true gripes; cycle helmets

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The Independent Culture
When will the manufacturers of cycle helmets come up with a design that doesn't make the wearer look like a complete nerd? I know that safety is far more important than style, but I think it is time to at least draw attention to the problem.

Cyclists want to look good, just the same as everybody else. What they really don't want is to go round resembling the Cybermen. Remember them? They were the unfortunate guys who got lobotomised and enslaved by the Daleks during Invasion Earth. There is one make of cycle helmet that would be a strong contender for part of their uniforms: a sort of inverted colander without the holes. Another type makes the rider appear to have a tortoise stuck on top of his head. Even the aerodynamically efficient helmets which are used in competitions look as if they would be better worn by a character from Star Trek or Space Precinct.

People who ride bicycles have enough difficulty being taken seriously by other road-users as it is.

So what went wrong? And why does the problem only apply to cycle helmets? After all, motorcyclists don't face any such troubles. Their image was sorted out years ago. Indeed, those California Highway Patrolmen look super-cool in their crash-helmets (although it does help when you have mirror shades and a Harley-Davidson). And what about the armed forces? Some military headgear has a certain jauntiness about it too. Telly Savalas wore a GI helmet when he commanded a tank in the Battle of the Bulge movies and he didn't look like a nerd. Italian army helmets have always been pretty dapper as well. Maybe if Mussolini had spent his time designing cycle helmets instead of trying to get the trains running on time, the world would be a better place today.

The truth is that cyclists don't really have a choice. There is a lot of traffic out there and helmets will probably be compulsory by the turn of the century. Cyclists of the future will be compelled to look like nerds. At least motorcyclists can go for the anonymity of the full-face helmet. Even this option is closed to cyclists, due to the problem of "steaming up" at low speeds.

Sometimes you just can't win.

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