In yesterday’s Examiner:
One of my favorite cycling sites, velonews.com, published a picture on the last day of 2008 that drew a “Shame on you…” letter from at least one reader. Velonews’ sin? Depicting a rider sans helmet.
The controversial photo was attached to an article proposing that everyone try to replace at least one car trip of a mile or less with a walk or bike ride on a weekly basis. The rider in the photo appears to be an elderly gentleman on a city bike, complete with rear rack dangling storage bags. Velonews’ letter editor, apparently agreeing that the photo was inappropriate, promised to dissuade the employee who selected the helmetless photo from doing so again by threatening to “…whack him over his (helmet-clad) head…” if the error were repeated.
On further reflection, I realize that I don’t think it’s such a sin to depict individuals riding without helmets, especially when they appear to be on short shopping trips on city bikes. The one-mile solution proposed in the Velonews article will attract far fewer practitioners if we insist they don a helmet every time they take a short trip on a bike. Although the habit is catching on rapidly, many European bicycle commuters still do not wear helmets. On my recent trip to Dubai, I saw zero commuting bicyclists with helmets on.
I have to agree with the author; a photo depicting an elderly gentleman on a city bike, riding to the grocery store without a helmet, is not likely to corrupt the cycling youth of America.