I don’t understand this phenomenon. I’ve heard stories about people riding bikes with their helmets strapped to their racks or hung around their handlebars, and I always thought it was strange, but it wasn’t until I saw a man riding like this today that it really got to me.
The man looked to be in his 50s, and was riding a hybrid bike with the helmet strapped to his rear rack. I passed him for the first time on the bike path at Lake Harriet. I saw the helmet riding impotently behind him and thought, this man probably has children. They might not be young children, but they still love him the same. How would they feel if a driver lost control and drove up onto the bike path, and their father didn’t make it? Would it be any consolation that a helmet was found at the scene, possibly still strapped to the bike? This man may have a wife. How would she feel about the prospect of spending her silver years without her husband? Was he thinking about these people when he strapped that helmet to the bike?
I wanted to say something. I wanted to tell him to put the helmet on. I see people all the time riding without helmets and I don’t think much of it. It’s their choice. But this man thought about it. He put the helmet on the bike. Maybe he put it there for storage and meant to put it on but forgot? Hmm, probably not likely. But something made him bring it, and something made me care.
I stopped to take some pictures and the man caught up with me and passed me. The helmet was still strapped to his bike, but I was coming to terms with it. It was still his choice, right? He was a grown man and didn’t need me telling him what to do. I could accept that. But when I passed him further up the trail and I saw him wearing his helmet, it made me smile.