Today I decided to change a habit of a lifetime and bought a helmet. I have been cycling since I was about five or six years old and but I have never worn a helmet. I use to cycle everywhere, first to school, later to both university and work. Mainly because that is the ‘done thing’ in Germany, most people opt to cycle if they can, but also because I didn’t have a car, or a drivers license till I was in my late twenties.
But since I have been living in Dublin taking the bus, driving or even walking has mostly replaced my pedaling. Of course there is that odd trip down to the beach or park, and I have on occasion even ventured into town but the reason why I don’t cycle as much here isn’t pure laziness but the fear of Dublin traffic.
Over the past few years I have been knocked off my bike twice. Once by a car turning left, and not only did the driver not see me he didn’t even stop to help me pick up all my pieces and inspect the bruises on my elbow and arms. The second time it was a big double-decker bus that pushed me over scrapping the palms of my hands and turning my knee a mixture of bright purple and green.
These two knocks bruised more than just my appendages and my cycling confidence has been at an all time low. And it doesn’t help that the Dublin City Council only paints white lines on the road and declares them cycling paths, deep pot-holes, drains and other debris included. And of course the fact that cyclists have to share their lane with the Dublin double-deckers is just an added hazard.
However lately I have been cycling more again, but every-time a car comes that bit too close or I hear a bus I can’t shake images of me flying ungracefully through the air and landing undignified on the road. But since I do really want to cycle in and out to college come next week, my teachers bag and flask tucked away in my saddle bags, I decided it was time to join the ranks of all those helmet heroes and buy myself one of those unsightly contraptions.
So today was my first trip around my neighbourhood wearing my brand new and very unattractive helmet and even though it really doesn’t suit my curls I hope I’ll feel a little safer when sharing the road with everyone else. And of course being a helmet hero may ruin my hair-do but hopefully will save my head.