Back in my days, when I was mountain biking, I never gotten the rationale of wearing a helmet. But as I read magazines about the sport, I realised the importance, and yet still bike without one, as the price of helmets back then was too expensive for a youngster like me to get.
These days, you can get cheap helmets, that offers good protection. Always try to wear head protection, no matter how stupid you look.
I never forget that day when I went to fetch Ian and I had your bike with me, and helmet of course. You’re off your training wheels but still having some trouble balancing it. You strapped on your helmet and got on your bike.
But you fell, losing balance moving off. You didn’t know it, but I saw it, your head glanced off the kerb, and it was your helmet that absorbed the impact. Well, it could have been your head.
Why a helmet?
Its elementary, stupid.
You have a head, the head have an organic helmet called a skull, and it is always good to have another helmet for the organic helmet, because if you crack your external helmet, you buy a new one, and if you crack your organic helmet, good luck.
When I was in military service, of course we also have helmets to wear. Back in those days, I wore a steel pot type, with a inner liner, it was heavy, clunky and hot. Kevlar helmets was slowly phasing in, and when I was in Reservist, I had Kevlar types.
I used to ride a motorcycle and needless to say, helmets is a must.
And now, when I got mountain biking, I always wear a helmet, and I cringe every time I rode past a cyclist, e-biker, skater, or roller-blader without a helmet. Sure you look cool, until you crash, crack a skull and then we’ll see if that’s cool. I cringe more when I see parents with their kids, not getting their kids to wear head protection.
You speed, you need a helmet
We tend to bike a lot these days, and as much as possible, please wear a helmet.
As long as you are on anything that travels faster than 10km/h, please wear a helmet.
If you go rock climbing, please wear a helmet.
Don’t let your friends tell you helmets are stupid looking, or it is hot wearing one. Look at it this way, even the most elite special forces soldiers wear head protection because they know it saves lives. So if it looks stupid, but it works, then it is not stupid.
Every kind of high risk sport will have their own kind of head protection. Use them, find a good fit and make sure the helmet is strapped on. Even a big helmet is better than no helmet, so try to get one that fits, and tighten it till it doesn’t wobble on your head. Shake your head side to side and front to back, the movement should be minimal.
There is a lot of controversies these days about the use of road space. Some say share, some say they pay road tax, and well others, simply pirate the roads. E-scooters are a boon or bane?
The biggest machine your father has operated was a truck, 10 foot-truck to be exact, which I rented when we needed to move house, a long time ago. I was also a motorcyclist, I love mountain biking, I’m very much a wheel guy, not so much a ‘ ball’ guy, both being round in their own way.
I’ve stopped riding my motorcycle many years back, as it was no longer the safest thing to do. I remembered back in the days, after finishing my night class, I would ride the CTE back home, around 10-ish and the traffic being light, I can just cruise, it was a good feeling. These days there are so many factors that can get a motorcyclist maimed and killed. There is no luxury of a cruise, you have to be on the defensive all the time. Recent news and stats says motorist finds the road no longer safe.
My earlier trip to Bandung Indonesia opened my eye to how congested their roads are and how lucky we have it here. We have well organised roads, 2-3 and even 4-5 lanes roads, for Bandung, as an old town, at best, traffic around the city make do with a 2 lane road, 2 for each directions.
The amazing thing is that, they can make do with that limited shared space, as I wrote in my last blog. It was an amazing concoction of cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, and even an occasional bullock cart.
Back to Singapore
I don’t drive so often, we don’t own a car. But I bike a lot, and I have a pecking order in terms of giving way. The largest will always give way to the smallest. And the smallest denominator being a pedestrian, the largest, well it can go as large as an aircraft carrier. You get the idea. So when I am on a bicycle, I have to give way to a person walking, and if I am driving, I have to give way to a cyclist, and the pedestrian and if I am operating a big ass truck, I have to give way to the smaller folks.
It’s a logic that the larger the machine you operate, the more responsibilities you have towards others, and no one operate in silo or vacuum, we will always have a impact on other people, in good or bad way. So when we have a larger machine, we need to exercise greater care and responsibilities.
Passenger jet vs fighter jet
Of course that is just being generalising, a passenger jet needs to give way to a fighter jet, in the case of my logic, but a fighter jet can shoot down a passenger jet. Sometimes, my rule of thumb doesn’t work but it does gives a gist of the kind of responsibility one has relative to the machines they operate.
The point is…
We cannot clamor for space. Space is always shared. Cyclist have to understand that road kills. And even in large numbers, there is no safety. One wayward car can careen into a group of cyclist, kill and maim a good part of the group. A speeding E-scooter can crash into a family, injuring the elderly, bruising the kid. Who is going to bay for blood, when the unfortunate event has already occurred?
Give way and prepare to stop
More specifically, give way if you can, get out of the way of those who can’t give way. Sometimes, as much as a larger vehicle wants to stop and give way, there are inertia and it can take a while for the large lorry to come to a complete stop, by then it would have mowed down whoever and whatever in its path. So be alert and get out of the way of large vehicles if possible. Those who are driving a large truck, give way where possible.
One thing my driving instructor taught me, which stayed till now, when in doubt, stop.
It is a good mantra, especially when I’m cycling. I’ve seen cyclists and motorbikers trying not to stop, as they will lose their momentum and balance, so they want to keep a minimal level of motion. I get that, I bike too, but when in doubt, stop, and push.
Its not a cool factor, if there is an old man walling in front and just for me to preserve my motion, bang into the poor guy, stop, get of if necessary and push. It’s just biking, and the road space is shared, whosoever wants to walk and travel at whatever speed, it’s their wish. Everyone goes through life in their own pace and speed, and try not to be in such a hurry to get from point A to point B, you end up in hell, and killing other people in the process.
Last but not least
We cannot wish away the e-biking trend. I do not like these battery powered wheel-chairs. They are fast, convenient and extremely lazy. If you are on a bicycle, you still get a reasonable bit of exercise, even on a motorcycle, you have to be generally fit to operate one. An e-scooter? It’s the laziest form of transport. It’s so convenient it is bad for health.
Nonetheless, it is here to stay, and since there is so much brickbat about it, I have a couple of rules, simple rules.
Anyone operating an e-bike above the weight of 7 kg, needs a license, they need to take a damn course to get some general feel and understanding of sharing the road.
Any e-bikes which can travel faster than 10km/h, capped at 15 km/h, needs to have a helmet, front and rear lights, helmets on, light on at all times. (this is a rule of motorcyclist, by the way)
Singapore is going to become car-lite soon and these things going around isn’t going to stop growing in numbers, so we just need to be mindful, the pecking order, and the road space is shared, no one owns them, well, I guess the only one who really own the road is the Grim Reaper, anyone wants to challenge that?