Mixed Messages

One of the most heated debates in the cycling community is over whether to wear a helmet. It’s so intense that even the mile-long bike lane I ride in every day changes its mind every few yards or so.

In one direction, in a Goofus-and-Gallant like opposition*, stand two figures. The first logo shows a bicycle rider who’s helmetless and free, separated from traffic, legs posed at a jaunty angle (might want to do something about that front wheel, though).

Helmetless and free

Helmetless and free

But just a few feet ahead, I encounter a more cautious rider, one who knows a door could be opened in front of her any second, or perhaps is simply attempting to set a good example for the students at the university she’s stationed in front of.

Look at the wheels on that baby!

Look at the wheels on that baby!

(Interesting how the helmeted rider is poised to enter traffic, while the one without the helmet is heading toward the sidewalk.)

Still, both of these images are fairly neutral, and the fact that they are both on the same side of the street gives a sense that the city is not taking sides, just presenting the options and letting the responsible cyclist decide which suits her circumstances best (just like our blog!).

Not so on my way home, where I can only assume that the appearance of this logo after a parade of helmetless rider logos is meant to send a clear message:

Oops! The determined cyclist pedals on despite all obstacles, it seems.

Oops! The determined cyclist pedals on despite all obstacles, it seems.

The work of helmet activists or just plain anti-cyclist forces? You be the judge.

*yes, I read Highlights in the 80s…

  • http://cyclingisgoodforyou.blogspot.com anna

    Ha, this is great!!! I really don’t like that the helmet debate is such a big thing everywhere. It kind of covers the really important topics we should think about, and I don’t even want to touch the subject. But such observations are always interesting ;-). In Austria the bike lane logos only contain a bicycle (without rider). Kind of boring compared to yours :-).

  • matt

    What debate? Oh, you must be referring to the Bern “bmx/skateboard” style helmet vs the more traditional “aero” style debate! Which brings me to ask, How do you like the Bern? I know it has vents but not nearly as many as the “aero” style. i would think it would get hot in the summer.

  • http://www.grinderswheels.blogspot.com Jon Grinder

    That’s funny…I read Highlights in the 60s. Pretty much the same content, though!

  • http://melissahopesblog.blogspot.com/ MelissaHopeS

    haha! I’d be the headless one. ;-D

  • http://melissahopesblog.blogspot.com/ MelissaHopeS

    haha! I’d be the headless one. :-D

  • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com Trisha

    anna, I agree, that’s why we don’t really talk about it much here. You should post some pics of your bike lane logos; I’d be interested to see the difference.

    Matt – there are endless debates to have over helmets, aren’t there? It seems strange to me to wear a sporty helmet since my bike is not sporty, but there are some in that mode that I do like. As for the Bern, this will be my first summer in it and I’ll keep you all posted. (also, where was your bike today? ;) )

    Jon – maybe some things never change, though I have heard that Goofus and Gallant have gotten a makeover in recent years…

    Melissa — I hope not!!

  • matt

    my bike is at home. i read we were going to have storms with hail and i did not want to get caught in that. right now it looks pretty bad outside, i think i made the right decision. i did buy fenders so i can ride in the rain but they can not protect you from hail. :(

    • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com Trisha

      You were pretty wise, Matt! I rode home around 6 after the first storm had passed but still ended up getting pretty wet. There were some crazy big puddles!

  • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com dottie

    This is hilarious! I was cracking up at work :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06088639153697449691 Doohickie

    I wear a helmet (aero style). This is why.

  • http://www.fullhandsx3.blogspot.com sara

    Hilarious. Really funny (& observant).

    Now as a mom of identical twin boys– those Goofus & Gallant guys get me a bit crazy. Waiting to see which one of my twins is the ‘evil’ one and which is the ‘perfect’ one. Oh, but they both wear helmets when commuting to school on the bakfiets!

    • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com Trisha

      Sara, I didn’t realize they were twins! I’m sure they’re both angels. :)

  • http://cyclingchicken.wordpress.com/ dadabean

    I read Highlights in the 70′s- makes me feel old. Tal’s Highlights haven’t had Goofus and Gallant since he’s been getting them, I think a couple years.

    • cyclingchicken

      He gets High Five which is for little ones, so no Goofus and Gallant. Although, I think Goofus and Gallant would be good in the High Five magazine.

      The bike lanes coming from Tallahasse must have been motorcyle lanes at one time, because the you can see the little motorcyle dude underneath the bicycle dude.

  • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com dottie

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for what Chicago’s lanes have for markings. The helmeted guy looks familiar, but I *think* most of ours might just be bikes. Funny that I don’t know even though I see them every day.

  • http://www.palmbeachbiketours.com ksteinhoff

    Like Doohickie, I found out first-hand why helmets are important on even traffic-free bike paths on a clear day with nobody around. My riding partner, Mary, and I always said that we were more afraid of heat stroke than head injury when riding the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.

    Real about her life-altering ride.

    She did an endo for no reason that we could ever figure out and fractured her skull in five places. More than two years later she can’t work nor ride a bike.

    Of course, you could always go for these de-dorked helmets.

    • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com Trisha

      So sorry about your friend, K.
      Re: the helmet link, I’ve seen some covers like that but not those specifically. D & I will have to see if we can find them when we’re in Europe in a couple of weeks. Would be good for winter.

  • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com dottie

    Greg LOL’d :D

    • http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com Trisha

      my life is complete. ;)