head case

I feel like there's a critical mass of chicks-on-bikes pretty photos swirling around my head lately, and that's both great (because: BIKING! yay!) and worrisome (why is no one wearing their helmet?). Yeah, I've harped on this before, but after seeing umpteen earbud-wearing, fixed-gear-riding, helmetless riders on my street today, I had to go back and rant further.

Look at the "bicycles" section on The Sartorialist, for example. (Yes, that interview he gave to The Globe and Mail made me shudder, but I still think the blog is a great place for pictorial inspiration.) Only one of the photos shows a helmet. Or Garance Doré's "Me and My Bike": helmet-less, all. Sure, some of these photos are simply posed sitting atop a bike, but several of them are purportedly moving shots. And I do love Painfully Hip- especially Amber's exhortation to ride wearing whatever the hell you want (skirt, wedges, a dress that is technically too short but I don't care)- but c'mon, whatever the hell you want should include a helmet.

Let's Go Ride A Bike recently put up a series of scans from Bust, and one of the added captions struck me: "obligatory helmet shot".
None of any of the other photos in this article ("Sweet Ride") involved a helmet. I'm going to cut some slack on the off-the-bikes shots- it is a fashion editorial, after all- but as much as I will ignore the wrongness of both riding on the sidewalk and riding four abreast on the street in this spread, I can't get behind the idea that while bikes are cool, helmets are somehow optional. One photo involving a helmet is not a bonus point for safety.

My friend Ruth is now biking to work most days- a good five-ish miles each way- and she rocks a cherry-red Triple Eight helmet that I think looks way cooler than my old Bell helmet. Is she going to fret about her helmet not matching her pants? No. Am I going to eschew my helmet when I ride because the model-types on The Sartorialist never wear helmets, and nothing bad ever happens to pretty girls, riiiiight? Hell no.

I'm lucky to have never (yet) been doored or otherwise injured while biking, but that's due to luck and not any particular skill on my part. And though I might have the vain little voice in my head sometimes that says "what if you have a weird lump in your hair when you take your helmet off?", I'd rather show off an odd bump from my helmet than show off the inside of my skull to the pavement.

So, Scott: when are you going to start taking photos of cyclists who can accessorize their heads with something other than a kicky headband?


The Domina said...

I am so with you! I see so many people in my town not wearing helmets and while we don't have tons of traffic, the traffic we do have is decidedly not bike friendly.

Also, I adore the colors of the Triple 8 helmets, but only 4 of them are CPSC certified, the others have soft foam that is not as protective in a crash.

Dottie said...

Great post! I'm always surprised when I see the majority of Chicago cyclists not wearing helmets. If one lives in Amsterdam or a small, quiet town, that's fine, but going without a helmet in the mean streets of Chicago is a risky business. I usually take mine off for pictures, though, since they really don't do cute things for my face (unlike that model in the picture above). I like having a pink Nutcase because it's not sporty and a sporty helmet would not match my bike at all.