I also love that transit time is very consistent (even relative to the subway, which has lately been wonky). It's great to arrive for our morning standup exactly 7 minutes early, rather than having to pad in 30 minutes of unproductive dead space in case the subway has some problem.
NYC bike paths have gotten pretty good over the years, such that I can use protected lanes for ~70% of the trip, and dedicated lanes for >90%. No accidents yet but several close calls, mostly with pedestrians. New York streets are crowded and aggressive, but the speeds are low and drivers are relatively vigilant.
For example, sometimes after I work I bicycle 90 minutes to San Jose and don't think twice about it. If I had my car it would PROBABLY take 45 minutes, but I honestly have no idea. Or I could go home, and drive to the train station, and catch the train, then walk. But the bike gives me the freedom to not worry about schedules and also not stress about delays.
It sounds so silly to prefer to ride for twice as long as I'd drive and consider that a "win", but there's some kind of psychological block to dealing with traffic and the fact that a 15 minute drive instead takes 45 or 30 or 50 or 60 minutes.. but when the bicycle ride takes 90 minutes with or without traffic, it's so much more appealing.
Seriously though, I have 2 main modes of commute cycling:
1 as fast as I can manage, which I only do when I know I can shower at either end
2 at a pretty decent pace but one where I know that I'll stay cool and dry enough to not be a sweaty mess. Depending on the temp and how far I might slow right down for the last few minutes just to cool off.
The right clothes also help - even going pretty fast in lycra you'll stay cool enough. Cycling in full work clothes is doable but not fun for miles and miles.
Main thing for me was not carrying a bag on my back, as that makes me sweaty no matter the speed. I have a small bag for clothes on the front of my road bike (super cheap off ebay) and a rack on the back for bits. I try not to commute with a laptop - I've not needed to really so far.
Alcohol-based wet wipes are the nuclear option if you still have odor issues. Obviously they're not very green to use every day, but having some on hand can give you peace of mind if you're afraid you might unexpectedly need to go face-to-face with upper management or a customer.
True "workout" gear stinks to high heaven. I'm not sure what they put in gym shirts and shorts but once you sweat, it's all over. Don't wear that stuff when commuting to work!
Normally I commute in a t-shirt, a merino sweater/sweatshirt, and jeans with bike shorts (padded liners) underneath. They're basically like the underwear version of bike shorts -- not something to be worn solo.
Good point with the backpack though - with it, I was sweating like a racehorse, even after coming out of the shower; without, I was only sweating.
If I'm going down to San Jose I'm probably meeting friends at a bar or going to a show or something. Hardly the end of the world to work up a mild sweat and then my body dries after I stop, then as I start to feel a chill, I put warmer clothes on. It's not an issue.
I'd love to bike to work. When I lived back in Europe, I used to bike every day to work and back. However, biking in NYC is just insanely dangerous in comparison. I'm really surprised how people do it at all. There aren't real bike paths, and you're supposed to bike on the road right next to all the cars. That's constantly being just one small mistake away from injury/death. I just don't want that risk.
- I save $1700/yr on transit (Toronto TTC Pass). Savings would be even higher if I drove (parking costs, maintenance)
- Massive health benefit from of turning 3hr/week of commute from sitting into cardio: https://theconversation.com/cycling-to-work-major-new-study-...
- Others: Time savings, commute consistency, happiness
Of course if you live in a very polluted city the harm is much more pronounced: https://ig.ft.com/sites/urban-cycling/assets/pollution-world...
Including increased accident risks, particulate, and chemical pollution together is a very different risk profile vs comparing all benefits vs a subset of downsides.
That said, you can filter out most particulates and there is little reason not to take this precaution.
Also, many cars include high quality air filtration which really does help.
But again, just buy a mask and deal with the actual problem.
However, like a bike helmet an air filter is at most a minor inconvenience.
PS: I suspect re-breathing a tiny amount of CO2 probably has a measurable impact over a longer race. (Don't have data on this though.)
To the degree that it might make cyclists feel confident and less hyper-vigilant b/c there are lines on the pavement, I think it's actually more dangerous than no bike lane.
Cyclists usually leave the bike lane because it's blocked by lawbreaking drivers or because they need to make a turn, not for funsies.
However, now the situation is a lot better compared to few years back. More bicycling on the road mean the pedestrians, cabs and cars know how to behave.
To a lot of people who think it is dangerous, it can be remarkably non-dramatic affair. With better bike lane markings, traffic that is moving very slow, and more bicyclist on the road, it has never been a better time to start riding in NYC. With experience, you develop almost telepathic sense about the people and cars around you and how to anticipate their moves. If you were scared before, try now and take it easy the first few months while you get used to it.
I would love to bike, but no showers at my current workplace :/
Bikes are about 4x more efficient, so for short and moderate distances, even walking-effort will get you there in reasonable time.
If you sweat at a walking-effort, try dressing lighter or as others have suggested, use wet wipes and spare clothes at work.
You can also consider an e-bike to avoid sweating on the way to work. On the commute home, use less assist if you want more exercise.
You can also get an electric bicycle and use less effort so that you don't sweat.
You'll still go 3-4x faster than walking, but it'll be the same amount of effort.
Back to driving now, so fed up of the weather here in Seattle to do this during the winter, put the weight back on.
But yes, find someplace to shower. Or, bus in and ride home so you can shower when you get home.
Get a cargo rack + Wald folding pannier baskets, and put your cargo there. Ride with a messenger bag, if needed.
Then you'd sweat no more than you would while walking (if cycling at an appropriate pace).
Now, as always, it’s a good idea to arbitrage and take advantage of underutilized infrastructure, but I wouldn’t expect the underutilization to last.
NYC definitely has 'bicycle traffic' these days, especially around choke points like the bridges. But it essentially never has traffic jams, except during the 5 Boro Bike Tour.
For environmental, health, and inclusivity reasons (constant factor improvements in transportation capacity do, after all, mean constant factor improvements in access to cities) it may be preferable to have gridlock in bicycles rather than gridlock in private cars.
But don't think for a second that we can grow sprawling mega-regions indefinitely without gridlock.
But Tokyo's 38M-citizen megaregion of train stations accessed by pedestrians and cyclists is probably the best-scaled megaregion yet to exist.
See this random suburban station in Tokyo full of parked bicycles:
Never had an accident (well, except the one time I tried to drive from a road onto a pavement with an angle of attach of 10 degrees, which resulted in some scratches ;)). I can't recall any of my friend having a serious accident.
We DEFINITELY know roads can't scale enough to handle the cars, but when each person takes up a tiny fraction of the space they take up now in their cars (plus closer following distances due to lower speeds), there's simply no problem.
I've commuted in places where there is lots of cycling, for example Munich, and yes, you have 'normal' car-like traffic (sometimes in a row of 10 bicycles and you might have to wait for faster bikes to pass before your chance to pull out to pass) but it's not gridlock like in cars on the streets.
The city requires buildings to allow bicycles in if tenants want it:
You can also consider buying a folding bicycle like a Brompton, which tidily fits under a desk and can be fitted with a cover to disguise its bicycle-ness, bicycles being mysterious anathema to many office buildings:
I know, my beloved piece of shit mountain bike has been stolen, it had zero value (had no seat, one pedal missing, cheapest ruined part everywhere, ugly) except for sentimental one. Yet it's gone.
The public transportation network here in Stockholm is good, but wouldn't even consider cramming myself into a packed subway train or bus. Even at this time of the year when it's -5 degrees celcius and snowy I really enjoy my daily rides.
It cuts commuting time in half and I shave off another two hours of sitting without moving a day.
If possible, I highly recommend bike commuting. Get a good bike (with gears) and rack mounts for bags. Gravel/adventure bikes are fun to ride and work well on all surfaces. Supple 650b tyres are all the rage these days. They will give you plenty of comfort while sacrificing very little when it comes to performance.
Tomorrow I'll be going to the outskirts of town with work. Then it's 50 km. I already look forward to that workday adventure. :)
Perhaps worst of all, even faulty bike lanes give cyclists a sense of entitlement and false security. The fact remains the roads were not built for cycling and cars always win in a battle for space.
I’d love to see bike-only roads, routes, or such. But until there is both proper segregation and consequences when cars kill cyclists (there are currently none) it’s a death wish.
Every day I see eager young cyclists riding with no helmet, no lights, and not infrequently without brakes (on fixies) and I am compelled to yell out my advice on working harder at staying alive.
Biking is somewhat dangerous in NYC, and every other American city. I agree with OP that NYC drivers are generally very good though. It’s the bikers responsibility to bike as though drivers are -trying- to kill you. First heard that advice when riding motorcycles and it’s stuck with me.
I’ve been in a few spills on my bike. A big one with a pedestrian who strolled into a protected high speed path at prospect park. Another one with an invisible pothole at night in park slope. The last was pure user error, riding tipsy from my local bar home :)
Generally, riding in nyc, like walking in nyc, is a unique skill set. You really MUST be able to do things like look behind you while riding, and it’s quite helpful to be able to accelerate to near traffic speeds. Of course you must assume any car door can open at any time. Route planning also goes a long way; it’s usually worthwhile to take a slightly longer route to stay on smooth streets or protected lanes. Extra wide one-way streets in Brooklyn are generally quite good for cyclists as well.
I don't mean to fear monger, but I suspect that confidence is just as dangerous as ignorance when you're on a bike in NYC. Very experienced cyclists also end up dead: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/nyregion/cyclists-death-s...
Cycling in NYC can be fun, healthy, and might eventually help push the city into better accommodating non-vehicular traffic. But it's also particularly dangerous, there is no getting around that.
I did not mean to impress that the techniques I mentioned above, if mastered, would result in 100% safe riding.
As far as biking being particularly dangerous in NYC, you'd need stats like miles traveled vs fatalities for a number of major cities to make that determination. It might be more dangerous in NYC, but it might not.
Doesn't that count as DUI where you live?
I've gone 15,000 miles safely in dense urban environments because I am heads-up about the 2 main threats: intersections, and the door zone.
Please don’t do this. During the time that I commuted on a bicycle, it was very frustrating when other cyclists didn’t follow the rules of the road (zipping through stop signs is another example). It causes resentment in drivers. This leads to aggressive behavior towards cyclists.
As if one cyclists behavior should or could influence a vehicle operators behavior towards other people sharing the road. Utterly ridiculous. Anybody that is not capable of keeping their emotions bottled up to the point where they will take out their frustrations on unprotected bags of fluid from within a ton+ of armor should be relieved of their license.
If you can't safely pass your place is clear: behind the other traffic.
For example, on a street with 10 foot wide lanes, a 6 foot wide car would have a margin of 2 feet on either side of it and 4 feet between it and a car in the adjacent lane. For buses that are 8.5 feet wide, they have about 0.75 feet on each side and 1.5 feet between them and another bus in an adjacent lane.
A cyclist is about 2 feet wide at a minimum. To have a 2 feet of space on each side, they need a lane that's 6 feet wide. To have 0.75 feet on each side, they need a lane that's 3.5 feet wide.
For the car and bus examples above, neither can leave enough space in the lane while they're in it for a cyclist. So the only way to safely pass one is to change lanes.
Please do. Being doored isn't something you want to have happen to you; and can have pretty life changing results if you're unlucky.
If you're in a car and you can't pass if someones riding out of the door zone then you probably don't have room to pass anyway.
Here's what cement dividers on Norther Boulevard protect riders from (scroll down for photos): http://qns.com/story/2017/12/07/poorly-designed-hastily-cons...
I do miss riding on smaller wheels though. 26" was much nicer to get rolling than 700c, and there's a lot of stop-start. 26" rigid bike are extinct now though it seems.
I have found that studded tyres are more of an annoyance than an asset on 99 out of 100 winter days.
On anything but wet ice, regular tyres do surprisingly well - to the extent that I've felt no need for studs at all during quite literally thousands of kilometers of riding in the snow - yes, grip is not as good as on asphalt, but then again - studs will not magically make the road bare; they only give you a bit of extra margin under very specific conditions - wet ice, basically.
On wet ice, studded tyres will just postpone the inevitable. You WILL topple. On those days, I just jump in the car.
Additionally, the noise of a set of properly studded tyres is enough to drive me nuts, though obviously YMMV.
As for the bronchitis, I’ve luckily steered clear - but a colleague of mine who had it good and hard a couple of times swear that since he started wesring a mask, he hasn’t had even a hint of it.
The thing that gets me is roads that are sort of driven on. Heavily trafficked roads are great because cars usually expose the bare concrete and roads with no cars are great because you can ride through powder no problem. But when a few cars have created ruts...it make steering very difficult. I don't know if different tires help with this or if that's just the way it goes when you're total mass is <200 lb.
I don't recommend riding without a helmet or hövding, but this article gives you some insights into the risks of riding a bike in cities: https://www.vox.com/2014/5/16/5720762/stop-forcing-people-to...
Some cyclists get very worked up by ill behavior from motorists, getting into dangerous situations to prove their point. Motorists are protected by a >1000 kg shield of metal, so I try just get on with my day.
What drivers who have never used a bicycle don't even consider is that as a cyclist you are extremely mobile and have a much better overview of the road. A cyclist can cross an intersection on red with little danger, a car attempting the same would be murderous.
In countries like the Netherlands most everyone has biked to school from the age of 6 before they are turned loose in a car at 18, there is much better mutual understanding between car drivers and bike riders over there.
It happens all the time in London where bikes go through red lights and weave through pedestrians (sometimes at speed) who are crossing the road. Pedestrians are even worse - and often walk or run across red lights and almost get hit from a bus, car or bike. It’s madness!
I’m surprised about it being safer, and would be interested to see some stats on it. It could be more common in the US where cities are grids because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a near miss where a cyclist almost got rear ended in London. However, I do see a lot of cyclists getting cut off by buses and cars on corners and at junctions.
Actually, it depends.
Just last week, I learned that it is perfectly legal to jaywalk in Germany, IF it does not interrupt flowing traffic or endanger anyone. Also, you must take the shortest path (orthogonal to the lanes) when crossing a road. (§25 Abs. 3 StVO)
I jaywalk all the time. It's just ridiculous to wait at a red light when the street is completely empty.
Treating a red light as a stop sign is different from behaving as if it's not there.
In many provinces of Canada, motorists can turn right on a red light after coming to a full stop.
In a system designed for cars, it's just false piety and won't keep you any safer.
The one rule I do follow is that I am courteous and polite to everyone, drivers and pedestrians alike, and I remain hyper alert to everything that is going on around me.
That's the only rule you need.
For example, what should the rules be when overtaking other riders? Should I overtake on the outside or the inside? We know that having a rule on overtaking makes it much safer.
Courteous and politeness are great, but a lot of people don’t drive/ride/walk like that. What happens then?
It depends how many people are around, and on the entire situation.
I've had sketchy situations when stopping at stop signs. The drivers in my area don't expect cyclists to stop at stop signs, since most don't.
So in that case following the rules made me more unpredictable, and confused everyone involved.
But there are situations where not following the rules makes things more dangerous for those involved. For example, a driver stopping to allow someone to make a left turn in front of them. That can be seen as a courteous gesture, but the car the next lane over that doesn't stop ends up broadsiding the vehicle making the left turn. In this case, just following the rules of the road would have prevented a crash like that.
It means that when the traffic light shows red and you want to turn right, the traffic light works like a "STOP" sign instead.
A cyclist can cross an intersection on
red with little danger
I don't own a car and I cycle thousands of miles a year, so I'm very much on the side of cyclists over motorists - but last year, as I walked across a pedestrian crossing with a green light, I was hit by a bicyclist running a red light - who promptly fled the scene without so much as an apology.
This kind of thing creates strong, memorable emotional responses people are keen to share. If I'd been more seriously injured, or if the fall had broken my expensive consumer electronics, or if I wasn't a cyclist, or if an infirm relative had been in the accident instead of me, even more so.
This being the case, it isn't realistic to convince other road users to approve of cyclists running red lights; getting them to do so is as unlikely as that last 30% of riders spontaneously becoming competent.
For example, if a car passes me 50 feet before a stop sign and then either has their right turn signal on or otherwise indicates a turn (turns the wheels to the right as they stop), I often just pull in the lane behind them so there is no confusion about whether I'm going to get run over or not... but it seems to more often CAUSE confusion, because they're waiting for me to go by them on the right, which I appreciate the courtesy, they have the right of way.
I often have the same issue at 4-way stops; if they arrive before me and I slow to a stop and put my foot down, THEN they start waving me on and want me to go before them. Of course if I were to blow the stop sign, other people could potentially be annoyed by that. But only about 20% of drivers go before me when I arrive after them and stop and put my foot down.
Also, sometimes I try to pull into the "gaps" between parked cars to allow a car behind me to pass, if there is lots of space and I will not need to pull back into the lane for awhile.... but too often indecisiveness and timidity on the part of the driver mean now I'm having to negotiate my way back into the lane with a car still behind me.
I rode a couple of kilometers on an iced lake some weeks ago without trouble.
There's also the more expensive Marathon Winter: https://www.schwalbe.com/en/spike-reader/marathon-winter.htm...
Marathon Winter has more studs. They're placed closer to the edge of the tyre and it's debatable how much difference if it makes if you don't lean into the curves. I try to lean less on frozen ground, so I suspect they would be pointless for me.
Studded tyres actually works best on ice. Theoretically, if snow covers the ice they could be ineffective. I myself have not found this to be a problem.
I've gone about 15,000 miles in dense urban environments without any accidents of any kind. There are a number of keys to this:
- Think like a driver -- it helps to be a good driver first
- Think, period. Don't listen to music, pay attention.
- Don't ride in the door zone. Don't let drivers make you ride in the door zone. If you need the lane, take the lane. It's your right.
- Use flashing lights on front and back, at all times of day. Nobody else except emergency vehicles is allowed to have flashing lights. There's a good reason: they are unmissable and very distracting.
- Wear brightly colored shirts and a bright colored helmet.
- If you don't wear a helmet, don't worry about it, it doesn't mitigate that much risk. The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it.
This is very, very stupid advice.
Now do you see how you sound? Bike helmets marginally help, but the same marginal difference is found going from bicycle helmets to full face motorcycle ones.
I’ve broken my face in 4 places in a bike accident where the only thing that would have helped would have been a motorcycle helmet, but I don’t go around town wearing one or telling other people to. I like the air in my hair and I’m ok with the additional risk that not wearing any helmet carries. I’m careful in otherways but I’m an adult making an informed choice about the relative risk.
Yeah it's still probably a net increase on your life expectancy to ride without a helmet compared to driving, but most people wear seat belts even though almost every mile driven doesn't result in a crash.
But it doesn't change the truth of the sentence: "The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it."
None of these are good enough reasons to not wear a helmet while you're riding a bike, but any one of them would be a good enough reason to not ride your bike at all. That's the point OP is trying to make by saying you can skip your helmet if you want.
If that's true, then you are not wearing a properly fitted one.
But we do, and it's because they have a share bike that didn't come with a helmet, or they were worried about messing up their hair, or they lost their helmet, or they left it at the destination, or they're a rebellious teenager who just doesn't care, or no-one educated them about the risks, or they just forgot to put it on.
A better comparison would be to flossing your teeth, or wearing sunscreen: everyone should do it, but not everyone will do it.
Presumably, you're willing to accept that risk. Biking without a helmet is no doubt riskier than walking without one, but both activities are well within reasonable risk-taking range.
You don't need me to tell you why I don't like wearing a helmet when I bike; you already use all those same reasons to avoid wearing one when you walk.
Not even close to the same thing. By being that absurd, you clearly are not wanting to engage in good faith.
I (honestly and in good faith) place walking and biking in the same "helmet not required" risk category. The point isn't whether or not you adjust the risk slider further in one direction than me. The point is to respond to the assertion that there is zero reason to avoid wearing a helmet. We all know that isn't true, or we'd all wear helmets all the way down the risk scale.
Where you place "time to put on a helmet" on the scale isn't really the point. The point is that the scale obviously exists and it's obviously the case that there are places on the scale where not wearing a helmet makes sense, because if it were literally the case that there were no tradeoffs, then there'd literally be no reason not to wear one at all times.
That's the reductio proof I'm trying to illustrate.
The risk of death from 1 hour of cycling reduces life expectancy by about 24 minutes. Wearing a helmet probably changes this by a couple of minutes.
1 additional hour of sitting and watching TV in the evening, in an already sedentary life, probably has a similar effect on life expectancy.
The exercise you get from that same session of cycling for 1 hour INCREASES life expectancy from 3-9 hours.
- WHO study, http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/exercise-l...
Wearing a helmet doesn't increase the number of minutes of your life like you're winding a clock or something. It decreases the probability that you're dead by 40 from a preventable tragedy, leaving your parents without a child and your family without a parent.
you could theoretically look at the injury rate for non-helmeted people, but, again, you don't know how representative that rate is of the population. You are assuming that the non-helmeted accident statistics sample is representative of the cycling population. I am not sure that is true.
>The risk of death from 1 hour of cycling reduces life expectancy by about 24 minutes. Wearing a helmet probably changes this by a couple of minutes.
This data does not take road conditions into account. Most cyclists prefer to bike on roads with very few cars on them. For example the road outside my apartment, a two-lane road outside of town by a lake with no services, is always packed with cyclists. The boulevard connecting my road to the train station, however, is heavily car-trafficked and has almost no cyclists. It is wrong to apply data from cyclists on the first road to those biking on the second.
>1 additional hour of sitting and watching TV in the evening, in an already sedentary life, probably has a similar effect on life expectancy.
This is double-counting. If you count sitting as a detriment, you can't turn around and count biking as an increment. There has to be a default from which to decrement or increment.
>[first link]>Every Minute Of Exercise Could Lengthen Your Life Seven Minutes
>[second link]>In fact, exercise was a bigger factor than body weight in many cases. People who were normal weight but were inactive actually lived an average of 3.1 fewer years than obese people who kept up high levels of activity.
This is an unjustified assumption of linear behavior. It's possible (likely IMO) that the first couple hours of exercise make a big difference coming from inactivity, but additional exercise on top of this likely has a smaller impact. The data only strongly indicate that cycling will have such a large impact on life expectancy if you already get very little exercise -- less than 2.5 hours/week of brisk walking. It is hard to believe, for example, that biking for 4 hours per day would increase life expectancy by 13 years -- there are practically no interventions known to have such a large effect!
Nope. The correct interpretation is 'cyclists without helmets who get into a serious crash triple their chance of death by head injury'. The study doesn't look at cyclists who don't crash. This is important, because you can't assume that all cyclists have an equally likely chance of having a serious crash. I'm going to be riding with a helmet on regardless of the law, but by making helmets mandatory, you kill off so much transport and utility cycling which was at low risk levels.
> The study also cites Victoria, Australia, as an example of successful legislation. Helmet use in the city increased from 31 per cent to 75 per cent after the introduction of mandatory helmet legislation, and cycling fatalities decreased by 48 per cent.
Yes, but a major reason for those reductions are because people stopped cycling after the introduction of those laws. See http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1194.html - "In 1985-6, 3.4 per cent of trips in Melbourne were by bicycle. In 2004 this was only 2.0 per cent, suggesting that cycling was still much reduced compared with before the helmet law". Trauma surgeons are happy, public health experts are not.
After five minutes of googling, I sadly did not find any relevant statistics.
I've been cycling to work for years, which which has varied from 10 miles one way, to 1 mile. I always wear my helmet, and in all these years an many thousands of bike miles, it only been "useful" once. A drainage grate was covered over with leaves, I didn't see it, my front wheel fell in, fork snapped off, and I flew over the handlebars, headfirst into the curb. My helmet split in two and I had a massive head bruise, but had I not been wearing it, I'd be dead.
Helmet paranoia DOES reduce the odds of exercise. On a group level, at the level of public health, that's PRECISELY what it does. I encourage you to read about it, that's why they call it the helmet paradox. This piece is a nice summary.
Bike helmets protect our heads, but they also do the following:
1. increase your chances of getting in an accident
2. discourage cycling
Here's what to do:
1. If you want to be healthy, ride a bike instead of driving.
2. If you want to be even healthier, consider maybe putting on a helmet, but be mindful it doesn't increase your risk-taking behavior.
I choose option 2, but option 1 is also great.
So this is why most of us wear a helmet. The logic is not "so few people get in accidents that if I wear a helmet it is likely to be overkill!". The logic is "if I get in an accident I will be very glad I am wearing this."
Generally, you prepare for the worst, not hope that you are on (typo) the right side of statistics.
The person who is truly taking a risk is the person who doesn't ride a bike because of the perception that it's dangerous, and continues to be sedentary and drive a car to work. This person is literally reducing their life expectancy by years. (See links I posted elsewhere in the thread.)
You need to be able to think about conditional probability.
This is such, such flawed logic. If you are a cyclist getting hit by a car, the averages and statistics don't matter at all. If you are the cyclist getting hit by a car, the helmet is not a "marginal difference". Your protective gear matters. You need to consider the individual cyclist when you are making sweeping statements about the usage of protective gear.
1. Wearing makes you less cautious
2. Car drivers think ‘you’re protected’ thus make larger risks
3. Helmets are inconvenient to carry around at your destination
4. It hampers the development of saver bicycle road situations, since ‘the cyclists are already protected’
I’m dutch, driving without a helmet since forever (started at 2 years old). Most serious accidents on the road that I know of are broken colar bones, broken hips and broken wrists. You really need a strange fall the land on your head. I guess with a head-on collision perhaps?
If a helmet is inconvenient to carry around then certainly the bag full of clothes, shoes, gloves is also inconvenient but none of that should prevent you from biking.
> It hampers the development of saver bicycle road situations, since ‘the cyclists are already protected’
This honestly sounds like very faulty logic. It's like saying there's no need for stop lights because drivers are wearing seatbelts. They'll be ok.
I've fallen sideways on ice several times. Once hitting my head. I would never want to hit my skull on concrete from a ~5 ft fall because not wearing a helmet is slightly more convenient.
Also, any terrain in the US is 'such terrain'. There's little or no accommodation for bikes, and the roads (for cars) consider cracks of 1 inch or so as negligible. Also gratings by curbs (where bikes are expected to ride) often have slots of that size. There's a public-education effort to get gratings turned at right angles to traffic, but most traffic departments are disdainful of bikes.
But helmet design standards do. A helmet meeting the CPSC standards isn't designed to protect you in impact with a motor vehicle.
Because you're basically saying that bike helmets would make a difference in a collision scenario where the impact force would far exceed their design and impact testing standards.
The sudden stopping is what kills. If the only thing slowing down my brain is my skull then that is worst case scenario, unless of course, my skull shatters, then I guess my brain slows down at a more acceptable rate as it spills onto the road.
I'll take anything at all between my brain and a hard object trying to rapidly impart some force unto it. A helmet does this very well.
Except that in this case, the belt just comes off its anchor points and doesn't slow you down at all. Just like a bridge rated for a 10,000 lbs load will collapse when a fully loaded 80,000 lbs tractor trailer drives over it.
If something is going to work, then it had to be designed and tested for it. You can't simply believe it's going to work in situations that it wasn't designed and/or tested for.
Edit: and just to address this specifically
> Except that in this case, the belt just comes off its anchor points and doesn't slow you down at all.
This is not true because the energy that went into breaking that anchor point is energy your body is no longer carrying. The belt did slow you down and even in breaking could still have saved your life.
No, that is not what "risk" means. Sedentary people can still be fairly certain that they will die when they are over 60, even if it's a few years earlier than they would if they were active.
A cyclist without a helmet has a much greater chance of dying an an unpredictable time. That is what "risk" means.
The problem with the helmet debate isn't that it's wrong, but that it's irrelevant. Every minute spent arguing about helmets is a minute that isn't spent making the most important point - cyclists live longer than non-cyclists, regardless of whether they wear a helmet. Wear a helmet, don't wear a helmet, it doesn't really matter. TO AVOID A PREMATURE DEATH, MOVE YOUR BODY.
You could use the same logic to justify extreme defenses against all kinds of rare-but-deadly events. You should be wearing a helmet in your car to protect against accidents in which your head hits the side window. You should be carrying a rifle to fight off wildlife every time you go for a hike. You definitely shouldn't be crossing any streets in auto-heavy cities. (And we could go on and on and on like this. There's no reason to even leave your house! Better to get everything delivered and not risk contact with the world at all!)
Everything is a tradeoff. There are no absolutes. Just tradeoffs.
Except for the fact that the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) impact testing standards for bicycle helmets only test for impacts for a guided free fall drop from a height of 6.5 feet. That's the equivalent of someone falling over while doing a track-stand on the bicycle.
If you're going 25 mph and hit the ground, the helmet won't protect from an impact it wasn't designed or tested for.
The second problem is that helmets won't protect you from forces that lead to concussive type injuries.
If you really want adequate head protection, then you need to wear a motorcycle helmet.
Personal anecdote: I bought a helmet a few years ago. While it was still in delivery I came into a situation where I was not sure what a car was doing and I caught myself thinking: "with a helmet I'd not braked" - but rather taken the risk.
Thus I have never worn it and it is sitting there collecting dust.
Another abstract example: no country is more obsessed with "low carb" and "low fat" than the US. Yet no other country produces more plus sized people than the US.
Yet another example is Michael Schumacher. Without the helmet he may not have taken the risk to go into unknown terrain.
I feel vulnerable without a helmet and that keeps me alive.
(FWIW, I always use a helmet except when I use shared bikes, which is rare, only a few times a year. I get on one of my own bikes, helmeted, hundreds of times a year.)
You might actually be right here. I do not know. Either way, don't expect "I really don't need to cite anything" to convince anybody serious.
Strangely, in Denmark most cyclists do wear a helmet. To me it's very inconvenient. E.g. where to store the damn thing when going anywhere?
I'd read somewhere that up until some fairly high speed (40 kph?) that a helmet doesn't measurably lower the risk of injury. (Citations, pro or con, welcome!)
And as the Vox piece points out, merely wearing a helmet induces drivers to reduce their caution, making the need for a helmet something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I still wear my helmet when I commute or do longer rides but I'm beginning to put my toe in the water by going helmetless for short trips to lunch, the nearby park, etc. It may be my self-awareness about going sans helmet talking, but I'd almost swear that when I ride 'au naturel' drivers make more eye contact and generally seem to acknowledge my presence more than when I'm fully kitted out.
Also: Schwalbe Marathons are the shiznitz. I have 42-622 Marathon Supremes on my new urban bike, and they grip like ... something really sticky ... and are like pillows, to boot (esp. coming off 25-622 road tires). More dough, but worth it for me. Zero flats in over two years, btw.
(me: occasional bike commuter here in West LA for about eight years)
What a bizarre contrast. If I'm inferring your point correctly, you're addressing those who would otherwise ride a bike to work but don't because of a helmet requirement? Is literally anyone in that position?
I get that biking + no helmet > no biking, but why is that relevant? Anyone commuting to work should have a plan to deal with a helmet, it's such a trivial thing to plan for and deal with compared to maintaining your bike, having parking for it, arranging showers, etc.
For the one off scenario where you don't have your helmet on hand, then it's more of an interesting question: "should I chance it and ride the bike without a helmet this one time?" But in that case, your statistics about life expectancy aren't going to be relevant in the health case; one bike ride is not going to make you more fit or not, but it's very relevant in the chances of getting hit by a car case.
Key point for this discussion: "In 1993, New South Wales, Australia, commissioned a study to see if a new helmet law for children was increasing helmet uptake. It did—but the researchers also found 30 percent fewer children were riding to school. In New Zealand, where helmet compulsion was introduced in 1994, the number of overall bike trips fell 51 percent between 1989–90 and 2003–6, according to one research paper."
"Meanwhile, it seems that bicyclists wearing helmets may encourage riskier driving by motorists."
Just to be clear, I'm not advocating against wearing a helmet if you DO commute on a bike. As someone who fifteen years ago cracked a helmet instead of his head after falling on some jagged pavement, I appreciate what a helmet can do for you. And there may be statistical support for wearing a bike helmet as well:
However, I think the OP's basic point holds. Being sedentary is a greater health risk than riding without a helmet.
There are whole countries, like the Netherlands and Germany, where that simply doesn't happen. In fact, biking is much simpler in those countries, they don't even bother with showers (instead they bike more slowly).
Getting hit by a car is not something we worry much about. Besides the bike friendly roads, chauffeurs are used watching out for bycicles.
Then there's special laws where a car hitting a bycicle is always wrong. The reasoning behind that is that a byciclist is much more fragile. This also makes car drivers more careful.
Riding a bicycle is embedded into our culture, another example is the dutch reach .
For those folks, wearing a helmet is anathema.
Personally I recommend simply not riding in this situation, because helmets save lives. But I’m not everybody.
This is the issue right here. Habits matter, and getting out of a habit can destroy the habit entirely. If the argument is "always wear a helmet" and you cancel rides because of that requirement, I would think you are much more likely to fall out of the habit of riding. If you can continue to ride when you don't have a helmet, you keep that habit going, and next time, you're likely to have the helmet again, and keep accruing the benefits.
Thankfully I applied the same ALWAYS mentality to wearing a helmet for my biking commute. I was obeying traffic laws when a pickup truck turned into me while I was traveling through a green light. I had right of way and he wasn't paying attention and clipped me fairly hard. I tried to break and skid about 10 feet as he turned into me. I ended up in the hospital with a severe concussion and a terrifying 6 hours for my wife as she sat next to me. Praying that my lost memory would recover as the concussion wore off. I was initially forgetful of us having been married for less than a year. Eventually I started remembering things again, quite a scary moment for us.
Funny thing was I was riding to visit a friend who was just a few blocks away. He had recently criticised me for wearing a helmet to go less than a mile to visit him.
Fast forward a year and finally getting the nerve to ride again. My first trip out and a teenager blows through a stop sign without looking and almost hits me. In broad daylight, flashing lights on my bike and all.
There is an inherit risk in riding my bike to work. And a helmet may not provide a meaningful mitigation of risk. (I've never bothered to look up statistics, maybe you have?) However, I can control just a few variables to ride or not, ride defensively or not, and wear protective gear or not. I certainly have no control of the motor vehicles drivers or their distractions. So I choose the variables that I can control without losing the joy of commuting as a cyclist.
While any individual might personally engage in risky behavior, it's not correct to make a blanket recommendation. As the number of people who follow risky advice increases, the chance of someone being negatively impacted approaches 100%.
This is why we have public policy to force seatbelts in cars, and why everybody should vote in elections - behaviors adopted on a wide scale can have significant societal impact even though the benefit to the individual is insignificant.
Helmets are a layer in defense. It's not a perfect shield and will not help in catastrophic situations. However in the more likely situation, the helmet does help.
Current cycling helmets are well ventilated and lightweight.
We should be providing information about the risks and rewards. It's up to the cyclist to decide how they want to proceed.
Me: 32km (20mi) each way, slicing through the Tokyo metro area.
I suppose the same could be said for any form of regular exercise, but it makes such an improvement to how I feel when I get to work, and my general well-being. The pollution in London has always been a bit of a concern, however I hope the exercise outweighs this for the most part. I save around £8 a day by not taking the train.
I wish more people would give it a go. More people riding would result in better and safer infrastructure here. I do however, regularly see people get knocked off bikes and can understand the perceived risk and reluctance from others to try it. I'm envious of cities such as Copenhagen with great safe infrastructure, and where riding is the norm.
Sure, some people will hate you for that, but I prefer disliked over smeared onto pavement any time of the day.
I've looked at the route map and most of it is on incredibly busy roads, including Henleys Corner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henlys_Corner) one of the busiest junctions.
The public bicycle sharing system is really good and cheap. Some parts of the city are bike friendly. But the air quality is just so bad. The trucks that spew black smoke continuously. The buses that have never been controlled in 50 years. The SUVs traveling at 100 km/h on the lanes reserved for buses and bicycles. All the cars idling and honking in traffic after 6PM. It's really depressing. This city would be such a beautiful city without all those cars and trucks.
- air quality: https://air.plumelabs.com/en/year/mexico
- ecoBici: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EcoBici_(Mexico_City)
- "Car ban fails to curb air pollution in Mexico City" http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38840076
Avoid the bike lanes for the most part, though. You're probably in more danger in one of our bike lanes than out of one, due to all the morons blithely going the wrong way in them.
Now I'm living in Singapore, a city that has a traffic problem and tries to reduce the cars on the streets. You'd think they would welcome bikes, but riding a bike here sucks. Big time. It's basically unbearable.
There are no sidewalks to speak of on a lot of roads. Often the sidewalks are divided in two segments of different heights. Tables will be on the sidewalk, garbage bins will block it.
Riding on the road - the norm in my home country - is discouraged by every local I've met, both bike fans and car drivers. You can ride the bike in this city, sometimes, in some places. But it's a pain in the rear to use it for commutes and a very, very bad experience around the central part of Singapore. Park connectors/outward regions are fine, but the traffic infested center is no place for a bike, which is quite sad..
What I'm trying to say is: I agree that the article describes a great way to live, something I dearly miss. I believe that this isn't possible for a lot of people though, in spite of the benefits it would provide to them and their surroundings.
I think we agree that this is a shitty idea in SG. Motorbikes might be fun and are certainly popular, but they're not related to the subject at hand.
There are some oddities to riding in Singapore, but once understood I found it a very enjoyable place to bike.
But I'm comparing this city to the article, to the idea of commuting to work. My work is in the central district of SG. I _cannot_ ride there without cursing. I actually did find a couple shortcuts and ways etc, but still: It's a PITA. No bike lanes. Shitty sidewalks. There's no way to ignore these issues.
Singapore has nice places to bike. Not in CBD.
I cycled every day for a month along a mix of park connectors (cycle paths) and two and three lane roads.
I only had one close pass from a car because on nearly all roads they have a whole extra lane to use to pass you in so if you ride assertively (in the middle of a lane) they just go around you.
And the park connectors are beautiful, fast tarmac with no cars at all. With some creativity you can link them up to create a great commute to most places. My route home went past a Riverside pub - I was on segregated cycle lanes the rest of the way home so I could easily stop for a beer with little risk.
You do usually arrive soaking wet from sweat or the rain. But that's a minor inconvenience compared to being cold! Biking in Singapore is warm, fast, and safe - much better than most places I've commuted.
And no one seemed to mention...two wheeled transport is great, until it rains. And if you have never been to Singapore, Malaysia or the tropics you haven't seen real rain yet.
BTW...in SE Asia, the two wheeled transport of choice is the motorbike. The roads (and motorists attitudes) weren't designed for LOW speed traffic.
I cycle year round in London and would rather cycle commute in Singapore. Once you are acclimatised to the humidity it's not that big a deal, and it's always similar so it's easy to plan for.
You do have to pull off the road to wait out a real tropical rain storm... but so do motorbikes. That's why they have shelters for then under the today bridges.
All these places are ace compared to most US cities, though.
- warm: Sure, no argument here. Very warm..
- fast: No. Maybe. Let's hope that you don't ignore traffic lights: There are so many places that don't even care about bikes (underpasses/overpasses exist, but are hard to reach or less friendly to bikes by requiring you to ... wait for an elevator). You can understand the layout of the city, start riding and you will end up stranded. You will need to backtrack. The city hates bikes.
- safe: Yeah ... No. Singapore is not insane, but it's crazy enough. People don't understand turning signals. Drivers instead like to push into the direction they want to go, expecting everyone around them to follow along. This is, with no pun, in traffic terms a Little India.
I personally am fine to drive a bike here and being a nuisance, but most people don't do that. Literally everyone on the road is an asshole, some of these assholes drive Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini or whatnot. You do NOT want to scratch those stupid idiot's cars with your bike.
Traffic in Singapore is a huge and utter mess. Do not ride a bike here unless you're convinced that it's a good idea...
I cannot get to work via park connectors. Actually I probably have the 'best' way to work already: I'm already in CBD and the distance is small. But .. the city is not ready for bikes. Not at all. There are no bike lanes around my place. The one I found was about 200m long (yay!!) and used by pedestrians exclusively, every time I came there (yay!!!! I can try to ring my bell or push them over. That will help the bicycle community!).
Singapore is a great place. Singapore for bicycles sucks. Do not ride bikes here. Singapore doesn't care, they are not prepared and in general they offer no place to ride safely.
Yes, I love biking as well. That's just an example of something very, very, very close already :)