Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Heading your way?

When I was growing up (a long, long time ago) a large part of the fun of riding a bicycle was the feeling of going really fast, the wind blowing my long hair back away from my face.

As kids we worked tirelessly to enhance any aspect of the ride that might reinforce that idea of speed.  Streamers were placed on handlebar grips to objectively demonstrate how FAST we were going, especially helpful for those without long hair to provide built in motion lines.

Playing cards were carefully folded with the top third clothes-pinned to the chain stays.  We'd position the rest of the card body where it would lightly hit the passing wheel spokes to provide a percussive quality to our riding.  The faster we rode, the louder and faster the rat-a-tatting.

We imagined it sounded like we were riding motorcycles.  We rode fast.  We looked and sounded tough.  OK, OK.  We rode fast.  We sounded tough.  We probably looked like ordinary kids on bikes.

We rode our suburban streets for the most part, rarely sharing the road with cars and never with trucks of any size.  A major safety issue for us was trying not to tear off the tops of our toes when we rode barefooted, which we did a ridiculous amount of the time.

Summer in Texas naturally meant going shoeless.  We were all proud of how tough our feet would get.  Any and all other scrapes, cuts or bruises were simply the price of doing business as a kid in summertime.

The choice of whether to wear a helmet while riding our bikes, to reduce the likelihood of head injuries from collisions, didn't even exist as an option.  Yet.

Fast forward mumbledy-some years and there I am, a grown type person, trying to make a convincing case to my own kids that they should do as I said, (not as I did) and routinely strap on a helmet while riding their bikes.  My children were already familiar with photos of me riding bikes in my heydey.  The evidence was clear. Helmets had zero entries in my own diary of cycling.

I made the case for how times, traffic patterns and safety standards had all changed.  I duly reserved the "because I said so" argument as instructed to on page 43, Section D (Safety), Subsection 14 (Bicycles) in the Chapter titled "Now They Are Out - Let's Keep Them Alive" in my copy of the 27th edition Mother-Does-It-All-Handbook.

My children quickly enlisted all the other usual arguments against helmet wearing.  Helmets are too hot, helmets fit way too tightly, helmets don't fit tightly enough, they are heavy, they are stupid, they are UGLY.

I couldn't argue with most of their objections.  Helmets can be hot, especially in summertime.  Helmets do need to be fitted well, and for big headed families like ours (I am talking physical dimensions here, not inflated self regard, though, sure, we might deserve both hits) that can be tricky.  Helmets can be heavy until you get used to them but ideally, you ought to be able to strap one on and forget it is there.

We went round and round and if I remember correctly, at least some of the time my kids wore helmets when they rode their bikes.  Since then, studies supposedly proving helmet use reduces injury severity have been roundly criticized for various reasons and the jury also remains out as to whether they provide any protection at all against neck or facial injuries.  So even the basic idea of helmet use being smart or stupid either one remains a bit up for grabs.

But ugly?  The "ugly" objection is now officially and forever off the table.

In fact, some bike helmets are works of art.  Take these from Bellehelmet.  Hand painted by artist/illustrator Danielle Baskin in Brooklyn, these amazing helmets beautifully fulfill her stated goal, "Safety doesn't have to compromise style!".  According to her website, Baskin will paint custom requests, and even provides a discount for customers who send in their own helmets to be painted.

Artist Danielle Baskin finishes the helmets with a gloss finish so you always have a bright sun shining as part of your "sky" helmet designs.
Phenomenal, aren't they?  Baskin complies with safety guidelines and writes that though you will want to observe conventional wisdom and retire your helmet after 5-10 years of use (or immediately after any significant impact) you might want to keep your customized helmet on display "forever as an interesting object".  Granted, the (entirely justifiable) price tag of several hundred dollars for a hand painted helmet does reclassify it from utilitarian to...something much more.

Interesting object indeed. I can't say whether wearing one of these mobile artworks helps you cycle any faster, but most of the folks you are passing by will hope you'll slow way down so they can appreciate the canvas that is your helmet.  No studies needed for this prognostication: wear one of these and heads will definitely be turned.

Full disclosure:  I do not know the artist, I have not bought one of these helmets (yet!) and I received no compensation in any form for bringing these to your attention.  I saw these, was gobsmacked, and simply had to share.  


Tina said...

Such cool helmets. I'm a good girl, I always wear my helmet when I bike (which is often). I'll check out the site. Thanks for the fun post this early Saturday morning.

Joan @ Debt of Gratitude said...

I went barefoot all summer, every summer of my youth. It amazes me now how tender-footed I am when I do something silly like walk to the mailbox in my bare feet. I learned yesterday, though, that my tushy is more tender than my bare feet. I went outside with SweetPea for a potty break. The porch didn't seem so hot on my bare feet, but a minute of sitting on it in my thin pajama pants while SweetPea did her business had me saying ouch and ducking back indoors.

TexasDeb said...

Tina - I am both surprised and not surprised that you are a good girl who always wears her safety gear. I was absolutely fascinated with the artistry of these three dimensional helmet-as-canvas pieces. I'm glad you like them too!

Joan Marie: It is sure enough convenient to have tough feet in the summertime, (shoes are such a bother), but the tender tush issue had escaped my notice. I'm glad your vulnerability was revealed without any resulting permanent injury and thanks for the heads up on bottoms!