I have wanted to preach about this before, but have held back because I had other things to talk about. And the point of my page is not “gear gear gear.” But today I will preach. Don’t worry this won’t become a regular thing (Safety Fridays!) and there’s no gruesome pictures to scare you into wearing proper gear. Other websites do that already. This is also an unusually long post, but I figure those of you who don’t want to hear this will prefer being able to just skip onto the next post, as opposed to dragging this post out into a week-long series.
ATGATT is an acronym that stands for All The Gear, All The Time. I’m a firm believer in it, and recently was in a very minor accident which proved the worth of ATGATT. (I originally wrote this post when it first happened – I have scootered several times since and have healed up fine.) I won’t go into details, but in broad daylight, at low speeds (estimated 15-20 mph), on a road I travel daily, I mis-judged something, ran into something, and ended up going down with the scooter. The good news is I am fine.
Xrays prove I don’t have anything more serious than a sprain and some fun bruises. No one else was hurt, no children had to run out of the way. It even happened at a red light, so no near misses with cagers running me over after-the-fact. I landed in the best possible place, out of the way of moving traffic.
Neela is even fine. One body panel has a decent crack, and a light is also cracked but still functioning. Apparently I protected her from the blunt of the impact by using my shin. Very smart! Not really, it all happened too fast for me to do anything on purpose. And I definitely would prefer her to get broken instead of me, but it’s over now.
So what’s the lesson? Be paying attention all the freaking time. You can daydream in a car, but you can’t in a scooter. Don’t think you won’t wreck/crash/have a near miss if you are close to home, on a familiar road, or going slow. And wear all your gear! If you don’t have some, get some!
Sorry for all the !!! but I would be in worse shape if I had been wearing jeans, or god forbid shorts. As it was my shin has a cut and some nice bruises, and that was with wearing thick riding pants (textile, not leather, but not mesh either). If I had been wearing shorts the gash would have been much deeper. I think even with wearing jeans I would have had a worse cut, and the jeans would have torn. The pants I was wearing have some scrapes, but no real cuts.
One issue I have with some scooterists is that they think scooters are toys, and they don’t need to wear real gear, or any gear. This is dumb. Even if you have a 50 cc scooter and she can’t go faster than 30 mph, don’t you think it will hurt to fall off (or run into something) going 30 mph?? Falling from a bicycle as a kid is a common experience for many. Usually the max we were riding a bike as a kid is about 10, maybe 15 mph. If you fall off a scooter going 30 mph wearing shorts and flip-flops and a tank-top, you are going to get much worse than a scraped knee.
I think when you buy gear you should get something you will wear every day. So if you refuse to stop color-coordinating, then get a jacket/helmet/etc that matches your scooter. If you buy a full-face helmet, make sure it fits well and is not horribly tight, because then you won’t wear it and it’s not going do your brain any good sitting in the closet.
Don’t scrimp on buying gear. Isn’t that money for a helmet worth it to protect your brain? Aren’t your feet important enough to you to wear decent shoes, preferably boots? Here’s what I was wearing and how it helped me. (Everything is in Women’s sizes – except the helmet. I’m only about 5’5 so sometimes it’s hard for me to find things that fit. Leave a comment if you want more details like size, etc.)
Boots – A new purchase actually, mainly bought for the ankle protection. Scooters can be better than motorcycles for 2 reasons: our feet aren’t by any exhaust pipes/hot stuff, and in a fall our legs are less likely to be pinned down by the weight. But things don’t always happen like you plan. Somehow after I fell, as I was moving around, I suddenly felt a HUGE weight on my left ankle. I am convinced that if I had been wearing my regular shoes (sneakers or my other shoes with no ankle protection) my ankle would have been crushed. (At the least it would have gotten sprained.) And if my boots were higher, they probably would have stopped my right leg from getting cut. (Teknic Stinger)
Gloves – my left hand is very mildly sprained. Somehow it got trapped when I fell. I definitely would have scraped it without the gloves. (Cortech DX gloves)
Helmet – I wear a full-face helmet. no scrape marks on it, so I don’t think it saved me. But I did end up with my head resting on the ground. Better to have some cushion than none. (Fulmer DOT)
Jacket – since it’s still warm, I wear a mesh jacket. (Again, I wrote this right after it happened, when it was warmer.) Yes, even when it’s in the 90s and feels like its in the 100s with the humidity. I’d rather be hot and sweaty than need skin grafts on my arms. This was like the helmet at this low speed, fall-over kind of crash. The shoulder padding probably saved me from a nice bruise, but no visible tear-ups on the jacket. (Tourmaster Intake Jacket)
Pants – This was my first day wearing these pants, no lie. As I said before, I think they really protected my right leg, which took the blunt of the impact before I went down. I think the hip padding probably kept me from feeling more pain. (Tourmaster Flex Pants. I’m really not a Tourmaster pimp, I tried on all different brands and these just fit me best.)
Padding – when possible get gear with CE approved padding, aka “impact protectors.” This is a standard from the EU, and the CE padding is better than other padding. Not all of the padding in my gear is CE, but some of it is.
I scootered home after a rest right after the accident, so clearly it was not a serious accident. I am not scared of cars because my accident had nothing to do with cars. I wish I could blame a scooter-hating cager, or some dumb parent on their cell phone, or some clueless teen texting their friend while they drive. I wish I could blame a sleepy cager who drifted into my lane, or someone who blew a red light, or an animal that darted out into my path. But sadly, I only have myself to blame.
Scooter safe everyone! Gear up, at the very least get a full-face helmet. When a bug splatters on the windshield, or you fall and crack the helmet and not your jaw, you’ll be grateful you did!