My Stance on Bicycle Helmets

I usually avoid this subject like the H1N1, but I get asked so frequently what my position is on bike helmets, I thought I’d take the time to make it official. While I reserve the right to change positions in the future, here’s where I stand at this place and time:

  • I support the individual’s right to choose whether or not they wear a helmet (adults)
  • I support helmet laws for children
  • I wear a helmet most of the time
  • I occasionally choose to not wear a helmet
  • If a beginner asks, I recommend they wear a helmet
  • The data on helmet use appears to be inconclusive
  • Civil discussions on helmet use can be useful
  • “Helmet war” discussions are a total waste of time

I’m going leave the comments open on this thread with the hope that people can share their positions without getting nasty. If it turns into a flame war, well… you know.

Horses for Courses

Not a Grocery Getter

I’ve been fortunate to spend time riding an unusually eclectic collection of bicycles over the past few years. The partial list includes:

Bacchetta Ti-Aero Volae Century
RANS V2 Formula Pashley Roadster Sovereign
RANS V3 Surly Long Haul Trucker
RANS Stratus XP Civia Hyland
RANS Screamer Tandem Civia Loring
Easy Racers Tour Easy Breezer Finesse
Easy Racers Javelin Breezer Uptown 8
Easy Racers Gold Rush Brompton S-Type
Greenspeed GT-3 Trike Independent Fabrication Club Racer

I’m sure I missed a few. Some of those on the list I owned, others were on extended loans, all were interesting in their unique way, and each harbored a collection of design compromises. A few I still have, but many moved on because I changed my riding habits or they didn’t fit my riding habits in the first place. Probably the most important lesson I learned from experimenting with such a wide variety of bikes is that matching the right type of bike to the right use is more important than laboring over the insignificant differences between competing models within a bike-type. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating: if you’re going to haul cargo, buy a cargo bike; if you’re going to race, buy a racing bike; and if you’re going to commute, buy a commuter. The most lauded bike, if used for some purpose other than the one for which it was designed, is not going to live up to its potential and is likely to disappoint (as the boneyard above so aptly demonstrates!).

10% in Toronto

The University of Toronto recently published an interview with Professor Chris Cavacuiti of the department of family and community medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in which he quotes a study that found bicyclists are the cause of less than 10% of bike-car accidents. From the interview:

While there is a public perception that cyclists are usually the cause of accidents between cars and bikes, an analysis of Toronto police collision reports shows otherwise: The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection and either failing to stop properly or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third involved a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. The study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents in this study.

The available evidence suggests that collisions have far more to do with aggressive driving than aggressive cycling.

I believe the study quoted by Professor Cavacuiti is the Toronto Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Collision Study (2003). The full study can be viewed at the link below.

Read the full interview
View the full study

NYC Helmet

New York City recently commissioned the award-winning industrial design and branding firm FuseProject to develop a bicycle helmet that “appeals to the new generation of bikers, would provide safety both in a context of a free bike program, and of a policy to promote cycling in the City.” From the FuseProject website:

The NYC Helmet is designed with every rider, every season, and a greener environment in mind. As unique and dynamic as the City of New York itself, the NYC Helmet is an innovative modular system consisting of two components: a protective polystyrene inner shell and a soft fabric outer cover with integrated straps. This design allows its owner to customize and personalize the outer cover, which easily separates from the protective shell for easy storage and cleaning.

FuseProject

How Many Bromptons Does it Take…

…to fill a parking space?

Brompton

[via Gizmodo]

A Little Magic

Reason Enough to Ride

I’m sometimes asked, “Why all the pretty pictures?” It’s simple. EcoVelo’s primary reason for being is to inspire others to ride bicycles for transportation (read our mission statement here). The many practical benefits of bicycling may be motivation enough for some, but to be honest, what gets many of us regular bike commuters back on our bikes day-after-day are the pure joys of riding. My intention is to capture a little of the magic that we experience on the road and share it here, with the hope that it will inspire others to park their cars and give transportational bicycling a try.

Gasp!

Funny stuff in the L.A. Times:

In an obvious bid to broaden public support for his troubled healthcare reform plans, a vacationing President Obama has now taken to defying the advice of safety advocates at both the federal and state levels.

The bold move, coming in late August when there’s little else to prattle about except homicides and deaths (also wildfires), is certain to create continental controversy among several people concerned about hats worn during recreation.

Read the article in the L.A. Times


 
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