Perhaps one of the first tips that a newbie biker would hear from experienced cyclists in Metro Manila is “always wear your helmet.” It makes sense. With irresponsible motorists around and bad roads, it’s good to take extra precautions.
However, you’ll rarely see bike commuters wearing helmets in other countries. In the Philippines, some cyclists don’t like strapping one on while riding. This was supported by a Dutch biker who told us that bicycle riders should not be required to wear helmets because they must be ensured of safety on the road without the headgear.
First Bike Ride talked with industrial designer Patrick delos Reyes on why he doesn’t like wearing a helmet when riding a bike in the city. He wanted to raise his points and we were interested in knowing his side.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: Why don’t you like wearing a helmet?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: Wearing a helmet must be a personal preference and it should not be enforced on anyone. Personally, the pros of not wearing a helmet outweighs the pros of wearing one.
First, it’s a hindrance on my peripheral view especially when I’m turning my head. It’s uncomfortable and it feels like it’s more dangerous, eh helmets are supposedly used for your safety.
The biker’s main focus should be his awareness of his environment and he should not be distracted by what he is wearing.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: Should we be alarmed whenever we see bikers without helmets on the road?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: Bikers without a helmet should not be an issue. It’s alarming if the biker uses a bicycle with defective parts such as broken brakes or damaged wheels because these can endanger those people around him. But those without a helmet? It’s their personal choice because it’s for their personal safety and it doesn’t affect other people.
The main issue here should be the motorist’s etiquette because it’s a fact that they can cause more and fatal harm to other people. Another issue would be the city planning. Our cities are very car-centric and it’s not designed for bikers and pedestrians.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: So our roads must be the concern and not the wearing of a helmet?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: Our roads are dangerous even for pedestrians. Pedestrian lanes are lacking, no ample walking space and they are very close to speeding motor vehicles. If we say that bikers should wear a helmet because they are not safe on our roads, should pedestrians wear helmets too since they also share the road with motorists and bikers?
𝐅𝐁𝐑: Isn’t it better to wear a helmet because of our uneven roads?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: More than focusing on the helmet, it’s better if we fix our roads. Bikers can control their safety by being aware of their environment, the road and their communication with motorists.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: Do you wear a bike helmet?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: I don’t wear one except when I’m in Quezon City. I don’t want to be fined. But after riding in QC, I remove it because I feel really uncomfortable.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: Some might ask, aren’t you quite arrogant to say that you are confident with your safety that’s why you don’t wear a helmet?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: I’m saying that I’m not safe either way (with a helmet or without one) so I’d rather be comfortable because that’s safer.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: But you are in Metro Manila, there are bad roads. Can’t you just take extra precaution for yourself?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: Yes, but my peace of mind will never be given by a helmet. My precaution is avoiding going to main roads, that I’m using the road responsibly, that my speed is reasonable and I slow down when needed. Those are my steps for personal safety.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: You also drive a motorbike. Do you wear a helmet when driving?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: Yes. Because you can die with motorcycles because of the vehicle’s speed. Many road deaths are attributed to miscommunication on the road, irresponsible motorists and their speed.
𝐅𝐁𝐑: What would you say if someone asks you: should I wear a bike helmet or not?
𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤: It’s up to them. It should be their choice. What’s important is that they should be aware that their personal safety is their own responsibility.
These are the personal views of Patrick and he’s not imposing his thoughts on anyone. The photos were taken in Quezon City… that’s why he’s wearing a helmet. This industrial designer actually owns two helmets and both were freebies from his recent bike purchases.
First Bike Ride always reminds everyone to ride safe. So if wearing a helmet makes you feel safe, go for it. And if you think that wearing one is not necessary for your safety, then we believe that it’s fine too. We agree with Patrick when he said that it should be a personal choice.
We want to know, what are your thoughts on wearing a helmet?