Something unusual happened awhile back. My boss contacted me and wanted me to take a look at copy for an upcoming column coming out, a column written by John Burns. I have a great deal of respect for Mssr. Burns. The body of work John has produced over the length of his career speaks for itself, so what could I possibly add to anything John had to say? But okay, El Jefe wants me to look at something, sure, send it my way.

I opened the file and the title induced flashbacks of the worst sort, “Whatever! – Dingbats, Dingmen, the AMA and the CDC.” I thought I had left all this well behind me, but it quickly became apparent why this was sent my way.

I am familiar with the AMA, having worked for it; and I’m also familiar with Rob Dingman, having worked with him; likewise the CDC, having attended more than my share of health conferences. And helmet laws, Lord only knows I’ve had my fill of helmet laws, having testified against mandatory helmet laws while in the employ of the AMA for a number of years. For that matter, I compiled and wrote what came to be known as the AMA’s Helmet Handbook back in the day, a guide for grassroots lobbyists and volunteers to use in combating mandatory helmet laws for adults.

You can never escape your past.

I read the piece and I liked it, though I did not agree with John’s conclusion. My boss wanted me to write a response to it, but I suggested we let it ride and see what the responses were. I also advised him that the feedback on that piece would be substantial. It was. There are few issues more controversial in the two-wheeled world than mandatory helmet laws for adults.

Helmet laws are the two-wheeled equivalent of abortion or gun laws. This was never made more evident to me than during one trip to the New Hampshire state house in Concord, wingtips and suit bag in hand, to represent the AMA and its members in a helmet law hearing.

It started out normal enough. We assembled in the committee’s hearing room, but soon the room was packed and overflowing out into the hallway. The turnout was more than they had expected, and more were still coming.

The committee chair made the somewhat unusual move of changing the venue for the hearing to the house chambers. I had not seen that before. We moved, and soon all the chairs were occupied, and then the aisles, then the open space in the rear, then the hallways, and still they were coming. I was sitting there watching this in awe. How many people live in New Hampshire? This was a work day after all.

The biggest committee hearing room I had ever seen, the house chambers in Concord, New Hampshire, with standing room only.  Photo by Marc Nozell.

The biggest committee hearing room I had ever seen, the house chambers in Concord, New Hampshire, with standing room only. Photo by Marc Nozell.

The committee chair promised that everyone that had showed up and wished to speak would have the opportunity, an opportunity that was taken by what seemed like all present. The house chambers of one of the oldest operating state houses in the United States echoed with the testimony of New Hampshire citizens through the morning, through lunch, and well into the afternoon with no sign of abating. Everybody had something to say, almost all in opposition to the bill.

And then the oddest thing happened…

I’ve seen some strange things in state houses. I once had a committee sing happy birthday to me at the behest of the committee chair, but what happened up in Concord was something I had never seen. The bill sponsor took the podium in the late afternoon. Her eyes were watering, she was all choked up, she spoke to the assembled crowd and apologized for introducing the bill. She explained she had no idea it would generate such resistance. She then withdrew her bill from consideration. The last thing she said was that she really understood now what it meant to, “Live Free or Die,” the state’s motto.

The crowd was ecstatic. I was gobsmacked. Now I really had seen it all. That is how contentious this issue is. With that in mind, I’d just like to expand a little on some of the points John made in his column, and also address some of the comments made by readers. My hope is it might add a little perspective.

First, the easy stuff. As John rightly pointed, the CDC can address both Ebola concerns and helmet use simultaneously. It is what they do, it is what they have always done. Infectious disease and “preventable” injuries are their bailiwick, amongst other things. Similarly, the AMA can address helmet laws, and a whole host of other issues. It is what they do; it is what they have always done. Addressing one does not preclude addressing other issues in the case of either organization. I know this; I’ve been to safety conferences in Atlanta held under the auspices of the CDC and the World Health Organization. Conferences in Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; and Toronto, Canada, and probably some I’ve forgotten.

These are, truth be told, generally dreadfully boring affairs, but occasionally they yield pure statistical gold, such as the Canadian conference where a University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center study was unveiled. That study proved very helpful to us, and a large part of that helmet handbook I put together used data from that study.

That is not DOT-approved, Mister.

That is not DOT-approved, Mister.

Second, some of the comments show a misunderstanding of just what the AMA does and who they represent. The AMA is a member-driven organization, so they represent the interests of their membership. They find out what their interests are by conducting bi-annual surveys of the membership and asking them a variety of questions to get a feel for changes over time and what the members feel are priorities: road issues, off-road issues, everything. Helmet laws are just a small part of what the AMA Government Relations Department does, though an important part. Important because they not only reflect the desire of the majority of the membership, but they also serve as a conduit to some of the best grassroots lobbyists in this nation. Namely, the State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (SMROs) – in some states referred to as ABATE. Also, many SMRO’s interests extend to issues that go far beyond helmet laws to encompass things like bike bans, rider education programs, onerous insurance schemes, and even, occasionally, off-road issues.

These SMROs are as different as the state capitals they roam. Some are sophisticated and well organized. Some are not, but in all instances, the relationship that exists between the AMA and these state SMROs can be traced in some degree to a shared resistance to mandatory helmet laws for adults. This symbiotic relationship has benefited all involved and motorcyclists in general.

I’d like to make something clear. I always told the truth in committee hearings. If asked if I personally wore a helmet when I rode, I always told them the truth – I did, and I do. I am a human crash test dummy. I have little doubt that but for Bell Helmets, Shoei, and Arai, I would not be here to type this column. If you see me riding on the street, chances are excellent I’m dressed head to toe in leather and have a quality lid on my head. My wardrobe consists of Arai, Vanson, and Alpinestars. I happen to think that is the smart thing to do. I do not need the state to tell me that. In fact, contrary to some of the comments that followed John’s column, the “government” does not know better than I, because most of our elected officials know about as much about motorcycles as they do about space exploration.

The results of a highside at Summit Point Raceway with velocity and gravity making a speed bag out of my head. The shell is dinged up from repeated blows, the liner was shattered, my skull was not.

The results of a highside at Summit Point Raceway with velocity and gravity making a speed bag out of my head. The shell is dinged up from repeated blows, the liner was shattered, my skull was not.

Finally, the whole rationale expressed in some of the follow up comments that espouses the benefits of governmental paternalism because some people are simply too stupid to evaluate these decisions for themselves troubles me. Be careful what you wish for. That mindset in the wrong hands could act upon tripe like this post on Gawker, except the author of this particular piece doesn’t think you’re too stupid to wear a helmet; he thinks you’re a raging imbecile to even get on a motorcycle.

Think these people don’t exist? They do. They may not be able to outright ban motorcycles, but they can make licensing and registration so onerous and pile on catastrophic health care proposals and insurance blacklists such that riding becomes a lot more expensive and difficult for all.

I vowed not to make this a rerun of previous testimony from a prior lifetime, free of statistics that are coma-inducing. Suffice it to say helmet laws are not the panacea some organizations would make them out to be. I believe helmet use is a good idea; my experience tells me so. But some of the best advice my old man ever gave me was, “Be true to yourself.” I think that is good advice, and I believe we should allow others to be true to themselves as well.

Many people would view the act of riding a motorcycle as sheer lunacy, not to mention racing, the seemingly absurd act of running around in a circle as fast as possible only to end up in the same place. Likewise, helmet use. Allow adults the latitude to make their own choices concerning their lives, choices that the state has no compelling interest in sticking their nose into. Give people the freedom to live. It’s their life; respect that.

Ride hard, assess the risks, make sound decisions, and look where you want to go.


About the Author: Chris Kallfelz is an orphaned Irish Catholic German Jew from a broken home with distinctly Buddhist tendencies. He hasn’t got the sense God gave seafood. Nice women seem to like him on occasion, for which he is eternally thankful, and he wrecks cars, badly, which is why bikes make sense. He doesn’t wreck bikes, unless they are on a track in closed course competition, and then all bets are off. He can hold a reasonable dinner conversation, eats with his mouth closed, and quotes Blaise Pascal when he’s not trying to high-side something for a five-dollar trophy. He’s been educated everywhere, and can ride bikes, commercial airliners and main battle tanks.

  • john burns

    So you’re saying ol’ JB was right all along. I agree. I’ll defend your right to voice your opinion till death! Yours, not mine, of course.

    • Oslo Norway

      *Ahem* Juan…

      “But some of the best advice my old man ever gave me was, “Be true to
      yourself.” I think that is good advice, and I believe we should allow
      others to be true to themselves as well.”

      • john burns

        and Thank You for Smoking. You were totally that guy huh?

        • Oslo Norway

          BWHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA…You have an aversion to anyone named Buckley don’t you, John…Wanna know my dog’s name? Go ahead, guess…Mind you he came from the rescue agency with this name, it was not my doing, and I did not want to confuse his dog brain.

          One should never change the name of dogs or boats. It’s bad luck…

  • Luke

    My take is always “if you’re an adult and the only person you’ll hurt is yourself and others taking part in the activity, then the government should stay out of it.” Most of the time, motorcyclist risk their own lives (and some small % of the time a passenger freely choosing). Where cars tend to risk the lives of everyone around them. It gets a little blurry when you think about child protection/etc…

    In the end I’m for helmet laws only because the act of putting one on is a powerful reminder that you might crash, so maybe you will be a little more careful. And maybe you’ll live a long motorcycle life, and we’ll hang out in joyous times, and then maybe, you’ll sell me your un-wrecked Ducati for a song…cause I don’t know how to fix a wrecked Ducati.

    • Christopher Murdock

      I agree with this and it’s an argument that people often make regarding helmet laws. The issue for me is the “… You’ll only hurt is yourself” Motorcycle insurance rates affect us all and they are far higher than they need to be because riders without helmets die a higher rates than those with helmets.

      I’d love to see a situation where the insurance pool was split between those riding with gear and those without. This way I don’t end up paying for some other person’s choice to ride without a helmet. I know this would be very hard to implement and enforce though. One idea would be for insurance companies to say “If you are in the “protective gear” pool an suffer a loss where you aren’t wearing said gear we won’t pay out.” It all seems like a big burden though and I can’t honestly see this coming to fruition. So for now, I sit on the fence. I’m an AMA member and respect everyone’s right to choose.

      • Oslo Norway

        I do think there is something to this, whether it might be vehicle insurance through PIP coverage, or health insurance costs passed on…

        I was coming down our little split lane highway down here and spied a kid on a sport bike ahead so I thought I’d tuck in behind him and just peel off where I needed to to go home.

        I’m full leathers, the obligatory Arai on my noggin, the kid is wearing a nice lid, shorts, a t-shirt that he keeps reaching back with his clutch hand to tug down, and tennis shoes…

        I hit the asphalt? I’ve done this before, I know how it works, I’m gonna scuff up leathers. The kid hits the asphalt (and he won’t stop tugging on that t-shirt) he is going to be hamburger. Those costs have to be passed on somehow…To what extent? I dunno…I’d like to know. I’d like him to concentrate on riding the bike too instead of his t-shirt…

      • Mr. Nask

        Death doesn’t raise insurance rates. People wearing helmets and becoming paralyzed or disabled and requiring a lifetime of medical assistance raise the rates. Helmet laws are not in place for public safety. How does my wearing or not wearing of a DOT approved helmet effect your personal safety? It is well known helmet laws are in place only to generate revenue. It is well documented how helmets lower the death very little but raise medical expenses for those who wreck with a helmet as opposed to the medical expenses of those who wreck without a helmet. And it’s always a lot cheaper to bury someone them it is to have an operation, especially now that Obamacare is in effect!

        • nobody24

          You think death has no cost? Got a $10 head do YOU?
          It affects my insurance, your brain make a mess of the road. But as you don’t like helmets, it seems your brain has already been damaged, you obviously weren’t wearing a helmet.

          • Mr. Nask

            I didn’t say no cost, I said less cost. I wear a helmet always so my excuse is I’m very well educated. By your comment see you have reading comprehension problems so your insult must have been self reflective.

        • pcontiman

          Wear a helmet or not. I don’t care (other than I think you might get hurt worse without one) I don’t want laws on helmet usage but don’t even begin to tell me that wearing one is only marginally safer than not. That is tripe and it is dangerous tripe to young riders who might believe it.

          • Mr. Nask

            It’s fact. Helmets do protect you from road rash on your face in low velocity impacts but impact damage to your neck is worse with a helmet studies have repeatedly shown. High impact has marginal protection. Crunch the numbers. Either way helmet laws our not I follow the laws and wear mine along with full leathers. But facts are facts.

          • pcontiman

            Facts are facts and studies can probably be found on both sides. Your head hitting the curb without a helmet will probably kill you. Thats a fact. Your head hitting a windshield without a helmet will probably kill you, that’s a fact. Law or not, “real” helmets are safer than none at all. That’s an opinion.

        • RyYYZ

          While I agree that the “costs to society” to argument is bogus, the idea that wearing helmets results in people surviving with crippling brain injuries rather than just dying in accidents is ridiculous. It’s just as likely that a lot of people who could have walked away unscathed from relatively minor accidents if they were helmeted will instead suffer severe facial and cranial injuries, as well as brain injuries.

          • Mr. Nask

            All I can say is facts are facts. There are lots of studies both publicly financed and privately finance that support what I say. It’s very important to not only read the facts but also to read between the lines. Use common sense about the findings and statistics. Here’s a good read to support my argument. http://www.easyrider.com/nhtsa.htm

          • Glenn

            Another fact people are ignoring is thee safety difference between a half helmet and a full face helmet. I have a half helmet but never use it. I only use my full face helmet along with my full pants and jacket body armor.

        • Glenn

          Not true. Insurance rates are based on how much money was paid out the previous year.

      • Mr. Kelley

        now that’s just plain stupid. I wear leathers but no helmet. Helmets cause serious neck injuries, full face helmet lessen your hearing and block your side view. and make your head hit the ground cause of the extra weight. I know of more people who where seriously injured or dead using a helmet then not. been riding 40 years at 20,000 miles a year. helmetless for 20

        • pcontiman

          And I’ve seen exactly the opposite. No helmet=dead. Don’t propagate the myth that riding helmetless is safer. It’s your choice but it’s not safer. Period.

          • Mr. Kelley

            I never said your myth of being in a lid is safer then mine or me being able to see better and hear better with out is safer. I’m saying I’d rather be dead w/o then a Quad with.
            we wouldn’t question why a heavy helmet hits the ground first and while we’re are it we shouldn’t question why we have so many neck injuries to motocross racing, nor WE YOU answer how a neck can’t break when a helmet slams into it at 60mph
            Just ask pittsburghs QB about his MC accident and if he was wearing a helmet he would have been a quad or worse but he only had face injuries from the car who hit him
            Period this…….. do you even ride and i’m not talking to the dealership and back?

          • pcontiman

            Yeah, I ride a lot, often and have for a long time. I suspect that Rothlisbergers incident was a lucky break. Glad he got one. Thought he was a bonehead for riding a busa with no helmet. Still think that.

        • Spacecity4lyf

          Again another fucking lie . Do you enjoy your fantasy world ?

      • Glenn

        . One idea would be for insurance companies to say “If you are in the
        “protective gear” pool an suffer a loss where you aren’t wearing said
        gear we won’t pay out.”

        I agree.

  • Mike Simmons

    Thank you for you response to Burns piece. I disagreed with his conclusions and was castigated for my opinion. Glad to see the powers that be had the sense to allow someone with an opposing viewpoint express their opinion. The less government intrusion into our lives, the better!

  • Mark D

    Great article, very respectful tone, and amazing anecdote about NH! I have to disagree with you that the state has no “compelling interest” in helmet laws. Under normal Constitutional law analysis, government can pass laws not only about things they have a “compelling” interest in, but anything they have a “legitimate” interest in. Legitimate interests are normally defined as the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of that State’s citizens. So, yes, the State has at least a legitimate interest in helmet laws, and that is all it needs to pass them. Whether they are GOOD laws is another thing, but the lawyer in me thought Id point that out.

    • lundque

      Also under constitutional law, there is a limit to that governmental power. No problem with eye protection laws. That keeps me from getting a speck in my eye, going almost blind and causing an accident. The government power to keep me from hurting myself in a personal endeavor is generally only imposed after an individual due process hearing. Where does that right end?

  • JMDonald

    I would never ride without a helmet. The idea that the government needs to think/control those that can’t make the right decision as far as they are concerned should chill us all to the bone. Heads up helmets on. We need to see what’s coming gentlemen. I have seen the enemy. It is the government.

    • john burns

      Yup, the nasty old government that gave us the 2-day weekend, child labor laws, clean water and air, seatbelts and airbags, mandatory schooling of our urchins, freed the slaves, let women vote… people have been saying the GOVT is going to take away our motorcycles since John Ulrich bought an `82 GS1100 to squirrel away.

      • Oslo Norway

        Johhhhhn…This isn’t some binary scenario, all government all the time, or no government at all, this isn’t political in the least. Yes, Child labor laws are very nice, thank you government. You yourself would ride down to the corner grocery without a lid. Why?

        • john burns

          Binary is exactly how your SMROs want to have it tho. If we give in on this, next they’ll take our Softails! Wrong. Govt is too busy screwing up too many other things to even care about motorcyclists until we make it too obvious how stupid dangerous we are.
          I wear a helmet to go down the corner because we had to pass a law to keep morons from roaring down the freeway without one. A small price for me to pay.

          • Oslo Norway

            John, the straw man arguments getting propped up around here could cover every cornfield in Iowa…I do not speak for every SMRO in the nation, I remarked as to how they were excellent at knowing their elected representatives and effective on their own ground. I do not speak for the AMA, and the Ebola thing made me chuckle.

            My point is a simple one, I wrote it in that column up there. It’s no more complicated than that.

          • RyYYZ

            You know, statistically, you’re probably more likely to be in an accident running down to the corner store than you are cruising along on the freeway?

      • JMDonald

        There but for the grace of government go I. There is a legitimate role of goveerment mon’amie. Unfortunately they seem to have forgotten their legitimate purpose.

        • john burns

          what is legitimate purpose of govt? Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness? Okay, life. Done. thank you.

          • JMDonald

            One man’s legitimacy is another man’s burden. Article I section 8 of the constitution spells it out. No nuanced interpretation required.

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        Respectfully, I don’t think the government gave us any of that. It had to be taken up by citizen groups in the face of sometimes violent opposition of established interests.

        The government is in a less ambiguous position to enforce behavior that can harm other people: like texting and driving.

      • Gary Blankenship

        John, that’s the old government you’re of whom you refer. The ‘government’ today is comprised of puppets to the uber rich who will pass ANY law to benefit their ‘real bosses’. Think things like…Fracking,

        Keystone XL, redistricting, bailouts, tax laws, etc. You’ll get the idea.

        I gave 30 years service in uniform, believing at the time in all those righteous values we were taught in school. Our democracy is gone. It doesn’t matter what we want today. We are a conquered people. The oligopoly decides what we NEED.

  • Old MOron

    So thanks to this article, I went back and re-read JB’s piece.

    “Yes, I know the AMA does a lot of good things, especially when it comes to keeping land open for off-road riding and sanctioning all kinds of rallies and races. It’s interesting to note that in every race event it sanctions, one of the requirements is that all participants wear a helmet. You have to wonder why, given that racers tend to be just the sort of highly skilled riders with plenty of training who should be able to just avoid accidents like the AMA states they should in its official position (much like teenagers should practice abstinence and just say no to drugs).”

    Ha ha ha!

    But I also learned something that is not funny. You see, in another article, Gabe bemoans the increased fatality rate in motorcycle accidents. He judges the MSF training to be ineffective because of the increased fatalities. But he really needs to take a look at the AMA lobbying that reduced helmet states from 47 to 19.

    Crap, now I have to go post on Gabe’s thread.

    • john burns

      thank you, OM. If it were all just theoretical, I wouldn’t give a damn. What it is, is corpses. Some of them young and stupid like most of us were at 19 or whatever.

    • Oslo Norway

      OK, let’s slow down to a gallop here. First off, racing is not remotely the street (that’s very important, we’ll get back to that in a bit), it’s not track days, it’s not new bike intros, racing is a different galaxy. Not unless you race on the Isle of Man and the cars and trucks are let loose amongst you.

      I have never scarred up a helmet on the street. I have highsided at Pocono, Rockingham, and Summit Point twice, all of them violently and obliterated four lids. That really sucked. What didn’t suck was there were corner workers, run out room, a flahy wagon if things really went wrong, and for the most part no stationary objects to run into.

      The street is a different world, it has STUFF in it. NASCAR requires helmets yet you can go out for a quart of milk in the grocery getter without one. I lost my little brother and my oldest friend’s wife to closed head injuries…in cars. But I wouldn’t suggest the four wheel types start donning Simpson full faces to drive to the Piggly Wiggly.

      And if you look at something like that UNC study you will see something that may turn a light bulb on. Trauma centers give you a score, not only for your head but for everything else it is attached to. Rember that there is stuff you can run into thing? And the puzzling part is why isn’t there a large difference in fatality rates between helmeted and helmeted riders in that study. And then you look at the overall scores? Look at the torso scores, look at the appendages scores. Don’t read columns, read studies like that UNC study, or if you want something easy and quick look at Fatal Analysis Reporting System numbers (FARS) and compare fatals per X amount of crashes (not registrations, not VMT, which is wildly inaccurate). I used to do this routinely. The fatality rate per X amount of crashes in neighboring states between helmet and non-helmet law states with similar situations, urban, rural, etc., it was indistinguishable, helmet, no-helmet, same-same. If you are crashing into a tree or ARMCO or a mini van that just pulled in front of you, you know what happens to your torso and appendages, forget your head…THAT may explain the fatality rate puzzle.

      And I’m not going to lie to you. When I first tripped across this I thought, “Hold on a second something must be wrong here.” But it was consistent time after time. I’d take a non-helmet law state similarly situated with neighboring helmet law states. Now keep in mind, I am talking about you have X number of crashes, how many people die? Right? You can’t play fast and loose with these numbers. These are the Fed numbers…And the ratios? Identical.

      That UNC study gave me a clue…It showed one thing, and it is why I think it is a good idea to wear a helmet, well, that and I’d feel naked without one and I like good helmets. Helmets were effective in street accidents at reducing the most severe head injuries on their scale to moderate. But fatality rates? I still puzzle over that. Indistinguishable…Even the length of hospital stays, the unhelmeted stays were longer but it was some minute amount.

      Then again, I know people can die from a closed head injury in a helmet. I honestly don’t know.

      Don’t kill the messenger. As far as MSF courses go, I encourage new riders to take them because I want to start good habits early — and the license test waiver is a good incentive in this state — included proper protective gear, not just helmets…But the numbers? The FARS data? The UNC study? That’s real…

      • Old MOron

        Thanks for your reply. I agree with everything you said in a previous post about reading the text of a study, looking at who paid for it, etc.

        As for FARS data and the UNC study, I haven’t read them, but an easy guess is that there are too many variables unaccounted for. That’s why we can’t make sense of the findings.

        Keep wearing your helmet. Cut back on your cigarettes. Enjoy the ride.

        Oh, and stop listening to Dingman :-)

        • John A. Stockman

          Excellent last sentence there Old MOron! The drivel that came out of his mouth about the recent acquisition of American motorcycle road racing by MotoAmerica. Funny, I heard the same thing when he turned it over to nascar. I am an AMA member, but I find his butt-licking to be not an appropriate practice for a man in his position. Keep your mouth shut Rob.

    • Oslo Norway

      Oh cripes, almost forgot, please, if you read any study, ANY traffic safety study. First thing forget the white paper, forget the executive summary, READ the study. The rest of it, that’s propaganda, read the study and what the researchers conclude with every table. Second thing, see who did the research and ask yourself who provided the funding. ANY study…

      • john burns

        How about the NHTSA study that inspired me in the first place: In 1997, 2,116 motorcyclists were killed out of a total 42,013 U.S. highway fatalities. By 2010, 4,502 of us had snuffed it, out of 32,885. We made it all the way from 1 in 20 fatalities to 1 in 7 in only 13 years.

        During that time frame, states with helmet laws went from 47 to 19.

        Just a coincidence?

        • Oslo Norway

          NHTSA doesn’t do studies, John, they contract and compile, show me where the numbers came from…I need some context here.

          They had to come from somewhere.

          • john burns

            Let’s just get back to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It’s obvious to the average golden retriever that helmets save lives just like seatbelts do. Dancing around with statistics is what bureaucrats do while the bodies pile up. Ahhh, yes, we’re sending that back to committee for further study…

          • Oslo Norway

            Oh, alright, John, you’re right…Trying to parse all this data to actually arrive at the truth even if it alters preconcieved notions…Looking at primary sources, that kinda thing, we should rely on…

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-oHYYaw9jA

        • Oslo Norway

          Oh, and California, which is a mandatory helmet law state, what did Gabe say happened out there?

        • RyYYZ

          No, there would appear to be a correlation. However, did motorcycle fatalaties almost double in that period because people’s lives weren’t being saved by helmets they weren’t wearing, or did total ridership maybe increase significantly in that period? Maybe people who really didn’t like helmets rode a lot more once they didn’t have to wear one, increasing their exposure to the risks? I’m not saying that any of the above is true, but your implication is not proven, either.

  • MrBlenderson

    I used to be against helmet laws (and seatbelt laws, etc.) until I started to notice how few people in Illinois wear one. It really seems like 90% of riders don’t, even in Chicago’s crazy traffic.

    First of all, if you want to advocate that the government should “stay out of our lives” and “let us make choices for ourselves as adults” then by extension you also have to eradicate all government regulation that is imposed in the interest of public safety. In the pure libertarian view that this stance comes from the free market and “smart” consumers would sort out problems that are currently addressed by health inspections in restaurants, safety code in buildings, safe manufacturing standards to keep lead and metal shavings out of food products and kids’ toys, etc. Those are all “big government” stepping in to provide for the general welfare of its people.

    The other reason is that I’ve noticed that in states with helmet laws most (if not all) people that you see on two wheels are wearing them, unlike here. A young, impressionable rider is then subject to the peer pressure of the masses to not wear a helmet. In Illinois you’re the odd man out if you protect your head on a bike. If anyone thinks that an 18-year-old (or a 22-year-old, or 30-year-old even) is emotionally mature enough to make a safe, smart decision in the face of massive group-think and a desire to fit in then you’re dreaming.

    I also recently noticed on the Illinois ABATE website that they are very proud of having defeated what they call the “Lane-Splitting Helmet Law” that almost made it through the legislature here a few years ago. Every day that I’m sitting in expressway traffic waiting to get rear-ended by someone updating their Facebook status I’m really thankful that others have the right to crack their heads open. How crazy is it that you don’t have to wear a helmet here but you can’t safely ride in the wide-open space in the parking lot that all Chicago expressways become during rush hour? Thanks ABATE, I’m sure you’re all daily two-wheel commuters. Keep up the good work.

    • john burns

      many thumbs up.

    • Oslo Norway

      “First of all, if you want to advocate that the government should “stay
      out of our lives” and “let us make choices for ourselves as adults” then
      by extension you also have to eradicate all government regulation that
      is imposed in the interest of public safety.”

      Um, no, you do not.

      • MrBlenderson

        Libertarianism isn’t a salad bar. You can’t just pick and choose where you’d like government to legislate in the interest of the people based on your personal interests. That’s the definition of intellectual dishonesty.

        • Oslo Norway

          I don’t recall proclaiming myself a libertarian, Mr. Blenderson.

          • MrBlenderson

            No, but the ideological basis of the argument against helmet laws is a libertarian idea.

          • Oslo Norway

            I just put out a cigarette, it can kill me, the surgeon general says so, I believe the surgeon general, I bet it can kill me, it just might, so what? I like it. Was that a libertarian act? What is so hard to understand about people wanting to do things?

            I had no idea by lighting up a Marlboro I was wrapping myself in the Gadsden flag…

          • MrBlenderson

            Well-played. Try lighting it up in a public space. The debate is about helmet use on public roads. If you like to smoke, ride a bike without a helmet, drive over the speed limit, leave raw chicken out on the counter for a few days before you cook it, etc. you’re more than welcome to do it on your own property. Using public roads means that you trade some of your personal liberty to comply with the regulations that serve the common good.

          • Oslo Norway

            What common good is served by mandatory helmet laws for adults?

          • john burns

            not having people attend their children’s funerals.

          • Oslo Norway

            Tugs at the emotional heartstrings, John, but go read the studies and look at the FARS numbers. That’s not reality. You want to keep your kid safe from crashing? Keep him off a bike.

            Didn’t help my little brother, 20 years my junior, he died from a closed head injury, I buried him.

            He died in a Jeep Cherokee…

          • Oslo Norway

            Heh, wow, whoa…January 14…Yeah…Today’s the anniversary…It has been 12 years now. I was a pall bearer, heh, man, and the first guy to throw a shovel full of dirt on him…He made it to June he would have turned 21, I wanted to buy him a beer…

          • Oslo Norway

            Sorry, got off in the weeds there for a second…Anyway. Yeah. John, I’m gonna guess you didn’t raise a dummy and he’ll make good decisions, and I can guarantee you we will both hope for the best.

          • john burns

            No, I was the dummy. I remember taking my new to me GS550 out for a January spin back in Missouri and hitting some ice when I was about 24, in a t-shirt and no gloves. Rashed myself up nicely and destroyed my new Nava (Nova?) helmet. It was just a quick spin around the neighborhood and I would not have worn it if there hadn’t been a law — and I’m pretty sure it would’ve killed me cause I was dingey for days…

            My kid couldn’t wait till he was 18 so he no longer had to wear a helmet on his bicycle or skateboard. It’s all about the cool and the peer pressure.

            Sorry about your little bro. In a modern Jeep with govt.-mandated airbags and seatbelts, he might still be around.

          • pcontiman

            I have to think nearly every motorcyclist has had this experience which leads me to my strong belief about wearing helmets. Still, let those who ride decide.

          • MrBlenderson

            Everything that I’ve ever read conclusively shows that helmets reduce traumatic brain injuries and deaths in crashes. Beyond beyond helping people avoid these there’s the positive impact of less drain on our emergency response, healthcare, and social security system.

          • Mr. Kelley

            but what about the neck injuries???? no data there. I see every year helmet related neck injuries

          • MrBlenderson

            I’d rather have a hurt neck than be dead.

          • Glenn
          • Mr. Kelley

            NHTSA data is faulty they use Guesstimates not science, There data is incomplete and highly questionable. They are the Gov’t and we both know that stats can and will be rigged to the users advantage

          • Glenn

            Having to pay out insurance to the loved ones of a person who died from brain injury because he did not have a helmet on. That affects all the rest of us because rates are determined in part by how much was paid out the previous year.

          • Mr. Kelley

            and that’s why motorcycles insurance is so cheap…. Helmets don’t matter

          • Glenn

            Your insurance may be cheap but mine is not.

          • Mr. Kelley

            well I guess you’d been a bad boy

          • CDR C

            The common good would also be served by completely outlawing motorcycles, speed limiting cars to 70 MPH (or 60, or….), and – gasp – a real skills-based drivers’ test where only about 50% of adults have the ability to pass. All of those things would reduce injuries and fatalities, yet all are over-reaching.

          • MrBlenderson

            The point is that the govt should provide for the common good through legislation that doesn’t impose grave limitations on people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Outlawing motorcycles, fatty foods, or alcohol takes away a large amount of that for a large portion of the population. Wearing a helmet when you ride on public roads is a reasonable imposition for the benefit of all. Public life is an ongoing tradeoff of small amounts of freedom for large amounts of benefits.

          • Mr. Kelley

            So your saying discriminate against the minority. for the public good… Gov’t shouldn’t provide for the common good mainly because the common good in your view is Majority rules no matter is it’s correct or not….

          • MrBlenderson

            I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here…

          • Glenn

            So, I guess that making people have car insurance is discrimination against the minority as well. It has nothing to do with the minority against the majority. It has to do with doing what is best for all the people. It has everything to do with statistics proving that people who wear helmets are much safer than those who do not. So you and 10 of your friends believe that a law is bad and 1000 people believe a law is good that this law is done away with? The majority should always prevail.

          • Mr. Kelley

            Majority is prevailing glenn. States are bring back our right to ride lidless…. The Federal Gov’t in the 70’s forced the people to wear lids.
            ALSO if everyone has insurance then no discrimination is involved (GET REAL)
            Statistics do not prove helmets are safer (YOU LIE).
            AND you know what is best for the people (Heil Hitler)

          • Glenn

            You are the one who needs to get real. Apparently you do not read the true statistics. I did not gather the statistical data so you are living a lie. This has nothing to do with Hitler. The fact is every wreck regardless of the vehicle costs me money because insurance rates are determined by how much money they pay out. I have several friends who died from brain injuries that could have been prevented had they had a helmet on. A few who are still with us but have severe brain damage because of them not wearing a helmet. Have you ever wondered why motorcycle racers of all types wear helmets. Would you ride in the Moto GT without a helmet? That environment is much safer than riding on a public road. Ask any of those guys if they would volunteer to ride in a race without a helmet and see what answer you get.

          • Mr. Kelley

            s will stop hyping effectiveness of bike helmets

            by Jim Titus • June 4, 2013

            Two
            federal government agencies will withdraw their longstanding claims
            that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by 85%. The
            decision comes in response to a petition the Washington Area Bicyclists
            Association (WABA) filed under the federal Data Quality Act.

            Photo by dno1967b on Flickr.

            In
            1989, a study in Seattle estimated that helmets prevent 85% of head
            injuries. Later efforts to replicate those results found a weaker
            connection between helmets and head injuries, but public health
            advocates, government web sites, and the news media often present it as
            fact.

            Bad information can cause problems, even when it is promoted with
            the best intentions. If people think that helmets stop almost all head
            injuries, consumers will not demand better helmets, and legislators may
            feel it makes sense to require everyone to wear one. WABA asked two
            federal agencies to correct the misinformation, and after a lengthy
            process, they’ve agreed to do so.

            How effective are bicycle helmets?

            In theory, helmets should absorb the shock from a crash. If your
            head strikes the ground or a vehicle, your brain could be seriously
            shaken by the sudden deceleration. With a helmet, the foam around your
            head forms a cushion.

            They can also prevent head fractures by spreading the force of
            the impact. It’s like the difference between being hit on the head by a
            rock or a beach ball with the same weight.

            It’s hard to tell how often helmets actually prevent head
            injuries, however. Experiments on people are unethical, so instead
            researchers collect hospital data on people involved in bicycle crashes.

            In 1989, a team of researchers led by Dr. Robert S. Thompson, a
            preventative care specialist at the Group Health Cooperative of Puget
            Sound, collected data about cyclists in Seattle who went to area
            hospitals after a crash. Only 7% of the cyclists with head injuries wore
            helmets, but 24% of those without head injuries did wear helmets. Their
            statistical analysis, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, estimated that helmets had reduced the risk of a head injury by 85%.

            Dr. Thompson’s study was a “case-control study”
            like those that first found a link between smoking and cancer. There is
            no true “control” group, but epidemiologists say these studies are good
            for showing whether something has a good or bad effect on health,
            though not for quantifying it.

            Dozens of researchers
            sought to replicate the Thompson findings in their own communities.
            They also found that helmets reduce the risk of head injuries, but less
            frequently than Thompson’s team found. Some studies even found that
            helmets increase the risk of neck injuries.
            If you consider the entire body of research rather than just one study,
            and look at both head and neck injuries, helmets only reduce the risk
            of injury by about 15% to 45%

          • Glenn

            If helmets are responsible for making me 15-45 percent safer then to me this is a good reason to wear one.

          • Mr. Kelley

            do you realize that the study your trying to prove you point only uses data from 18 states? they also state that some accident are not in the study 1) cause the accident was i one state and person was from another state 2) Didn’t meet state police guide lines (we don’t know what they are) so these accidents are left out. 3) they admit to no control group, 4) they admit in the study that it is an estimate. 4) studies have show (I posted here) that when adding neck injuries safety of the helmet drops to a low of 5 percent.
            Also you state several friends of your are dead (but it was the lack of a helmet) This is just a guess on your part ALSO you’ve stated a few more friends are severe brain damaged.
            YOU EXPECT US TO BELIEVE YOU PERSONALLY KNOW a half a dozen or more people who died or damage w/o a Helmet ? I’ve been riding for 40 years I put on 20,000 miles of seat time annually and know of 2 and one had a Helmet on…….. I believe it’s maybe 50/50 just bad luck on the part of the driver. and if your teling the truth you should stay away from your friends they can’t ride and/or just plain stupid
            You bring up MOTO I’ve stated Helmet cause severe neck injuries that is why you see those moto guys wearing a collar (cost min $200) when wearing a helmet to prevent neck injuries
            ALSO go on utube look up the hundreds of MC accidents and watch them……. Hardy anyone of those accidents a person lands on their head….. or the head comes into contact with the ground. THAT’s your proof

          • Glenn

            YOU EXPECT US TO BELIEVE YOU PERSONALLY KNOW a half a dozen or more people who died or damage w/o a Helmet ?

            I care less about what you believe. The majority of these guys had been riding for many years, so they were not rookies. Believe what you want to believe because it matters little to me.

            http://www.webmd.com/news/20080612/head-injuries-up-after-helmet-law-repeal

            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080612162240.htm

            I guess these three articles were written by those evil government agencies you refer to.

          • RyYYZ

            Actually, the last of those would be a perfectly reasonable thing to implement. It’ll never happen in north America, because we do essentially view driving as a right and a practical necessity.

          • Mr. Kelley

            wearing a helmet does not serve the public good. It is revenue driven. more people die in auto’s from head injuries then motorcycles we should then by your thinking make them wear helmets.ALSO more pedestrians die from blows to the head from falling object then those on motorcycle we should also for the common good make them also wear helmet,

          • MrBlenderson

            The point is the % of injuries per person participating in the activity. I don’t have any data, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that a larger percentage of motorcyclists die from head injuries than pedestrians.

        • John A. Stockman

          Well said. Reminds me of religious types who like to pick one from column A, one from column B, etc. when it comes to beliefs and actions. My grandfather (avatar pic) told me to be true to myself. Don’t sit on the fence, have the facts and Information to back yourself up and never use conjecture, BS or anecdotal evidence in the place of truth. Saying something does not make it real or true. Be committed to your beliefs and own them. I went through challenges that many could not begin to comprehend to be able to ride a motorcycle again; after an insidious genetic collagen defect (a form of ankylosis) destroyed ALL my joint cartilage by the time I was 14 and fused my entire spine and both hips. The negative reactions from people I knew and the medical community were soul crushing. I had to keep my dream to myself. After 3 years of 3 total hip replacement surgeries (one failed and had to be redone) and tortuous physical therapy 3 times a week to get my atrophied muscles working again, I was able to throw away my crutches that I had used for 12 years, walk unaided and get my first street bike. I could never have enjoyed any semblance of physical freedom otherwise. For almost 30 years, I rode with such thankfulness and joy that I pulled it off, in spite of therapists quitting on me and doctors rejecting me. I rode with skill by constantly improving those skills, through training and lots of practice, and I always wore my kit. Close to 350,000 miles with no crashes. Lucky? No. A great set of skills and maintaining said skills. I find it amazing that if my goal/dream had been to play a ball-sport, run a marathon, or climb a mountain, I would have been lauded as some sort of hero, a courageous type with lofty goals worthy of praise. Applause was not my goal, nor were commendations or medals. I also wanted to keep alive my family’s heritage of motorcycling, which started on the board tracks in the early teens by my grandpa’s older brother, who rode for the factory teams on Indians, Harleys and Excelsiors. My life and enjoyment of it has been enriched because of motorcycling beyond any form of measurement or accepted standards because I was true to myself and accomplished my goal, no matter the derision and vilification I got from others.

    • Oslo Norway

      I think DOT testing of helmets is good, yet according to you I’m not allowed to do that? So consumers have some assurance of what they are buying?

      • MrBlenderson

        If the government shouldn’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets then why should they be tasked with determining the standards for them and requiring manufacturers to comply with those standards? If you think that helmet use should be voluntary then it follows that the safety standards for them should be voluntarily created and enforced by the private sector.

        • Oslo Norway

          Because I think consumers are at a disadvantage when it comes to buying things like helmets. They don’t know if it does what it says it is supposed to do, and it is their safety right? Eh? Yeah, good stuff.

        • Oslo Norway

          …and then of course there is always the Snell Foundation, private, sure, but well respected…People get what they are paying for…

          • MrBlenderson

            I personally only wear Snell helmets :-)

          • Oslo Norway

            Me too, but, well, yeah…It’s just because I’m a helmet snob…

    • Old MOron

      You can have my lane sharing when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    • Uncommon Sense

      I agree 100%. Choosing to ride without a helmet is evolution at its finest. I generally don’t want government dictating what adults should and shouldn’t do, but if I can trade mandatory helmets for lane sharing / splitting I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’m in Chicago too and get annoyed that it takes me 30 minutes to go 8 miles on 290 during rush hour when if I could lane split, I could probably do it in 15 and it would make riding a bike that more advantageous over being in a cage all summer.

    • pcontiman

      Probably the only reason I would agree to a helmet law would be if I could get lane splitting in return. Having it in California makes the riding experienced that much better and according to a safety report safer for lane splitters. We don’t have it in Colorado and man could we use it their. Of course I wear a helmet always so it won’t hurt my “freedom”. Don’t need a law to know what common sense is.

    • lundque

      I was once told that I shouldn’t wear my Schuberth at night in Indiana because, “the only people who wear them here are youngsters and it gives the cops an excuse to stop you at night after curfew.” I agree with you going ATGATT on the Chicago expressways in near parking lot stage on a hot day can be miserable. I sometimes end up pulling over to the breakdown lane, lifting the chin bar, having a drink of water and a Pall Mall to chill. Lane splitting would be nice.

    • Double

      Your argument, just as “Oslo Norway” wrote, is considered a Slippery Slope Logical Fallacy. The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging the problem at hand, moving attention to extreme hypotheticals.

      You moved the discussion completely away from talking about protecting oneself by choosing to wear or not wear a helmet. You liken wearing a helmet to being served metal shavings…which are completely different discussions. THAT is why your false logical reasoning makes a weak argument.

      • MrBlenderson

        This is Reductio Ad Absurdum, not Slippery Slope. The question of this whole debate is not whether people should protect themselves by wearing a helmet, but whether we have a duty to legislate for the good of the people.

      • pcontiman

        I think you need to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. You might understand it. I’m pretty sure I don’t. It will keep you busy for a week or so…

    • JD Morris

      To compare safety laws like building codes, lead, ADA, etc. to helmet laws is ridiculous. Wearing a helmet is a choice. Do you expect home builders to give perspective home buyers a report of how they built the home, materials they used etc, and the buyer understand it and access the risk? An explanation of using this bolt instead of another holding your car together? Restaurants posting all the dangerous preparation practices and tainted food they use?
      For the layman we need experts to access the risks and then make an informed decision as if the public had the same knowledge.
      The risks taken by smoking, not wearing a helmet, etc. is easily understood by the everyday citizen, therefore a choice can be made. In addition this choice affects the individual instead of others.

      • MrBlenderson

        Given the overwhelming majority of riders in Illinois that I see riding huge cruisers with minimal following distance and no protective gear at all I think it’s fair to say that the everyday citizen does NOT understand the risk taken by not wearing a helmet.

  • notfishing

    You want to save a lot of lives and people from injury in California?

    Pass & enforce a no cell phone or texting law with real teeth.

    There’s a huge difference between risking one’s own health and risking the health by choosing not to wear a helmet and risking the health of others by driving while texting or on the cell.

    • MrBlenderson

      Definitely. It needs to be a primary stop with heavy fines. I don’t know why municipalities aren’t jumping on this for the revenue.

      • HughKayers

        Needs to have parity with DUI. Jail time. Just as dangerous and irresponsible. Given the choice, I’d prefer a driver coming toward me at .09 BAC (used to be legal) who SEES me over a totally distracted cellphone zombie clueless that they’re wandering into my lane.

    • Turtle Turtle

      I agree – we need more folks driving focused on driving

  • Mark

    I agree helmet use should be optional for the rider – but, IF the passenger is under 21, helmets should be mandatory. I purposely chose 21 because as we know, a lot of 18 year old girls do not have the maturity to not do what their “true love” asks but the additional 3 years *might* add a bit of maturity. Difference with gun laws (they are not the same) is that bikes are registered to their owners and easily tracked though various sales – guns are not and, riders have demonstrated some degree of proficiency and insurance through licensing restrictions . Not so for guns considering the number of “accidental” discharges we read about

    • john burns

      Not bad in theory, in practice you create an enforcement headache for police who already have enough to deal with. Also gives them an excuse to stop you…

  • wolzybk

    The decision whether or not to wear a helmet is one of risk tolerance, and is EXACTLY the same decision as to whether to ride a motorcycle at all — or skydive, SCUBA, ride a horse, etc. Adults have the right to make these decisions for ourselves. Yes, helmets save lives. Yes, it’s a good idea to always wear one. Yes, I wear them myself, every time I get on a bike, regardless of the law. It’s still not the duty, or even the right, of the government to protect people from themselves.

  • Toldyouso

    I won’t ride 50′ without my helmet. I also believe that if a rider doesn’t think his noggin is worth the protection of a helmet, then he’s probably right. Therefore there is no need for any legislation here.

  • Chuck Surprise

    Freedom carries with it responsibility for your freely performed actions. I resent any attempt to chip away at my freedom, but I do, now, always ride helmeted. I think all riders should be required to wear helmets, unless they have the verified resources or insurance to cover the enormous expenses of head injury repair and caring for mindless bodies in a vegetative state. I don’t want to bear those costs, nor should the public be taxed to pay for the poor riding skills, bad luck, or stupidity of helmetless riders whose “Live Free” headbands proved inadequate to the task of protecting their cognitive organ.

    • lundque

      From the few helmet legislation hearings and SMRO meetings I’ve been to, I was always impressed that the folks in the forefront of insisting this was a rights issue were veterans. When a veteran tells you their rights are being violated, I think we ought to sit for a minute and ask why they feel that way. Yeah, post the song link again here!

    • RyYYZ

      Your argument really would apply just as well to banning motorcycles altogether, which are MUCH more dangerous to their riders and passengers than cars are. Actually, the amount of money saved by helmet laws is probably pretty tiny compared to the amount that could be saved by eliminating motorcycle accidents altogether. I’m really expecting things to slowly move in that direction, as our society becomes more and more risk-averse.

      • Chuck Surprise

        I agree. When I arrived in San Diego in 1971, the population was 1.3 million. There were no helmet laws, no MC emission regulations, much of the surrounding hill country was open for off-road activity. Today, population is 3.3 million. we are tightly regulated and more strictly policed, the open land is all closed, and off-road activity is restricted to small and shrinking areas. We have overpopulated our little piece of the planet. Good for business, bad for freedom. I don’t see it getting better.

  • Vrooom

    The author’s point of “most of our elected officials know about as much about motorcycles as they do about space exploration” seems completely irrelevant. You don’t need to be an automotive engineer to understand that seat belts save lives, it’s completely unnecessary. I always wear a helmet, if you have insurance and don’t mind dying, I suppose you’re free to do so. But I’ve been at the scene on one too many moto crashes where the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet to ever leave my driveway without one. If you’ve ever seen someone’s ear completely missing from their head, you would too.

  • Jason

    I’m all freedom and personal responsibility. It works great in theory but the problem is many people want the freedom without the responsibility.

    They want to ride without a helmet, but expect the hospital to provide care for them even though they aren’t insured. They expect the hospital and taxpayer to cover the hundreds of thousands in hospital bills that they can’t pay.

    • John A. Stockman

      Best statement so far:
      “It works great in theory but the problem is many people want the freedom without the responsibility.”

    • lundque

      Looking at it from the opposite direction, do you see anything wrong with society saying on the one hand, “we’re going to pay for that from now on,” and then on the other, “and since we’re now paying, I get to tell you what you can do?”

  • nobody24

    In Canada, we have universal health care, and mandatory helmet laws. I do NOT want to pay the medical bills of a moron who won’t wear a helmet. He can pay for his own stupidity. This “live free or die” shit, is just that.. useless bravado by mental midgets.
    Many, Many many years ago, Bell helmets had a slogan which STILL applies. Got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet (got a valueless head, don’t wear a helmet!).
    Someone dies or becomes a vegetable because they are too stupid to not wear a helmet, affect the insurance premiums of everyone.

    I will not pay for idiots! If you don’t wear a helmet, your insurance should be void. Those who truly and ignorantly believe in “live free or die” should DIE. There are too many stupid people on the planet already

    • Oslo Norway

      Well, Nobody24, Canada, hmmmm, that’s interesting. We do conceive of things a bit differently down here but I appreciate the input! I like Canada, the women are nice, and I like catching northern pike.

      • John A. Stockman

        I found Canada to be the same…inviting, pleasant, wonderful women and one of my most favorite annual trips on the motorcycles I’ve owned. I’d set aside two weeks in June or July (since 1985) and ride from Victoria eastward through BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, north and south, all on secondary/two-lane roads. Love the place, the people, the roads, all the small-town businesses, mom/pop eateries and services. I met some terrific women in my travels too. I would always bring an extra helmet for the impromptu pillion passenger girl.

  • pcontiman

    Good article. Haven’t read Mr. Burns take yet but likely will. As always, let those who ride decide. Need help deciding ? Drop a cantaloupe off of your bike seat. That’s just if you fall off your bike. Add 5000 lbs of American Steel and some asphalt. Might want to wear a helmet……Don’t need no stinking law to tell me that.

  • http://www.bikeexif.com/ Chris Hunter

    There’s only one good thing about motorcyclists being able to ride without helmets: it raises the average IQ of the wider motorcycling population.

    The concept of ‘freedom’ doesn’t exist. It’s a cute idea, for sure, but ‘freedom’ always has consequences. In this case, those consequences are expensive clean-ups for dead or brain-damaged riders and higher insurance bills for everyone. Plus broken families because Mom or Dad didn’t have the plain common sense to protect themselves when out riding.

    The Gawker piece was little more than online trolling, but buried deep inside was a germ of truth. If motorcyclists show a disregard for their own safety, then public perception will be harmed.

    You wear a seat belt when driving your car because you’d be an idiot not to. Wearing a helmet is no different.

    As with the US gun laws, this is one of those instances where other countries are looking on aghast, and wondering how otherwise intelligent people can tie themselves in knots trying to justify the ‘freedom’ not to wear a helmet.

    You might like the wind in your hair when out riding—and hell yeah, ‘Murica is The Land Of The Free. But the only time you’ll be truly free is when the unthinkable happens and you’re That Guy who ends up in the local newspaper as the latest motorcycling casualty.

  • lundque

    As usual, nice job Mr. Kallfelz. And its prompted a great discussion! There are two reasons I wear a helmet that I just can’t get out of my mind whenever I even dare run down down the alley to check on an ignition miss: First was when my Dad told me that my Mom worried when I didn’t (yeah, Dad, it was just her).

    Second was one fine, hot day in the Kallfelz garage, swapping riding lies over cold, cheap beers as you fitted my SR500 with one of your higher flow filters. And then you added the definitive point by bringing out that full-faced lid worn flat on one side when it slid between your cranium and the race track.
    .
    But the legal and philosophical arguments never go away and have nothing to do with making the personal decision.

    • Oslo Norway

      Eric! Hah! How are you? Man, it is good to hear from you!

      • lundque

        Doing reasonably well. I left an email with my address on the main site, asked them to forward to you..

  • Ian Urquhart

    In Australia police have started fining riders as not wearing a helmet, simply because they do not like their tinted visor or go pro stuck to their helmet. I wish more people would read and understand this article, and actually leave the responsibility of these things to the people who experience and understand riding a motorcycle.

  • RyYYZ

    I agree with your stance, in principle, even though it makes me wince to see people riding, especially newbies who are prone to the sort of small accidents that can still result in you smacking your head pretty good, riding without helmets. The battle is long lost in this country (Canada), though, and I’m not willing to spend whatever political capital motorcyclists have in this country arguing for the something that the general public sees as a no-brainer (no pun intended).

  • Mr. Kelley

    Just maybe your head hits the ground so much cause of the weight of the helmet, I know of to many neck injuries caused by helmets I’d rather be dead then a quad

    • Spacecity4lyf

      Many negative comments and ZERO followers . Does it now register in your tiny little under developed brain that the whole world knows you are a lying mentally disturbed asshole . You have no friends in your life , but that is your fault , your own family cannot stand you and that is your fault . The whole world is laughing at you , you are a FAKE and a PUSSY .

    • Spacecity4lyf

      ZERO followers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Spacecity4lyf

      ZERO followers !!!!!!!!!!!!! Dumb ass !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Spacecity4lyf

      ZERO DUMBASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Spacecity4lyf

      ZERO you little bitch !!!!!!

    • Spacecity4lyf

      Go fuck your self you little pretend bitch !!!!

  • Glenn

    Pass & enforce a no cell phone or texting law with real teeth.

    Nobody is arguing this. We all agree on this issue. The fact that helmets save lives is well documented.

  • JMDonald

    It will start out like this………….
    If you like your helmet you can keep your helmet.
    If you like your motorcycle you can keep your motorcycle.
    No one is saying you can’t ride a motorcycle we’re just saying you can’t ride one without a helmet.
    The motorcycle safety act will be an insurance policy. All money taken forcibly from any income you generate will be preserved in an account in your name so if you ever need it it will be there for you.
    Your check is in the mail.
    The tax will only be in effect for two years.
    I did not have sex with that women.
    Fascism is not a good thing for anybody.

  • icemilkcoffee

    “most of our elected officials know about as much about motorcycles as they do about space exploration”
    Ummmm- the US government did put a man on the moon. The US government did put a couple of buggies on Mars. They know a thing or two about space exploration. I get it that it’s annoying when somebody tells you what to do. It’s even more annoying when that person is right. That’s the situation we are in. Are you going to let your ‘don’t tell me what to do’ juvenile petulence get the better of you? Or are you going to be a mature adult and acknowledge that Dad was right about keeping the gutters clean, and the government was right about wearing your helmet?

  • Coy Coleman

    I usually ride with a helmet, with very few occassions where I dont. I usually ride with a half helmet and goggles in decent weather so I can see and hear my surroundings. If you have mandatory helmet laws the next thing they will mandate the type of helmet you have to wear. Full helmet, full helmet with super braced chin support, full helmet with neck brace, full helmet with rear view camera, full helmet that can not be a two piece. DOT and Euro Reg Helmets are just fine the way they are and will make improvements as the market wants. Government, stay out and away from my motorcycles.

  • Max Frisson

    As a 27 year dues paying AMA member, I want action on lane sharing and it a legislature says in order to split lanes I must wear a helmet or even that we all must wear helmets then I am just fine with that.

    Hey, AMA do something proactive for a change, I do NOT want you molded in the form of a two-wheeled NRA who only lives to oppose.

    Mobile devices treats I feel are overplayed and I do not want that used as a counter. Remember when radios were first introduced for autos, cities wanted to ban them for distracting drivers too.