Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cycle Accidents... And What Happens After

Two cyclists, snaking through moving traffic at commute time in Bangkok

There will be a fair number of people reading this who might take me to task for what I'm about to say, but in this rare case I honestly don't care if they do: people who insist on riding around on motorcycles and motor scooters where there are autos, buses and other traffic without a helmet to protect their heads don't have much common sense at work within those heads. The same goes for bicycle riders.

When I was in school (long before helmet laws were in place) a friend on a Vespa scooter lost his confrontation with an automobile and drained an alarming quantity of blood from his head onto the street at the entrance of the school parking lot. I told myself then I wouldn't get onto another one myself, but I have, three times, and all of them in Thailand.

The first was with my Isaan friend, going to visit his family farm for the first time. I could say it was merely foolhardy, but to be honest it was stupid; neither of us had a helmet and we rode a good 20 kilometers along the highway on a small, rickety scooter he'd borrowed from his older sister. It was exhilirating when I could shelve the memory of Dave's accident and ignore the possibility of becoming 90Kg of ground meat myself at any moment.

The second you may remember from the "Motorcycle Taxi Safety (Or Not)" post from last April, where I said I was surprised at the number of folks who seem to go with the "if it's my time to die, it's my time to die" philosophy. That ride was actually more spooky because I was on the streets of Bangkok at the start of commute time, but I did have a helmet on. As you can see in the clip used in that post (repeated below) although there are a lot of cyclists in the Big Mango, most DO wear protection. In the clip all but one passenger had one on.

Cyclists in Bangkok... all (but one passenger) wearing a helmet

Unless it's changed, it's a 100 baht fine to ride without a helmet there, but I'd like to think most Thai wear one to avoid the risk of spending the rest of their days doing nothing more than drooling while propped up somewhere.

The third time I was on the back of a cycle there was just a little over a year ago, in Pattaya, and again I had a helmet on. My companion for dinner was giving me a ride back to my room one night, and I took a couple of HD clips. I'm repeating that clip below, but if you want to read about accidents and cycles again you can reference "Night Riding On A Motocy", also from early last year.

I guess what got me to thinking about the foolishness of riding around with nothing but air and exhaust between your head and a variety of immovable objects was running across pictures taken of my friend's brother after he was in a motocy accident without a helmet on, and remembering what a devastating effect it had on his family.

Some of you reading this have been hit up for money from people in Thailand (male and female), and may have already heard the "my brother was in a motocy accident" line, but in this case, it was true.

That story tomorrow.


krobbie said...

Boa-Boa we have caught motocy taxis in Bangkok before. Sometimes 3 on a bike sometimes one each.Once I had made a serious error about booking a hotel and it was way out in Sathorn at the beginning of Chan Road in Sathorn. NO transport out there if you didn't have your own. We used to catch the mtocy taxis from outside the hotel to Chong Nonsi. One day we got 2 likely lads who fairly (or fearly) flew us there on there bikes.

I have never been so scared and Bobey was the same. These guys were weaving in and out at great speed and I was glad to get off the bike in one piece.

We haven't used a motocy since and use proper taxis now. It seems we are cured.


khunbaobao said...

Thank you for that. I just don't have that feeling of indestructibility I had in my youth, and while they can be handy, I've seen more than my share of road rash on people and cycles on their sides in the middle of the road.

I think tomorrow's story will make a better point as to why I have what I think's a healthy respect/fear of them.

Michael Lomker said...

I actually had fun riding around on them. I had a helmet lent to me but it was 3 sizes too small, of course. I bought a properly sized helmet as soon as I got home and will bring it with me next time. I've owned motorcycles before so I wasn't too concerned.

I think the Thai wear helmets simply to avoid conversations with the police. They especially don't want that with a farang on the bike--they'll get accused of being a taxi without a permit whether that is true or not. A full roadside inspection of their bike could result in more than a 100baht fine.

khunbaobao said...

Good point about the inspections. If I rode them regularly (fat chance of THAT) I'd probably buy my own helmet and leave it with someone there, too. Smart!