I’ve always held a fascination for America’s ability to put personal freedoms above all else. There’s few other examples of the culture that take you so quickly to the heart of the country and which speak more strongly about what it means to be an American. And in my eyes at least, nothing speaks more strongly about America’s dedication to personal freedoms than their helmet laws. Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m no spokesperson for the Helmet Law Defense League. I have never ridden a bike without a helmet and I never intend to. I value my brain too much for that. It’s what I use to love my family, earn a living, and enjoy a country ride in autumn as the sun sets. But I’ve always been one for standing up for a person’s right to choose.
Of course, it’s not as easy as all that. It’s impossible to deny that helmets reduce fatalities and brain injuries amongst the biking community, and that in turn reduces insurance premiums and medical costs for us all. And losing your ability to wipe your own arse and support your family because some drunk pensioner crushed your head like an egg is a pretty poor trade-off for the feeling of the wind in your hair. Yet American still has four states that are totally fine with their population of millions riding without helmets.
So what’s your choice? When you open the garage door in the morning and walk towards your miraculous iron horse are you carrying a closed helmet, an open one, or just a fist full of nothing?