Many thanks to contributor Erik Ness for his informative, and somewhat melancholy, report on the state of helmet wearing in today's cycling world. It doesn't have a lot of clinical facts or voluminous statistics, but it does reinforce an enduring message. If you're riding a bike, wear a helmet. It is not anticipated that you will need one in your cycling travels, but what it's for is the unanticipated.
I'm not a big bike rider. I've ridden in the past, but my biking time gave way to dog walking time long ago. My daily agenda involves activities in far-flung parts of town such that auto transport is my required mode, like tens of thousand of others. But the bike has been in ascendance lately, with new traffic controls encouraging parity among vehicles. There's a big difference between encountering the unexpected in a two-ton auto, with a seat belt, and doing so atop a lightweight bicycle with only the ground to cushion the shock of a mishap.
I derive my belief in the wisdom of wearing a bike helmet from former Isthmus writer Kent Williams. He was a very in-shape guy, running and biking many hours a day. He rode helmetless, until the day the ground rose up to meet him without warning and he bounced his noggin off the bike path. He survived, with a horrendous headache, and vowed not to go bareheaded biking again. And he wrote a persuasive column about it back on Aug. 5, 2005, that made a lasting impression on me. It prompted a letter in response from a young woman who, while biking without a helmet, went down on some loose gravel and woke up $5,000 worth of medical attention later.
Okay, that's all the preaching. For something completely different, consider getting tickets to the Isthmus Food & Wine Festival. Consult the ad on page 27 or visit IsthmusFoodandWine.com. The event happens Oct. 18 and 19 at the Alliant Energy Center. You can bike there.