Awkward Moment. What do you do?

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    • #228748

      We were riding when a helmetless rider rode up to us. Everytime I see one of these guys I have the same response as seeing a smoker. “They STILL do that?” The Mr Safety in me says I should say something. But I never do. I just mind my own business. What do you guys do? I guess if they are older they should know better. But if they are younger maybe a little old guy or old gal advise?

    • #228754

      Mind your own business and go ride your own ride.  Sorry to be harsh, but he is enjoying his ride and you are judging.  Share one of those cigarettes, relax, it’s not your place.  I think it’s rude when people try to force their perceived “safety comfort zone” rules on others in a public place.  If it’s your land or your organized ride then it can be your rules.

      The problem with even what seem like common sense rules is where do you draw the line?  Just because you ride in a helmet does not mean I should.  If you ride a full-face should I?  Is it OK to wear short socks, no gloves, dark clothing?  Maybe I think being clipped in is dangerous and I look down on your from my moral high ground of flat pedals.  I don’t even agree with mandatory seat belts.  I am not arguing whether or not these things work I just don’t believe in forcing my ideas on others.


      2 cents.  Hope it didn’t come off as angry.

      • #228756

        Thats what I do..Just was wondering if there was other responses. Your response was not harsh. No apology is necessary. Thanks!

    • #228758

      Agreed. I smile and wave.

      And I’ll stop and help him when he sustains massive head trauma.

    • #228769

      This is one of those situations where you can either turn a blind eye when you see a problem or intervene. If that was me in this instance i would tell him straight –  wear a helmet and stop being selfish! I wouldn’t be nice.

      I hate people like this. They think it’s great to do whatever they like but expect other people to clean up the mess when something happens.

      The problem with intervention is that you will most likely get a mouthful so i can understand why no one wants to step up. But if no one steps up how will the problem get fixed? Dilemma :<

    • #228775

      If it’s not something that will endanger someone else (like wearing a helmet) or jeopardize mountain bike access- don’t say anything. I understand wanting to help but trying to tell/suggest/force someone to do something seldom works.

    • #228778

      We were riding Wolf Branch and as we were making turn to cross the little bridge and continue, two young long haired men came flying down the rollers, one just missing a tree at the turn. We looked at each other and silently shook our heads. What’s that saying, “you can lead a horse……….”

    • #228792

      What do you guys do?

      I smile and wave. But i grew up in an era when cigarettes were cool and if you wore a helmet in my neighborhood you would have very likely gotten beat-up for being a pansy.

      I wear a helmet nowadays, but it’s never come into play in my various wipeouts. I’ve often wondered about the irony of needing protective gear for a leisurely activity; perhaps that’s an indication that the activity itself should be banned or restricted?  (my parents would love this and that’s what, as you say, “Mr. Safety” would say)….but then we’d all be limited to playing golf or volleyball.

      ….so yeah, smile and wave at the helmet-less souls and, in my case, get a little bit nostalgic.


    • #228793

      tell them “put on a lid before you fall and get hurt and 74 lawyers showup and get us all banned from riding here”..its my go to line but you can use it too




    • #228794

      I mind my own business, unless it is a state park that requires a helmet, then I say “Don’t let the ranger catch you without a helmet. They will ticket you and kick you out.”

    • #228801

      I usually have an older helmet I keep in my car as a spare for unexpected riders or myself if I forget mine.  I have offered it to helmetless riders in the past at trail heads.  Haven’t had a taker yet.  Too me it is insane to ride without one, but to others its normal.  Oh well…

    • #228835

      I decided that humans were garbage a long time ago. My only reservation in seeing someone riding a local trail sans lid is not for their safety, but that they may pursue the American dream and sue the the park, land owners, mountain biking organization for their own filthy lucre. Insomuch, the only thing I ever say to such vermin is to please not sue when subsequent to a concussion their offspring does not get into an Ivy League school.

      • #228860

        ^^^ This.  I don’t think people are bad inherently.  But if by their own choice they say it’s their problem but upon consequence they decide to make it someone/everyone else problem that is the ultimate problem with libertarian thinking.  And even is said bucket-less rider crashes and requires $$$ in medical bills – who pays for it?  Doesn’t matter if health insurance is government or privately funded – but other users will end up paying it.

    • #228861

      As much as I almost feel compelled to say something I never do.  But 2 things always come to mind:

      1.  I remember ducking under some overgrown foliage during a ride one time when the top of my helmet smashed into something immobile.  Stopped me dead in my tracks.  I could feel the jolt down through my neck.  When I stopped and inspected the area I found a large tree limb had fallen but was held suspended about 6 feet above the ground just behind a canopy of overgrowth… riders or runners would be completely blind to the limb if going the direction I was.  The limb was large enough and wedged in such a way that I couldn’t move it. Best I could do was to clear the foliage so at least it was visible to others.  My neck was sore the next few days.  Always makes me wonder, what if I weren’t wearing a helmet?

      2.  The potential for litigation and threat to other trail users.  In a world where it’s “always some else’s fault” it never ceases to amaze me how people acting irresponsibly can somehow sue others and reap monetary damages from their idiocy – in this case from trail/land owners – which ultimately affects everyone else’s rights.  I only wish these idiots were forced to sign a waiver releasing all others of any claims and that they, solely, would be responsible for their own medical expenses.  If that were the case I’d be perfectly fine with it.  “Stupid is as Stupid Does”

    • #229028

      I’m with Kwogfive, just because I choose to wear a helmet doesn’t mean everyone else should have to. And I don’t think it is selfish in the least to forego wearing a lid if someone so chooses. Last I checked, EMTs, doctors and ambulance drivers are PAID to do what they do. First-responders volunteer of their own accord. No-one is forcing anyone to clean up someone else’s mess. Honestly, that’s like complaining that if someone breaks their car, it’s selfish because “someone else has to fix it.” Yes, someone else will fix it because THAT’S THEIR CHOSEN CAREER! They make money at it!

      So when I see someone on the trail who isn’t wearing a helmet, I promptly proceed to mind my own business and greet them as I would anyone else.

      …but I also smoke, so maybe I’m just sub-human anyway.



      • #229029

        “First-responders volunteer of their own accord. No-one is forcing anyone to clean up someone else’s mess. Honestly, that’s like…”

        With an attitude like that the volunteers might suddenly stop volunteering.

    • #229030

      Slightly unrelated but…

      Once when riding i came across 2 people on the trail. One had a puncture and neither had a spare tube. I immediately pulled out my only spare tube and put it in their bike and all the while they were immersed in their private conversation. I even pumped it up. Once done they jumped on their bikes and rode off without any kind of thank you. Not verbally, not even a smile glance. I’m sick of being taken for granted by people who only care about their own selfish needs and wants. If i come across people like this again they can walk home.

    • #229034

      craZivn, I think you’re missing the main point.  This is not about imparting one’s opinions, value, or in this case, common sense, on someone else.  If an individual is willing to accept what they consider to be an “acceptable risk” to themselves, that’s their call.  However, if that risk – which most would consider to be an “undue risk” – could adversely affect other people’s rights, that’s where the concerns lie.  If someone suffers a significant head injury while riding without a helmet I can see that person suing the park, landowner, local bike chapter, etc.  That has the potential to impact everyone else.  Trails have been closed to MTB for similar reasons.

      I also don’t think your car analogy is comparable.  What is analogous is if you drive a car without a seatbelt and get into an accident where you sustain bodily injury.  In that case, the insurance company can actually deny or devalue your claim because the risk of injury is much higher than if you were wearing a seatbelt… not to mention the fact that you’ll incur the fine.

      There’s a reason why organized rides, races and training sessions require a helmet… it’s all about liability.  But as stated above, if an individual is willing to accept sole responsibility for riding without a helmet then they can knock themselves out, (figuratively, that is 😉

    • #229068

      If you’re at a stoplight next to a motorcyclist without a helmet, do you roll down your window and tell them to put a helmet on?

      I mostly ski without a helmet, and I accept the risks I’m taking.  I’d be super pissed if someone got up in my grill about it.  You don’t  know anything about the helmetless person.  Perhaps they just found out that they have 2 weeks to live and just wanna ride without a helmet and enjoy some freedom from ‘common sense’ for a little while.  I’d feel like a total jerk if I said something.

      Let it go… The more indignant we get about the little things, the lamer it is to be around each other.  Don’t sweat the small shit, and just judge the quality and choices of other peoples’ bikes instead 🙂

    • #229123

      Rmap01,  I agree that unfortunately we do live in a lawsuit-prone world, however I still consider choosing to forego a lid as being in the “acceptable risk” category.

      Take your seatbelt analogy, for instance.
      “What is analogous is if you drive a car without a seatbelt and get into an accident where you sustain bodily injury.  In that case, the insurance company can actually deny or devalue your claim because the risk of injury is much higher than if you were wearing a seatbelt… not to mention the fact that you’ll incur the fine.”

      In your example, I bring the hammer down upon myself by choosing not to wear a seatbelt. Since I didn’t wear a seatbelt, I am now being denied certain avenues of recompense which would otherwise be available. And I’m incurring a fine. But the end result is that I am even MORE liable than I would have been if I’d been wearing a belt. And I am the one who suffers for it, not anyone else. (A notable difference is that in the seatbelt analogy, I could be liable for endangering others since a seatbelt theoretically helps keep the driver in control of the car, whereas choosing not to wear a helmet endangers only the individual rider and not others on the trail.)

      In a similar way, if a biker chooses not to wear a helmet, and they get hurt, and try to sue, I think their chances of success are diminished since they have not taken the precautions advised in every bicycle owner’s pamphlet and on many trail maps and trailhead signs. Speaking of signs, every trail I’ve ridden at has a prominent “RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK” message posted at the trailhead and usually printed on the trail map as well. If someone is out to make a lawsuit case, having a lid on their head isn’t going to stop them. Prominent warnings at the trailhead could.

      Do you have some examples of MTB trails that have been closed due to injury lawsuits? While I’ve heard it said that such things have happened, I’ve never seen an actual example.



      • #229323

        Hey Ivan, just saw your post.  What I fully appreciate in your message is how you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions re: safety.  It would be a much better world if everyone were willing to be accountable for their (in)actions.  Unfortunately, our litigious society often looks for someone to blame when something unfortunate, or catastrophic, occurs.  With regard to trails, it is hit or miss re: signage.  Whereas there may be a sign posted at the main trail head most parks usually have multiple access points, most of which have no signage.  But to me, once you hit the trail common sense should prevail.  I think Greg Heil’s post earlier this year is a good reference.

    • #229129

      I can’t imagine riding without a helmet.

      I cringe when I see others doing so.


      That said, I can’t imagine being so full of myself, or such a busybody, that I would feel the need to tell others to do the same.  Their head, their choice.  The only victim they might create is themselves,  so nobody else has grounds to say anything.  The possible exception to that is loved ones who would also be affected by the tragedy they might endure, so maybe the loved ones have some standing to nag, but not some other random biker on the trail.

    • #229147

      Haha well this is funnny because I wear a Bell Super 3r (full face but coverts to regular helmet) and I normally wear the full face. The trails dont necessarily warrant it but coming from years of street bmx and helmet-less injuries I have opted to keep my face beautiful. People give me crap all the, especially people I dont know riding by, and make snarky comments. Drives me up a wall. The same applies to helmet-less riders.

    • #229150

      He’s probably coordinated and doesn’t need a helmet hahah, I wear a helmet personally but who cares man, what if he smoked cigarettes while riding without a helmet? Is he a bad person?

      • #229157

        “what if he smoked cigarettes while riding without a helmet? Is he a bad person?”


    • #229158

      I call these geniuses “Organ Donors”. Don’t see them very often but when I do, I just smile and wave. Like smokers, if they haven’t figured it out yet, what’s the point of saying anything.

    • #229227

      Agreed. I smile and wave.

      And I’ll stop and help him when he sustains massive head trauma.

      See, this is the issue. I don’t want to have to stop and help someone when they sustain massive head trauma. Seriously, it’s pretty selfish on the part of the non-helmet-wearing rider… can you imagine the potential emotional trauma of coming up on someone on the trail with their head split open?

      It’s kind of like the selfishness of someone committing suicide by throwing themself in front of a train. Can you imagine the trauma that the train conductor will have for the rest of his life seeing someone’s guts splattered across his windshield?

      So no, I won’t be picking up the pieces if someone decides to be an idiot and not wear a helmet. If I see someone not wearing a helmet and they are just passing me on the trail, I probably won’t say anything. But I refuse to go on a group ride with someone without a lid. I’ve sent people back from the trailhead when they showed up to ride without a helmet. If you don’t have a helmet, I won’t be riding with you.

      • #229234

        I only say something if it is someone riding in my own group. I usually share a personal experience of going OTB and banging my helmet on a rock. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

        Someone I happen to pass on the trail will not change their behavior with some stranger yelling at him to put on a helmet.

    • #229340

      CrazyIvn – Jeff Barber wrote here on Singletracks about a woman who won $2.9 million from the Hartford Metropolitan District Commission because of a crash on property they owned. Google Maribeth Blonski and the fallout from this. I’m not sure the outcome, but the HMDC was considering banning mountain bikes on their property (I believe a law was passed afterwards making a commission like that not responsible). Imagine some small park like West Mountain in Glens Falls/Queensbury who runs on a shoestring budget? If they allowed someone to ride without a helmet who got seriously injured and sued the mountain, there would never be another rider on West Mountain. This also has a chilling affect on other areas who might be wary of allowing mountain biking on their property at all.

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