Thursday, August 2, 2012

§ 3. How to Spot a Defective Community.

Here are a few more examples of what I term defective riding communities. They are communities that are not serious about safety or basic protocols, which are intended to protect against these kinds of accidents.

Note that I am not saying that a healthy community will be free of accidents. My claim is that any group that is so lackadaisical about the education of new riders--or so cavalier about its stunt formation on the road--is just not doing enough to prevent the wreckage of bike and body.

There are many bikers with whom you should not want to ride. These are merely a few.

Outside of seeing things go bad in person or on video for defective communities, you can also listen for certain tropes of interpretation when out talking to riders or perusing forums. Here are a few claims that are clear indications that you should not be listening to the speaker.

*Helmets cause neck injuries, so one should not wear helmets.

To make such as argument, you have to be more committed to riding skull-free than you are to thinking critically. You also have to have a general aversion to peer reviewed research.

*Helmets restrict your peripheral vision and this limitation makes it unsafe to ride.

I suppose it is easy to believe this if the last helmet you wore was made in 1975. Or if you have a non-standard interpretation of the point at which the vision range counts as peripheral. The interesting things about this claim is that the alternative is riding around with sunglasses or goggles, most of which are more definitive limitations on peripheral vision than any helmet could ever hope to be. This is the kind of ridiculousness that Buell motorcycles evoked in its last ad campaign.

It is also worth noting that even the helmets that boast extra vision space, like the Shark Vision R, do not make the claim that this extra space makes riding any safer. I suppose one would never catch a helmet manufacturer throwing around the S word with such frivolity. But I believe that the point stands: The problem of peripheral vision in helmets is a myth used to sway those who are bad at thinking into rejecting safety gear.

*It's too hot to wear all that gear.

This has been said to me a couple times. I always respond that, if it is too hot to wear my gear, then it is too hot to ride. And it is never too hot to ride, so... But seriously, somehow implicit in this idea is that the possibility of a little extra sweat beneath the gear overrides the general concern for protection against injury out on the road. This, of course, is nonsense. It is a claim made by a rider who prioritizes a certain type of vanity over good ridecraft.

*You don't need all that gear, anyway. All you need is a helmet. Now, let's go stunting!

I cannot describe how false this is in words. So, have a look at the following video. Then give a call to your local dermatology practice and ask about the cost of skin grafts.

I want to stress that I am not averse to stunting. It is a perfectly awesome way to ride bikes. However, those who would like to stunt need to take the same kinds of precautions that wannabe racers take, since both groups are taking on substantial levels of risk, namely in the form of speed, for the sake of their passion.

Like this guy, for instance.

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