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Health & Wellness

Put Your Helmet On!

A rap video for bike safety, starring Rhett


It’s great that the Alliance for Biking and Walking three years ago named Boston the country’s safest walking and biking city, but in US cities, walking safety and biking safety are relative terms. Bikers in all cities have to be careful at all times. They need to take care, which often means preventive action. With that in mind, Rhett the Terrier puppet and Warren Towers have teamed up to teach you how to ride on the roads the best way they know:

Through an up-tempo, educational hip-hop song.

Wear a Helmet

Yes, we’ve all read about how people in the Netherlands don’t have to wear helmets, because their culture is far more bike-friendly than ours, but the bottom is line is: we’re not in the Netherlands.

Be Seen

If a car can’t see you, the car can’t avoid you—use front and rear lights at dawn, dusk, night, and in any situation where you might be hard to see. If you see that cars are using their lights, use yours!

Obey the Rules of the Road

When you bike on the road, realize that all road rules apply to you. When the choice is to delay your trip by a few minutes for a red light or risk get T-boned by a car you didn’t see…well, you get the picture.

Defensive Biking

There isn’t a single rule that will keep a biker from being doored or hit in a turn, but there are a few things you can do to reduce risk. Anticipate where vehicles are likely to go, and make your own path as predictable as possible. Drivers can’t read your mind any better than you can read theirs. Is the bus ahead of you stopped? Assume that passengers may be getting in or out on the right side. Is that a taxi pulling over? Doors may be opening soon after. If you’re in a bike lane in congested traffic, ride at a speed that will allow you to react immediately should something get in your way. Think ahead to what might be ahead!

This story was originally published on October 15, 2013.

Joe Chan

Joe Chan can be reached at joechan@bu.edu.

8 Comments on Put Your Helmet On!

  • CAITLIN CUSHMAN on 10.15.2013 at 3:08 pm

    This is awesome.

  • Beatrice on 10.16.2013 at 12:01 am

    That was cute!

  • Earle on 10.16.2013 at 9:24 am

    I’ve been waiting for this video to come out for quite a while. As someone who doesn’t bike, the message was very informative, and I really enjoyed the cameos by Devin, Jay, and some people I actually met for the first time recently from around the office. I really like how the riding sequences were edited, too. Jay’s expressions while cruising were wonderful.

  • Liz on 10.17.2013 at 5:49 pm

    Very well done! Its important to note the necessity of “taking the lane” when there is no bike lane present. Especially in narrow street or when cars are parked along the side. Of course the door-zone is often a danger when in the bike lane as well.

  • Marc on 10.19.2013 at 8:32 pm

    Great video, all made sense, straight forward, simple advice, except for the helmet bit, that was a bit, well, stupid.

  • alan on 12.03.2013 at 10:25 pm

    thanks joe, that’ll be stuck in my head for a few weeks

  • Ben Pearre on 03.02.2016 at 8:15 am

    When my old helmet died, I searched for research to guide me in selecting my new helmet: which ones were safest? Bike shop employees had no answers, but could only tell me which were the least uncomfortable. As a religious helmet zealot, I was a little floored by what I found: the main support for wearing helmets comes from the first paper on helmet safety, by Thompson, Rivera, and Thompson, published in 1980 and since thoroughly discredited–the data from their study design showed that helmets prevent non-head injuries as well. There’s been a lot of research since, and the evidence that helmets do much, if any, good is thin on the ground. However, evidence is mounting that pushing people to wear helmets is drastically harmful–the main factor in bike safety is numbers, and pushing helmets discourages (and scares) riders, leading to an immediate and drastic decrease in motorist awareness for cyclists. But please don’t believe me–if you care about bike safety, please check out the latest research! cyclehelmets.org is a good starting point: they have an agenda, but I think their agenda is a result of reading the primary literature. Be safe out there!

    • LarryO on 03.03.2016 at 11:14 am

      I grew up in the time frame where there were no bicycling helmets. When I we to bicycling a few years ago, we bought helmets and never ride without them.

      I don’t need any research to tell me that If I fall, or get thrown off my bike for any reason whatsoever, that my head will be better off wearing a helmet than not.
      Just plain common sense!

      Any ER doctor or nurse will tell you:
      What do you call an un-helmeted motorcyclist?
      An organ donor.
      The same could be said for bicyclists riding on city streets.

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