My bike helmet saved me from a big headache. Or possibly more.
Four years in Berlin. Biking almost every day of it. Several close calls. A few self-inflicted mishaps. But never a real accident, in the traditional, dangerous sense.
The 109 bus pulled away from the stop with little warning and little notice that I was already right there. I moved quickly and only barely into the left lane, cleared the bus and wanted to move as soon as possible back to the right lane. With only the bus now behind me, that shouldn’t have been a problem.
I don’t know where the taxi appeared from (the witness says it was parked just in front of the bus stop).
My first and only sense of what was about to happen was when it happened: His left side mirror bumping against my handlebars, sending my bike one way and me the other, splat on busy and biker unfriendly Ku’Damm.
Right leg. Forearm. Wrist (better said: very nice watch, now smashed). Concrete. Head. Skid.
Lucky — nay, smart — me, I was wearing my helmet, snapped over my cranium as snug as it would go without suffocating me. Like every time I get on my bike.
The sound of plastic scraping street was a beautiful one. In that slowed-down moment, I remember thinking: Huzzah, I am not going to the hospital today! I will not be a vegetable!
Everything being relative, Berlin is a very biker-friendly city. Nonetheless I see a frightening number of dumb and careless things cars, buses and pedestrians do that put bikers’ lives in danger. So I am doubly astounded to witness bikers themselves making things that much more dangerous for themselves (and for me): on the phone, having a cigarette, rocking out with oversized, over-ear headphones, or just staring off into the distance with little sense that the activity in which they are partaking demands actual focus and care.
But what befuddles me above all else is not wearing a helmet. For less than 20€, it can keep a little knock the wrong way from becoming a life-changing (or ending) event.
No one questions wearing a seatbelt in the car. Or a condom during sex. So please, friends, if you’re going to bike, get a helmet. And then wear it. Every time.