The Smith Route MIPS Bike Helmet

I really don’t care for white helmets.  Let me start by saying that.  I considered carefully, however, the fact that I’m going to be riding my Co-op ADV 3.1 Adventure Touring Bike on busy roadways and white is the most eye-catching color I can think of if you’re just glancing out your window and looking for moving objects.  If any color is going to trigger something in your brain, white will.  I’ve tested this out myself while driving.  Even though I’d much rather have a green or blue bike helmet, white is the color of bike helmet that I notice right away in traffic.  I was driving yesterday, right after I’d ordered the Smith Route MIPS Bike Helmet in white, and I was in traffic when I glanced and saw something white moving into another lane of traffic.  It was a white bicycle helmet that someone had on.  For safety’s sake, and that’s unfortunately what we have to think about in my bike-unfriendly town, white was the best choice for a bicycle helmet color that I could think of.  Besides that, you’ll be able to tell right away if I’m bleeding.  That was the thought that ultimately justified my color choice to me.  Like I said, it’s unfortunate, but true.

fullsizeoutput_602  I ordered this helmet from the REI Garage online yesterday and have to say that I’m not sorry that I chose white this morning.  Let me tell you why I think of blood when I think of biking on busy streets…

I have a rock climbing buddy who was biking legally down the road here in the city I live in.  He was coming straight across a busy intersection with a green light and had the right-of-way when a pickup truck took a fast left in front of him and hit him, throwing him up over the windshield and landing him in the bed of the truck next to a dead antelope.  Knowing shock was going to set in, my friend laid down and focused on his breathing and remaining conscious, doing a systems check to help him stay focused.  He knew his arm and his leg were messed up really bad, but he also knew that he hadn’t hit his head during all of this.  The final damage tally was a broken fibula, a broken tibia, a broken ulna, a broken radius, a broken wrist, and some broken ribs.  Several surgeries later and a lot of rehab over this past winter, he hopes to be able to go climbing in the upcoming June timeframe.  Now, I’m not saying that wearing a white helmet in this situation would’ve saved my friend from this disaster, nor do I even know what color his bike helmet was because the driver of the truck was clearly intent on turning left here, but people don’t look for bikes or pedestrians like they need to, and they certainly don’t yield to them!  The visibility of white in motion, especially if you’re commuting in the city or along a busy roadway, could be just enough to make the motor vehicle driver’s auto-pilot brain pause and actually look at the situation.  It could potentially save your life!  The driver’s excuse for hitting my friend was that he didn’t see him.  That’s because he wasn’t looking for a bike, and therefore didn’t see my friend.  It’s the same phenomenon as in when you are looking for something – you think you see it, but you actually don’t (like hunting, and this is how many hunting accidents happen).  The hunting example demonstrates the importance of the movement in the whole equation, though.  Allow me to explain…

Our peripheral vision is based more on black-and-white contrast and movement.  If something that doesn’t blend into the average color or tone scheme ends up beside you, your peripheral vision catches the difference and you actually turn your head and look to see what’s changed.  If that high-contrast thing moves into your peripheral vision, your peripheral vision picks it up even quicker and you look immediately.  That’s what I’m hoping this white bike helmet will do for me.  Compared to the greys and subdued colors of the city, white is going to stick out like a sore thumb, and in motion, doubly so.  That’s what I’m counting on to help keep me safe.  As a motor vehicle operator, I’ve had my share of close calls resulting from not noticing a bike coming my way, but it’s always been because they were riding on the sidewalk, which is for pedestrians, and riding on the sidewalk is illegal in my city (although I’ve never seen anyone enforce the law here).  I look for bikes in the street, where they should be.  Sometimes I miss a pedestrian if they’re standing too far from the curb or do something unexpected.  I’ve also missed them when they’re standing behind or near utility boxes and other visual obstructions (which are not up to snuff, either, as far as tree-trimming and mowing and such goes).  Sometimes the bicyclist or pedestrian simply blends in with the background and I honestly don’t see them until they’re flipping me off or yelling at me as they cross in front of me.  I’m a person who actually is trying to be aware and this happens!  What I’m trying to say is that any motorist can miss a pedestrian or a bicyclist, even if they’re looking for them, and especially on a busy street, but I can say I’ve never missed yielding to a pedestrian or bicyclist who was wearing white or a very light color, comparatively speaking.  They truly do stick out like a sore thumb, especially if they’re moving in the slightest!  Bright colors don’t necessarily do anything to catch my attention because all the signs along the road are bright and lit up and do everything they can to get your attention, and we very quickly block those bright colors out.  White, though, is something that we see moving in and out of traffic and alongside the road.  It all comes down to contrast!  When I say “contrast”, I’m talking about the differences in greyscale tone that underlie the colors we see.  In art and drawing, if you have a good instructor or read a good book, you learn that the greys do the work and the color takes the credit.  If you pretend the world’s in black-and-white tones for a moment, does that “bright pink shirt” really stand out against all the pavement and buildings?  No!  It blends right in!  White, though…now what do you see?  You see white against a sea of grey tones!  White works to get your attention whether you consider color or not!  White is the attention-getter.

So that’s it.  When you see me riding my awesome new Co-op ADV 3.1 Adventure Touring Bike, you’ll know me by my white Smith bike helmet with the green highlights in the vents and you can wave to me instead of running me over!  Sounds like a plan to me!!!  Deal?

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