Use your head.

Let’s talk common sense.

Yes, the Tour de France kicked off on Saturday, but let’s face it — nothing significant is likely to happen until tomorrow’s time trial, at the earliest.  But if you’re just dying to know the latest results, you can check out the official site of Le Tour (U.S. version), as well as the Versus or  Bicycling sites.

So until things heat up a bit, I’m still thinking about a group a bicyclists I saw yesterday.  Three riders in shorts, t-shirts and sneakers, cruising down Olympic Blvd in West L.A. on their single-speed cruisers at about 5 m.p.h.  One of them was even smoking a cigarette as they rode side-by-side, sans helmets, sharing a traffic lane with cars whipping past at over 50 m.p.h.

Yes, the speed limit there is only 35.  But that’s L.A. for you, where most traffic laws are considered mere suggestions.  And yes, they had every legal right to be there, since California ‘s motor vehicle code gives bicycles full access to state’s the roadways.  And Olympic even used to be a posted bike route, until someone in L.A.’s Department of Transportation finally sobered up.

But riding one of the city’s busiest, high-speed streets is idiotic, at best, especially when there are a number of much safer side streets that parallel it on either side.  Doing it on a slow bike, without helmets — and while smoking, for Pete’s sake — is just suicidal.  Even for an experienced rider like me, let alone a bunch of biker’s who clearly have no idea what they’re doing.

Then again, anyone who rides without a helmet is risking their life.  I’m always amazed at how many seemingly experienced riders I see on high-end racing bikes, whipping in and out of traffic with their bare heads blowing in the breeze.

Sure, I know what they’re thinking, since I used to be one of them.  They think they know what they’re doing, and won’t need a helmet, because they won’t have an accident.  But speaking of Le Tour, Fabio Casartelli was a better rider than you or I will ever be.

Let’s face it.  Everyone hit’s the pavement now and then, no matter how good you are.  I did last year, in a freak, solo slow-speed accident on what should have been one of the safest pieces of asphalt in Southern California.  And one thing the ER docs made very clear was, if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet, I wouldn’t be typing this now.

So use your head.  Put on helmet on it every time you hop in the saddle.  And maybe you’ll be able to keep using it once you get home.

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