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Helmets, 3-Foot Buffer Zones, Human-Powered Rudeness, Laws and Cycling, Inline Skating, Driving, Life, Death, Grief, Wheels, Joy

roadskater's picture

Well today instead of doing what I "should" be doing, I'm doing what I'm "inspired" or "distracted" to do. There are things I really should do, and others I would really love to do, but somehow, I'm here, thinking over helmets again, and ice skating casually, skiing on the beginners' slope, cycling, skating, representing, doing the sport you love, being with those you love, living a life you love...and the other stuff like "responsibilities" and "duties" and, ha, "survival needs." With all that, here is what I ACTUALLY AM DOING, WILL HAVE DONE.

I'm thinking I should say to those who don't, please reconsider wearing a helmet. And to me...

I'll be thinking of wearing it more often in situations where I might not...like skiing, and just for fun style ice skating and rink skating when I don't have to wear it by force. I wear it outdoors because I know I have needed it. The helmet may have saved my life a couple of times when taking a knock to the back of the head, who knows. 

It might not help, but mostly a helmet is less likely to hurt than help, in my opinion, and it might save your life. It might not, that's true. But I've said it again, for me, at least.

The other thing is to take a knock on the head seriously even if it doesn't seem so serious, maybe even if wearing a helmet. It's later that your brain will try to expand beyond the boundaries of your skull, or whatever other stuff happens that I don't understand. 

It's sad when people die of brain injuries or lose their faculties in small or large ways, but we won't usually hear about it so much unless it's somebody pretty or powerful or somehow well-known. I'm not diminishing famous people's pain. I'm sorry for it and hope they had a great life in private, which I'm sure isn't always easy for the well-known.

The first recent brain injury death was one I considered writing about the other day. I ran out of time and words. It was Philip Keillor, age 71. He went ice skating with his grandaughter, fell backward, hit his head. A beloved man. I'm so sorry for the grandaughter (and everyone else of course). I'm sorry for the homeless folk he helped along the way. They'll surely miss knowing he's alive.
Co-founder of Porchlight dies after ice skating fall Friday: UW-Madison researcher and co-founder of Porchlight Inc. Phillip Keillor, 71, passed away Friday after an ice skating injury.

Words from his brother...

When your brother dies, your childhood fades, there being one less
person to remember it with, and you are left disinherited, unarmed,
semi-literate, an exile.

Also a more entertainment-focused-referential piece with content from AP...the ouch is...

"...his wife of 49 years, said her husband was a lifelong ice skater."

Then more recently the woman called by several "luminous," Natash Richardson, who died after a fall on the beginners' slope, as I heard it. Let's remember this, guys and gals, if we take a fall. A simple hard knock needs to be tested soon. Be where the help is if you need it. Don't be brave or fear to be trouble. Get the paramedics in and everyone else can keep skating or biking or whatever if they want. Here's the ouch for me...

...director of operations at the emergency services company that sent paramedics to the Mont Tremblant resort where Richardson suffered her fall, told The Globe and Mail newspaper Wednesday the paramedics who responded were told they were not needed. 

Some nicer thoughts on her hubster...and life...and death...

"He's more laid back, happy to see what happens, whereas I'm a doer and I plan ahead,"...
"The differences sometimes get in the way but they can be the very things that feed a marriage, too."

She once said that Neeson's serious injury in a 2000 motorcycle accident — he suffered a crushed pelvis after colliding with a deer in upstate New York — had made her really appreciate life.

"I wake up every morning feeling lucky — which is driven by fear, no doubt, since I know it could all go away," she [said] in 2003.

So what good is living if you can't be rude? Well OK how about be rude in your car but maybe try not when you are on the bike or on skates. You're representing all of us whether we like it or not. :o) So am I, I know, and I can't say I always am proud of me. But here's how some people, even those on our side in some ways, see it. I agree. There's plenty to blame motorists for, because they often play with a very deadly weapon when they try to "scare us just a little" or maybe "scare the besomething out of those idiots."

This is from a piece SUPPORTING A 3-FOOT BUFFER ZONE LAW...

Bicyclists are obnoxious.

On any sunny spring day, you'll find them infesting the country roads surrounding Baltimore looking freakishly fit in their Spandex outfits and dweeby helmets. You just know they're a bunch of smug, greener-than-thou elitists whose greatest joy - apart from forcing motorists to crawl along at 10 mph while they drift toward the middle of the road - is to lecture you about your carbon footprint.


Whatever the rights and wrongs of who does what to whom on the roads, the mismatch in weight and vulnerability between motor vehicles and bicycles is extreme. And the law protects the vulnerable, even when the vulnerable get on our nerves.


And sadly, there are cases where there is actual contact - often with a protruding side-view mirror. It won't hurt the car much, but the damage to the bicyclist can be serious.


We know of a skater/biker/mom/daughter/hero who met with a mirror and still skated for people with multiple sclerosis the next fall. I also read the other day of a guy whose saddlebags (panniers) on the back wheels got caught by a vehicle and he was dragged in and killed [I miss the details, but the other day I did a search for "cyclist killed | skater killed"(fun huh?) and that was how I found the item on Keillor methinks.]

So sure we'll be rude sometimes. There will be times we are soft on following the traffic law, but let's do our best to follow it and to change it where we can. There's a thing called the Idaho stop, where cyclists can roll through a stop sign after determining it safe. They're trying for that in Oregon I think...


Also in Wisconsin there's an attempt at a law setting a fine for "dooring" a cyclist going by. The folk who are against it say things like stay as far right as you can but they also are prone to saying well when I know I'm going through a place where people open their doors a lot I just move over a little, or similar. It's always hard to understand the other view. I'm reminded of that when I drive, but unfortunately most drivers are never reminded when they bicycle because they don't. They also say we should be on the sidewalk if they're driving or on the sidewalk if they're driving.


I think the main point of these laws is to educate people and to give some way of protecting especially from intentional behaviors. 

But alot can be accomplished by doing our best to be visibly kind when we can, be as safe as we can, and try not to do things we wouldn't like if we were driving and somebody was out there on a bike or on skates or on a recumbent or road tricycle or driving a tractor. Easy to say, huh?

Thoughts? Oh yeah. Kudos to Bryan for jogging my memory with an email about a cycling incident he saw. I'll answer your email when I get to what I should be doing. Maybe!


Madison, Wisconsin
United States
43° 3' 43.4556" N, 89° 24' 3.0456" W
Parc du Mont-Tremblant Mont-Tremblant , Quebec
46° 12' 50.1552" N, 74° 34' 59.1312" W


roadskater's picture

A Good Follow-Up Article on Richardson's Head Injury, Helmets

So it's important to take note of symptoms an hour or so later, it seems, especially headaches. There are some good basic ideas on concussions, and the questions surrounding whether helmets help or not.

I'd add I've never felt any more secure or daring when wearing a helmet as far as I know. I forget it's there, mostly. When you first start wearing it you notice. Then you will almost always notice and feel strange when NOT wearing it, or that's how it is for me. 

She fell at the end of the lesson and struck her head, but was alert and conversational afterward and did not complain of any ill effects. An hour later, in her hotel room, she developed a severe headache. The next day, she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in critical condition, where she died on Wednesday.


One of the most common collision-related head injuries is a concussion, which occurs when the head moves at high speed and stops suddenly as it strikes a hard object. The brain, which is snug but not completely stationary inside the head, may continue moving, colliding with the inside of the skull. This leads to swelling or bruising or - much worse - bleeding. A brain-bleed is immediately life-threatening, but swelling is less so and may not even be evident for a little while, which is what appears to have happened in Richardson's case.



Meanwhile March Gladness has begun not far from my home, and I note those basketball players aren't wearing helmets! Now that would look funny, I admit.

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