I have never been a rider of motorcycles, but I can certainly see the appeal. Their combination of style and power ooze identity. In my youth the associations with the mod or big bike cultures could be seen every summer, or bank holiday on the roads and resorts around the the UK. Leather or two tone. The rough, raw, throaty presence of the 750 Kawasaki to the Vespa’s chromed and mirrored gleam, these prized and valued accessories were as much the appendages of personality as the clothes and hairstyles; the fashion and trend. From a distance it always seemed more about identity and lifestyle, from footwear to helmet; the ‘family’ one belonged to, rather than fundamentally about transport. The exhilaration and risk of hurtling along at speed, on two wheels, is however, understandably a thrill-seekers utopia. I think I get it.
Since moving to Asia however, the presence of the motorcycle on the road has been far more evident in daily use, by all, young and not so young. Possessing a more utilitarian function, in most cases.
They are everywhere. Barely moving or buzzing and darting into scarcely existing spaces; never a second to lose, ne’er a care in the world. Swarming to be first, to be to the forefront, cutting the edges. Seemingly always late for something. The centre of all things. Driving can be like rushing roulette; spin the wheels and hold your breath.
In recent years, ranked the second highest, globally, in driving related fatalities, you’d think taking precautions would be high on the list of priorities. That maybe for motorcyclists wearing a crash helmet would be the first order of the day. Yet every time I drive from A to B I am amazed how few people using bikes wear helmets. How often, the driver might, but the passengers do not. Families, loved ones, children; three, four to a bike; barely a cash-hat in sight.
Irrespective of whether the law requires the wearing of helmets, the culture would seem to dictate otherwise. The fashion, it seems, is to ‘wing it’. Fatalistic or foolhardy, with an estimated 60 road deaths a day reported across the country and 70% of these involving motorbikes, good sense appears in short supply.
Motorcycle helmets offer protection obviously for head injuries. They help reduce the impact of wind noise, impacting the eyes and ears so reducing distraction. They improve visibility, with visors reducing glare from the sun. Helmets shield the face and the head protecting from flies and other insects, from stones, gravel, and miscellaneous debris kicked up by other traffic. Not wearing the helmet means your insurances (vehicle and health care) are also likely in jeopardy.
If only it were cool to wear a crash helmet. If only we could influence the culture, challenge the current trends, redefine fashion. If we can start within our immediate community maybe we can contribute something positive to the cause. Whether students, itching to get out on two wheels, or parent, taking your family to and from school, please; think before you commit. The evidence is incontestable. If motorcyclists are safer wearing protective headwear their passengers are too.
KEEP YOUR HEAD ABOVE THE CROWD- WEAR A HELMET