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Scoot Safety, Gear. Beyond the Image of Cool

 A Touchy Subject,

ATGATT is shorthand for the motorcycle safety philosophy “all the gear, all the time” which maintains safety gear should be worn at all times and should not be reduced at times when the perceived risk is less. More complete information about ATGATT, read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety_clothing.

 The basic ideals of ATGATT are discussed throughout Rockthegear.com’s site, where they focus on gathering the latest information on safety gear products and provide testimonials of people who have been in accidents. Their mission states,

“We will strive to produce up-to-date information on all the latest available technologies in protective apparel.  Links to new articles from industry-wide sources as well as reviews from riders just like you will be posted weekly. Rock the Gear will ensure that a vast amount of knowledge is always at your fingertips, as well as encouraging the desire to be a lifelong learner…. We promise to always set the highest example of personal responsibility…. We encourage every rider to make an educated decision when they choose what to wear.”

 Make sure to click around the Rockthegear site if you are interested in learning more about ATGATT . They have gathered some of the best information for new and weathered riders that promotes personal responsibility when riding. 

I often feel unsure about what to wear out on my rides and more so how to cover this topic here on my blog. You can easily been seen as being too “preachy” about safety and I don’t want that. For some, there is a point when hearing one more crash story will alienate the already frustrated driver and possibility turn them away from using safety gear. Then again, you have those scooter people whose sole goal is to ride around and look cute- if only because that “lifestyle” is all they think there is to riding on two wheels. Search for scooter images on the web and you’ll see all sorts of images where people drip Cool from every pore of their body. See photo below,

 (Are they cool because of the fact that they don’t have any gear on?) That easily becomes the images many scooter folks aspire to emulate beyond rhyme and reason. I’ve experienced a minor accident already and luckily had on my gear. I don’t know how things would have been different if I had been wearing heels and a cute summer dress instead. I think it is best that I don’t know and keep keepin’ on with the gear I’ve grown accustomed to putting on before a ride: gloves, leather jacket, 3/4 Helmet, and leather boots. (All of those things helped me stay in rather good condition after the fall. The ‘ol boots don’t look as nice anymore, but all my toes still wiggle like their suppose to.) Maybe accidents don’t happen to all of those beautiful people in movies and photos, but they will eventually happen in real life. You run that risk by being on two wheels, but by wearing appropriate gear at least you have some insurance for your skin and organs when an accident does occur. 

 Geared up and ready to,… fight crime? Scooterman, to the rescue!

Here are some Vespa Forum’s thoughts on the gear issue, if you want more advise from seasoned riders: http://modernvespa.com/forum/topic94995?page=1, http://modernvespa.com/forum/topic94498, and http://modernvespa.com/forum/topic25332.

I wanted to post a few of the best comments I found there below,

  •  “Wear what you want. Get the protection you wear. Accept the outcome of the decision you make. Not a difficult question.”
  • “The ‘what to wear’ discussion can go on forever. Since only helmets are mandated, and only in selected jurisdictions and to minimum standards, everything else is a matter of choice. Obviously, wearing every possible piece of protective equipment increases the level of protection afforded in the event of a mishap – at least within the design limitations of the equipment. If it is possible to ‘prioritize’ these two subjects, then ‘Safety’ is first. If absolute safety was possible (which it isn’t), then ‘Survivability’ would not be an issue. On the other hand, there is virtually no equipment available to make a patently unsafe rider ‘Survivable’.”
  • “wear what you want. accept the risks.”
  • “Many riders start out wanting to live out this stylish fantasy of scootering they’ve held onto for some time. Many eventually decide that to really enjoy riding—and not just fulfilling that image of riding—they need more and better gear. That’s not true for everyone, though. It doesn’t matter much as long as they understand the risks and take responsibility for their decisions.
    Unfortunately, a lot of us (myself included) really don’t understand the risks when we start riding. Or we delude ourselves, our spouses and concerned friends and family about them. So experience and reading about others’ experiences does a lot to dispel that fantasy. But as many (myself included, again) have learned very painfully, nothing shatters it like crashing.” 

This is a very personal decision and one that every rider makes- even if they choose no decision and ride in what they were already wearing. As one commenter writes, “Those are my choices. Everyone else gets to make their own.” On the same token, another astute commenter responded, “Wear what you want to crash in”. 

I am working on second part now that goes along with this subject, but focuses more directly on being a woman scooterist and how the reality of having an accident seems less like a concern or issue for us( -um, what??). At least when based on the numerous images of woman on scooters found within this fandom and how those woman are dressed. It is a delicate issue, so I am still playing with the wording. Stay tuned for that.

Happy and safe riding, everyone! 


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About kaie w. bird

A freelance photographer in Israel that likes to scoot about while documenting just about everything. P.S. I am a horrible editor. Forgive me.

4 responses to “Scoot Safety, Gear. Beyond the Image of Cool

  1. Love how sensitive you are about this subject!

    • Thanks… I just don’t want to push anyone away. I have a upcoming post more focused on woman and how it seems we must NEVER wreck… since all the photos throughout the scooter community show us as wearing next to nothing. (Talk about sensitive, ekks.)

  2. Jerry

    I’ve never ridden, but ignorance never stopped me from commenting before.

    Way back in the early 60s, one of my neighbors used to commute back and forth on a Vespa. Nobody used safety equipment in those days. Sure enough, one day he hit a small stone and did a header. He was out of work for quite awhile, and was lucky he didn’t do some long-term damage.

    When I bought a bicycle awhile back, the shop had a little sign up: “Buy a $10 helmet if you have a $10 head.”

    • Oy, yeah that is the thing: you never know when (not if) it will happen so… best to at least wear a helmet. I think that even today, the whole marketing and image of vespa is that there is a certain style that comes with owning one. That style doesn’t really encompass gear nor the expectation of an accident happening. I think this is more so a reality in the states, where the vespa might be considered more of a “toy” than a real vehicle/machine where unexpected things can happen. When I had my first accident, I was really lucky and just did something stupid in terms of driving techniques. I was lucky to have some gear on and know that the hand gloves and leather boots shaved me from much greater injuries.

      Your neighbor was way ahead of the curve, in the states, for owning a vespa and using it to acutally get around!! Very cool. I bet his classic was a real beauty.

      Thank you for your comment here and glad I found your most recent post also. It was a very good read and I bookmarked it, so that I could come back and read it again when I had better concentration than last night. Cheers!!

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