A friend, someone I care about, posted this on their Facebook wall recently:
Greatest Adrenalin rush in years!! – 23:00 hrs – Bullet Electra 350 vs CBR 600 – Race from Hitec city cross roads to Sindhi Colony (med traffic levels) – Reached with a 7 sec difference (Both bikes had flames from the exhausts during the race!!) – Covered it in 8.5 mins, distance – 14kms……..avg speed – 100kms/hr…Top Speeds Hit – Bullet Electra 350 – 115kms/hr, CBR 600 155kms/hr… Buzzed!!
The next day, I read in the newspaper about two kids who had been killed racing each other on the streets of Hyderabad.
For a minute, I was quite horrified as my mind juxtaposed the two pieces of information – the second was what could have happened to my friend had something gone awry. I have more than my share of close friends whose lives have been turned upside down by biking accidents. I myself have taken a couple of tosses – thankfully none at high speed, and never helmetless.
Biking, especially in Indian traffic conditions, is inherently hazardous. To attempt it without a helmet is tempting fate. To take unnecessary chances with speed is nothing but gambling with your life – the house always wins.
In the last few weeks, one of my colleagues took a toss, thankfully without any major injuries. It was encouraging to see the number of people who chided him for not wearing a helmet, and even more so when it actually worked, and he resumed wearing his helmet every time he took his bike out.
Coming back to my friend’s Facebook status, I was heartened to see that it elicited more than a couple of cautionary responses, with people stepping in to say that while speed was cool and all that, safety was much cooler.
Marketers everywhere have made dangerous biking cool – anything from tyres and cool drinks to the bikes themselves are promoted by adverts that depict rash and unsafe riding. In tiny, unreadable text, they caution you not to try this at home. In such an atmosphere, the burden of riding safely and responsibly lies squarely on our own shoulders.
Every time we get on the bike and kick back that side-stand, let’s remember to strap on our helmets. Any day, it’s cooler to be alive than dead.