The Universe

Helmet Hair

Before I start, I would like for you to watch this video:

Riding bikes is not something you learn in the Netherlands – I mean, you do, but it’s like learning to walk, you can’t remember ever not knowing how to do it.

Your “steel horse” is so much more than something you use for exercising: it’s a means of transportation, it is for all ages, it’s good for the environment, it’s easy to manoeuvre, it takes up little space, and sure it’s good for you too.

Families go out on tours on weekends and easily ride 20km without batting an eyelid. The old cities have narrow roads and little space for parking, cars that is. You can go anywhere on your own no matter your age, because no one needs to pick you up.

And you can style your hair any which way you like in the morning and not have to worry about helmet hair.

I rode my bike around town the other day here in Australia when someone yelled out to me from their car.

“Hey! Aren’t you supposed to wear a helmet?”

“Yeah,” I shouted back, “but I forgot.”

The guy laughed: “Don’t tell the cops that!”

I had planned my trip so carefully. I would ride my bike to the station, take it on the train, and ride to my destination in Melbourne. So much easier than worrying about what tram to catch – also because I always seem to catch the wrong one.

So I left home with the nagging feeling I’d forgotten something. I double checked the contents of my backpack and went over my list of things-to-do in my head again. Nothing. Can’t be too big a deal then, I thought when I hopped on my bike and took off. I was nearly at the station when it hit me. No helmet! Oh no…

For 29 years I lived without owning a bike helmet, without worrying about helmet hair. Sure, I’ve fallen off my fair share of bikes (mainly my dad’s). I have sustained a broken jaw by falling of my tiny bike aged four, but a helmet wouldn’t have prevented that. Besides, imagine riding to work in your suit and tie late for your morning meeting, and when you finally get to work you have to step into the powder room to sort your helmet hair out.

Bike helmets – the eternal point of discussion for the Dutchie-abroad.


12 thoughts on “Helmet Hair

  1. The video is extremely telling of the way we should be handling things everywhere. Here in the US, it is a lot worse for people on bikes than in Australia. Even in my current state of recovery from cancer and its treatment, I could likely bike to the nearest stores if the infrastructure was there. And if I couldn’t, I could go in a wheelchair…of course that would require proper health care…but that is a whole other ball of wax. And with the bike lanes…why bother with a helmet. Sure you could still crash and hit your head, but you can fall walking too. Great post!

  2. I would NEVER ride my bike in Melbourne without helmet. Drivers are nuts here! But having said that, Iwould never ride my bike or a horse or ski without helmet. I am so used to it I would feel really bad without it.

    • That is what the bf said too: I won’t let him ski without a helmet. Riding with a helmet for me is probably as unnatural to me as riding without ine is to you.
      Having said that, I agree with you on the difference in driving style. In NL, cyclists (and pedestrians too) are the main roadusers, the royalty of the road if you like. Not so much here…

  3. For a bike lover (me), Nederland is a dream. Unfortunately, the roads we have here in Oz arose for the horse and cart and later the car, because of the bigger distances we had to travel back then. The infrastructure for bike riders is getting better, but it will take a long time and will never be as good as Nederland. Bike riders here are killed on the roads because they take unnecessary risks and car drivers are not watchful for them. I hate my helmet and in hot weather you end up with wet helmet the hair- the worst, but still better than a life-changing head injury. My trip to work takes an hour by public transport (including walking), half an hour by car (including finding a parking space), half an hour by bike (but I need a shower at the end) and 55 minutes to walk (my preferred mode), I’m lucky I have so many options 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing! You are indeed lucky to have all these options!
      There are two massive difference that one does have to take into consideration down under compared to NL: bigger distances (as you said) and different mentality. A bike in Australia is to exercise. A bike in NL is a means of transportation (addition benefit is that it keeps you at least somewhat fit).

  4. In Australië. Vond ik het vanzelfsprekend. In Nederland niet: zo’ n maf gezicht, ongemakkelijk en inderdaad…. je zou de helm eens vergeten!

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