Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Does Bike Share Cause More Head Injuries? Are Jeremy and Boris Silly? No and Yes.


You should take a basic bike maintenance clinic at the Bike Rack, where they also serve Peregrine coffee some mornings for commuters.   Never fear having bike failure in public again.

In Los Angeles, thespians can ride wearing togas and laurel wreaths throughout the San Fernando Valley on the evening of June 21 from 6 to 8 pm.  A sort of Isadora Duncan meets Animal House and crashed into Lance Armstrong (if he could be separated from the veracity problem) sort of event.  If you wear a toga, remember to use a chain guard.  You heard it here.


GGW's Matt Johnson suggest several ways to improve the First Street cycle tracks.  Including a bike box at intersections, banning right turns on red signals, and lanes that don't randomly end for a block sending cyclists into traffic.  He does not mention requiring all drivers to pass an IQ test.  This disappoints me.

How to make cycle tracks great works of art, is the subject of another post at GGW, which highlights Seattle's attempt at beautifying lanes.  It beats the heck out of the suggestion that plastic planters be used as a buffer.  No one wants the lanes to look like those houses you espy near the interstate, with lawn art and tire planters.  Well maybe some people think that's swell, but I think you get my point.

The case for protected bike lanes.  Fast Company is quibbling over the statistics, which they report show and a more than 171% increase in cycling when protected lanes are installed.  Earlier pieces reported lanes caused a 10% increase.  Instead, 10% of cyclist polled said they would have used a different form of transit before lanes.  Either way, cycling is up.  Quibble not Fast Company.

Feeling especially urban-planning-nerdy?  Read the technical plan for London's lanes here.  Comments on the plans are due July 25, 2014.

A great little short from streetfilms on the positive impact of bike lanes on businesses and communities. Show them don't tell them.

Bike share:

Does the increased use of bike shares mean an increase in head injuries?  This week the debate has reached a pitch normally associated with World Cup fanaticism.  First NPR blogged that after bike share was introduced to a number of cities, the incidences of traumatic brain injuries associated with cycling went up 15%.  Then the Washington Post and GGW reported that the study required a closer reading than NPR's blog gave it.  When the data were better understood, it appears head injuries actually only went up about 2.5%, they said.  In Boston, head injuries went down, reported Boston Magazine.  Streetsblog reported that data on head injuries show that head injuries went down in cities with bike share, not up.  In the speed of the Ethernet, Citylab reported that the numbers of serious head injuries went down everywhere, not up.  But there was no indication that the people who had the accidents were actually riding share bikes when they hurt themselves.
The take-away was that people should wear helmets on bike share bikes, according to nearly every article's quoted experts. Very possibly these studies have resulted in, as Mark Twain said, "lies, damn lies and statistics."  More likely we have some unclear data that did not fully account for causation.   Here are my observations.  In Washington, lots of tourists ride bikes.  They never wear helmets, are often on the sidewalk, looking at sites, or fighting jet lag.  Yet, they seem to avoid accidents, as if there is an invisible cocoon protecting them.  What they do cause is chaos in the bike lanes.  They never notice other cyclists and seem to struggle with the bike lane rules.  On the sidewalk they can easily send that double latte right onto the lapel of your suit without so much as a "Sorry, I was trying to see if that was the Natural History Museum over your shoulder."  Certainly tourists should wear helmets and sign an agreement not to ride on the sidewalk before they are permitted to share a bike.  It would be interesting to see if this requirement would result in a drop in head injuries matching the percentage of the alleged increase.

As all of this was unfolding, Dallas City ended the requirement that adult cyclists wear helmets.  Ta-dum-dum.

Bike share kiosks will go into Milwaulkee this summer.  Wow.  The hardy people of Wisconsin continue to amaze me, delivering pizza by bike during a polar vortex and now boldly adding bike share to a city that has not always had a bike culture.  And I love cheese.  So there you go.

Wow.  Norway's oil boomtown, Stavenger, is adding bike share.  Can it be they see the writing on the proverbial North Sea oil rig?

Bike deliveries:

Sky Dottir Epic Cookies of Seattle is now delivering by cargo bike.  Get a gluten free chocolate chip from a happy cyclist.  Sounds great to me, and I rarely eat carbs.

Because cargo bikes have already replaced DHL delivery trucks in many towns in Europe (saving the company a large amount of money) the cargo revolution may be underway.  Those following this trend include a Dutch sperm bank that uses a sperm-shaped cargo bike to transport sperm samples across town.  Would the babies born of these sperm donors be attracted to cycling later in life?  Discuss.


We have heard of road rage incidents where motorists deliberately run over cyclists.  But a cyclist assaulting another cyclist?  Police are looking for a member of Team Sky who may have broken the collar bone of another rider.  Perhaps there is more to this story, like a love triangle, a loan shark, or sudden fit of insanity.  I would suspect performance-enhancing drugs were the genesis of this dispute, but the assailant was described as "chubby."  #donotaccusemeofbeingafattist

Mystifyingly low sentences in the UK for drivers who maim or kill cyclists, often in a fit of pure rage.  The Brits may want to change their penalties to address this lack of meaningful accountability.  Otherwise it would appear to be open season on cyclists more or less all year there.


The top five bikes for beginners?  Anything that can be ridden says Ellie Blue, who totally gets the whole concept of just riding a bike and not making it an equipment contest.

Random notes:

Montreal is re-calibrating its plans to accommodate the boom in cycling.  This is what you hope every city will have to face at some point.

Read how the UK can cut 10 billion pounds sterling in healthcare costs associated with diabetes through increased cycling.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that encouraging cycling in the United States will help reduce obesity and the healthcare costs associated with Type-2 diabetes.£10bn-annual-diabetes-bill-say-mps

Are you a cycling designer?  The European Bicycling Federation is looking for one to assist them in getting their publications out.

Jeremy Paxman and Boris Johnson on a tandem realizing that riding a bike around London simply is not that safe.  Discuss. #lookingratherlessintimidatingrightaboutnowJeremy

In Memoriam:

Let's remember Beryl Burton, one of the great female cyclists of the 20th Century.

If I see you in the bike lane, and you are not tourist, suddenly and impulsively cutting me off, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

1 comment:

  1. A great article. People will cycle less if they have to wear helmets. I think everybody knows the risk, they should be allowed to choose. In cold countries helmets are sometimes a good thing as they keep your head warm, but for the most part they make an otherwise joyous bike ride in to a sweltering nightmare.