US Biker dies in anti-helmet protest...

…from head trauma

Posted: 4 July 2011
by Visordown News

AN American riding as part of a anti-helmet protest has died after going over the handlebars and hitting his head on the road - a crash he would have likely survived if he had been wearing a helmet said the attending physician.

55-year-old Philip A. Contos, from New York, lost control of his 1983 Harley-Davidson when he hit his brakes forcing his bike to fishtail and flipping him over the handlebars and into the tarmac headfirst. He was pronounced dead at hospital.

The helmet protest ride was organised by the Onondaga chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE). The organisation states that it encourages voluntary use of helmets but opposes mandatory helmet laws.

New York is one of 20 states that requires all motorcyclists wear helmets.

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Sorry to hear, but, a tenner says they'll be out protesting again next year....

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 15:57

sad for the guys family, but what a bunch of idiots.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 16:24

Oh the sweet, sweet irony.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 16:48

I'd like the person who wrote this to do a reinactment of the accident to prove his theory that Philip would've survided had he been wearing his helmet. I've lost many friends that had helmets on. Also, when you do your reinactment, don't forget to throw your bootlace in the chain and let it get wrapped up in the sprocket, because that's what happened. He was unaware that his lace was untied.
Yes, it is a terrible loss and my sympathy goes oout to his family.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 17:23

Probably should have been wearing proper motorcycle boots in that case too. Looks like his number was up. I feel sorry for the paramedics who attended to him and then are expected to go home and carry on like nothing happened. Let those who ride decide indeed. Grow up and understand that a little bit of blood and bone isn't going to help one bit if your hits the ground after a motorcycle accident. To the gentleman who says he has lost heaps of friends who were wearing helmets I just do not believe you. Either your friends are a pack of morons who have no idea how to ride or you are simply making that up to support your claim. I have been riding for nearly 40 years and have never lost a friend to a motorcycle accident.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 18:16

Dude was on a Harley. How the hell did his lace get wrapped up in the chain? Pillock.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 20:14

Maybe someone should do a tally of all the non-helmet fatalities vs helmet fatalities.

I remember the Sharp helmet tests conducting various impact assessments based on the common impacts suffered by riders to helmets and scoring them out of 5 stars.

It would be interesting to see the tests conducted on riders without helmets, I am confident the helmet provides better protection to the rider.

Had this gentleman survived maybe his views might of changed?

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 20:32

the title of this article is misleading and inaccurate...

ABATE is not ANTI helmet... They are anti legislated helmet use laws...

We Americans understand that you "Euro Folks" have become very comfortable with ceding your personal liberty, freedom and decision making to those "in power"... after all... they do know what's best for you... right??

I hear and read the complaining about the "nanny state" that you guys have to live under quite often... But when "we" fight government intrusion into our personal lives... you all start in with your smug responses and self righteous "tsk tsk's"...

When the "powers to be" in the Haig tell you that the Bangers and "Full English breakfast" will have to go because of the heart disease and obesity they cause.... or the Pubs will have to stop selling beer because of the alcoholism it causes.... or... what ever... you get the idea... Will just stand by and let them put it to you up the arse (again)... or will you stand up and fight...

A very wise man once said "those that would exchange liberty for safety, deserve neither..." That was said over 200 years ago and still holds true today... In most cases, even more so today...

He had a real grasp on the insidious nature of governments... For a lot more of his wisdom, that has more relevance today more than ever.... Just google "Thomas Jefferson quotes"... You remember him... he's one of our Founding Fathers... and I'm pretty sure that you can figure out who he was trying to warning against...

BTW... do I wear a helmet and advocate their use? Absolutely!! I wear full gear when I ride... But the key here is that I made the decision... and I advocate my views... I just don't want them being legislated...

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 22:11

Sorry about the typo's in the previous post... I should have done a better job proof reading and editing ...

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 22:20

well said scbonneville

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 22:30

I live in England. We once exported democracy to the world and now we just import unelected (EU) legislation, over which we have no control.

scbonneville is bang on the mark.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 23:27

Thats all very well scbonneville but not wearing a helmet and risking your life just to prove a point to the state (who don't actually care what you think anyway) is just backward.
Its because of knuckleheads like that who can't think for themselves and arn't mentally capable of understanding the risks and being responsible that laws have to be made.

Posted: 04/07/2011 at 23:36

>Thats all very well scbonneville but not wearing a helmet and risking your life just to prove a point to the state (who don't actually care what you think anyway) is just backward.<

So let me get this straight... wearing a helmet removes all risk of death and injury when riding a motorcycle? No? Well then, let's just solve this whole carnage thing straight away then... Why don't we just ban motorcycles altogether... There... no more "risking your life"... No more motorcycle fatalities... If you don't think that that isn't what governments in the EU and North America are working toward, then you're fooling yourself...

>Its because of knuckleheads like that who can't think for themselves and aren't mentally capable of understanding the risks and being responsible that laws have to be made.<

So I guess the "those that would exchange liberty for safety, deserve neither..." makes no sense to you... Let me ask you... At what point do you stop making laws to "protect" the "knuckleheads like that who can't think for themselves and aren't mentally capable of understanding the risks" from themselves....? At what point will it will it be finished??

And to satisfy my curiosity, just who put you in charge of the "We have to protect them from themselves" squadron anyway???

Our National Highway Safety Traffic Administration's (NHSTA) whole answer to all things "Motorcycle Death Rate" is "a mandatory helmet laws is the answer"

When asked to fund more/better rider training courses... NHSTA's response is: "mandatory helmet laws is the answer"... and besides that... rider training courses and licensing are the responsibility of the individual state...

When asked to take the lead, implement and fund a "share the road/ motorcycles are on the road too" campaign.... NHSTA's answer? Yep... "a mandatory helmet laws is the answer"...

When asked to take the lead, implement and fund a "helmet/gear saves lives and skin" campaign... NHSTA's answer? Yep... again... "a mandatory helmet laws is the answer"...

That is their answer to everything motorcycle fatality related... even though 50% of the MC fatalities in the US are alcohol related... another 40% involved right of way violation by a car... and another 30% had lack of training/experience/license issues involved... Yes that adds up to greater than 100% as some fatalities had "multiple issues" involved...

The motorcycle fatality rate is an interesting thing over here... 40,000+ people a year die in auto crashes... 350,000+ are injured.... Who cries, gnashes their teeth and wrings their hands for them? How about the 4000+ pedestrians and 900 bicyclists annually?? Who cries for them?

I would much rather see proactive efforts to reduce the number of all types (cars, mc's, et al) of accidents and thus the overall death rate... rather than a "legislated answer" to reduce just the number of fatalities in a specific motoring group... We have far too many people dieing on our highways every year... from all types of accidents, not just motorcycles...

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 00:27

I did it again!! the NHSTA should in fact be the NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration... DOH!

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 00:32


So you're all anti-legislation hey Bonneville, but do wear gear. Okay, thats cool, me too. I hate legislation. I especially hate the ones that say I cant do 80 mph in a wide open road 60 zone. Its total bullshit, theres noting dangerous about it. I hate the cops who get a boner everytime they bust me for doing it and give me huge fines for it regularly. No one seems to argue those ones but. I hate road cops, they should all be shot.

But wearing a helmet I'd do even if it wasnt a law. Its just obvious. But most dont see it as obvious and Mobus is right, laws are made to protect against the lowest common denominator. If there weren't those moronic speed rules the morons would speed everywhere.

Unfortunately people are so stupid some laws, as stupid as they are, are necessary. So getting worked up about having to wear a helmet I just dont get. Im sorry, its just idiotic. (unless its on pushbikes, that one does piss me off).

If you love anarchy so much, then cool, but I just dont think society is smart enough to do it.

But if any bikers want to protest about speeding fines, Im there, (with my guns for self protection of course).

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 04:49

RIP - Anyone who argues against helmets legislated or not, needs their head looking at, or at else if they crash they will. I'm all for wearing helmets and all for being against the state and legislation that takes away choice. Protest riding about the issue and dying by falling on your head is almost Darwinism...

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 08:24

Helmet laws are always contentious.
I've not done any research into m/c helmets, but have done quite a lot into bicycle helmets as cyclist are currently forever being told that 'sobvious in't it. For push iron helmets the results of research are AT BEST neutral, that's to say there isn't a single study that proves that wearing a bit of plastic on your head improves your survivability in an accident. There's also a body of evidence that suggests that many bicycle helmets can contribute to certain injuries. The main issue though is that you can't do contol experiments as it's difficult to get participants.

Motorcycle helmets are obviously heavier and more robust than cycle helmets, births the energy levels involved are much greater, so I suspect that there will be simalr findings, ie that in certtain circumstances the are a bid advantage, but that in others there is evidence of them contributing to injuries. Again, the big issue is the lack of controlled experiments.

On legislation, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I want the right to make my own life decisions. On the other hand, not everyone has the education or sheer bloody mindedness as me to do just what the hell I think is right, and many, particularly the young, are easily lead to doing the fashionable thing, whatever that might be. Its a very difficult subject.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 09:19

+ 15 points Mobus for using the word "knuckleheads". One of my all time favs.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 09:45

Motrcycle helmets are proven too provide impact protection better than a skull alone, you'd have too be an idiot too think that they're the same as bicycle helmets, they make a big difference. I'd be dead if I hadn't have been wearing a crash helmet probably twice now. Simply for the fact I've realised that hitting my head against the ground at that speed with that much force without something too soften the blow would result in me not only being knocked out but probably losing a lot of hair and skin and most likely cracking my skull. No one in their right mind can serious still question whether wearing a helmet is better. It's about whether wearing one should be compulsory, I'm a Londoner and as it's being compulsory all my life I know no better so am happy wearing one every day. Incidently I wear a lightweight crosser style lid as I like em light but seriously there is no arguement they will save your life in a crash hard enough too crack your skull as they can absorb and disipate better than a skull alone can...

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 09:54

Dare I even mention the theory of risk compensation and its effect on behaviour?

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 10:46

I have to say, I do think some people just have a "fight the power mentality". Years ago, I used to go to a local MAG meeting, the chairman for this bascially took issue with the sun coming up in the morning and how it was "because the government is against us all".....yeah alright son....


Posted: 05/07/2011 at 11:30

Not all accidents involve hitting the ground head first, and indeed in some accidents the head wouldn't contact the ground at all if it wasn't for the large lump of plastic encasing it!

Just for the recored, I happily wear a helemt when on a bike, as I'm relatively happy that it does increase my safety, however there are some circumstances where one might not be appropriate, and I'd like the option to make my own chioce. That said, as I mentioned earlier, not all people wold make informed decisons, so computltion is what we have.

Bit like speed limits really, not always appropriate in all circumstances for all riders, but would you turst EVERY rider and driver you know to decide when it was safe to do 100mph?

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 11:53

Mr Bonneville, you are so funny with your "American freedom" vs "European nannying" meme. It just isn't true. You Yanks are just as wedded to interfering nanny statism as we are. How else do you explain NYC's draconian, ridiculous and evidence free ban on people harmlessly enjoying a smoke in Central Park? Also, America is home to nutcase ambulance chasing lawyers who only serve to perpetuate a culture of risk aversion. Sorry but this is just the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 12:54

I say, let all those that oppose wearing helmets continue to ride, crash & die without one on - solves the debate for us.

Eventually the "knuckleheads" (kudos, Mobus!) who refuse to wear lids would become extinct.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 13:00

Works for me Skoop.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 13:08

A government that is too keen on legislation can quickly begin to erode a nations freedom and more often than not it is by the back door with very little publicity.

However you have to pick your fights carefully as you are in danger of discrediting yourself if you fight the wrong fights. I know nothing of the group mentioned above but I assume that they are a bunch of tits to be quite honest and if I was in government I simply wouldn't let through the door.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 13:13

Look,if some American wants to ride without a helmet,just to prove a point,then thats his lookout.Helmets save lives,fact.Stupid bloody thing to protest about.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 13:25

I dont ride a bike because its dangerous and to stick 2 fingers up to the government. I ride because i love it.
SO i think id like to lower the risk of the thing i love giving me more of a chance of surviving any possible accident so i can carry on riding bikes and enjoying my life, wearing a helmet seems to make quite alot of sense doesn't it?

But yeah skoop. Let them grind their brains into the tarmac if they want too.
Natural selection. ;)

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 13:38

>You Yanks are just as wedded to interfering nanny statism as we are. How else do you explain NYC's draconian, ridiculous and evidence free ban on people harmlessly enjoying a smoke in Central Park?<

You're absolutely right! America's march towards a government run socialist/nanny state is there for all to see... But that is exactly the point! If you do nothing and stand by and let "your leaders" tell you what is best for YOU... then you are part of the problem... This country was founded on personal liberty and 235 years later, that is quickly being swept aside...

I have to chuckle at all the "knucklehead" and "helmets are effective" comments... Nowhere in the article or in my comments has the effectiveness of a helmet to protect your skull be questioned... or even mentioned...

What has been pointed out by me was the misleading title and incomplete information in the "news blurb"... No one questions the effectiveness of helmets and no one is suggesting that helmets should not be used... What is questioned is the "right" of the government to REQUIRE the use of a helmet... In other words... do they have the right to protect you from yourself?

In a motorcycle accident, if I choose not to wear a helmet and I split my "knucklehead" open and injure or kill myself, who have I injured or directly impacted? ONLY myself... Nobody else.. no "innocent bystanders" are impacted...

But let's look at the "speed limit" argument... If I choose to speed and I cause an accident with another vehicle or vehicles... Who do I impact? The others involved in the accident... I do NOT have the right to endanger others...

Now, if you want to cede the authority for your government to protect you from yourself in the case of being REQUIRED to wear a helmet.... My question is: where does it stop? How about a riding jacket... CE approved armor required? Gloves too? Riding pants? Boots? Where does it stop?

Then we can move on to food... and alcohol (tried that one here in the States before... it didn't turn out so good)... and yes, tobacco use.. which make no mistake, the anti tobacco forces are not content to "stamp out second smoke"... they want tobacco use banned completely...

The absolute, bottom line question I ask here... Does the government have the right to protect you from yourself??

Be very careful how you answer that one... because it is an "all or nothing" question... If you give them that "right" in one area... it opens the door for them to do it in ALL areas of your life...

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 13:46



Posted: 05/07/2011 at 14:15

If you don't wear a helmet, you don't need a helmet.

That said, it's the individual's choice. Without a socialist system (wherein everybody expects everybody else to care for him, regardless his own foolishness or ineptitude), the argument about "having to take care of a vegetable" goes back to where it belongs -- to one's upbringing, one's self-reliance, one's friends, community, and possibly church.

The problems are twofold: one is the wish of other people to run our lives; the other is the socialst system that makes running other peoples' lives a full-time job.

The Nanny State is the socialist state, but remember that your Nanny wants to control you for your own good, because (and only because) you don't know how, yourself; at the age when you need a Nanny, you are not yet fully-formed. As an adult, you are assumed to be so. The socialist state, however, merely wants to exploit you, in the interest of special-interest voting blocs.

Still, if you don't wear a helmet, you certainly don't need one. Darwin taught us that much.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 14:16

I understand that wearing a helmet probably won't help that much if I have a fast accident on the road. However, I'd hate to die without a helmet in a slow crash, the sort of crash a helmet would almost definitely make a difference to.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 16:04

SCBonneville, it is a load of bollocks that the US "once" had freedom. At the time of the founding of the United States, slavery still existed and some or many of the founding fathers owned slaves, and women could not vote.

Your speed limits are among the lowest in the world and the most draconianly (is that a word?) enforced, in my personal experience anyway.

Gays cannot get married, and access to abortion is more limited in the States than it is elsewhere.

Your drug policies add fuel to the fire of drug wars, and are in fact the reason for some US imperialism, not to mention the irrationality of not allowing people to smoke a plant, or decide what to put in their own bodies.

"Freedom" for a lot of Americans sadly means stupid sh!t like the ability to not wear a helmet, or to carry a gun anywhere and everywhere. I would agree that yes, these two aforementioned things are part of freedom, or rather the govt's infringement upon it, but there is much much much more than that.

I think that people should be able to decide for themselves, but please, do a bit of research about Europe before you come here spouting cliche nonsense about the European nanny state mmmkay? Otherwise you just come across as another dumb Yank, and from your posts you are clearly much more intelligent and thoughtful than that :)

Where I live, in Ireland, yes I have to wear a lid, but I can filter through traffic, there are no speed cameras, and the police have better things to do than catch speeders. Even though marijuana is technically illegal, if the police catch you with it they will not arrest you (anecdotal evidence to be sure) but just ask you to throw it away. There are aspects of the 'nanny state' that bother me, but these are the compromises we have for living in a modern western civilization. Go to parts of Africa that are basically lawless and tell me you wouldn't rather live in America or Ireland or anywhere.

To quote Hobbes, the life of man before society was 'nasty, brutish and short'. Yes there are problems with some laws the govt imposes, but for most REASONABLE people, a helmet law is something that they accept, just like speed limits. When I was younger I sped like a madman, and I still wish that speed limits didnt apply to me, but I can see their reason now, though I consider myself more aware and skilled than 90% of drivers.

Your slippery slope argument of "where does it end?" is frankly stupid and inaccurate because helmet laws have been around in most places that currently have them for more than 30 yrs. When has there ever been a serious proposal to make people wear a jacket or gloves? Im sorry mate, but when you say things like that its just American anti-govt sillinesss

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 16:37

Tired and mostly silly arguments; please, let's keep to the subject at hand.

If you would like me to dismantle some of your arguments one by one, let's take it aside, off this forum.I won't disagree on the subject of what seems to be a national policy using the traffic laws to increase revenues for governments and their insurance cronies, but again, this is peripheral.

This forum is about bikes and bike-related rants, and should not degrade into the swamp of general political inanity.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 16:51

I didn't realize you were a forum admin Endover

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 17:31

This whole US vs Europe thing is way off base. Personal liberties are abridged on both sides of the Atlantic. It's just a different mix of infringements. I live in New England which spends way too much of my tax dollars enforcing artificially low speed limits. I rode in Italy a few years ago and I've never ridden so fast. The police wave at you when you zip past, just don't exceed 30 kph in their little villages. That's not unreasonable. On the other hand, I have never seen so many speed cameras as in England. It seems as though they plan to reinstate the Empire from the proceeds of speeding fines.

I'm mostly an ATGATT guy, so the helmet issue doesn't affect me personally. It does seem as though there are more pressing threats to our freedom right here in the USofA. Consider: Torture as official state policy, warrantless spying on US citizens, increasing corporatization of the political process. This mere sampling should demonstrate that the USofA is not the bastion of freedom we may once have been. I wear a helmet and would vote against the imposition of a mandatory helmet law in my state (Maine), but would definitely reserve my political self-righteousness for more important issues.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 18:39

One more point: Have you ever caught a June Bug in your teeth at 80 mph? I don't see the attraction of riding without a helmet any way!

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 18:41

Agreed. Good post Grunbay!

The reason I had to descend into political mud-slinging is because I felt this whole false dichotomy of US = freedom, Europe = Nanny state, just wasnt true.

To further complicate the issue, filtering is only legal or rather it isnt illegal, in California, but in the UK it is legal everywhere. And yes there's a lot of speed cameras here but I think that on B-roads there is a more relaxed attitude to speed.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 18:55

And in all this a man died. He was probably well liked, had a family, friends... Sure, he died in an accident. Sure, his death might have been prevented had he been wearing a helmet (or not, we'll prob never know).

He was riding for the right to choose. That's cool I guess, but one needs to think much broader than just their own personal situation when thinking about what makes, in theory, a law. A much broader perspective is needed.

Helmet laws (and similar laws) are put in place to protect those who DON'T know any better. For example, children, the mentally challenged, or people that are just plain uneducated, unfortunately. Kinda like seat-belt laws.

Is SCBonneville going to protest the laws that make him wear his seat-belt because it infringes on his right to choose?? Do car companies have the right to deny SCBonneville the right to buy one of their cars on the argument that it's because he does not know how to operate it properly (in other words, while wearing a seat-belt)??

Don't get me wrong, I totally agree with a lot of Mr. Bonneville's views regarding governments getting completely out of control. But on the other hand, he looses a lot of validity when basing his comments on biased-rage. His blatant bashing of Europe did not make for a better argument.

I choose to wear a helmet, by the way....

And RIP to the poor guy who lost his life choosing not to wear one.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 21:55

I'm quite happy for other bikers, especially the young ones, not to wear helmets. All the more organ donors for aging bastards like me.

I have been saved from death or serious head injury by a bicycle helmet on two occasions. I always wear one when cycling. Another time I came off my motorbike and slid down the road on my face. My helmet took the damage and I bought the same brand again.

Posted: 05/07/2011 at 21:58

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