In Honor of Free Flowing Hair

I love the feel of wind in my hair. Wearing a helmet robs me of that joy.

There. I said it.

I’ll spare some time and energy by saying for either side: 1) You won’t feel so good with your brain splattered on the pavement; or 2) Stop wearing the silly foam hats, then.

Now that the generic stuff is out of the way, let’s talk for real.

Trisha's hair enjoying the wind

Springy weather (40 degrees!) has me yearning for the feel of free flowing hair. This yearning is nothing new. My desire is less prominent in the winter, when the helmet warms my chilly head, and most prominent on the hottest summer days, when my hair is matted and soaked by sweat.  Regardless of the weather, I would always prefer the feel of the wind in my hair.  Carefree, childish, happy, free: bicycling gives me all those wonderful feelings and a helmet clamped on my head counters those feelings to some extent.

This must be an issue that lots of cyclists – men and women – deal with, but there is so much emphasis on practicality, statistics and sides.  I’m simply saying, “I want to feel the wind in my hair!”  An innocent wishful statement, nothing more or less.  Heck, I’m currently growing my hair long so some of it can flow about while my helmet’s on.

Dottie's hair trying to grow

As two girls who ride all the time and almost always wear helmets, can we just have a moment of silence for free flowing hair?

…Okay, now you can speak up  :)

  • http://bikeworkplay.tumblr.com/ BikeWorkPlay

    Oh I know right! I totally feel you.. I’m riding in the hottest days of the year atm. :)

    But still, the helmet is always on…

  • http://onespeedgo.blogspot.com John Romeo Alpha

    Dottie, if the wind in your hair makes you smile, let it flow! At least once in a while. If not in traffic, then perhaps in a grassy field, with daisies, on the way to a spring picnic.

  • http://lovelybike.blogspot.com Lovely Bicycle!

    I also love the wind in my hair – when it’s warm out at least. In colder weather I am partial to hats, or else I get a headache from the wind and the chill. My hair, when it’s straight, reaches about halfway down my back and no matter what I do I just can’t seem to grow it any longer. Wish I could have waist-length hair!

  • http://www.carolineno.com Caroline, No.

    Hear hear.

    I absolutely hate having to wear a helmet. But I cycle in central London so it is an absolute necessity. Every so often I forget to wear it (like, once every three months!) and I feel so happy. And a little thrill as I go over Highbury corner. (Extremely busy roundabout.) My hair is happy.

    But I always go back to wearing it. It’s just not worth it. BOO.

  • philippe

    Oh ! Helmet post !
    Since I guess everyone here know all too well the arguments for both sides of the debate… I’ll just state that there’s no way I will wear a helmet when riding my bike in the city.
    Helmets are made for dangerous sports, like motorcycling, or downhill mountain biking. Sometimes for skiing too, when I feel like riding hard.
    But I won’t go through life in fear.
    And, I love the wind in my hair, indeed.

  • Deb

    I hate helmets too, but as someone with long hair, that hair is not going to be free flowing, helmet or not. Even with the helmet, the hair is restrained in additional ways (I’ve used a hairglove in the past but mostly rely on 2 elastics now) because otherwise I’m going to have one giant knot instead of hair by the time I get where I’m going.

    Maybe you hair doesn’t get snarled as easily as mine does, but the few times I’ve ridden with only one elastic instead of two, it’s been a disaster. I can’t imagine riding with no elastic at all. (My hair is down to around the middle of my back or lower, for reference.)

    However, it is nice to ride with the wind over my hair, if not through it! I wish I was more comfortable riding without a helmet. In this country, though, the endless lectures by people who don’t even know the issue is more annoying than actually wearing the helmet. Plus, I’m not sure where I’d put the mirror if not on the helmet.

  • http://www.bike-bliss.com/ Cherilyn

    Amen, sistahs! Helmets in traffic a non-negotiable, but every once in a while I pick a trail where I can go without, just for the joy of it. I say pick the right day and a low-traffic situation, and let your hair fly!

  • http://velofolk.wordpress.com the village scribe

    I wear my helmet almost all the time, but I, too, feel that desperate urge to just get on and go. After all, isn’t half the attraction to bikes the no-hassle, no-nonsense, and simplicity of it all?

    I think it’s curious to read so many saying that helmets are a must in traffic. Helmets don’t offer much protection against a car, if that’s what’s implied. They don’t prevent accidents or collisions; they simply provide some security against injury in the event of one, and a noggin-damaging accident or collision can happen just as easily on an empty country road as a city street.

    I’m all for taking a helmet-free ride now and again. But I don’t think it’s a decision that one should make on the basis of where she or he will be riding.

  • http://letsgorideabike.com Dottie

    @John Romeo Alpha and @Cherilyn@John Romeo Alpha and @Cherilyn – LOL. That’s similar to what I do – when riding Oma slowly on a nice day on the bike path, I will take off my helmet :)

  • http://letsgorideabike.com Dottie

    @Deb – Aw, too bad. My hair is easily snarled, so I likely would have the same problem.

    I put my mirror on the handlebars :)

  • http://letsgorideabike.com Trisha

    My hair gets a little tangled on helmetless rides, but I don’t mind. Deb is right though that when you’re wearing a Bern/Nutcase type helmet your hair doesn’t really flow in the wind even if it’s long (though the ends flutter a bit!)

  • http://www.portlandize.com Dave

    In winter I definitely wear a hat, and I like to wear one on my way to work the rest of the year as well (if I don’t, my hair looks like I went through a wind tunnel when I get there, and it can be a bit hard to straighten out, or flatten down).

    But on the way home, and on trips to the store or wherever, especially on beautiful spring days like we’ve been having lately, there can be no thought of putting things on my head :)

    Leaving out any debate of morality or necessity regarding helmets, I just have never personally felt really endangered on the streets of Portland, and therefore I’ve never really felt the necessity to protect myself. Of course I’ve had the occasional honk and zoom past me or whatever, but never anything where I really felt in danger.

    I also sympathize with philippe – I don’t feel that I’m taking much of a risk by riding sans helmet, and I’m of the persuasion to not worry about small risks. There are way too many of them to bother with worrying about them – really anything could happen anytime, but we have to still live life and enjoy it.

    I can tell you, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to, on most of my ride to any part of the city, pedal calmly, enjoy the scenery, and feel the wind in my hair.

  • Katie

    I am a student and ride everyday in downtown Atlanta, which is supposed to be one of the more non-bike friendly places. That fact alone will force me to go out with my helmet everyday. With the serious lack of bike lanes on my route, I definitely don’t want to take any chances, especially since most Atlantan drivers don’t seem to know how to behave around a bike. My roommate tells this horror story of her cycling helmet-wearing ex-boyfriend who actually lost about 6 months of his memory after being hit by a car.

    Still, I hate my helmet. It gives me hat hair (I have short hair, so I’d much rather take windswept hair any day!), and it’s just one more thing that I have to lug around all day in addition to my textbooks and such. Not to mention, there’s just a little bit of a dork factor too.. Plus, @the village scribe does bring up a couple of interesting points. Because anyways, if we and all cars follow the traffic rules, the possibilities of accidents would be much lower to begin with.

  • http://idreamofbicycling.blogspot.com/ Step-Through

    I love to feel the wind in my hair! Unfortunately when I catch a glimpse of myself in a window, I realize that my bangs are blowing back and it totally looks like I have a mullet…

    I try to stay out of the helmet debate. Everyone should do what they believe is best. Being a scientist, I did a scientific literature review to make my own decision. The results were inconclusive, neither for nor against. So I decided to go without, partly because Atlanta motorists seem more friendly when I look like a “normal” person, and partly to remind other people that cycling is not a particularly dangerous activity.

    There, I said it.

  • http://bicyclingsd.blogspot.com Beany

    I’ve read studies and stats and what not about helmet safety and I’m firmly in the middle about it. I think it quite alright to never wear a helmet, and I think it is quite alright to walk around looking like the aliens from Mars Attacks. I wear it only because I ride like a complete idiot (I began wearing a helmet after I crashed face first into a pedestrian bridge and scratched up my face).

    I almost never let my hair down, so I can’t claim to have any experience with the wind blowing through my hair, but I under appreciate one’s desire to experience it. :)

  • Tali

    And when the helmet deprives you of the wind in your hair, never forget that it has nothing to do with the safety of bicycling and everything to do with the dangers posed by motor vehicles.

    As for me, I refuse to ware a road safety fig leaf. I’ve lived in Australia, where the government took the right to make an adult decision on this matter away from the people. If a few people don’t assert a freedom, the government are likely to take it away without anyone noticing.

  • http://mplsrad.wordpress.com Tad Salyards

    Dottie, I will convert you to the light side of the Force (not wearing a helmet) one of these days! So mark my words :) Let your hair flow free.

    There’s a major logic flaw that many of the commentators are buying into. Helmets are ineffective in a vehicular collision. Bike helmets are designed for crashes at low speeds. Many of your readers appear to be under the false impression that wearing a helmet makes riding in traffic safer. It does not.

    I refuse to buy into irrational fear mongering so that Bell can sell me another piece of gear. Bike helmets make perfect sense for people competing in mountain biking, racing, etc. They are utterly unnecessary for normal riding.

    Virtually every biker killed in the Twin Cities in 2009 was wearing a helmet. A tin foil hat is as effective at saving your skin as a bike helmet when you are hit by a car.

    Got fear?

  • Richard

    This is an interesting debate. I would argue that riding in urban traffic DOES increase the likelihood of an accident, if only because there are so many variables besides the individual biker. I ride at fairly slow speeds in the city, and have still been involved in a number of accidents not as a result of vehicular collisions, but as a result of having to swerve for pedestrians who aren’t looking where they’re going and so forth. There have been several instances when I’ve been happy to have my helmet on.

    My take is that if I were to be involved in a serious accident without a helmet, I’d always regret (or my family would always regret) that I hadn’t been wearing one. I hate wearing it with a passion, but as a father I think it’s just irresponsible not to do so. @Tad: Got fear? Please.

  • http://yahoo Milo

    I’m writing this from Australia where they have a helmet law. Beautiful, flowing hair, indeed.

    The most impressive and alarming thing about Australians is their passivity and indifference. Friendly, yes, but sheepish and conformist. Rugged Aussie individualists fighting off crocodiles is a joke. It was always a myth.

    Milo.

  • Jack

    I agree, I ride all the time and going a day without a helmet you really notice a difference. The helmet takes all the excitement out of it; no wind, and no edgy adrenaline excitement. Even with short hair now, I love it and I know in higher temps it won’t get in the way. 

  • Jack

    I agree, I ride all the time and going a day without a helmet you really notice a difference. The helmet takes all the excitement out of it; no wind, and no edgy adrenaline excitement. Even with short hair now, I love it and I know in higher temps it won’t get in the way. 

  • http://ubuntulinuxtipstricks.blogspot.com maco

    Hehehe at the bangs thing. I was just thinking I’d hate to try to detangle my hair after letting it blow in the wind. Just wearing a wool coat is enough to turn some of my hair to felt, I wouldn’t want to add the wind in too!