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Monday, June 12, 2006


I hope the Helmet Police are happy.


Doctor Bean said...

Hey! I know that pen!

Oh. The helmets are great too.

Ezzie said...

Why is The PT wearing a winter jacket? And what city is this in?! The sun doesn't shine in Milwaukee!!

But congrats on the helmet, from a guy who used to bike 6+ hours a day and has had his fair share of brain-saving helmet crashes.

Kiwi the Geek said...

Why the HECK are you dressed so warmly on a bike ride, in the sun, in the current Wisconsin weather?? Must not be riding very hard, that's for sure!

Halfnutcase said...

and why on earth does your bike look like a girls bike?!

it's kinda weird.

nice baskets though.

PsychoToddler said...

Doc: The pen is with me. Always.

Ezzie, Kiwi: It was pretty chilly last night. However, I didn't dress the PT for her ride. I think Curly did (he took the picture with my cell phone).

HNC: Aww...lay off the bike already! It belongs to my Mother-in-law! OK?? Happy?? Yes, PT rides a "girly-bike."

MoChassid said...

Hate to be a nitpicker, but PT's helmet needs to be fitted.

Halfnutcase said...

PT, i'd be the last to care about that. i'm just wondering because most guys do, that's all.

didn't mean to hammer you about it :-)

and how'd you come to use your mother-in-law's bike?

PsychoToddler said...

MO: Mine or her's?

HNC: No offense taken. With six kids, we've invested in a lot of bikes. Doesn't leave much over for me. And she wasn't using it anymore. Anyway, it's a classic bike, at least 40 years old.

mochassid said...


Hers. Yours looks like it fits. The little one's is way too big.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Cute picture, the helmets look cute not too bad.

Stacey said...

Great picture for a camera phone!

Kiwi the Geek said...

Dude, they're on the sidewalk for pete's sake! The helmets are not that important unless some idiot driver uses it as the right lane. (Which, considering the city, may not be unheard of?)

Jewish Blogmeister said...


Even if your kid is only driving on the sidewalk it is certainly a good idea to wear a helmet.

kasamba said...

Love the armour!

Your kids are so cute you should have bought them red ones- or at least wrap them in red string!

zahava (mrs. treppenwitz) said...

Gosh, golly! Am I the "helmet police?!" [blushes]

If so, YES! In fact, a RESOUNDING YES! (A yes akin to the one Madeline Kahn yells in "History of the World, Part 1")

To paraphrase Mel Brooks' line from a different scene of the same film -- "It's good to be safe!" (shhh... we all know it's really the king instead of safe... but I am working with a theme here! ;-P)

Kiwi the Geek said...

Wearing a helmet isn't a bad thing. Yet I read fondly of a time when people did all sorts of 'dangerous' things without any sort of protection, and lived to tell the tale. Once upon a time people drove cars with no seatbelts! They didn't even use child safety seats! Call me crazy, but I think sometimes we get a little overzealous. Of course, everybody has to draw the line where they're comfortable. But when I ride on a paved bike trail, I let the wind run through my hair. YMMV.

PsychoToddler said...

Currently, the PT walks much faster than she pedals, so for now, the helmet is more for "chinuch" (teaching) purposes.

Ezzie said...

And great chinuch it is!

That was a camera phone!? Nice!

Shira Salamone said...

"The helmets are not that important"

Kiwi, do you want to get my neighbor the nurse started again? She used to give me a royal song and dance about not subjecting my son to unnecessary injuries by taking him out bike riding without elbow and knee pads, not to mention wrist guards for roller skating, er, blading. If she'd ever seen our kid biking without a helmet, she would probably have reported us for endangering the welfare of a minor!

Er, I hate to break it to you, but having a helmet that *fits* is part of the chinuch (education).

Shira Salamone said...

Oops, sorry--forgot you'd already provided a translation. I'm so used to translating everything on my own blog that I just translate automatically.

I hope you can tighten The PT's helmet.

Kiwi the Geek said...

<sigh> I know there are some people who get really freaked out about all this safety stuff. Nurses tend to be the worst. I avoid them because they get on my nerves.

I walk barefoot everywhere. On cement, gravel, broken glass, everywhere. I used to make the effort to go barefoot in stores & restaurants, which contrary to popular belief is not restricted by any law, but now that I have a kid I have no energy for unnecessary battles. I've been barefooting for the past six years, and have had glass in my feet about three times. It was quite underwhelming.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so as long as I'm not likely to die or suffer debilitating injury, I don't bother with safety precautions. I also don't wash my hands nearly as often as 'they' say I should. And I'm doing just fine. :oP

Neil Harris said...

"Currently, the PT walks much faster than she pedals, so for now, the helmet is more for "chinuch" (teaching) purposes."

Yeah, my wife used the "chinuch" line on me when I took my 6 year old to the Skate Park. I was the only 35 year old geek on a skateboard wearing a helmet.

MoChassid said...


I know a man who is dead because he didn't wear a helmet. It was only a few blocks from his house in a very suburban setting. He was hit by a car, went through a windshield, was in a coma for months and finally died.

I am alive because I wore a seatbelt 33 years ago when I was in a horrific car wreck.

PsychoToddler said...

My worst bicycle-related accident occurred while I was actually NOT riding a bike and not wearing a helmet.

I was teaching my son Curly to ride without training wheels in our back alley. I was running behind him, holding on to the back of his seat. He stopped suddenly. I did not. I flew right over his bike and landed on my face.

Mrs. B got to see me limp my way back into the house with my scraped up face, arm, ribcage and hip and say something like, "I think YOU'D better teach him to ride.."

trn said...

Mark, kudos on the helmet. Yes, the next step is to fit it properly on the little one, but yasher koach on doing what you've done so far. Wearing a helmet from the start is certainly the way to teach, machmir and all.

Kiwi, I think there is a difference between going without a helmet and going barefoot, and there are numerous variables that influence the risk of both.

Yes, people rode for decades without helmets, but now that we have them, we can utilize them. Of course, that alone is not a reason; drastically increased safety is a reason. If the only reason for going without is to enjoy the wind in one's hair, there's no benefit risk-wise, and there is such great risk to which many people can attest by statistics and personal anecdotes, risk that isn't being mitigated in the case you cite by only riding at 2 miles per hour on the sidewalk, so it doesn't seem to be a good idea to not use a helmet.

Meanwhile, going barefoot can have health benefits, not only comfort benefits akin to wind in the bike-rider's hair, and serious risk is less, especially once the skin toughens after much barefooting, unless the person has problems healing or nerve or circulatory problems, such as many diabetics experience.

So, no, going barefoot is not likely to cause you death or debilitating injury, but the same really cannot be said for biking helmet-less.

Some people are more strict and some are more lenient, as with halakhah. It's a good idea to look at and weigh the reasons (which is sometimes a good idea with halakhah and sometimes is not) and the circumstances and competing issues involved (which is usually standard with halakhah).

You raised the issue of safety in cars. Yes, people went without seatbelts in vehicles for a long time, until I suppose someone looked at the physics involved and invented seatbelts. Seatbelts would be, I would think, considered by most to not be uncomfortable, certainly less of an intrusion than helmets. Children often do not like seatbelts, but that is often a poorly-adjusted belt (or picky child) issue. There are more vehicles on the roads and more distractions these days, so what reason, besides perhaps a little comfort for some people, is there to risk it?

Though much of this goes for carseats as well, one item about carseats provides a good counter-example, lest you think I never am lenient with respect to the status quo (when I am actually lenient when I feel the status quo might be wrong safety-wise). Carseats are now supposed to be only in the rear and not the front. This I think is not such a clear issue, neither one way nor the other. There are statistics that indicate higher problems in crashes with babies and small children in front. Certainly, if the car in question uses air bags, that is a reason to have small people avoid sitting up front. But what is the risk in a car without air bags when a baby's carseat is up front, rear-facing?

Perhaps it is still a case of erring on the side of caution, until one takes further into consideration that a baby in back all alone with the only other person in the vehicle up front driving chauffeur-style will tend to make more of a fuss than a baby who can see the driver sitting right next to him/her, and that a driver who needs to turn around constantly to tend to a baby will be more dangerously distracted and accident-prone than a driver sitting right next to a baby; the safety precautions being taken to protect the child in case of an accident have in fact a great chance of leading to causing an accident. There are also many examples of babies and toddlers getting into trouble in back because the driver couldn't see what was going on, and even of some of people being so disconnected by virtue of the front/back separation that a quiet child is actually forgotten and dies.

You mention overzealous, freaked-out people getting on your nerves, and I do think that is a consideration. Mental health is part of pikuach nefesh and is part of the risk assessment. A calm pregnant woman eating tuna once in a while, for instance, is usually a better situation than a pregnant woman greatly stressed by having to avoid tuna at all costs.

I recognize, Kiwi, that you offer that we have to draw the line where we are comfortable and our mileage may vary. This indicates that you in fact do weigh some benefits and detriments to come to your decisions, such as deciding to go shod in order to avoid arguments when you need your energy for your child. I'm not trying to lecture you, nor am I arguing simply for the sake of arguing. Rather, I am on some of these issues concerned for you, and I also find these issues -- with their complexities -- quite interesting.

Mark, to say I've taken up a lot of space here in your comments would be an understatement. I don't tend to do that. If you'd like to delete, of course go ahead.

PsychoToddler said...

TRN: I have no problem with you taking up space. There's a great discussion going on here, so keep it up.

Not bad for an 8 word post (including the title).

I should probably clarify my position on helmets:

I was a bike-riding fiend as a kid and nobody that I knew wore helmets unless they were semi-pro touring cyclists. My friends and I rode in the streets up and down Queens and had our share of tumbles but nobody I new had a serious head injury. Of course, every so often someone would get hit by a car and be seriously injured, but it was not usually something a helmet would have prevented. I personally find helmets to be uncomfortable and they throw off the natural balance of my head on my neck and may interfere with my visibility. But I say the same thing about black fedoras and shtreimels. I do notice that if I wear my helmet, I don't have to worry about my yarmulke flying off.

I have been somewhat lax about my own helmet wearing because frankly, most of what I do on my bike is follow my kids around on the sidewalk.

That being said, I believe there are statistics out there (which I don't have at my fingertips so any of my smart readers are welcome to dig them up) that show that wearing helmets does decrease head injuries and death in bicyclists.

When my kids started riding bikes, my wife and I decided that we would make them wear helmets and try our best to be consistent with our own usage. That big helmet you see on the PT was purchased for Fudge when she was that age, and in those days it was the correct size for her head. There is much padding on the inside that you can't see. Lately, helmets have gotten more sophisticated and smaller while providing better aeration and maintaining protection. At the PT's age, though, she's not riding fast and she's certainly not going in the street, so I'm not concerned about a head injury in her. Like I said, it's on there so she gets in the habit of wearing one when she rides.

With regards to the older kids riding in the streets...I must confess that I am a little over-protective at this point. I went out riding with Iguana last night and she stayed on the sidewalk. I think drivers now (in our neighborhood at least) are much worse than they used to be. There are more cars on the road, even in relatively suburban neighborhoods like mine, they drive faster, and are more likely to be distracted by cell phones and ipods and CD players and not paying attention to small kids on bikes.

After witnessing a number of cars barrelling down our street at 50mph, I feel very uncomfortable allowing my kids to ride there.

PsychoToddler said...

Oh, and here's one for Kiwi and whomever else is interested:

WI just passed a law that mandates the use of car booster seats for kids under the age of 8 or under 80 lb (I think). Based on my kids' weights, that means the PT will be in her new booster until she is 8. I haven't seen the studies done to show this to be a benefit, but I welcome any discussion on the subject.

trn said...

Thanks Mark. You're great.

trn said...

Oh, and, interference with visibility could indeed lessen the benefit of wearing a helmet, similar to the carseat in the front or back issue, because of the competition between safety in an accident and avoiding causing an accident. Can you make up for the decreased visibility with one of those dorky rearview mirrors that one can attach to one's helmet?

Getting one of those very lightweight helmets could mitigate the balance issue, which I am gathering could be problematic and distracting while riding, and, if not that, might be causing you other slight health problems.

Kiwi the Geek said...


Okay, I'm fine now. I shall try to extract the comment from my memory.

I'm not suggesting that people stop using seatbelts or carseats. I only said that to illustrate the opposite extreme our society used to be at. However, considering the new carseat laws, I think it's getting ridiculous for an 8-year-old to still be in a booster. At the rate I hope to have kids (anytime now) that could mean 4 child seats in a small bus! I wish car manufacturers would design adjustable seats & seatbelts, and save us all a lot of hassle.

I'm not suggesting that PT should change his family's helmet rules. It's no skin off my teeth. I was merely defending him against everybody who gave him a hard time about it, because when people give me crap about the dire consequences of barefooting, I really appreciate hearing another voice of reason besides my own. (Speaking of which, Trn, I'm quite impressed with your good sense on the issue. I was expecting somebody to freak out about tetanus & suchlike, as usual.)

I always wear a helmet on the street, every time, absolutely. Cars are as deadly as guns. I've had too many close calls, and many drivers don't even know the bike rules. One time some idiot yelled at me to get on the sidewalk, and this in a neighborhood where it was strictly forbidden. Bike rules, motorcycle rules, semi-truck rules should all be included on the written driver's test and reviewed during the road test. Lives are at stake.

My brother rides off-road, and he used to be lax about helmets. Then one day he was riding single-track in the woods, flew over his handlebars, and landed on the rarely-used helmet, cracking it in half in lieu of his skull. Now he wears a helmet regularly.

However, when there are no cars around and little risk of suddenly becoming a projectile, I don't wear a helmet. The tiny risk isn't worth all that sweat. If I manage to hit a huge rock on the paved trail and go flying and meet an untimely death, I promise not to whine, nor sue the county.

Freak accidents, like when PT was helping Curly learn to ride, are not worth worrying about. We could all wear helmets all the time, and that seems to be the direction our government is going, but I prefer to leave unlikely catastrophes in the hands of God. I don't care to twist myself into a pretzel worring about them.

The house I grew up in is located on a four-lane highway, speed limit 45. I was allowed to ride my bike, alone, a mile or two away, at 10 years old. (It was 1988, and I didn't have a helmet.) I also knew the bike laws, and knew that if my parents ever learned of me disobeying them, I would regret it. I was a very trustworthy kid.

cruisin-mom said...

Hey P.T....you look quite handsome in the helmut. I had the pleasure of meeting your good buddies...Doc Bean and BAll and Chain, and of course the infamous Ralphie. I was shocked at how much the lovely Doc and Mrs. really do look like Homer and Marge Simpson in person too.

PsychoToddler said...

CM: How nice that you Los Angelenos can all get together. And here I am, all alone in Milwaukee, a blogging island unto myself...

Kiwi the Geek said...

PT, if I can ever afford to visit my parents, I'll have to stop by.

Bonnie B said...

WHenever my family suits up and puts on all our saftey garb so we can ride our bikes, I always feel like an extra in a Star Wars movie.

PsychoToddler said...

BB: me too!