Dressed in dapper wool through the streets of San Francisco

Of caps and helmets

Posted By on July 17, 2012

Rubin, photo by Morleyroarly

Rubin, photo by Morleyroarly

I thought I’d take a moment to talk about bike safety and helmet use. This topic has come up a few times and I thought it was time to address it for a number of reasons. Reason #1 being that Rubin Starset one of the main organizers, and my good friend, was sadly recently hurt in a bicycle accident — one in which his helmet definitely saved his noggin from potentially serious head injury.

As evidenced by the jolly Tweed Ride photos, many tweed riders choose to cycle sporting fancy hats rather than helmets during our rides. The tweed rides are safer than normal urban riding seeing that we cruise at tweed speed and are protected from traffic by riding in a group. However, this is of course is not a guarantee of safety.

Personally, I am a stickler for wearing a helmet and advocating helmet use whenever I ride — except during the Tweed Ride*. This may be bit hypocritical but I feel that encouraging cycling is better than discouraging cycling by laws or rules enforcing mandatory helmet use. Bike safety is more than about helmet use. Some studies have shown that fatalities decrease the more cyclists there are on the road so encouraging more cycling is important. Also, oddly “countries with the most helmeted cyclists also have the highest rate of cycling head injuries.” (sources: Bicycle Safe, Cycle Helmet). All this said, wearing a helmet is certainly better than not wearing a helmet, and I am a strong advocate for bicycle helmets — I am also a strong advocate for haberdashery and I often bring a fancy hat along that I don immediately at my destination.

Whether you yourself choose to wear a helmet during the tweed ride is up to you — protecting your smarts certainly the smarter thing to do. I nor anyone else will look upon you as uncouth for wearing a helmet rather than wearing a snappy cap during the tweed ride, nor will anyone chastise you for being unsafe for not wearing a helmet. If you want to be both fashionable and safe Yakkay makes great dapper helmet covers, or better yet make your own style’n helmet cover!

* This is all of course only the opinion of myself, Colin. The other main organizer Rubin most likely has his own opinion on the matter of helmet use.

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Comments: 4 Responses to “Of caps and helmets”

  1. Madeline F says:

    The Daily Mail just (15 July 2012) published a set of images, street photography done in the early 1900’s in London and Paris. There’s a photo of a lady bicyclist! I’ve plugged the link into the “Website” comment field, so clicking my name should take you there.

    I mention it particularly because the hats that the ladies are wearing are entirely large enough to disguise helmets.

    Sympathy to Rubin Starset, and I hope his recovery continues smoothly!

  2. Steve C says:

    Thank you for this article. I will definitely be wearing my helmet during this coming Summer ride. Here’s to a speedy recovery for Mr. Starset!

  3. Mike A. says:

    Denmark and Holland – slow / utility cycling culture, higher participation, lower accident / injury rate rate – helmets not compulsory / little worn. US / Australia – sports / racing cycling culture, lower participation, higher accident / injury rate – helmets compulsory / often worn.

    No helmet compulsion / high participation / lower accident rate. Helmet compulsion / low participation / higher accident rate. See the trend? Look at the evidence worldwide.