Safety. It’s highly advisable to take reasonable safety measures while riding. After all, when we ride, we essentially traded the protective barrier a car offers for whatever we decide to wear or not to wear over our skin, flesh, & bones. Now I am not going to preach because my assumption is that everyone reading this is an adult who can make their own decisions. What I will do is share my own reasons why, like Vivian Ward, I too, am very much a “safety girl” but I did consider straying.
When I first decided to get a scooter with the goal of commuting on it, I was very gung ho about CE rating everything. I was very committed to be All-The-Gear, All-The-Time kind of scooterist (ATGATT). But two factors dulled this enthusiasm – costs of all this protective gear and how much to invest in what gear. Protective gear have a wide variance in price and the sheer amount of options is daunting. Should I invest in a good $400+ leather jacket with no protective armor? Or should I go textile with CE at the shoulders and elbows only? The number of choices made me to a 180 and I said to myself, “Self, you’re riding a freaking scooter! What’s the worst that can happen … it’s only a scooter!”
However, as I continued my due diligence and came across this 2013 post by Richard Pytlak something he shared changed my perspective rather quickly. So like him, two events / experiences motivated me to not discount protective gear because I’m riding a scooter.
The first was one of Pytlak’s experience.
The first occurred while I was riding my bicycle in the neighborhood (yes, my bicycle). I always wear a helmet while on two wheels of any kind, and I feel pretty safe with a lid on. Even the lightweight helmets bicyclists wear are uncomfortable and block the cooling breeze from my head, but I still wear one because it’s important to me to protect my head. I also wear eye protection. I stick mostly to sunglasses, but I have clear lenses for after-dark wear as well. Getting bugs, pebbles or dirt in my eyes makes it tough to stay on course. During this incident, I was also wearing my usual tight-fitting cycle shirt and shorts, and my cycling shoes were securely clipped into my pedals.
What happened was this: I pulled up to a stop light and slowed to a near stop. At the last second I decided to turn left onto a sidewalk. As soon as I turned the handlebars, I fell. Did not pass go. Did not collect $200. I fell instantaeously. I haven’t fallen from two wheels since I was a tyke, and man did that hurt! No broken bones, but I scraped up my arm, elbow and my knee and jarred my head and bruised my hip. I was bleeding. Not only did it hurt — a lot — but I was banged up for more than two weeks. How fast was I going? Exactly 0 mph. All I did was fall onto the concrete, and it banged me up good. Most people think injury danger is directly related to speed, but I learned the hard way (literally) that it’s very easy to hurt myself coming off a bike at any speed — even no speed.
The last three words “even no speed” really resonated with me. He literally fell over, going ZERO mph and sustained scrapes on his arm, elbow, knee, bruised his hip, was bleeding and was “banged up for more than two weeks.”
I don’t know why it never dawned on me how much falling hurts! And the reality of how much the potential damage can be exponentially increased in severity when we add in speed! EUREKA!
The second was the Hubs:
The Hubs has been riding a motorized 2-wheel since he was 12. He is a careful rider and is religious about wearing a helmet, protective jacket, and gloves. No matter if it is 97 degrees outside with 100% humidity making it feel like 103. If he is on his 650 cc, he is in his protective gear. He was meeting me at a picturesque spot for me to take his photo on his bike when I got a phone call from him saying that he was fine but that he just laid his bike down. My heart was pounding and I must have asked him 10 times if he was okay. When I met him back home I saw the state of his bike and then his jacket. He walked away with some minor scrapes on his hips and was a little sore for a few days. His CE elbow & shoulder jacket did it’s job and protected him on all the high impact areas. Otherwise, all the places where the ripped mesh is, would have been his skin, flesh, and possibly bone. How fast was he going? About 15 mph.
YES – THAT happened from just 15 mph! So when I see celebrities wearing a bikini riding around on a 50 cc (top speed of about 35 mph) looking great for photo ops, the reality is, if they went down, the road beneath them would shred their skin like cheese on a cheese grater!
With these two experiences logged in the back of my mind I had decided that at a minimum I would wear a leather jacket of at least 1.1 mm thick for the abrasion resistance during the chiller months or my mesh jacket with CE level 1 shoulders, elbows, and spine protector during the warmer months, gloves with premium grade goatskin palm for maximum abrasion resistance, and a minimum of a DOT rated helmet.
The state of Ohio has a no-helmet law. Which means that even a helmet is optional for motorized two-wheeled vehicles. And as the riding season begin, I see plenty of this:
Yes, this may feel awesome with the breeze stroking her hair on a hot summer day and they may even look “cool” but in a matter of milliseconds THAT can turn into THIS (WARNING: Disturbing Images – MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR SENSITIVE VIEWERS).
So yes, I will look like the super dork armored-up in my protective gear on my scooter puttering about, because this scooterist is rather fond of her skin to be right where it is … ON!
Until next time – zoom zoom 🛵 👧🏻