• Post category:Leisure & Musings
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Pillion rider without helmet-dad's rideImage 1. Taken from Facebook, the caption reads, ‘What’s your favorite thing about your father? “His ride.”‘

Her father’s ride may well be her “favorite thing,” but he has left her completely exposed, while protecting his own head.

(If you ask me, it’s more important for pillion rider(s) to protect their head than the rider when there are two or more are on a motorbike!)

Results of a test. The above is the result of a tally I recorded the morning of Sept. 4, 2014, on my way to work. I did the same the following morning as well and that morning too, the number of pillion riders sporting a helmet was '0.'
Image 2. Results of a test: The above is the result of tallies I took the mornings of Sept. 4 and 5, 2014, on my way to work.
Apparently, there was a time when traffic rules in Nepal required pillion riders to wear protective helmets as well. Not anymore!

So now that’s how pretty much all pillion riders are shuttled around, whether on the streets of cities like Kathmandu or on potholed, unstable and slippery roads in the hills or on highways, zooming by at 60 km/hour or more! That, in spite of the fact that traffic fatalities was the number one killer in the 20-30 age group as far back as November 2011! I am willing to bet that a disproportionately high percentage of those fatalities involve motorcycle accidents and pillion riders.

I have never owned a motorbike or scooter (and don’t intend to own one in Nepal) but I HAVE OWNED A HELMET!

Ridiculous, right?


It was one of the first things I bought moving to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam in 2010. I didn’t want to be another road fatality on the streets of HCMC whether as a pillion rider or the rider the occasional time I would rent. (Scooters are the most popular form of transportation in Vietnam; they even have scooter taxis and parking lots just for them!)

The investment proved to be a life-saver, and I don’t mean just figuratively!

One of those times I rented a scooter and took a day trip out of HCMC with two Aussie friends of mine, early on in our trip, my scooter slide from underneath when leaving a bridge. The bridge had been a little wet from the drizzle we had had that morning and when, on reflex — and by mistake — I had slammed on the front brakes reacting to something (can’t recall what), I had fallen on my side.

Getting up, I noticed that I had some bruises along the left side of my body from top to bottom, but nothing serious. So, I just picked myself up and continued on. The next morning, muscles along the right side of my neck and down the back started to feel sore. Apart from being a little surprised, I didn’t think anything of it.

This is the only time of late that I have seen a pillion rider with a helmet...except when I am one!
Image 3. A rare species/sight: A pillion rider sporting a helmet, the only one I have seen in a long long time!
It wasn’t until two days later when I went to pick up the helmet once again that I noticed it completely cracked! I hadn’t even felt my head banging against the surface; that’s how well it had protected my head! The whiplash, obviously, had been responsible for the soreness!

I am certain that had I not been wearing a helmet, I would have at the very least suffered a pretty bad concussion! At worst, probably death from brain hemorrhage! Apart from friends around the world giving me a new lease on life back in May 2013, a helmet, long before that, in the spring of 2011, had given me a new lease in life, unbeknownst to me!

Helmet-sporting pillion riders in Nepal however are as rare as snow leopards on the mountains (see Image 2 above). But, when I am a passenger on a motorbike in Kathmandu, I am one of the “ridiculous” passengers — I wear a helmet! (Yes, I have had people basically characterize me as such because of this habit of mine!)

But…I am known to be ridiculous! 🙂 It’s reassuring to know however that I am not alone; there is someone else equally ridiculous (see Image 3)!

Do you have as cavalier an attitude towards safety on motorbikes as many Nepalese do? If so why? If not why not? Care to share?



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