Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 13

IN -

Dry and cool today. It was about 55o so I didn't wear my jacket. I didn't see any critters, but I heard a lot of birds. I got a very late start, but the ride was very fast.

Boy that's boring. Who wants to read about that. The thing that occupied my mind the most this morning was snot, but that’s sad if that's the only thing I can think of to report on.

I was thinking about sunrise. The days are getting longer. Of course they are and have been since 22 Dec; and they will until 21 Jun or so. I'm just wondering how early it will get and how late is "night."

Personally, and this is just my little quirk, I consider 23:00, 24:00, 01:00 and 02:00 to be night. Flat out those hours are NIGHT hours. If you wake up at one or two in the morning you are waking up at night. If you go to bed at midnight you are going to bed in the middle of the night.

On the other hand, 03:00 is technically night because in Chicagoland the dawn is never that early. And I think the dusk is never as late as 22:00. But, I don't think I'd say those are night hours, I think they would be VERY early morning or VERY late evening. 21:00 is evening and 04:00 is morning, no doubt.

Now, my point is, I leave the house between 04:00 and 04:30, which is morning, right? It is almost always dark as night and as cold as the day will be, but it's morning, right? I get up at 03:00 which is what, night or morning?

It was cloudy this morning, but I could still see the dawn rising. I wish I could get a picture of that, but alas, my camera phone is not the best (Motorola Droid 2) and I don't think I could really capture it anyway.

Something occupied my mind the whole way home. As I was leaving work I saw someone I know just outside the building. She praised me for biking, but said she could never let her children see me because I don't wear a helmet.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I don't wear a helmet.

It really bothers me that there is often a witch-hunt about that. I get people asking me out of the blue and I don't know what to tell them because they clearly BELIEVE one thing and anything I could say probably would not convince them of anything.

Why don't I wear a helmet? The bottom line is three fold. I don't like them; there is no law requiring me to wear one; and I think there is too much fear mongering or attempts to seem effective with a quick fix.

That last part is inflammatory and I really don't want to get into an argument. There are lots of sites with lots of things on them, some studies and lots of opinion.

Let me share a story that illustrates what I mean. When I took my youngest to the pediatrician the doctor asked her if she always wore a helmet when she rode a bike. She told her that she had to never ride a bike without a helmet because 80% of children who die do so because they weren't wearing helmets.

That clearly wasn't true. I found the study that she was trying to quote. It's an often quoted study and it has been found to be extremely faulty and misquoted.

I don't like when people try to shove that kind of thing down your throat with misinformation, ignorance and fear.

I'm not advocating not wearing a helmet. I'm advocating safe biking, the whole package and not -slap a helmet on and you are safe. I'm advocating understanding the studies and the arguments and making up your own mind.

I'm not saying you should not make your children wear helmets. I'm saying that you should know and understand the studies as best you can and make an informed decision.

I will request this you:

Do not teach your children fear and do not teach them that biking is dangerous. Teach them to be careful, cautious and active.

While thinking about it I thought about all the other things I do to be safe. I have three front white lights, two red back lights. I wear white and/or reflective clothing. I assume no on sees me unless I make eye contact with them. I signal my turns. I ride with traffic.

I stop at stop lights, and I stop at stop signs. I had gotten a bit lax with that, but I certainly did so today, and I will from now on.

I choose to not wear a helmet, but I'm going to do so when I'm doing everything else to be safe. I have seen that with normal riding it would statistically take you 3,000 years to get a head injury. Per mile the chance to have an head injury on a bike is the same as walking.

One other point I want to make is, please do not force me to be an advocate for helmet pro-choice. I really don't want that argument.

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