28 June 2008

‘The chinstrap of social obedience’

Posted by todd under: Headgear .

Absolutely brilliant essay by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London (shown at right in a photo from the Telegraph), on his being caught not wearing a helmet while cycling to work.

Choice bits:

Of course I accept the case for cycle helmets, although the only time I have had a serious prang in almost a decade of cycling in London, a helmet would have made no difference whatever. I was negotiating Knightsbridge with extreme caution when a French tourist walked across the road without looking (you could tell he was French by the noise he made on impact) …

And this:

As soon as I started to wear a helmet, I was denounced as a wimp, a milquetoast, a sell-out to the elf and safety lobby, a man so cravenly attached to his own survival that he was willing to wear this undignified plastic hat. As soon as I was pictured not wearing a helmet, I was attacked for “sending out the wrong signal” and generally poisoning the minds of the young with my own reckless behaviour. The situation, my friends, is a mess.

In addition to this being a hilarious tale, Boris captures the conflict between “the competing imperatives of safety and liberty.”

Do not fail to read the whole thing. Hat tip to my esteemed elder Brian for sending this along.

One Comment so far...

John Says:

28 July 2008 at 8:40 am.

I don’t remember when this helmet stuff started. A gradual thing I suppose that picket up steam with the internet. It gets testy and silly at times, and personally I never comment when I see somone with or without a helmet. It doesn’t matter.

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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