Denial is a wonderful thing. Denial allows me to seriously say that sleeping on a camping mat is comfortable (it is!) or that my minimalist lifestyle (including camping mat) does not have an adverse effect on my dating life. Denial even allows me to refer to my dating life “my dating life,” thereby implying that it is a vibrant and dynamic part of my schedule and not as pathetic and slow-moving as a teenage boy on his way to pick up his soon-to-be ex-prom date on his mother’s tandem bicycle.
I love denial. If I could, I would wrap myself in denial like the cozy blankets I used to have until I became a minimalist (it’s ok, sleeping in a sweatshirt and a sheet is just as warm). Denial allows us to feel good about blogging, believe that climate change and global warming planet is god’s benign gift to retirees, or that, like the people in this recent Grist article, wearing a bicycle helmet is some weird effort by “the man” (presumably a different “man” than the liberal one who made up climate change) to make us all wear silly hats, and are actually more dangerous than not wearing a helmet.
In fact, one scientific denier in the article went a step further, arguing that the problem with helmets was that they were not silly enough. No, one should go ahead and actually wear silly wigs. According to this study, which featured the man as both the scientist and the subject, he was safer without a helmet because cars gave him a few more inches, and even safer still when he wore a long wig. By this logic, bicycle advocates should scrap everything they’ve been doing, and advocate only for laws that require cyclists to rid in assless chaps and leather vests that have “I have explosive diarrhea” written out in rhinestones.
The other lead expert in this anti-helmet field is a blogger named Mikael Colville-Anderson. Although he is a blogger, the fact that he is both Scandinavian and has made a career out of self-publishing photos of sexy people on bicycles (presumably in flowing wigs and leather vests) making him instantly more qualified and trustworthy than the assless chap wearing scientist.
Now, clearly because he is a “sexy people bike” blogger, his interests in helmet laws is purely about the safety of all, and not about the mainly aesthetic downsides of helmets: that they look silly (which I have solved by attaching a rearview mirror) and mess up your hair (which I have solved by never, ever taking it off in public).
His main argument is not an incorrect one: the “strength by numbers” idea (supported by non-wig-centric scientific studies) that bicycling safety correlates to a higher number of people bicycling, and that mandatory helmet laws promote a culture of fear regarding bicycling.
There is validity here: the more people bicycling, the more cities will have to supply bicycle related infrastructure, the more people will know how to bicycle safely, the less people will be driving cars (that tend to win in bicycle vs. car fights).
Problematically, bicycle accidents are not just about cars (look who’s all culture of fear-y now, Mr. Sexy bicycle man!). Indeed, it is also about the people who bicycle for fashion reasons (and see ignoring red lights or not having brakes as the ultimate in daring fashion). Also, we have yet to see any study done on the number of accidents caused by flowing wigs blinding the very people they are supposed to faithfully and fashionably protect.
I am no denialist (denier-er?). I recognize the need for pragmatic solutions to these sorts of conflicts. I advocate that in all mandatory helmet laws, there should be a “twit loophole” that exempts anyone who is a climate change denier from having to wear a helmet. You might say that this is a good application of Darwinian principles, but it’s really just me being as vindictive as an adult who never got over the embarrassment of trying to take his date to prom on a tandem bicycle and who sleeps on a camping mat.
Besides, Darwinism is just a monkey-loving conspiracy-I reject all science that implies that we are related to monkeys, that we have to change our lifestyles to fight “climate change”, or that there are better ways to be safe than prancing around in a wig and assless chaps.
The anti-helmet revolution will not be decently clothed