I would have yelled back, “Get an education!”, but I was too busy focussing on
A lot of folks, it appears, still have this misconception that helmets are the cure-all for head injuries. In fact, the research shows that helmets are not the be all and end all to road safety for non-motorists. Worn incorrectly, or worn correctly but subject to some types of falls, helmets can create more problems than they solve. They can also lend a false sense of security, causing both drivers and cyclists to travel less safely.
I have to admit that I, too, was biased, but until I became determined to do my bit for my personal health and for the environment by riding to work a few times a week, I hadn’t really considered bike safety in all that much detail. Now, I ride in ways that are counter to what many people consider the norm. I don’t wear a helmet, and in fact, I even listen to music through my headphones while riding. While I am not advocating for musical distraction while cycling, I do find that – for me – wearing headphones make for a safer and more enjoyable ride. I find the many sounds of busy, urban streets extremely distracting (I have trouble with saliency determination in auditory situations). Listening to music through good quality headphones helps me to block out extraneous noise, and focus on important information – left-turning cars, doors about to open, lights changing, etc. – visually, rather than being distracted by auditory stimulus around me.
No riding method is fool proof, and as I increase the amount of cycling I do, inevitably I will have an accident at some point. But there are different ways to address bike safety for different riders in different situations. I had a few informal lessons from my girlfriend, who – as a former Can-Bike instructor with the city and an avid cyclist herself – is well informed on matters pertaining to bikes and riding. I also think and try to be aware as I ride.
Cycling can and should be an enjoyable, rewarding experience. What I should have yelled back at my vehicle-clad helmet aggressor that day is “GET A BIKE!”