Manifesto About Helmets

I am self-conscious about wearing a bike helmet around campus, and am annoyed that this is the case. After returning to campus in mid-January and continuing to bike around (it’s cold, but totally doable), I have come up with experience-based rationales to justify my helmet-wearing tendency.

One: I want to protect my head. Especially after taking a wilderness medicine course, in which I learned how emphatically dangerous head, neck, and spine injuries are, I want to protect my head. I only cross one street while biking to class, but cars don’t consistently stop for pedestrians on that intersection. I also fall off my bike when I take turns too fast on 6″ of snow.

Two: I promised family I would take care of myself and that I would wear a helmet. I am a woman of my word.

Three: Once I left the Luther Bubble, which often extends to include downtown Decorah, people wearing helmets while biking were common. Professionals biking to class or work often wear helmets; I want to fit in to that cultural norm.

Four: Outside of Luther, I was exposed to a more career-oriented worldview as a contrast to my experience of Luther, which emphasizes ideas. My experience of both, but particularly the former, suggests that if I want to be taken seriously, I want to project an image of myself as mature. Wearing appropriate protection for commuting, such as seat belts and helmets, is part of that image.

I’m annoyed that wearing self-protection gear isn’t the norm in my age-group. For example, my wilderness medicine instructors talked about a professional snowboarder who only after injuring his head became a helmet advocate, yet his peers still ignore that basic level of safety. Please do not judge me harshly for finding more benefits in wearing a goofy piece of headgear to and from campus. And please wear a helmet.

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About landje03

A passionate outdoor educator, I hold a degree in anthropology. While not a salaried academic, I pursue various thoughts stemming from my experiences and their intersections with others' experiences. I also love to start conversations, so comment if anything tickles your fancy.
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One Response to Manifesto About Helmets

  1. Lynda Olson says:

    good for u Jess! I faced a similar “coming of age” moment as a mom. when parents who invited my children for playdates in their homes, I felt it necessary to ask if there were guns in the house. no judgment intended, altho it was sometimes taken. it was uncomfortable to ask sometimes, but the answer was always no. so eventually I stopped asking. then one day my daughter, not yet 10, came home with a bullet! she had been across the street at the home of some ‘newer’ neighbors, a large family who we occasionally socialized with outdoors while the kids all played nearby, who home-schooled for religious reasons. the dad came over right after she got home and apologized and made some explanation, but I was completely shaken. while the parallel between our situations may not be obvious, I, too felt annoyed that asking about guns in the home wasn’t the norm for all parents, that I was judged over my concerns, that I should be made to feel uncomfortable for asking. I don’t know why all parents don’t ask.

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