing one. Most states don't even have cell phone use bans for drivers (I know, that's shocking, but only 11 states & DC ban handheld use), and you're throwing a primary offense at helmet-less riders?

Also, on the topic of cyclists needing to be 100% law-abiding, how about we go for a drive sometime? If you break one SINGLE traffic law, even a little, you're not allowed to talk anymore. I will enjoy watching you attempt to drive exactly 25 MPH... At the end of the day, a car making a "California stop" at 5+ MPH is a whole heck of a lot more dangerous than a cyclist making an "Idaho stop" at <5 MPH. And let me just tell you which one I see more (by number, not percentage, since numbers, not percentages, make crossing the street dangerous)...
Halle-fuckin-lujah brother!! fuck all you assholes out there in the mindless satanic mob! I cant tool down the open sidewalk in the summer to get a coke at the corner store without one of your armed thugs harassing me about a ticket. [yeah; I just so happen to bike on weekends when we have multiple cops out on my street directing event traffic]
I live 4 blocks from the nearest store. If I go there without a helmet, which is the greater risk: being in a bicycle accident or being assaulted by police?

Also I'm black.
The only way this thread would be better would be if you had your pitbull puppy ride in a basket on your bike - sans helmet.
The Stranger is definitely getting what they pay for with this guy! (Though isn't everybody at the Stranger pretty much unpaid?).

Look, do what you want with your life, kid, but by writing this, you may have influenced some very young, idealistic and foolish person (someone like yourself) to not wear a helmet. This is so irresponsible, it's sickening.
There's nothing wrong with being scared. Being scared allows us opportunities to be brave. But not wearing a helmet as some kind of political statement isn't brave. It's foolhardy. And encouraging others to not wear a helmet isn't admirable, it's the written equivalent of an attractive nuisance.

And if my idiot boyfriend* who also doesn't wear a helmet winds up dead or worse and it could have been prevented with a helmet, I will not stand at his funeral and think "Wow, what an amazing martyr for bikedom who lived how he wanna live". I will be in anguish and anger because I lost him and our life together because he was a goddamn stubborn fucking moron who was too cool for a helmet.

*Neil, if you're reading this, you know you were lucky that time you wound up at Harborview. Put on a fucking helmet!
The Monsanto board of directors wears helmets.
Either he is a troll or a douche. Either way, wear a helmet.
OP: "And that captures the essence of choosing to wear one. It's driven by a climate of fear."
And brain injury is driven by a climate of concrete.

"Wear one or risk brain damage (the rest of one's body parts are, apparently, an afterthought)."
They are, because most limbs can be set and your brain is the bare necessity to living. Therefore a helmet is the bare necessity for safety.

"Until everyone (communities of color, older folks, parents and kids, the-less-daring) feels safe using bicycles to transport themselves about the city, I will flout helmet laws."
While he could be a sensible example of smart biking he's being a self-righteous prick with a nonsensical political statement. Seems pretty counteractive to promoting biking, eh?
Until Ansel Herz feels helmets and promoting helmet use is sensible I ask all his friends and relatives to give him helmets on every celebratory occasion.
I want to live in a world where men with guns, tazers, and batons compel me to practice any behavior deemed "wise" by the majority of society.

Mandate my diet!

Mandate my health care!

Mandate every lifestyle choice imaginable!

Leave nothing to individual autonomy!

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