Causal Essay – Rory O’Connell

Helmets Providing Safety by Preventing Biking

It’s not surprising that countries with no helmet laws see much higher numbers in bikers. People tend to feel more criticized about their helmet hair and as a result many people choose to drive when they can easily bike to work. Wearing a helmet, for whatever reason, makes people feel alienated, like they are the ones doing something wrong. The answer to biker safety isn’t solved by foam-wrapping the biker, it’s solved by well built bike paths.

Bike paths allow the biker to be a safe distance from cars and allow bikers to easily cross cities. This doesn’t mean having a slightly larger shoulder on the road with the picture of a stick figure riding a bike. In the image below you can clearly see the path separation, on the left is a sidewalk for people walking, then a bike lane, parking for bikes and cars, then the actual street. By putting this much buffer between the cyclists and cars provides an amount of safety that a helmet alone couldn’t offer.

Dutch Bike lane

People with helmets also tend to ride more recklessly on roads. This is especially dangerous because the only protective gear they are wearing is a foam helmet. They think that it  will help them in case of an accident, but the way they are riding is more likely to cause an accident an the helmet still only protects the top half of their head. The riskier the cyclists ride, the higher their chances of getting into an accident.

Work Cited

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One Response to Causal Essay – Rory O’Connell

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Rory!
    You lose me almost immediately. “see much higher numbers in bikers” means: It’s not surprising that more people ride bikes in countries without helmet laws? Ask yourself this question about every sentence: What’s important? Is it that countries see numbers? Or is it important that more people ride bikes?

    Your first sentence establishes that you’re talking about countries without helmet laws. But your second sentence makes an unannounced leap to countries that do have helmet laws resulting in helmet hair. It’s too fast and unnecessarily confusing.

    The brevity of your argument is fine here, Rory, because the concept and logic are simple. But you must be clear as well as brief; otherwise, the brevity fails.

    It’s not surprising that more people ride bikes in countries with no helmet laws. People forced to wear helmets suffer the stigma of helmet hair and as a result will drive their cars when they could easily bike to work. Wearing a helmet, for whatever reason, makes people feel alienated, or as if they were doing something wrong. The answer to biker safety isn’t to foam-wrap the biker, it’s to build safe bike paths.

    Now, let’s take another look at that logic. Helmet hair seems a pretty weak excuse for not doing the right thing, which makes your non-biker sound shallow. Is it the wearing of the helmet, or the attitudes of others, that alienate the biker? Your “as if they were doing something wrong” is very vague. You seem to be concluding that the countries without helmet laws are also those who have built safe bike paths. If so, this deserves to be clearly claimed. Smarter countries have found a more elegant solution to a problem we here solve clumsily, by foam-wrapping our bikers.

    P2. If brevity is a goal for you, Rory, you can achieve it with good planning. Even without the photograph, you could describe this clever bike path in words briefly by concentrating on the positive aspects first: bike paths achieved by widening the sidewalks, not the streets.

    Your “by” opening is lethal. It deprives your sentence of a subject. What provides the safety? The buffer, not the “by putting.”

    Fails for grammar Rule 12.

    P3. What does your “also” refer to?
    New question: do they ride more recklessly on roads than they would on sidewalks? Or do they ride more recklessly wearing helmets than not wearing helmets?

    The causes and effects you address here, Rory, are
    1) helmet hair reduces biking
    2) helmets contribute to reckless riding

    You offer a solution from other countries, the widened pedestrian/biker sidewalk, with its own results:
    1) increased biking
    2) fewer collisions with cars

    Unspoken are other causes and effects
    1) American bike lanes pit bikes against cars
    2) American bikers don’t feel safe
    3) Very few bike lanes are even available
    4) Helmets provide very little protection
    5) “Pedestrian” bikers can still fall off their bikes and crack open their skulls (which is the true hazard helmets protect against)
    6) others

    In general, your approach is fine, but you don’t cover all the material. More words are not required to cover a topic thoroughly: more ideas are.

    Grade recorded.

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