Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thighs of Steel

I can go on a bit - a long bit - about the absolute necessity of wearing a helmet when biking on city streets (or anywhere for that matter). The people who refuse can also go on a bit with their lame ass excuses for why they can't bear to wear one. These excuses run the gambit from allergies to uncomfortable, and are all B.S. Vanity is the main culprit, as is evidence by the number of hipsters on Cap Hill that seem to come up with head wounds, the "tough guys" on their dirt bikes charging full steam to cut off trucks in SODO, and the princesses in their floral skirts wanting to carry an air of romance into the exhaust filled avenues.

Alex bought me a new bike helmet for my birthday. As we were outside Velo Bike Shop adjusting the fit, a hiptser type was walking his bike past. He had gauze tightly wrapped around head and blood trickling down his face. No helmet to be seen, and judging from the source of the bleeding, none was worn. Given that it's bike to work month, this has become a pretty common sight.

Most people blame cars. It's easy because the cars/trucks/semis don't like to share the road with pedestrians of any kind. I have been nearly run down so often, I've considered wearing a helmet when I walk. Drivers like to cut off bikes, roll down windows and cuss at/threaten bikers . . . I've gotten "the bird", an annoyed honk or few, a handful of exasperated looks, and nearly had my toes shorn off by a person who couldn't be bothered with Seattle's cellphone laws. For all these reasons, I wear a helmet. While it would suck to lose my toes or have a limb crunched by a car, I imagine a life-changing or life-ending head injury would probably suck more. No offense intended to people sensitive about the mention of injuries of any kind.

Alex wears a helmet. Alex has been in two "altercations" with cars in a year. His latest run in was 2 weeks ago. While the helmet's stoutness was never tested, the fact he was wearing one put my mind at ease. I know that a helmet can't prevent all injury, but when you're married to Alex every little bit helps.

So a car takes a right turn into the bike lane - GASP - without looking. Alex is going downhill and has to slam on the brakes of his brand new bike. Good news! The brakes work. Alex fishtales probably saving his bike from being totaled, and broadsides the car with his leg. That's right, the Martin thigh took the brunt of the impact.

my husband (on a bike) can beat up your car.
my husband (on a bike) can beat up your car

If you think this looks bad, you should see the other guy . . . er, car. Alex's thigh managed to break the side mirror, so that it dangled useless at the vehicle's side.