A minor defense of Barack Obama*

There’s some not-so-good natured chortling about Mr. Obama riding a bike while wearing a helmet, with derisory comments about an adult on a bike wearing appropriate headgear. I’m not going to link those blogs, but trust me, they’re there.

Obama's Bike Helmet

As an occasional cyclist, one who’s actually used their helmet while riding a bike, and as an Emergency Physician who sees people with head injuries, this is a practice to be promoted, not discouraged.

Now, were I to make fun of him in that photo, it’d be for wearing blue jeans on a bike. That just looks dorky. There’s a reason pro cyclists wear shorts, and it’s not for that really special tan line 2 inches above the knee. (Pro cyclists also wear helmets).

So, encourage helmet use by adults: it’s good for them directly, and doesn’t send the ridiculous message to kids that helmets are only for ‘little kids’.

* Disclaimer: I’m not an Obama fan, have utterly no intention of voting for him, but think this is an area where he’s being abusedly stupidly. For my Presidential endorsement, see my only statement to date.


  1. I was glad he wore a helmet while biking also. It’s a very good thing.

    I see more folks on motorcycles, scooters, and bikes these days. Not all are wearing protective headgear. Just curious, are you seeing more injuries from the increase in said transportation (due to high gas prices)?

  2. No, but even if I were, it’s bike season, so it’d be lost in the usual upswing of bike related injuries.

    For some reason I’ve not seen as many motorcycle injuries as in the past, and wonder why.

  3. I read that he actually considered before putting on the helmet. He knew the press would take pictures, and was conscious of the possibility of a “Dukakis moment.” But he later said that he knew kids would see it and chose to look like a dork rather than send the wrong message.

    I never read any accompanying story. Why was he on the bike in the first place? it’s not exactly a great photo op, and it’s not like he’s a cyclist…

  4. Aerospace Genius says:

    I always wear a helmet, partly because my reason for bicycling is to accompany my boys and it’s an opportunity for me to set a positive example. It also has something to do with my history of bicycling road rash.

    I use the same helmet while rollerblading, along with a full set of pads. I’ve only fallen once and I was really glad to have them on when it happened. I just know the big one will happen on the one day that I decide to leave my armor behind.

  5. Agree. It is the jeans that are dorky, and the fact that the bike is about 5 sizes too small.

  6. Thank you GD, Aerospace Genius & Mr.Soon-to-be-President-Obama for putting me in a tight spot. I recently bought a bike. I did not get a helmet.
    Reason: I’m going to look funny & dorky enough on a bike without any additional embellishments. Now I’ll have to reconsider. I’ve seen my share of head injuries that could’ve been prevented or would’ve turned out to be much less severe if a helmet had been worn.

  7. Whatever moron that’s out there making fun of the guy is crazy. Biked all my life, worn a helmut for the past 20 years and my kids have never seen me on the bike without one. They don’t even realize it’s an option.

  8. Xerxes1729 says:

    I chastised my roommate the other night for planning to bike to his girlfriend’s place with no helmet. At midnight. On a busy street. With no lights.

    Future doctors of America, folks.