I ride helmetless. I do so because I do not believe cycling is dangerous. But lately I’ve been concerned about other road users. Having engaged in endless helmet debates, two things occur to me:
1. Helmet use is contextural.
2. Moral suasion on the topic of helmet use is about as welcome as prosthelyzation or intrusive questions about lifestyle.
I don’t ask if you wear a condom everytime you have sex with your long term partner – something with low inherent risk. Point 1 is vital and the article in treehugger.com linked at the bottom spells that out. If you ride in the US (or Canada) there is a bull in the chinashop. And while advocates like Mikael Colville-Andersen talk about traffic planners “ignoring the bull” there is a real sense that he’s ignoring places where adequate infrastructure isn’t even possible at this moment. Toronto’s notoriously anti-cycling mayor is a case in point. But also anywhere that cars have 90 percent of the streetscape, the thought that helmets might provide a modicum of protection is an understandable one. I have no doubt that if I get crushed by a car, a helmet won’t help. But if nudged by a car? Well that happens far more frequently than statistics show – who reports an aggressive taxi? You don’t. You ring your bell, you yell, you flip the bird. But occasionally you’re knocked off the bike. That is the moment when a helmet may be appropriate. I don’t advocate for helmets, but I do see why they can make people feel safe when the places they live provide no other succor.
Others have said that cycle-tracks create the illusion of safety as well but lead to more dangerous intersections where road and track meet (see comments here.) This might have been true in the early days, but the Dutch model seems to have resolved much of these. But the other part of the equation is driver and cyclist education. Drivers in my part of the world see pedestrians and cyclists as road-lice. Vermin. Until that perception is ground out of them — and it must be forcibly imposed sadly — then every time I get on the road I have to accept that someone may satiate their psycopathic urge to crush me with no warning. But they might do this if I walk as well. Helmets won’t work there either. In the end I have to keep riding if only in the hope of changing the prevailing culture. Little by little it is changing. It is still infinitely easier to hop on my bike than it is to get on transit or drive. But it is not all roses that is the way of citizen cycling in my part of North America.
Why the Dutch don’t wear helmets : TreeHugger
The day after an ice-storm brings all kinds of fun photo options.
One of my regular routes. I’ve been off the bike for the past two days due to snow and a sudden skittishness on slush (I’m not sure why – it hasn’t been a problem until now). But the fact remains that college has one of the worst laid out bike lanes and some of the most abused sections. Cyclists take up a measley 19% of the road surface but move more people than cars during the rush hour.
Cycle Toronto Observes More Bikes than Cars on College Street | Cycle Toronto
Dialogue goes in cycles it seems. The cycle from Oppression, to Activism, to Engagement, to Mainstream acceptance doesn’t always follow smoothly from one stage to the next. Sometimes there are steps in reverse. Cambridge Cycling Chairman Martin Lucas-Smith has decided that Engagement – specifically in the form of compromise – is no longer sufficient for serious change on the cycling front in Cambridge (UK).
Time for compromise is over – cyclists must have more space, says Cambridge Cycling Campaign chairman Martin Lucas-Smith | Cambridge News | Latest News Headlines From Cambridge City & Cambridgeshire | National News By Cambridge News
There are a few contributing factors. Its not as simple as slinging a leg over a bike (although its pretty damn close).
1. Cycling does not produce the same stress response as driving. (Although I don’t think they took the stress of sharing the road with two tonne vehicles into acount).
2. Cost effectiveness.
3. Benefits of the physical exercise… etc.
Follow the link and enjoy the rest of the article.
The Science Behind Why Cycling Makes Us Happier
So there’s been a lot of commentary up here in the Northern Latitudes about how to ride in the winter. Well for you green-horns I want to express to you the fullest possible list of what you’re going to need. Remember I’m an experienced Toronto Cyclist so I know something about cold and slush, and ice in the bike lanes. The list is pretty comprehensiveYou might need to read it a few times to make sure you get everything. Ready? Here it is:
1. A bike.
Now go play. Stay warm. If the latter bit is difficult, fear not, woolen gloves do the trick. No really.
So I ticked through the 878th kilometer on the front Schwalbe this week (I’ve run approximately that many k’s on the front Sturmey Archer X-FD but I’ll save that review for another day). I’ve been tracking the k’s in order to get some idea of what kind of wear and tear I put on my cycles. Most of my commuting this year has been on this tyre. I was so pleased with its initial road feel that when the time came, I replaced my rear tyre with the same make.
According to the Schwalbe website the Marathons should last between 8 and 15 thousand kilometers. I was a little startled to read this because at the current rate I can expect another 4 years out of these tyres. Colour me skeptical — I’ll have to wait and see.
Mandatory ODO shot:
Out of loss comes opportunity. So I reported the loss of my Airzounds to theft earlier in the week. My family bought me a Hornit to replace the lost horn. As a result I will provide a comparative review some time in the coming months. In the meantime:
Grant Petersen of Rivendel Bicycles has a tidy little blog imploding the idea that you need special gear to go cycling:
Learn About Bikes with Rivendell Bicycle Works