By Charlie Hodge.
CAUTION WARNING: All tourists and residents please take note – the pavement in Kelowna is just as tough and stubborn as anywhere else.
With Spring’s sudden and long anticipated arrival many folks are awaking from their semi-hibernation and, after cautiously looking both directions for a surprise return attack of winter, head out doors. Many of them do so mobilized by bicycles, skateboards, or rollerblades. Sadly, a large majority do so recklessly without donning a helmet. Dumb or what?
Tragedies come in all mediums and spectrums and none of us are immune from dealing with one. Like many other experiences tragedies may often be delayed or avoided by our own actions. Putting on a bicycle helmet is about as easy as it gets, yet for some inexplicable reason a huge percentage of those traversing our roads do so with their life and health in peril. Bad enough they have no bell, lights, or reflectors.
When a bare head meets a roadway, sidewalk, car, street pole or any other large, heavy or unmoving object – the head loses. Tragically I’ve witnessed such a scenario several times over my earlier years as a journalist. I can sadly count on more than one hand fatalities or life altering injuries that were a direct result of people not strapping on some protective head gear.
Such a needless death or injury compounds the tragedy felt by family, friends and loved ones – who can only shake their own heads and ponder why the victim failed to use a little common sense. It leaves the victim’s survivors struggling to comprehend the loss, understand the senselessness of it all, and grasp the harsh reality that it never had to happen.
Despite our multiple well marked bike paths and warm, dry weather Kelowna is no more immune to such sorrow than any other community across Canada. Our sidewalks and roadways are no more forgiving from a harsh impact perspective than any other pavement in the country. If you fall off your bike, skateboard, rollerblades … and smack your head on the ground it will not feel any better here than elsewhere.
My blessed life allows me much time as a writer staring out a window at the world around me and I’m constantly surprised at how many people ride by my house unprotected from the unexpected. No one hops on a bike with the intention of crashing to the ground, colliding with another cyclist, car… If they did contrive such an event it would be called a planned injury not an accident.
Of even greater logic-defiant concern is my observation that most folks riding helmetless are adults, not youngsters. Ironically many adults insist their child protect their noggin but believe their advanced age forms a dome of stupidity protection. I routinely see families on bike adventures with kids wearing their helmets yet the wise adults not. Good role modeling! ‘Do as I say not as I do’ no longer cuts it parents.
There are only a couple of reasons someone does not don a helmet:
- Vanity – after all no one wants to mess up their hair or look silly. There is an ego-inflated mindset in the Okanagan that one must look extra cool, hot, attractive, or funky while rolling down the road – and that equates to not wearing proper protective gear.
- Discomfort – the helmet is too tight or too lose. They would much rather wear stitches, neck braces, casts or a coffin.
- Arrogance – They are special so laws do not apply to them. Besides they are way too smart to fall of a bike.
- Denial – they are immune to injury or death.
- Ignorance – see all of the above.
From now until late September Kelowna becomes a beehive of activity with a massive increase in the use of wheeled travel. It is a potential disaster waiting to happen. Time to dummy up not dummy out.
If you or someone you care about rides a bike, skateboard, rollerblade then quit minding your business and say something. Tell them you love them and want them around for a long time. Tell them you care and insist they look after themselves for your sake if not their own.
Death cares not how old, young, skinny, fat, tall, short, sexy, heavy, light… you are. When you senselessly play with fate death will suck you up like a slurpy.
It is a tragedy that never has to be. Don’t let such a waste of life be yours.