By Ed Moffett
Chicago in the Summer — there’s nothing better. Bars are open ‘til 4am and everyone’s extra friendly…especially around 4am… ahem. I lived there for a few years in my early 20s and except for my hatred for the winter, I had few complaints, but there were the typical big-city inconveniences.
Like most major cities, the price of parking in the windy one is outrageous. Fortunately, there’s no need to own a car in Chicago, as there’s a more than adequate public transit system consisting of busses and an “El” (as in “elevated” train) that can take you across town at even the oddest hour.
Still, having your own wheels is a luxury I could never live without, so in the summer of 1996, I bought my first motorcycle – an $800 Honda Shadow 500. Yeah, I know… If you ride, you’re thinking, “girl’s bike.” Well, so what! I didn’t know how to ride, so I wasn’t about to get on a 1000CC crotch-rocket, hit the highway and try to beat a four second 0 – 60.
Anyway, that thing was one of the greatest tools I have ever known. It got me from A to B in record time and rendered parking a non-issue, as it took up so little space that I could leave it over night between two tandem parked cars on any side street. But perhaps the most enjoyable thing about the bike was the freedom associated with “riding.” If I wanted to take a quick trip down the road for breakfast on a warm Sunday morning, there was no door to open, no seatbelt to fasten, no window to roll down, no blind spot to check and oh yeah… NO HELMET TO STRAP ON!
Illinois is one of 35 states without a mandatory helmet law. To me, those states represent “The DIFF” between an over-protective motherly government and legislators that believe their tax-paying citizens are responsible adults capable of making their own decisions about personal safety.
If you’re reading this, and you’ve never owned a motorcycle, you’re probably thinking, “Why would you not want to do something that can save your life?” –That’s a good question, and believe it or not, I actually have a few good answers for you! The most important answer is that IT’S MY LIFE! And if I want to risk it, without causing harm to any other human being in the process, physically or financially, that should be my choice.
In addition to that, I believe helmets are uncomfortable, cumbersome, inconvenient, limiting and completely out of context. The act of riding a motorcycle is by no means as safe as riding in an enclosed vehicle. I know that. Hell, any breathing idiot knows that. So then let it be what it is – a recreational sport that also happens to offer a convenient means of transportation. If I want to risk my life doing it, so be it!
I’ve been winning this debate for years and I’m sure I could go on for days here listing all of the counter-arguments to what you helmet pushers think are valid points, but I’ll leave that for the comments section. Gimme your best shot — why should I EVER have to strap a 4 lb fiberglass shell to my head?