Sunday, August 17, 2008

Of Helmets and the Ill-Informed

Well, I think I'm being generous when I say Ill-informed. Many people that don't wear helmets where they are required are just ignorant or just don't care. I came across this news item in the Gloucester Times:

Police have made good on their promise to more strictly enforce laws governing motorized scooters.

On Thursday evening, officers pulled over a man who was wearing a hockey helmet instead of the required motorcycle helmet while riding a scooter on Washington Street. And when they found he had a suspended driver's license, they arrested him.

Antonino Lafata Jr., 25, of 68 Centennial Ave., Gloucester, was arrested at 5:16 p.m. by Patrolman Kevin Mackey.

Earlier this week, police announced that they would be cracking down on people driving the motorized scooters illegally. To drive one, a person must have a valid license or a learner's permit. They must also wear the same type of helmets required by motorcycle riders.

A hockey mask? Maybe street hockey is a problem with high flying errant pucks in the street. Maybe he just thought he'd sneak by any cops.

A couple of years ago, I saw something that got my blood boiling. A guy and girl were riding two-up on a 50cc Honda Metropolitan (or some clone). The Girl was sitting in front of the man. between the man's legs. He was driving. She was drinking a fountain soda with a straw. They were both wearing bicycle helmets, shorts, t-shirts and sandals. OMG! Can you image what could happen if a squirrel darted in front of them, or a car pulled into their lane? I can imagine him grabbing the brakes, she trying to grab the handlebars to steady herself (one-handed no less!) and maybe even that straw poking her in an unprotected eye.

Maybe I'm becoming an old lady, because my first thought was, "Where are the cops?". I was at an opposing signal light & couldn't get near them to give them some advice (other than, "Are you two idiots?")so they rode off in their bliss as new scooter riders...

I recently had dinner with a friend of a relative. She has a fancy Vespa that she bought a few years ago and was asking me where she could find the matching helmet for the bike. I asked her if it was the 3/4 helmet that Vespa sold. That was exactly what she was looking for. I told her that other than the dealer I had no idea since her bike was as limited edition color. But I also added that I would never wear one of those helmets as I only wear full-face. I mentioned that my accident would have been much worse i I had not been wearing a full-face.
"You've been in an accident?" she looked worried.
I told her about my accident and how falling at 25mph can really screw up your day (and month!). Later in our general conversation when she asked about the magazine in general I mentioned that we had some tough times after Josh's accident. "Accident?" she said, "I dunno if I want to ride my scooter anymore..." she laughed uneasily.

The point is that hearing of two accidents made her reconsider riding. My question is, "You've never heard of people getting into scooter accidents?"To try and calm her, I said that in 13 years of riding I had only had one accident (I didn't mention the few that Josh had been in) and in that same time had 3 minor car accidents. She didn't seem comforted.

Even in states with no motorcycle law, I wear a full face helmet. It is my preference. Not that I don't wish I could take it off when it is 100-degrees. But I am now using a Nolan flip-up helmet that I can open at stop lights to get some relief.

Have you seen any crazy helmet substitutes out there? I almost forgot that I have seen horse-riding heats/helmets and jet fighter pilot helmets. Anyone else wearing a football helmet (like Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider), maybe a wrestling helmet?

1 comment:

Tim said...

Don't fret dear April. That is just Darwin in action. It's a good thing!

(don't get all freaky people - it's a joke)