Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bike Helmets

I know I've talked about this before, but the video below just reaffirms some thoughts.

"This almost pornographic obsession with safety equipment... this culture of fear has created a bubble wrap society."

"If the bicycle helmet was a vaccine or a medicine there is no way it would be approved by the ministry of health; there is simply not enough proof."

The fact is that there is a strong negative correlation between the safety of cyclists and the prominence of bicycle helmets. Wear a helmet if you like, but certainly don't begrudge anyone who doesn't. Instead, just thank them for being out there with you, cuz the number of active cyclists is the single largest contributor to your safety.

"Every single health warning on a pack of cigarettes applies directly to car traffic. We don't even have to write new texts... we can just copy and paste them."

Did you know that the automobile industry is one of the largest proponents of bicycle helmets?

Why? To instill that feeling of fear in a potential cyclist. It's also certainly no coincidence that this is precisely juxtaposition to the false sense of security and power they have injected into their vehicle owners (against all statistics).

It's actually scary (and hilarious once you realize) to the extent our lives are controlled by these subtle influences. A great Slate article looked at Hollywood's contempt for the carless. How not having a car became Hollywood shorthand for loser.

"And so anything outside this dominant culture is treated as, well, a little weird. Hollywood's representation of cyclists, for example, as blogger Bike Snob puts it, has "pretty much been nerds on 10 speeds." The list of prominent bicyclists in film history includes misfit teens (Napoleon Dynamite), eccentric Einstein-like scientists (the license-less Jeff Goldblum character in Independence Day, in which the bike is, admittedly, shown as a pretty decent way to escape Manhattan), vaguely countercultural types (Mark Wahlberg's character in I Heart Huckabees, or Carl Bernstein in All the President's Men) perpetual man-children (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure), and people who otherwise refuse to grow up or are out of touch with real life and the working world. (Consider the couch-surfing Owen Wilson character in You, Me, and Dupree, whose answering machine message announces: "If this is in regards to employment, please be aware that my Class Four driver's license has expired.")

In The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, for example, Steve Carell is that rarest of filmic creatures: a bona-fide bike commuter, shown pedaling to work, navigating the various hazards of the traffic landscape. A boon for alternative modes, perhaps, except for the fact that the bicycle, like the character's penchant for collecting action figures and his virginal status, is treated with a certain condescension. "I'm not the only person in the world who rides a bike," he protests to his co-workers, one of whom replies: "Yeah, everyone rides a bike, when they're fucking 6."


Interesting article addressing the subtle manipulations all around us. Next up? Gender roles!... just kidding... kinda...

Anyway, that's it for now!

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