Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bike helmets in Japan

Today I'm going helmet shopping again. Yesterday's efforts were fruitless. At this point, I've been to 2 bike shops, a large department store, and a couple general home supplies stores that also sell bikes, and no one sells bike helmets! It makes sense, because no one wears them, I suppose.

Still, there's a big empty nature park in the middle of the city with well-groomed trails and no law against cycling, but my over-protective love of cranial integrity prevents me from riding there. Especially since I'll be on a bike with early 90s mountain bike geometry--AKA, so steep you fly over the bars if you twitch wrong in a turn.

The prevailing attitude towards helmets is VERY different from the US, where people consider you to be a suicidal imbecile if you coast down to the 7-11 for a soda with a bare head. (This is not counting fixed-gear people, who cannot wear helmets, as they would obscure their vintage Campagnolo hat, and BMX riders, who seem to just not like helmets).

That being said, most people here ride old-person step-through bikes at an average speed of around 7MPH. So you're basically going for a brisk jog when you're riding, and probably have about the same chance for injury. In addition, they have some reasonable protections from cars--wide sidewalks with tall curbs are the rule in the urban areas around here.

All of this is very interesting to observe, but unfortunately leaves me without my damn helmet. Today, I'm going to try the gigantic shopping mall. If they don't have helmets, I'm just going to buy a construction helmet and line it with mochi.
Not really.

Further reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet#The_helmet_debate

A gruesome counter-argument:

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=111566

7 comments:

Big Awesome Matt said...

Your description of people riding their bikes reminds me a lot of certain people who were on Bike and Build (and you know who I'm talking about). So maybe after all this time it was more of a culture thing, rather than the inability of the person to actually enjoy riding a bike?

Nate said...

wow, I never thought of that. so in essence, he was pridefully maintaining links to his past, while the modern-style road bike was a symbol of his willingness to integrate into the present and move forward. what a beautiful, spiritual journey that must have been for him.

d said...

How do I enable the sarcasm filter?

Big Awesome Matt said...

Unfortunately, since this is Nate's blog, one cannot enable the sarcasm filter without blocking the blog as a whole.

But seriously, it must have been a quite the journey for him. Now only if we could go to Russia and find out if people go east if they need to get somewhere west of them.

Nate said...

I wish I had a "big and awesome" filter, but unfortunately that would take me down too. Drat.

Courtney said...

whoa. AMAZING counterargument

Bunny said...

Good for people to know.