When I lived in China back in 2006-2007 I got around mostly by bike, as did many thousands of other people in my city. I never once wore a helmet, because no one else did. And that’s why it was extremely lucky that when I eventually got into an accident I did not land on my head. (Side note: As someone who is now older, wiser, and has worked in a hospital brain injury unit, I implore you to never, ever ride a bike without a helmet.)
Instead, I landed on my tailbone. After a few seconds of sitting stunned on the concrete, I stood up and walked the couple of steps to the curb. The guy on the electric bike who had hit me stopped to see if I was okay, and I told him I was. But the next morning I was in too much pain to go to work. So I took a taxi to the hospital. My Chinese friend Sylvia met me at the hospital to translate—a kindness for which I will be forever grateful, since I didn’t know enough Chinese to communicate anything useful, other than saying the word for “bicycle” and pointing at the base of my spine.