Helmets Part 1,489,348 - To Wear Or Not To Wear

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etard   1 MW

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by etard » Feb 08 2010 3:15am

Falling is one of the top 10 killers? Is that really a statistic? I mean EVERYTHING that involves two objects in the same plane colliding, is falling! :lol:

Helmets are good, not always necessary, but not entirely the 10 pound hunk of plastic they used to be either. I went to Chapparral Motorsports yesterday and was amazed at all the features the helmets have these days. Almost all the manufacturers had flip up face, and flip down sunshade inside the visor. This is cool technology and it made me want to buy a new helmet. If they made a bicycle helmet with cool features integrated into it, I might just wear it all the time. Shoot, if you could get it approved by OSHA, you might even have a bunch of construction workers wearing them too. :mrgreen:
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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Arlo1 » Feb 08 2010 11:50am

deronmoped wrote:
I guess you wear a helmet whenever there is a chance you will fall. Falling is one of the top ten killers of people.

Off a roof, off a ladder, tripping down stairs, running, trampoline, climbing, hiking...

Just to advocate that you wear a helmet in limited circumstances does not seem consistent.

Deron.
No I wear a helmet when I do the most dangerous stuff ie riding my bmx at 85km/h on pavement. Sure you can fall down stairs and get hurt doing any daily activity but just cause you can get hurt doing that doesnt meen you should not wear a helmet for the more dangerous stuff :roll:
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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by FeralDog » Feb 09 2010 12:14am

I spotted the Bern Baker ,but wonder if an extended "sun visor" brim would fit under it to screen the sun on days when I need it ?
Last edited by FeralDog on Jun 10 2010 4:41pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by v_tach » Feb 09 2010 12:55am

Pepper spray and postal carriers... lol! I've responded to one dog bite to a postal carrier in my career. I've responded to probably more than a dozen self inflicted postal carrier exposures to pepper spray.

As far as the helmet issue, even as a strong helmet advocate, I still don't believe in forcing adults to wear them.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by wookey » Feb 09 2010 8:33pm

The North American perspective in this discussion is overwhelming. You live in a country where hardly anyone cycles. That has a terrible effect on the safety of cycling. Helmet wearing is enthusiastically promoted. However if you look at (developed) countries/places where lots of people cycle you'll find helmet-wearing rates very low; and injury rates very low too. In the more enlightened of those countries helmets are hardly ever mentioned in the context of cycling - it's just not very important, in the same way that it's not very important for walking or going up and down stairs. Cycling in such places is entirely normal and does not need special gear of any sort.

Now I'm just talking about pedal-cycling above. Helmets for faster machines probably do make sense, and are certainly a lot more popular. I wear one on my e-moped (not least because it's legally required and very cold without one), but I don't even own one for my push-bike. I have fallen off quite a few times over 30 years and even banged my head once. Contrary to assertions further up this thread, I'm afraid that didn't turn me into a helmet advocate.

Helmets for cycling are a short-sighted failure of wider transport policy. I understand that that's very hard to grok from the US perspective, but the evidence from Denmark, Holland, Germany and parts of the UK of the inverse relationship between cycling culture and helmet wearing is compelling. Promoting helmets may make the few remaining cyclists feel safer, but it is disastrous in terms of promoting cycling in general as a useful and popular travel mode, and due to the reduction in numbers it probably doesn't even make the remnants safer overall.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Zoot Katz » Feb 09 2010 9:20pm

wookey wrote:. . .
Helmets for cycling are a short-sighted failure of wider transport policy. I understand that that's very hard to grok from the US perspective, but the evidence from Denmark, Holland, Germany and parts of the UK of the inverse relationship between cycling culture and helmet wearing is compelling. Promoting helmets may make the few remaining cyclists feel safer, but it is disastrous in terms of promoting cycling in general as a useful and popular travel mode, and due to the reduction in numbers it probably doesn't even make the remnants safer overall.
That deserves repeating but it's still unlikely to fizz on the liddites.
Cycling is statistically safer than being a pedestrian or automobile passenger yet nobody advocates their wearing helmets.
Bicycling is not as dangerous as home renovation and it does none of us any good to pretend that it is.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Canis Lupus » Feb 09 2010 11:42pm

Zoot Katz wrote:... it's still unlikely to fizz on the liddites...
Thanks, Zoot, you introduced me to a new word. I had to look it up.
Liddites are people who think helmets should be compulsory. In a world of conflicting and uncertain research, their faith is unshakable. They are often spoken of as True Believers - nothing, no data however inconvenient, no argument however compelling - can contradict the Received Truth.

They preach the Gospel according to Thompson, Rivara and Thompson and when you knock that down they come up with another observational study, and another and another. Some Liddites are cyclists, but a large proportion are not. Two leading Liddites in the UK are Angela Lee of BeHIT, and Eric Martlew. neither of them is known to be a cyclist, which probably accounts for their joint belief that cycling is so dangerous that a child should not be allowed to ride a toy tricycle in the park without a helmet - and that any adult who allows such child abuse should be guilty of a criminal offence.

Like most zealots you will never convert them, but you can have some fun pointing out the absurdity of their position to bystanders. And like most zealots they can be profoundly dangerous. In Australia they got laws passed which reduced the number of cyclists by a third without measurably affecting head injury rates. The key fact about Liddites is that they do not care that helmet laws do not result in better safety, they do not care about cycle safety, they only care that every cyclist should wear a plastic hat.

The claims they make are greatly in excess of those made by helmet manufacturers. They do not care about that either.

Why Liddites? Because they cling to an outmoded interventionist view of safety which predates risk compensation theory. Because they don't understand risk compensation, they can't even see why lid laws are doomed to fail.

http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk/wiki/Liddite
I wonder if there is a correlation between AGW zealotry and being a liddite. If so, I can finally see a justification for declaring CO2 a pollutant - correlations being all that one needs to find a cause these days. :roll:

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by BungaEBiker » Feb 10 2010 12:33am

Well here is my two cents worth (tinkle of copper discs)
I wear a bicycle helmet with lights on it. On bright white one on the front and a slightly less bright red one on the back. I don't know how much protection the dense Styrofoam will give me if I have an indecent but hey it's easy to ware and I like the lights. I read an article some time ago that said "when riding at night it's a good idea to be a rolling circus". Well that seemed like quite good advice. I don't want some jack off to have the guts to say he didn't see me when I ride at night. I ride mostly at night and early in the morning due to me working the night shift.
Here's my regular set up:
Helmet lights front/back
Reflective vest
Second reflective vest over back pack if needed
Headlight
Taillight (red blinkey)
Reflective strips and triangles on my saddlebags
spoke reflectors
Tire Sparks (little blinkey lights on valve stems)
reflectors in pedals
reflectors on ankles
Reflective strips on gloves

If they cant' see that lot coming or going then they are completely blind and should not be behind the wheel of a car, no matter what speed.
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Canis Lupus   100 W

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Canis Lupus » Feb 10 2010 12:39am

BungaEBiker wrote: Tire Sparks (little blinkey lights on valve stems)
I really like this idea and even bought a few, but they didn't last very long. Is there a supplier of a reliable and durable version? I thought the blue coloured version very cool, although I always used red on the rear wheel. :)
Last edited by Canis Lupus on Feb 10 2010 1:52am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by John in CR » Feb 10 2010 12:55am

Wookey,

Excellent points. Here in Costa Rica 2 wheeled transportation is so common that cars share the road willingly. Helmets are standard for the lycra crowd, and I'm not sure if that's due to peer pressure or it just completes the outfit. For those who use bicycles for transportation instead of sport, helmets are the rare exception despite a recent new law requiring them. At least the police focus on the things they should, so hassling cyclists doesn't ever make their todo list.

To all the liddites (thanks Zoot), why don't you turn your attention to something useful like suggesting (not mandating) that everyone wear eyewear, a far more needed piece of safety equipment than helmets? I bet you don't even mention eyewear to kids when you're giving them the helmet pitch.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by swbluto » Feb 10 2010 1:14am

Zoot Katz wrote: Cycling is statistically safer than being a pedestrian or automobile passenger yet nobody advocates their wearing helmets.
The first part is misleading. It might be safer per mile, but it's usually safer per year as bicycles travel far more distance than the average pedestrian in a given year.

I don't know about its comparison to automobile travel. Though, if the accident rate between bicycles and automobiles are similar or not *that far* away (like say twice as much per mile or less), then it'd seem regular cycling would be safer as it tends to not even travel nearly as much as a car in a given year. Add in extra speed from an ebike and its yearly range? I'd assume it'd be a bit more dangerous than a regular bike, if used at speed often enough.
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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by swbluto » Feb 10 2010 1:20am

liveforphysics wrote:Pepper spray.

Great on chicken wings, great on agressive/attacking dogs. It's cheap, 1 bottle will last a long time, and you can buy it in a form that shoots about 20ft. Even forgetful dogs tend to remember pepper spray, and you aren't doing any sort of physical damage to them, only stimulating nerves.
Yes, I definitely carry pepper spray. $20 for 5 years of dog protection? It's better than the hospital bill! It even has applications with self defense, so I'm not complaining.

I also have a highly touted "dog spray", but the type I have seems to be iffy on the aggressive dogs, so I reserve it for the "nice looking" attack dogs (or potential attack dogs) that are far enough away. The powerful stuff is the most immediately accessible, in my possession.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Zoot Katz » Feb 10 2010 1:45am

For the record:
I've worn a bicycle helmet 99% of the time since 1975 but never used it.*
I adopted helmets early on because I'd had good outcomes with motorcycle and climbing helmets that I did use.
Primarily it's served as a place to put lots of reflective tape.

I wore seat belts before they were standard equipment and compulsory too.
Only professional drivers used seat belts then so buckling up was a reminder to adopt a professional attitude behind the wheel.
I never used the seat belts either and so resented their becoming mandatory.

Same with the bicycle helmet. Strapping it on reminds me to behave professionally.
It also attracted drivers' attention when one rarely saw a helmeted bicyclist. Now you have to resort to more extreme measures to get noticed.
When I wear the kettle I ride even more carefully because it's just about the last thing you'd want on your head in a one-point landing.
Now that helmets are mandatory here it serves mostly as a pig chaser and it makes people smile. It's a mood elevator all around.

I've never called a non-helmeted cyclist an idiot or organ donor. I don't preach, I ride.
Wear one or not, I give a fuk.

*Playing bike polo the helmet may have saved me a scalp laceration once when it was caught between the ground and a team mates pedal.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Zoot Katz » Feb 10 2010 1:53am

swbluto wrote:
Zoot Katz wrote: Cycling is statistically safer than being a pedestrian or automobile passenger yet nobody advocates their wearing helmets.
The first part is misleading. It might be safer per mile, but it's usually safer per year as bicycles travel far more distance than the average pedestrian in a given year.

I don't know about its comparison to automobile travel. Though, if the accident rate between bicycles and automobiles are similar or not *that far* away (like say twice as much per mile or less), then it'd seem regular cycling would be safer as it tends to not even travel nearly as much as a car in a given year. Add in extra speed from an ebike and its yearly range? I'd assume it'd be a bit more dangerous than a regular bike, if used at speed often enough.
An average of 114 people die each day in car crashes in the U.S.
About 12 pedestrians are killed every day.
Fewer than two per day die on bicycles.
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by John in CR » Feb 10 2010 2:05am

Also for the record:

Today I would have preferred to have my helmet with me. It rained while I was out, so the return home was at much slower speeds where the wind noise wouldn't have been an issue, and the wet surface after weeks of no rain made traction questionable for everyone.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by swbluto » Feb 10 2010 2:22am

Zoot Katz wrote: An average of 114 people die each day in car crashes in the U.S.
About 12 pedestrians are killed every day.
Fewer than two per day die on bicycles.
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
You have to account for the percentage of people taking those trips. I'll use the numbers in the source you cited along with the numbers at http://www.bikeleague.org/blog/2010/01/ ... 1-percent/ for percentage of trips taken by.

Automobile people killed = 26,689. Percentage of trips taken by vehicle? 80% or so.
Amount of pedestrians killed = 4,378. Percentage of trips taken by walking? 10%.
Amount of pedalcyclists killed = 716. Percentage of trips taken by cycling? 1%.

Taking 1/10th of the pedestrian trips so that the amount of pedestrian and cycling trips are equal, 438 pedestrians died compared to 716 of cyclists dying.

Taking 1/80th of the car trips so that the amount of car trips and cycling trips are equal, 333 automobile occupants died compared to 716 cyclists.

So, this contradicts my supposition that walking is "generally safer" than driving (though this is arguable if you look at pedestrian death causes compared to driving death causes: I'm not a child, I'm not a drunk person walking onto the street after a weekend party, etc.; whereas children are not over-represented in vehicular fatalities, although drunkenness is still present to about the same percentage), but supports the notion that cycling is more dangerous than driving. Of course I don't want to believe that as I too cycle, but it appears that's the case from your statistics.

I have to wonder if this "statistic" is relevant, though. That's the number of people who died from taking the same number of trips as those cycling per year, and that number is definite though unknown. If a person tends to take less trips by cycling than by automobile and they take over (716/333 or more) times *less* trips cycling than they would if they were using an automobile, than they might be safer per year cycling than if they were to use an automobile. And, the same dynamic would apply to pedestrians which would definitely suggest walking is safer than driving, per year.

When I had a car, and I'm sure this applies to most people, the amount of "want"/"joy" trips is significantly higher than when walking or biking are your only mode of transport.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Canis Lupus » Feb 10 2010 4:18am

swbluto wrote:
Zoot Katz wrote: An average of 114 people die each day in car crashes in the U.S.
About 12 pedestrians are killed every day.
Fewer than two per day die on bicycles.
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
You have to account for the percentage of people taking those trips. I'll use the numbers in the source you cited along with the numbers at http://www.bikeleague.org/blog/2010/01/ ... 1-percent/ for percentage of trips taken by.

Automobile people killed = 26,689. Percentage of trips taken by vehicle? 80% or so.
Amount of pedestrians killed = 4,378. Percentage of trips taken by walking? 10%.
Amount of pedalcyclists killed = 716. Percentage of trips taken by cycling? 1%.

.
Assuming the above figures accurate, even approximately, I wonder how they would look if you excluded minors under the driving age, let's say 16 years. There may be an element of comparing apples with oranges. If there was a disproportionally large amount of fatalities with pedestrians and/or cyclists of people under the age of 16, it would suggest an additional cause - perhaps greater cause - age, not the means of transport. Given that there is a disproportionally large amount of people who die in car accidents under the age of 25, I suspect you will find the same applies to cycling deaths for those under the age of 16. Eliminate that group because they can't drive, I think the comparison would be altered. The only caveat I would put on this suspicion is that cyclists over 16 are more likely to venture onto busy roads to commute and end up as road kill as a result of the interaction with motorists. They might also be more likely to be drunk. Certainly in terms of distance covered, fatalities involving minors would be out of all proportion with adult cyclists.

Just to relate this back to the topic: there are a lot things which we either make children do or prohibit them from doing eg. drive a car, sign a contract, age of consent etc. It seems in the context of helmets, adults are being lumbered with laws which may be appropriate for minors, but not themselves. And, sorry, I don't buy this setting an example line, otherwise adults shouldn't drink or do a great many other things we don't want children doing. Young people do understand that different rules apply to them. One just has to be firm about them and not a bleeding heart softy.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by swbluto » Feb 10 2010 10:06am

You're right in that the numbers should be adjusted to account for the possible over-representation of children. I've found some stats at http://cyclostat.bostonbiker.org/2010/0 ... -location/ . The source of that was here: http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/facts/docs ... F_2007.pdf

It appears that 15% of the fatalities occurred in people under the age of 16. I don't know what the exact population distribution is, but assuming there's roughly the same amount of people from age group until 65 to 70 or so, those under 16 account for 16/65 = ~24% or 16/70 = ~23% of the population. If anything, this suggests they are actually under-represented, especially since there are more younger people than older people. This could be due to many parents protecting their young against the dangers of cycling, or perhaps cycling is more used by those older. The average age of a cyclist was 31 in 1997 whereas it was 40 in 2007, suggesting that cycling is popular with a particular age group.

But according to http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809906.PDF, it appears 5% of fatalities in cars are committed by children. This is likely due to the large majority of traffic deaths are drivers, and children are almost universally not drivers.

EDIT: I find the below evaluation questionable. I'm not sure if the 2% figure could be directly applied to people per million passenger miles deaths to approximate the figure for cyclists.
EDIT EDIT: I found figures for bicycle fatalities per mile from http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm and they support my inference pretty precisely. It's slightly below the middle of the page.
swbluto wrote: A more directly comparable figure in the source is that cycling accounts for 2% of traffic fatalities in the data, whereas they represent 1% of the trips taken, supporting the nearly double fatality risk calculation in my previous post.

But, hey, let's get a grip with the likelihood of fatality. There's about 1.3 people killed per 100,000,000 passenger miles, so an approximation for cylists would be 3 people per 100,000,000. If you travel 200,000 miles in your life by cycling, your lifetime odds of cycling death are 200,000 * 3/100,000,000 = 3*2/10,000 = 1 out of 166.

The average person doing 10,000 miles per year for 50 years by car has a lifetime travel distance of 500,000 miles, so the lifetime odds would be 500,000*1.3/100,000,000 = 1 out of 156.

Basically, if you travel less than (3/1.3 = 2.3) times less than the average car occupant, then your lifetime chance may be better. Assuming the average annual mileage driven per year is around 10,000 miles, than the cyclist would have to travel less than 10,000/2.3 = 4347 miles per year to have better lifetime odds. So, unless you come close to the mileage you would commit if you used a car instead, you're actually bettering your lifetime fatality risk by cycling. So, yes, it would seem for a majority of "regular cyclists" who put on less than 4400 miles per year, cycling is safer than driving.
Note: The above numbers are not set in stone, they are all approximations to ease calculations and their presentation. Also, they all apply to "average" risks. Of course individual risk varies on the basis of their skills, experience and safety consciousness among other possible factors.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Canis Lupus » Feb 10 2010 11:49am

swbluto wrote:You're right in that the numbers should be adjusted to account for the possible over-representation of children.
Or under-represented in the context of cars, as the stats show, because kids don't drive but they do ride bikes.

I am bit surprised there weren't more fatalities for children cyclists, however, a few press reports of kids impaling themselves recently in Australia were probably an unusuality.

I also wonder whether mountain bikers and BMX trick-ramp riders are included in the cyclist figures. Are racing car deaths included and do track cyclists, for example, get included?

Sorry to complicate things, I just can't get away from a feeling that I am much safer cycling than driving, except maybe because of the odd interaction with cars, trucks and buses, which I avoid as much as possible. Yet the idea of cycling safety when looking at stats is compromised by comparison to the main threat or problem - motorists themselves.

Is cycling inherently safer than driving a car? The answer must be yes, common sense says so, until a motorist comes along and runs a cyclist over. Then the car driver can say, "You see, driving a car is safer!"

Don't seem fair, but that's the reality of the roads, life and death, I suppose.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by eBikeStore » Feb 10 2010 12:23pm

Sheriff Jon,

You have a valid point. Car seats are a parallel case, in his book, Freakanomic, Duber and Levitt make the case that child car seats have shown no statistical improvement on injury levels and argue that prior to car seats, drivers were more cautious and so the injury level proved constant. Helmets may be a similar story.

On the flip side, in business school one of the decision making tools they teach weighted outcome analysis. That model suggests that when you are considering courses of action, you assign a probability of an outcome and multiply that by the potential reward or punishment. You are correct that the probability of a fatal bicycle accident is low. However, an bicycle-injury accident for daily commuters is fairly high. Granted, exact probabilities are unknown. However, because the potential damages are incredibly high, the return on investment seems to make sense to me, but that is because of where I believe the probabilities to be. Those are numbers you have to set for yourself.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by John in CR » Feb 10 2010 7:42pm

The liddites always try to fall back to statistics, however, inadequate data is available to prove the helmet case no matter how they try to massage it. If you really want to save some kids lives, come up with some proper safety soundbites, and get YouTube to replace all unsafe biking videos with these soundbite clips. That way instead of kids seeing dangerous stuff to emulate, they get a safety message. I guarantee it would have more benefit than the "put your cranium in a protective shell and have at it with the most dangerous activities you can come up with" message you liddites are currently passing along.

Also, I have no problem at all with the apparent double standard from the kids point of view. If my kids are riding on the streets I make them wear helmets, and I explain it being optional for me with the truth....They don't ride fast enough for wind noise to detract from safety, and they don't possess the experience with vehicular traffic to be able to ride in the same defensive manner that I do.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Sheriff Jon » Feb 10 2010 8:52pm

GEEZ guyz...this ain't rocket science. I believe that most folks who ride bicycles, e-bikes or scooters on the open road and have a half a lick of brains in their head use common sense and choose to wear a Helmet regardless of whether it is the law or not in their area. At least I would like to think that 8) And the other folks who think that wearing Helmets is too inconvenient or may cause them to take unnecessary risks :roll: probably ain't gots enough brains worth protecting.
"HOW we ride today, may determine IF we can ride tomorrow"

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by AussieJester » Feb 10 2010 9:10pm

Sheriff Jon wrote:And the other folks who think that wearing Helmets is too inconvenient or may cause them to take unnecessary risks :roll: probably ain't gots enough brains worth protecting.
I think you have misunderstood them Jon, they don't need helmets as they are void of accidents because of their superior riding abilities, they unlike the rest of us common folk also never fall off, again, due to their superior riding abilities, they also never have mechanical failure which could result in and accident because of their impeccably maintained bikes, they don't have inferior brain powers but supernatural as they are able to see ahead of time and predict the movement of other motorists on the road BEFORE even that aforementioned motoerist knows the move they are going to make, yes Jon these individuals are "special" ... sheesh man keep up.. :mrgreen:

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by swbluto » Feb 11 2010 12:09am

AussieJester wrote: they don't need helmets as they are void of accidents because of their superior riding abilities ... they are special
Gee, everyone I know around my locale sure is special. Especially those 17 year olds.

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Re: HELMETS...?

Post by Canis Lupus » Feb 11 2010 12:36am

I don't know about others, but I am special. For all I know, all you lot are bots.

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